An illustrated study of the F3D Skyknights and their deployment during the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as their key role both as escort aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft.
The Douglas F3D Skyknight was an early but effective attempt at combining new technologies together in a lethal package capable of shipboard operation. Whereas most fighters relied on speed and maneuverability, the portly, straight-winged F3D relied on three radars, four 20mm cannon, and -- most importantly -- darkness. Having first flown in March 1948, the Skyknight's first taste of war came in September 1952, when Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513 [VMF(N)-513] deployed to Korea. The most important job assigned to VMF(N)-513 was the escorting of USAF B-29 bombers over northern Korea. Whereas Chinese and North Korean MiG-15s relied on ground-controlled intercept radar for steering guidance into firing positions, the F3D, with its own onboard radars, was autonomously lethal – it could detect, track, and target MiGs all on its own. Skyknight crews ended the Korean War with six nocturnal kills in exchange for one combat loss.
After the war, 35 Skyknights were converted into electronic warfare (EW) aircraft. As US air operations over North Vietnam intensified in early 1965, the need for a tactical EW jet to provide electronic countermeasures (ECM) protection to accompany strike packages north became apparent. For all of its early effectiveness over North Vietnam, the proliferation of radar-guided guns and missiles began to erode the advantage created by EF-10 escort support, which flew its last combat mission in October 1969.
This highly illustrated volume explores the F3D Skynights and their deployment during the Korean and Vietnam wars, using first-hand accounts from aircrew, original photographs, and 30 profile artworks to explore their key roles as an escort aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft.