The 'Demon' Was An All-Weather Tip Of The Spear Against The Soviets Of The Cold War

Demon Fighter Jet

Photo: digitizedchaos via Flickr

The F3H ‘Demon’ served as the U.S. Navy’s strong arm in the air from 1956 to 1965, when its younger brother, the famed F4 Phantom took to the skies.Though the Demon never saw much combat, it did serve as a deterrent against those pesky Soviets during the Cold War.

The Kremlin’s long range bombers didn’t stand a chance against the Demon — designed to lift off from a carrier well off the U.S. coast — intercept any insurgent aircraft.

Development started on the Demon in 1949 with the hopes that it could fly sorties in Korea.

Like many other defence initiatives, problems plagued the F3H, particularly the Westinghouse J40 engine.

Despite flying its maiden flight in 1951, it wasn't officially fielded until 1956, coming up short to support operations in Korea.

Too bad because the FH3 was a beast for its time: four 20mm canons, 4 sidewinder or sparrow missiles, and 3 tons of bomb capacity.

Originally manufacturers delivered 35 Demons to the Navy, which experienced problems with the J40 engine. Eight of those 35 crashed, prompting the Navy to ground the fleet.

Then the Navy re-equipped its newer Demons, the F3H-2N's, with the more reliable Allison J71 engine.

With its new engine, the Navy ramped up production, pumping out a whopping 519 demons by 1959.

Other pilots referred to the F3H's operators as 'Demon Drivers.' The mechanics were known as 'Demon Doctors.'

Though eventually the disappointing output of both the J40 and J71 engines led pilots to call the jet the 'Lead sled.'

The Demon was a bit too heavy, and at times mechanics would remove two of the four 20mm canons.

Also the engines would suffer flame outs, and pilots would have to ditch the stricken birds.

Then ejection seat problems occurred, so the Navy outfitted newer versions of the F3H with the Martin Baker ejection seat.

Still, problems aside, the F3H was the beast of its time and perhaps the first jet aircraft designed solely with dogfighting in mind.

It also had folding wingtips, so Admirals could pack their decks with Demons.

Developers refer to the diagonal wing assembly as 'swept wing,' which was a technology pioneered by German engineers in World War II.

The sparrow missiles on the aircraft were 'unguided,' and relied on radar to track targets.

The sidewinders used an infrared tip, spawning the term 'heat seeking.'

The F3H retired in 1965 after 9 years without a significant engagement.

Now, enthusiasts can see the FH3 in museums, and on the deck of the USS Intrepid in New York City.

You've seen the F3H Demon ....

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