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F3D Skyknight

F3D Skyknight
Click on the F3D Skyknight to hear the wav sound.

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Westinghouse J-34
2 x 3,400 lbs. ea.
15,000 lbs.
26,730 lbs.
1,350 U.S. gals.
300 U.S. Gals.
2,000 lbs.
4 x 20 mm
45 ft. 5 in.
50 ft.
450 mph
530 mph
3,000 fpm
36,700 feet
1,375 miles

The F3D Skyknight, built by Douglas, was one of the first jets produced as a dedicated all weather aircraft specialized for fighting at night. It served with the U.S.N. and U.S.M.C.

The F3D Skyknight was a stout weapons platform, with room for sufficient fuel for long missions, plus a heavy radar system. The pilot and radar operator sat in the cockpit side by side.

The F3D Skyknight served admirably during the Korean War. They were primarily assigned as night time attack aircraft and for escorting heavy bombers.

Night attacks generally consisted of sorties against heavily fortified enemy armor positions.

For convoying bombing formations, the F3D Skyknight, in addition to flying with the bombers, would take up positions in advance of their flight path to intercept potential interceptors. A dozen or more F3D Skyknight aircraft would typically escort a bombing formation on its mission.

Enemy jets would usually attack in groups of up to half a dozen aircraft. Not being equipped with on-board radar, the jets would be guided by ground radar stations. The North Koreans would send a single aircraft up to try to lure the slower, less maneuverable F3D Skyknight into going after it. While the F3D Skyknight was so occupied, the remaining enemy aircraft would try to attack the F3D Skyknight from above and behind. The brilliant exhaust of the twin F3D Skyknight engines was visible from the rear of the aircraft at up to eight miles on a cloudless night.

The F3D Skyknight relied on a rear warning radar to detect closing enemy aircraft. They would quickly dive as an evasive maneuver, trying to get the fast flying enemy jets to overshoot them. Then they would use their on board radar to regain the offensive on the enemy aircraft which was flying blind at night.

The F3D Skyknight piloted by Marines claimed six victories over enemy aircraft, with a loss of two of their own aircraft during the Korean War.

A small number of F3D Skyknight aircraft saw action again during the early Vietnam War through 1969. This time the aircraft were used for ECM (Electronic Counter Measures). During their missions the F3D Skyknight spotted hostile radar installations, often using their electronic equipment to render them defenseless, while attack aircraft knocked them out. The F3D Skyknight was said to be extremely capable in its mission.

A total of 265 F3D Skyknight aircraft of all types were produced. They continued to serve with the U.S.M.C. through 1970. A small number of the aircraft flew as test aircraft for military contractors into 1980.

F3D Skyknight
Owen and his F3D Skyknight

We want to thank Owen Hedger, from Australia, for sending us the pictures of his magnificent F3D Skyknight appearing on this page, and the following email:

"My F3D Skyknight is approximately 1/8th scale. It is a Power Scale Soaring model that is a glider for flying of a large slope. As is frequently the case, PSS models have their wing dimensions stretched to ensure they provide enough lift to carry aircraft that typically have a high wing loading. I did stretch this a little more than the typical upper limit, but it is a bulky subject.

The final weight of the F3D Skyknight is almost 18 lbs. The bulk of the fuselage is white foam over a pine 20 mm x 12 mm spine and 13 formers that is sheeted in obechi. Typically balsa is used instead, but that is quite expensive, and I had access to some obechi and decided to try that for sheeting. There is fiberglass tissue over the top. It's a great finish, but sheeting it with obechi was very time consuming. My last model I put fiberglass straight over the foam fuselage and was very happy with the result. Wings and control surfaces are still sheeted for the strength it provides.

My F3D Skyknight was constructed to be flown at the Manilla Slope Fest. Manilla (double l) is a small rural town in NSW where I grew up. The event takes place at Mount Borah which is an internationally recognized paragliding location (check out flymanilla.com). You may have heard about the female para glider pilot that survived being sucked up to 30,000 ft in a storm. That was at Manilla.

The event is essentially for like minded people to just enjoy flying at a great location. We do have some international visitors; they seem to enjoy having a holiday in rural Australia. There are a few competitions that are just for fun and a PSS competition is one. Part of PSS competition is how the model files, but conditions haven't been the best for the heavy PSS models for the last few years (the event started in 2009). This year one of the afternoons had great conditions for the PSS section and I got to fly my F3D Skyknight, which was last years build, and another airplane, which was this years build for which was awarded PSS champion 2012. There are only a few of us that build large PSS models for Manilla, but an award I found very humbling.

The F3D Skyknight flew very will. The trim and the low rate controls were pretty close to spot on. The only trim was a little up elevator. If one wasn't aware of it's actual weight, you wouldn't estimate that it was any where near 18 lbs. by it's flight performance. Low passes were a little tricky as the lift in close was bumpy and there were people the full length of the slope taking pictures and video. The flight of the F3D Skyknight was short, as the lift got a bit soft. Rather than risking a difficult landing, it was brought in early.

Purely by chance, the whistle created by it's intakes does resemble the sound recording of the F3D Skyknight that you have, but is not audible on the the video I have of the flight so far.

That is my son Alex in the pictures.

F3D Skyknight specs are: 101" wingspan with MH-32 airfoil, 69" length, and a weight of about 18 lbs. for a wing loading of 30 oz/ft. Elevator airfoil is NACA-0008. Controls are ailerons, flaps, rudder, and elevator. There is no speed brake as on full scale version."

Owen's son Alex with his F3D Skyknight.

Launching the F3D Skyknight.

F3D Skyknight in flight.

The F3D Skyknight is rarely modeled. However, if you use your imagination and stand way back and squint, many jets of the era could look a little like the F3D Skyknight.

Although not much can be done about the shape of the F3D Skyknight fuselage, or the position of the engines, it is possible to square off the wings, add the wider cockpit, shorting the landing gear struts, and change the tail feathers to make the models more closely resemble a F3D Skyknight.

Add the correct color scheme with graphics and you can tell the folks at your flying field that you have a F3D Skyknight. We would think that, at first glance, not many people could tell the difference.  Many straight wing jets of the F3D Skyknight era had similar looks.

The bottom picture on this page is of the 1/48 scale F3D Skyknight plastic model from a Czech Model kit built by Rich Filteau. The kit is high quality and contains 80 pieces. It appears to have been discontinued, but may be found on eBay.

Czech Model 1/48 scale F3D Skyknight.

If you know of a F3D Skyknight or have any suggestions for kit bashing a particular model into a F3D Skyknight, please email us.