After failing to design a suitable replacement for the Sud-Est Aquilon, the French looked toward the U.S. for a naval fighter. The French Navy would later select the Vought F-8 Crusader, a single-seat fighter that could serve aboard the smaller French carrier vessels. This required a few airframe modifications like a larger tailplane and more responsive control surfaces. The F-8E (FN) would keep the four 20-mm cannons and the ability to fire AIM-9Bs; however, it was modified to also launch the Matra R530. France ordered 42 Crusaders and would use them for over 30 years until the Dassault Rafale replaced them.
Introduced in Update "Direct Hit", the ▄F-8E(FN) Crusader II is a decent aircraft but with major disadvantages. Firstly, the F-8E (FN) lacks any countermeasures which is a big disappointment for its battle rating where high G missiles are quite common. It can also carry only two Matra Magic 1s which have a short range compared to AIM-9D Sidewinders. The F-8E (FN) also lacks any ground ordnance, so ground attack abilities are very limited. Overall, the F-8E (FN) is okay but the lack of countermeasures, long-range missiles, and ground ordnance greatly limits its capability.
The French Crusader is a very agile aircraft, propelled by a powerful afterburning jet engine. When equipped with its new boosters and G-suit, it is not uncommon to engage enemy aircraft with double digit load factors. The complement of missiles is installed on horizontal hardpoints, affixed to the fuselage, and the whings are thus free of load, and can support extremely agressive manoeuvres. Also, it's enormous tail planes gives the Crusader high angles of attack capabilities.
The aircraft does not compress at high speeds but will tend to consume its energy while dogfighting relatively quickly, when compared to the extremely light F-5, or the gigantically powered MiG-21. This means that agressive manoeuvres should be reserved for clean kills, whereas speed is the Crusader's ally in furballs, constantly harrassing enemies, engaged elsewhere, or unaware of its presence. Speed-wise, the French Crusader is victim to a strange effect, that makes it often stuck at Mach 1.00, close to sea level. while it's acceleration is on-par, when compared to its contemporaries. Researching new airframe and engine upgrades tend to mitigate this effect, but never alleviate it completely.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 10,668 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear||Drogue chute|
The Crusader is a heavy carrier-borne fighter. Because of its weight, it is constructed with a variable angle of attack wing plane. This means that the wings can change position to act as a single, giant, take-off flap (see picture). This feature is not associated to the "variable geometry" control input, but rather is considered the Landing position of the flaps.
It is possible to use this feature to its advantage in a low speed dogfight, and using the higher angle of attack to turn into the circle of the opponent, sacrificing your own speed in the process, to attack with a missile or gun fire. Note that whether the manoeuvre succeeds or fails, the Crusader with be left in a extremely vulnerable position until it regains speed.
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 1,000||< 590||< 500||N/A|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|Pratt & Whitney J57-P-20A||1||9,084 kg||380 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|| Max Takeoff|
|Weight (each)||Type||15m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||45m fuel||52m fuel|
|1,592 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||10,331 kg||10,681 kg||11,479 kg||12,676 kg||13,240 kg||15,468 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||15m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||45m fuel||52m fuel||MTOW|
|Stationary||4,562 kgf||8,520 kgf||0.83||0.80||0.74||0.67||0.64||0.55|
|Optimal|| 4,804 kgf
| 9,543 kgf
Survivability and armour
The F-8E(FN) possesses no armour on any part of the aircraft. it has a 25 mm thick bulletproof glass front canopy reclined at 70°, and self-sealing tanks. These protection devices are of very little help, because such a thickness of bulletproof glass will virtually never stop cold war era jet guns, ranging in the 20-30 mm of diameter, and the self-sealing tanks are incapable of sealing even a single hole of such a diameter. Overall, the Crusader has little chances of surviving a missile hit, but can sometimes be seen surviving a 20 mm volley, just enough to get its pilot back to base, although it remains a minority of occurrences.
Modifications and economy
As any fighter of its battle rating, the missiles complement are an absolute priority, multiplying the capabilities of the aircraft tenfold. Every missile type is stacked in a single line, and the aircraft is the last of its line, meaning each component is very expensive, RP wise. Nevertheless, each new missile component is an upgrade from the last, finishing with the dreaded Matra 550 Magic 1 missile.
The components associated with the airflow dynamics of the aircraft are also important.
The F-8E(FN) (France) is armed with:
- 4 x 20 mm Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 3 cannons, cheek-mounted (144 rpg = 576 total)
The 20 mm Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 3 cannons are stacked in the centre of the aircraft, on each side of the air intake. It is to be noted that unlike the French 30 mm DEFA guns, that are on every French made aircraft from BR 8.3 up to this BR, these guns carry a much smaller explosive charge per round, but at a substantially higher velocity, allowing to fire at opponents with a lower lead.
Warning: These cannons can and will overheat extremely quickly, after a salvo of approximately 1.2 - 1.4 seconds. Short bursts are advised, as they are often sufficient and conserve ammunition.
1 x Matra R530 air-to-air missiles
The F-8E(FN) (France) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
- 2 x Matra R530E missiles
- 2 x Matra R530 missiles
- 1 x Matra R530 missile + 1 x Matra R530E missile
- 2 x Matra R550 Magic 1 missiles
The whole range of suspended armament available to the French F-8E(FN) are exclusively air-to-air missiles.
The AIM-9B Sidewinder are of poor performance at this tier and can only be used against players that are unaware of the Crusader's presence. They are sufficient to engage and destroy AI aircraft to gain the necessary research points to unlock the next missiles. Note that these missiles are the only ones that can be carried in a cluster of four.
