McDonnell FH-1 Phantom

Larkins Collection                          FH-1 (SN 111779)                Photograph by Bill Balogh
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     The XFD-1 Phantom began when the U.S. Navy asked McDonnell to draft designs for a jet-powered fighter, and issued a contract for the twin-engined prototype on August 30, 1943.  Originally designated XFD-1, Later re-designated FH-1 the Phantom prototype was first flown on January 26, 1945, and once in production became the U.S. Navy's first pure jet fighter.

     The Phantom was a conventional straight-wing, all-metal aircraft, it was only McDonnell's second in-house design and the first to go into mass production. One of the more notable events in the FH-1's history took place during testing, when it took to the air on the power of only one engine, as the second powerplant was not available before the airframe was completed. All Phantoms were built at the company's plant in St. Louis, and the last was delivered on May 27, 1948.

     On July 21, 1946 the XFD-1 became the first jet to take off and land aboard an aircraft carrier (the U.S.S. Franklin Roosevelt), and later became the first jet assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps. Phantoms outfitted the world's first carrier-based jet fighter squadron, and were also used by the world's first jet demonstration team, the U.S. Marine Corps' Flying Leathernecks. It flew in Navy and Marine Corps service from July 1947 to July 1950, then with the Naval Reserves until July 1953..

Technical Information:

Type: Carrier-based fighter
Wingspan: 40'9"
Length: 38'9"
Weight: 10,035 lbs.
Powerplant: Two 1,600 lb thrust Westinghouse J30-WE-20 turbojet engines
Max Speed: 479 mph at 30,000'
Service Ceiling: 41,100'
Armament: Four nose mounted .50 cal. machine guns
Load: Provisions for eight wing mounted air-to-ground rockets
Crew: 1 Pilot
First Order: 1943
First Delivery: Jan. 26, 1945
Last Delivery: May 1948
Number Procured: 61
First operating unit: July 23, 1945 VF-17A

Copyright 1999NASGIVM  All rights reserved.
Revised: June 30, 2010