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McDonnell F2H Banshee



The McDon­nell F2H Banshee began life even be­fore the end of World War II when the US Navy requested an improved ver­sion of the FH-1 Phantom. Designed by a team headed by Herman D. Barkley, bearing a resemblance to the earlier type, the Banshee was of increased size, incorporating folding wings, and with a lengthened fuselage to house more fuel, and with similarly-mounted and more powerful Westinghouse turbojet engines. Conventional ailerons, elevators and rudder were fitted, and split trailing-edge flaps. Small air-brakes were in the top surface of the outer wings. A tricycle undercarriage, with a single wheel on each unit, has the mains retract outward into the wings, and the nose wheel retracts rearward. Fuel was in five tanks in the fuselage.


Three prototypes being ordered on 22 March 1945, as XF2D-1s, these later gaining the name Banshee. First flying in prototype form from St Louis, Missouri, on 11 January 1947, by then redesignated XF2H-1.

Initial trials were successfully accomplished, McDonnell being rewarded in May 1947 by a contract for 56 production F2H-l fighters, which began to enter service with VF-171 of the Atlantic Fleet during March 1949.


Like the later Phantom II, the Banshee proved to be a versatile machine, satisfactorily undertaking day and night fighter tasks, all-weather interception, close air support and photographic reconnaissance.

Following on from the original F2H-1 came the F2H-2, which had slightly more powerful engines and a longer fuselage. Production of the basic F2H-2 totalled 364, some of which were later modified to F2H-2B standard for close support tasks.


F2H-2 Banshee


14 examples of the F2H-2N specialized night-fighter derivative were also completed, these incorporating airborne interception radar in a slightly longer nose.

For reconnaissance, 89 F2H-2P aircraft were completed as new, these being unarmed and featuring six cameras in an elongated nose section.

Production then switched to the F2H-3 (in 1962 redesignated F-2C), which was optimized for all-weather fighter duties, the first of 250 entering service during April 1952 and being easily recognizable by virtue of a fuselage rather than fin-mounted tailplane, and was 8 ft longer than the -2, with more than double the internal fuel capacity and APQ-41 radar in the nose (250 built).

From November 1955, 39 ex-US Navy F2H-3s were transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. That service's first operational jet fighters, they were operated from HMCS Bonaventure until 12 September 1962, when the last examples were retired from service. They proved to be the last carrier-based fighters in Canadian service. Plans to acquire the F2H-3P for reconnaissance were abandoned.

The final production model was the F2H-4 (F-2D), which introduced improved APG-41 radar and more powerful engines, the 150th and last bringing production of the ‘Banjo’ to a close in August 1953.

The F2H was finally phased out of front line US Navy use on 30 September 1959, but remained with reserve units until the mid-‘sixties.

Contracts were to call eventually for a total of 892 production aircraft. 



XF2D-1 / XF2H-1
Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J34 turbojets
Number produced: 3

F2H-1 Banshee
Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J34-WE-22 turbojets, 3000
Length 40 ft 2 in
Armament: 4 x 20 mm cannon.
Number produced: 56

F2H-2 Banshee
Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojets, 3250
Length 40 ft 2 in
Armament: 4 x 20 mm cannon.
Number produced: 364

F2H-2B Banshee
Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J34-WE-22 turbojets, 3000
Length 40 ft 2 in
Armament: 4 x 20 mm cannon, 2 x 500 lb bomb.

Length 40 ft 2 in
Number produced: 14

F2H-2P Banshee
Armament: none
Number produced: 89

F2H-3 / F-2C
Engines: two 14.45kN (3,250-lb) thrust Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojets
Maximum speed 933 km/h (580 mph) at sea level
Service ceiling 14874 m (48,800 ft)
Max range 2374 km(1,475 miles)
Maximum speed 35,000 ft / 10,668 m: 532 mph / 856 kph
Empty weight 55056 kg (11,461 lb)
Maximum take-off 7802 kg (17,200 lb)
Wingspan 12.73 m (41 ft 9 in)
Length 14.68 m (48 ft 2 in)
Height 4.42 m (l4 ft 6 in)
Wing area 27.31 sq.m (294 sq.ft)
Armament: four 20-mm cannon, plus (Canadian aircraft only) two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
Crew: 1
Number produced: 250

F2H-4 / F-2D

Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J34-WE-38 turbojets, 3600
Wingspan: 44 ft. 11 in
Length: 47 ft. 6 in
Loaded weight: approx. 19,000 lb
Max speed: 610 m.p.h
Ceiling: 56,000 ft
Typical range: 2,000 miles at over 500 mph
Armament: 4 x 20 mm. cannon
Crew: 1


McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee



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