Today in History – March 25, 1966 – Major W.R. Chaffer ejects from his F-100D.

March 25, 1966 – While flying F-100D (#562960) out of Phan Rang, Major W.R. Chaffer “Blade O” was part of a flight scrambled to provide night close air support for troops in contact with the enemy 20 miles northeast of Bien Hoa. His Super Sabre was hit by automatic weapons fire on the second napalm run and he ejected from the doomed aircraft. An Army helo was able to outrace the Vietcong to MAJOR CHAFFER’s position and rescue him. Chaffer suffers minor injuries. (1)

Also on this day, March 25, 1955 – Chance Vought Aircraft Corporation experimental test pilot John William Konrad took the first prototype XF8U-1 Crusader, Bu. No. 138899, for its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of Southern California.

The new fighter had been transported from the factory at Dallas, Texas, aboard a Douglas C-124C Globemaster II, on 3 March 1955. It was reassembled and all systems were checked. Taxi tests began on 14 March.

During the first flight on 25 March, the Crusader went supersonic in level flight. It was able to maintain supersonic speeds (not only for short periods in a dive) and was the first fighter aircraft to exceed 1,000 miles per hour in level flight (1,609 kilometers per hour).

The F8U Crusader was known as “The Last of the Gunfighters” because it was the last American fighter aircraft to be designed with guns as the primary armament. It carried four Colt Mark 12 20-mm autocannon with 500 rounds of ammunition. It could also carry two AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-homing air-to-air missiles.

Because of a high accident rate, the Crusader has also been called “The Ensign Killer.”

According to information recently discovered by The Museum of Flight, fighter pilot, test pilot and future astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr., made his first flight in a Crusader when he flew Bu. No. 138899 on 4 May 1956. According to Glenn’s logbook, he made two flights in the prototype on that date, totaling 2 hours of flight time. Many thanks to Mike Martinez, a docent for the museum for providing this information. (2)

Source: (1)

Source: (2)

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