The Last Picture Plane
The RF-8 Crusader—often called the Photo Crusader—was the U.S. Navy’s last specialized photo plane in a lineage that extended to at least World War II. Probably the first dedicated photo plane derived from a carrier-based aircraft was the F4F-7 variant of the famed Wildcat fighter. A succession of fighter and attack aircraft configured for the photo-reconnaissance role followed.
The Photo Crusader was adapted from the F8U Crusader, a high-performance, single-seat day fighter. Produced by Chance Vought Aircraft (later LTV), the XF8U-1 first flew on 25 March 1955, exceeding Mach 1 on its first flight. A production F8U-1 later set an international speed record of 1,015.428 mph.