McDonnell F2H-4/F-2D Banshee

Last revised December 24, 1999

The F2H-4 Banshee differed from the F2H-3 in having the improved and more reliable Hughes AN/APG-37 radar in place of the Westinghouse AN/APQ-41. In addition, it was fitted with a pair of more powerful Westinghouse J34-WE-38 turbojets, rated at 3600 lb.s.t. each. It was otherwise identical to the F2H-3, and the two versions could generally be distinguished from each other only by an examination of their serial numbers.

A prototype for the F2H-4 was obtained by modifying F2H-3 BuNo 126319. The last of 150 F2H-4s was delivered the Navy on September 24, 1953. This brought the end to the production of the Banshee.

In service, F2H-4s (like the F2H-3 before it) were retrofitted with a triangular-shaped extension forward of the tailplane leading edge to correct a flutter problem. Several F2H-4s were also fitted with an air refuelling probe that replaced the upper port cannon and which protruded forward of the radome.

With its stablemate the F2H-3, the F2H-4 served as the fleet's standard carrier-based all-weather fighter throughout much of the mid- to late-1950s. In June of 1954, the F2H-3 and -4 were among the first Navy aircraft to be launched from the USS *Hancock* (CV-19) during initial tests of the new steam catapult.

The F2H-4 served with several front-line Navy and Marine Corps squadrons during the mid and late 1950s. Following its withdrawal from front-line service, the F2H-4 continued to serve with reserve units until 1961, when the last examples were retired and placed in storage.

On September 18, 1962, the US Department of Defense combined all Air Force and Navy aircraft designations into the existing Air Force system. A new F-for-fighter series was begun, and Navy and Marine Corps fighters were redesignated to fit in with the new system. Although all existing Navy Banshees were by now in storage and no longer flying, the F2H-4 was redesignated F-2D.

Serials of the F2H-4

126351/126353		McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee
127547/127693		McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee

Specification of the F2H-4 Banshee:

Engines: Two Westinghouse J34-WE-38 turbojets, 3600 lb.s.t. each. Performance: Maximum speed 527 mph at sea level, 524 mph at 35,000 feet. Initial climb rate 5900 feet per minute. Landing speed 114 mph. Service ceiling 46,600 feet. Normal range was 1170 miles, combat range was 620 miles, and maximum range was 1716 miles. Normal internal fuel capacity was 1102 US gallons. With the two wingtip tanks fitted, a total of 1442 US gallons could be carried. Weights were 13,183 pounds empty, 21,200 pounds loaded, 28,500 pounds maximum takeoff. Dimensions were wingspan 45 feet 0 inches (with wingtip tanks fitted), wingspan 41 feet 8.8 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 48 feet 2 inches, height 13 feet 11.4 inches, wing area 294.1 square feet. Armament consisted of four 20-mm M12 or M16 cannon, with 220 rpg for the upper pair and 250 rpg for the lower pair. An external offensive load of up to 4000 pounds of bombs or rockets could be carried on eight underwing hardpoints. In later years, a Sidewinder air-to-air infrared homing missile could be carried beneath each wing.


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  2. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  3. The World Guide to Combat Planes, William Green, Macdonald, 1966.

  4. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft Armament, Bill Gunston, Orion, 1988.

  5. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.