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Unsung fighter — McDonnell’s F2H Banshee

7 May 2012

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 🙂

The Banshee pictured below waits for all to see her in her original condition at the National Naval Aviation Museum and here is the F2H Banshee fact sheet.

The McDonnell F2H Banshee in the National Naval Aviation Museum, note the 20mm cannon ports — photo by Joseph May

Aft view of the port wing root mounted engine — photo by Joseph May

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 May 2012 05:29

    The McDonnell F2H Banshee was a screamer. For us that truely have that deep passion for flight we get thrills and chills just hearing the Banshee scream across the shy. Have you ever heard one? There is the sexy way it sounds as she comes in on final too, wow, I guess I am dating myself again… Joe, thanks for the memories…

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      7 May 2012 11:07

      You are an early riser JR! I was up at 5:30 and you had already posted :@

      I wasn’t fortunate enough to hear a Banshee — in fact you’ve added to my knowledge in that it had a unique and “sexy” sound 🙂

      Tune in next Friday for more.


  2. 7 May 2012 12:13

    Yes Joe, she had a most unique sound as she coasts in on final, sort of like a high moaning sound and then a declining “sighing” sound when she was spooling down too, if you know what I mean… 😉
    There was no other sound quite like her sexy sigh as she spools down… 😉

    Perhaps the loud thrilling screaching scream when she came by at full throttle doing a low pass, is where the Banshee (Jet) got Her “nickname”…

    Perhaps she was really satisfied when she was finally back on deck…
    and just maybe that’s why she then had that long sexy “sigh”…
    with smile of satisfaction and another good flight… 🙂

    I’m lookin’ forward to the next installment Friday Thanks Joe,

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