Historical Snapshot

F2H Banshee Fighter

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 War.

The F2H-2 Banshee included 200-gallon (757-liter) 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 (15,000 meters).

The F2H-3 fuselages were 8 feet (2.4 meters) longer than the F2H-2s and accommodated radar equipment and an extra 1,102 gallons (4171 liters) 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.

    Technical Specifications

    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