Unsung fighter — McDonnell’s F2H Banshee
Unsung Fighter — McDonnell’s F2H Banshee
The Banshee is unsung and unfairly so. I do not know why but I suspect it has to do largely with the U.S. Navy’s decision to not have swept wings on their early jet aircraft. The Navy had good rationale for this since aircraft carriers were still straight deck (i.e., not the angled flight deck, allowing for simultaneous launching and landing cycles, of today) and jet engines during the day were notorious for there long spool up times. The math was simple, a jet with a high sink rate (due to its swept wing) and slow response engines presented an unacceptable risk of fouling the flight deck during combat flight operations.
Where does the Banshee fit into this era, though, and why is it unsung?
The McDonnell F2H Banshee directly descends from their FH Phantom — having much more powerful engines for higher speed, longer range and higher service ceiling (44,800 feet/13,575m) — the Banshee is the aircraft the FH Phantom wanted to be. The fighter variant was the aircraft of choice to fly high cover escort for the B-29 heavy bomber missions which were so effective during the Korean War. Its high speed and altitude advantages along with and four 20mm cannon would give the advantage to her pilot should MiGs be ordered to intercept the Superfortresses.
The Navy realized that straight deck, or not, advanced high speed wing designs were the new standard and ordered “navalized” Sabres (FJ Fury) from North American to fill the gap until better carrier borne fighter designs could be brought forth.
The Banshee acquitted itself well in another variant, one for photo reconnaissance, and that is the subject of the next post