McDonnell F2H Banshee "1947"

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a single-engine ground-attack aircraft that constitutes the second generation of the Harrier Jump Jet family, capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL).

McDonnell F2H Banshee "1947"

Role Carrier-based fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Aircraft
First flight 11 January 1947
Introduction August 1948
Retired 30 September 1959 USN 1959 USMC
1960 USN, USMC (F2H-2P) 1961 USNR, USMCR
12 September 1962 RCN
Primary users United States Navy / United States Marine Corps / Royal Canadian Navy
Produced 1947 to 1953
Number built 895
Developed from McDonnell FH Phantom


McDonnell F2H Banshee "1947"

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McDonnell F2H Banshee "1947"

The McDonnell F2H Banshee (internally, the McDonnell Model 24) was a single-seat carrier-based jet fighter aircraft deployed by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps from 1948 to 1961. It was one of the primary American fighters used during the Korean War and was the only jet-powered fighter deployed by the Royal Canadian Navy.[1] The aircraft’s name is derived from the banshee of Irish mythology.

The Banshee was a development of the FH Phantom, and planning started before the Phantom entered production. McDonnell engineers intended the aircraft to be a modified Phantom that shared many parts with the earlier aircraft, but it soon became clear that the need for heavier armament, greater internal fuel capacity, and other improvements would make the idea unfeasible.[2]

The new aircraft would use much larger and more powerful engines, a pair of newly developed Westinghouse J34 turbojets, nearly doubling the total thrust from 3,200 to 6,000 lbf (14,000 to 27,000 N) compared to the Phantom but since the larger engines still had to fit within the wing roots, this required a larger and thicker wing.

Douglas Banshee Design

Similarities to the FH-1 meant that McDonnell was able to complete the first F2H-1 in August 1948, a mere three months after the last FH-1 was built.[8] Compared to the XF2D-1, the F2H was larger all around [9] and fuel capacity was increased to 877 US gal (3,320 l; 730 imp gal). The empennage was new, the dorsal fin was reduced and dihedral was eliminated from the horizontal stabilizers. The wing and tail were reduced in thickness to increase the critical Mach number and different airfoil sections were used. The F2H-1 was retrofitted with 3,150 lbf (14,000 N) engines as they became available.

F2H-2B with extra pylon near intake for carrying a nuclear bomb
F2H-2N night fighter
F2H-2P with extended camera nose, post-1955


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McDonnell/Douglas F2H Banshee (1947)

n 1951, the RCN drafted a $40 million deal for 60 new Banshees to replace obsolete Hawker Sea Furies. Unfortunately, due to fiscal wrangling in the Parliament of Canada, the purchase was not approved until after Banshee production had ended in 1953. The RCN acquired 39 second-hand US Navy F2H-3s for $25 million which were delivered from 1955 to 1958. They would be flown from HMCS Bonaventure or as NORAD interceptors from shore bases.

In order to improve the Banshee as an interceptor, the RCN equipped their aircraft with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. The RCN conducted sea trials of the Sidewinder in November 1959, during which several remotely piloted drones were downed.


  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 48 ft 2 in (14.68 m)
  • Wingspan: 41 ft 9 in (12.73 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
  • Empty weight: 13,183 lb (5,980 kg)
  • Gross weight: 21,013 lb (9,531 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 25,214 lb (11,437 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojet engines, 3,250 lbf (14.5 kN) thrust each
  • Maximum speed: 580 mph (930 km/h, 500 kn) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 461 mph (742 km/h, 401 kn)
  • Combat range: 1,168 mi (1,880 km, 1,015 nmi) on internal fuel
  • Ferry range: 1,710 mi (2,760 km, 1,490 nmi) with 2 170-gal drop tanks
  • Service ceiling: 47,000 ft (14,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,000 ft/min (30 m/s) 
  • 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) Colt Mk 12 cannon, 220 rounds/gun (upper pair), 250 rounds/gun (lower pair)
  • 8 × 60 lb (27 kg) High Explosive rockets
  • 6 × 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and 2 × 60 lb (27 kg) H.E. rockets

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On 27 July 2014, USS Bataan began deploying USMC AV-8Bs over Iraq to provide surveillance of Islamic State (IS) forces. Surveillance operations continued after the start of Operation Inherent Resolve against IS militants. In early September 2014, a USMC Harrier from the 22nd MEU struck an IS target near the Haditha Dam in Iraq, marking the first time a USMC unit dropped ordnance in the operation.

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