F2H Banshee Fighter

F2H-2 Banshee fighter flying over water

The McDonnell F2H Banshee fighter, immortalized by James Michener in his novel, The Bridges of Toko-Ri, was similar in design and appearance to the FH-1 Phantom, but it had twice the power and carried bombs as well as rockets and cannons. McDonnell Aircraft Corp. built 895 Banshees, and they established the company as a new star in the U.S. aircraft manufacturing industry.

The Banshee was a multimission aircraft: used as a day fighter, as a night fighter and for photoreconnaissance; a variant was specially strengthened to carry nuclear weapons. It went into combat in 1951 and served as one of the principal fighters with the Navy's Seventh Fleet for the duration of the Korean conflict.

The F2H-2 Banshee included 200-gallon fuel tanks for the wingtips. By installing the engines in the expanded wing roots next to the fuselage, engineers reduced aerodynamic drag. In 1949, an F2H-2 set a jet altitude record of 52,000 feet.

The F2H-3 fuselages were 8 feet longer than the F2H-2s and accommodated radar equipment and an extra 1,102 gallons of gas. Some were fitted for aerial refueling. Banshees became the U.S. Navy's standard aircraft for all-weather fighter missions of extended range and served with the Navy until September 1959, when the Canadian Navy acquired 39 former F2H-3s. These remained in service until September 1962.

First flight: Jan. 11, 1947
Model number: F2H-2
Wingspan: 44 feet 11 inches (without tip tanks, 41 feet 8 inches)
Length: 40 feet 4 inches
Height: 14 feet 6 inches
Weight: 14,234
Ceiling: 48,500 feet
Speed: 586 mph (max.)
Range: 1,200 miles
Power plant: Two 3,250-pound-thrust J34-WE-34 turbojets
Accommodation: 1 crew
Armament: Four 20 mm cannons, 1,000-pound bomb load