Rocket-Boosted FJ-4 Fury

XP67_Moonbat

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Amazing what you discover from a bargain B&N airplane book. Just like I found out about the Boeing Skyfox program from the same book (http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7276.0/highlight,skyfox.html), I discovered this FJ-4 variant. All I had was one picture and a brief sentence. One picture leads to a Google search. And voila! :

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/fj4f.htm

I also learned the Air Force had a similar program for rocket-boosted F-86F's. Couldn't find any pics of this program however.

http://sabre-pilots.org/classics/v21rocket.htm
http://sabre-pilots.org/classics/v143what.htm
 

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CFE

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I assume that the FJ-4F was supposed to intercept the Soviet bombers of the era, although there were probably other fighters more suited for the mission. The Navy probably thought it needed its own bomber-interceptor to challenge the Air Force ownership of this mission.

Any indication of what was housed in the nose bulge? While I could see it as a fuel or oxidizer tank, it would seem like this location would make the installation of necessary feed lines more complex than necessary.
 

elmayerle

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I seem to remember reading that the FJ-4F was a testbed for evaluating and developing the rocket-boosting system for use on other aircraft. I don't, however, remember what those other aircraft were.
 

archipeppe

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CFE said:
Any indication of what was housed in the nose bulge? While I could see it as a fuel or oxidizer tank, it would seem like this location would make the installation of necessary feed lines more complex than necessary.

A small radar?
Like the Mig 15 Bis "Izmurud"??
 

Tailspin Turtle

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I've heard two stories, that it was a test installation for a rocket boost in the original A3J and that it was a proposed modification of the FJ-4 to make it into an interceptor. In the former, the pod on the nose contains a instrumentation package and in the latter, it is for a visual-assist radar. Both are credible: a rocket boost was proposed for the A3J's run in to the target; the FJ was at a disadvantage relative to the F11F and the F8U because it did not have an afterburner and interception of Soviet bombers at high speed and altitude was a continuing concern. The timing of the test program is right for either requirement. Certainly both would have had advocates and both stories could very well be true. The interceptor version is a bit more credible because two Furys were modified, which seems like one more than necessary for an A3J support program.

It's also possible that North American had one agenda and the Navy, another. The J79-powered F11F-1F was Grumman's attempt to compete with the F8U-1 in performance. The admirals were reportedly already committed to the F8U but went along with Grumman's proposal because they wanted to get some in-flight experience with the new J79 before it flew in the F4H, not wanting a repeat of the J40 fiasco.
 

CFE

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elmayerle said:
I seem to remember reading that the FJ-4F was a testbed for evaluating and developing the rocket-boosting system for use on other aircraft. I don't, however, remember what those other aircraft were.

Perhaps the F8U-3 was one of them. Rocket assist might have been added to the Crusader III, making it a very fast fighter (its speed limited only by heating on the airframe.)
 

XP67_Moonbat

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From FJ Fury In Action , by Jim Mesko, from Squadron/Signal Publications.

According to the book, the FJ-4F:
- made use of the second and fourth production FJ-4’s
- tested the AR-1 engine for use in the F8U-3 Crusader III
- had a removable flush tank mounted ventrally
- had a radome-like special instrument nose
- went to Davis-Monthan after the program to be scrapped
 

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XP67_Moonbat

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Also from the In Action book on the Fury

Now it's just an afterthought, but I have to wonder what might have been achieved had China Lake used this bird for the NOTSNIK/ Project PILOT trials instead of a Skyray. Things that make you go "Hmmm", right?
 

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Tailspin Turtle

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CFE said:
Perhaps the F8U-3 was one of them. Rocket assist might have been added to the Crusader III, making it a very fast fighter (its speed limited only by heating on the airframe.)

XP67_Moonbat said:
From FJ Fury In Action , by Jim Mesko, from Squadron/Signal Publications.

According to the book, the FJ-4F:
- made use of the second and fourth production FJ-4’s
- tested the AR-1 engine for use in the F8U-3 Crusader III
- had a removable flush tank mounted ventrally
- had a radome-like special instrument nose
- went to Davis-Monthan after the program to be scrapped

I doubt that the North American program was in support of the F8U-3. They had their own auxiliary rocket development program. According to Baugher: In 1957, Vought planned to install a rocket engine in the tail of a couple of F8U-1s (production numbers 16 and 23. The engine originally planned for this installation was the Reaction Motors XLF-40 which provided 8000 pounds of thrust and was fuelled by a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and jet fuel. Unfortunately, this rocket engine exploded during an early ground text, killing two company mechanics. This accident caused Reaction Motors to pull out of the project, but Vought elected to continue the project using a Rocketdyne XLF-54 engine which gave 6000 pounds of thrust. Although the project never reached flight status, dummy engines were installed above the F8U-1's tail cone just behind the rudder.
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Who knows? ??? I'm just quoting the book. The picture caption in my last post also said so. But you never know. There could always have been alternate engine being looked at. So maybe, just maybe. Right? ;)
 

Tailspin Turtle

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XP67_Moonbat said:
Who knows. I'm just quoting the book. It also states it in the picture caption on my last post. But you never know. There could always have been alternate engine. So maybe, just maybe. Right? ;)
Everybody could be right. Rocketdyne was formed as a division of North American in 1955. North American reportedly started the FJ-4F effort the same year, and one first flew in April 1957. However, at that point the Navy was supplying a Reaction Motors engine to Vought for the F8U-3 and having Vought modify a couple of F8U-1s for test purposes. Reaction Motors got behind schedule (I don't know any details about the explosion at Vought), so the Navy reopened the bidding for a rocket engine in late 1957 to Rocketdyne and Aerojet. (The F4H was also going to have a auxiliary rocket option as a centerline store.) Rocketdyne won. So while the FJ-4F didn't start out as a test program for the F8U-3, it appears to have been developing/qualifying the rocket engine that turned out to be the Navy's subsequent choice for its deck-launched interceptor requirement.
 
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