The F8U-2NE was the final production version of the Crusader for the US Navy. It was an improvement of the F8U-2N with a new and even larger APQ-94 search and fire-control radar that gave it improved all-weather capability. The larger scanner required by the radar necessitated an enlarged and slightly extended nose cone, increasing the overall length of the F8U-2NE by three inches. The radar scanner was surmounted by a housing for an infrared scanner that was used in conjunction with the Sidewinder missiles. Additional avionics were installed in a hump in the wing center section which made the aircraft capable of firing the AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-surface. However, this weapon was rarely actually used.
The F8U-2NE differed from previous Crusaders in having a substantial air-to-ground capability. On all but the first few examples of the F8U-2NE, there were two underwing pylons provided, each capable of carrying a 2000-lb bomb. The F8U-2NE could carry the full range of attack weapons, up to 5000 pounds, a typical load being four 1000-pound bombs plus eight Zuni unguided rockets carried on launchers attached to the sides of the fuselage.
The first F8U-2NE was obtained by modifying F8U-1 BuNo 143710. Its first flight was on June 30, 1961. The first production F8U-2NE was delivered in September of 1962.
On September 18, 1962, the F8U-2NE was redesignated F-8E under the new unified Tri-Service designation system.
The first carrier trials of the F-8E took place aboard the USS Forrestal in 1963. A total of 286 F-8Es were built, the last example rolling off the production line in the summer of 1964.
It was the E model of the Crusader that was responsible for the greatest number of Crusader MiG kills in Vietnam (11).
149134/149227 Vought F8U-2NE Crusader - redesignated F-8E in 1962. 150285/150355 Vought F8U-2NE Crusader - redesignated F-8E in 1962 150654/150683 Vought F8U-2NE Crusader - redesignated F-8E in 1962 150843/150932 Vought F8U-2NE Crusader - redesignated F-8E in 1962
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20 turbojet, 10,700 lb.st dry, 18,000 lb.s.t with afterburning. Performance: Maximum speed: 1133 mph (Mach 1.72) at 35,000 feet. Cruising speed 570 mph at 28,600 feet Initial climb rate 27,200 feet per minute. Climb to 57,000 feet in 6 minutes. Service ceiling 59,000 feet. Combat celling 52,350 feet. Combat radius 600 miles (unrefuelled). Combat range 1425 miles at 560 mph at 36,000 feet. Dimensions: wingspan 35 feet 8 inches, length 54 feet 6 inches, height 15 feet 9 inches, wing area 350 square feet. Weights: 17,836 pounds empty, 28,000 pounds fully loaded without external stores, 34,100 pounds gross. Armed with four 20-mm Colt Mk-12 cannon in the fuselage. Four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles could be carried on rails attached to the side of the fuselage. Up to 4000 pounds of bombs or rockets could be carried on the underwing pylons. For ground attack missions, twelve 250-pound bombs, eight 500-pound bombs, or four 1000-pound bombs, plus eight Zuni unguided air-to-surface rockets, or two AGM-12A or AGM-12B Bullpup missiles could be carried.