The Matra 530 is a good upgrade from the AIM-9B Sidewinder. The radar-guided 530 gives the Crusader BVR capabilities, and all-aspect capabilities, that are superior in range (albeit less agile) to the radar-guided AIM-9C carried by the American counterpart of the F-8E. The usage of a radar guided missile with a flare-less aircraft can be dangerous because the optimal altitudes of the missile will not allow the F-8E to evade any incoming enemy threats, if they also carry radar missiles.
The Matra 530E, unlocked after the 530 is a viable alternative to the 530 if the player has not mastered the radar guidance, or simply doesn't like the radar-guided version.
At rank 4 of modifications, the Matra 550 Magic 1 is unlocked. With its 30G overload, and Mach 3.00 max speed, this missile is a revolution in the arsenal of the Crusader, giving it the capability to fire a missile in dogfight, as a snap-fire, or off-boresight. The Magic 1 is also slaved to the radar, giving it an even higher hit-probability if the target is tracked by radar at launch.
Overall, the complement of missiles available to the F-8E(FN) is representative to the French cold war missile arsenal, with different engagement methods, tracking systems, and size.
Usage in battles
The entirety of the tactics available to the F-8E(FN) are limited by its lack of flares. The French Crusader will not be able to survive a missile exchange, and is vulnerable to all-aspect IR missiles, that are available to some aircraft at this tier.
In the same concept, the French Crusader cannot be played at high altitude like its American counterpart, because it will be quickly picked off by a radar-guided missile like an early AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9C, or R-3R that it will not be able to evade.
With these two factors into account, the F-8E(FN) must be played as a harrasser. The missiles it can carry emphasize this, as they are either not very manoeuvrable, or have a short range.
If a French F-8E arrives onto an already engaged enemy group, it can wreak havoc with its high manoeuvrability, and engage basically any target with great effect. As long as attention is not drawn onto the Crusader, it can re-engage at will, always keeping up its speed, picking off enemies.
If despite that, a missile is fired upon the French Crusader, its speed protects it from most IR missiles like the AIM-9B/E, or the R-60 and will outrun them. This is not the case for later generation AIM-9Ls and equivalents.
As with its neighbours in the french tech-tree, the Mirage IIIC and the Mirage 5F (and the Milan, to some extent), the aircraft has to remain close to supersonic as much as possible.
Overall, the F-8E(FN) is a quite difficult aircraft to master, especially selecting when and where to strike and where not to, but the skills developed while playing it are very useful for the entirety of the other French supersonic jets.
Pros and cons
- Powerful air-to-air missiles available
- R550 Magic 1s have high manoeuvrability
- R530E missiles have long range and can catch opponents by surprise
- Landing flaps activate its variable-incidence wings, which provides a lot of lift
- Very good sustained turn rate
- Good acceleration and climb rate
- Although it has powerful air-to-air missiles, it can only take two of them at once
- Fragile wings, easy to rip at high speeds and in high-G turns
- Fuel tank placement on aircraft makes it very likely to be set on fire
- Slow low level top speed compared to other supersonic competitors; can barely get past Mach 1 at low altitude
- No flare/chaff countermeasures
- No ground attack payload options whatsoever
To replace the aging Sud-Est Aquilon, a variant of the Sea Venom, France was looking for a new aircraft that could serve aboard the new French carrier vessels. After many failed designs were submitted by the native French air industry, the French Navy looked towards foreign aircraft for a replacement. The Vought F-8 Crusader was selected and an order of 40 single F-8E and six TF-8E (two-seaters) was placed. Unfortunately, the two-seat variant of the Crusader never came to fruition and the order was changed to 42 single-seat F-8Es. The French F-8E would later be designated the F-8E (FN), the “FN” signifying the French Navy.
The first deliveries of the French Crusaders began in the mid-1960s and were sent to two squadrons, Flotille 12F and Flotille 14F. The F-8E (FN) had the standard armament of four 20-mm cannons mounted in the nose and the ability to utilize AIM-9B Sidewinders. In addition, the F-8E (FN) was modified to launch and carry both the infrared and radar variants of the Matra 530 missile. There was also an upgrade program in the early 1990s that introduced IFF, ILS, a radar altimeter, and more. It took roughly three years for the program to be completed. In 2000, the F-8E (FN) was finally replaced by the Dassault Rafale.
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- reference to the series of the aircraft;
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|Chance Vought Aircraft|
|Corsair||F4U-1A · F4U-1A (USMC) · F4U-1C · F4U-1D · F4U-4 · F4U-4B · F4U-4B VMF-214|
|Float planes||OS2U-1 · OS2U-3|
|Bombers||SB2U-2 · SB2U-3|
|Corsair II||A-7D · A-7E · A-7K|
|Crusader||F8U-2 · F-8E|
|Export||V-156-B1 · V-156-F · ▄Corsair F Mk II · F4U-7 · ▄F-8E(FN)|
|France jet aircraft|
|Fighters||M.D.450B Ouragan · M.D.450B Barougan · M.D.452 IIA · M.D.452 IIC · Mystere IVA · Super Mystere B2|
|▄F-86K · ▄F-100D · ▄F-8E(FN)|
|Mirage IIIC · Mirage IIIE · Milan · Mirage 5F · Mirage F1C · Mirage F1C-200 · Mirage F1CT · Mirage 2000C-S5 · Mirage 2000-5F|
|Strike aircraft||▄F-84F · F-84F IAF · ▄F-84G-26-RE|
|Etendard IVM · Super Etendard · Jaguar A · Jaguar E · Mirage 2000D-R1|
|Bombers||S.O.4050 Vautour IIA · Vautour IIA IDF/AF · S.O.4050 Vautour IIB · S.O.4050 Vautour IIN · S.O.4050 Vautour IIN (late)|