F8U-1 "Crusader" Press Release

Written by: David Powell


Now, following a painstaking, nine year restoration, the museum’s F-8 Crusader is finally ready to re-enter the limelight. On Sunday, August 30, the restored aircraft will be reintroduced to the public as it moves back into the public exhibit area at the Wings of Freedom Museum. Members of the public are invited to attend this exciting unveiling, which showcases the hard work of dozens of volunteer members of the Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association.


As it is slowly rolled into position from the restoration hangar, the aircraft will come into public view at about 11:00 a.m. and reach its permanent exhibit location at about noon.


The F-8’s first starring role for the military was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when it provided the best available low altitude surveillance photographs of the Soviet ballistic missile installations being constructed in Cuba.


A few years later, the F-8 would become a crucial element in ensuring American air superiority over southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. U.S. pilots in F-8s were credited with shooting down 19 Soviet-made MiG fighter planes flown by North Vietnamese forces during the course of the conflict. Known in some military aviation circles as “the last gunfighter,” the F-8 was the last U.S. fighter plane to use machine guns, rather than missiles, as its primary weapon.


The F-8 Crusader at the Wings of Freedom museum is a F8U-1, the earliest variant of the aircraft. It rolled off the assembly line in December 1957 and entered service with both the Navy and Marine Reserve Fighter Squadrons at Naval Air Station Alameda in California. Later in its service, it was moved to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, where the DVHAA acquired it after it was decommissioned during the 1970s.


For more than a quarter-century, the plane remained on outdoor display at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham, exposed to the elements. Badly weathered and in an advanced state of deterioration, it was removed from display in 2006. 38 DVHAA volunteers, many of whom serviced and repaired F-8s and various other types of aircraft during previous military service, have since spent more than 4,600 hours restoring the plane to a state that resembles its original factory appearance.


Credentialed members of the press will be admitted to the museum free of charge on August 30. Regular admission to the museum is $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for children. Children under 6 and active duty members of the military are free. Family and group admission rates are available.