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Remembering the McDonnell FH Phantom Jet Fighter

The McDonnell FH Phantom was a jet fighter designed for the United States Navy. Despite a short service life, the Phantom was first in many areas. The Phantom was the first jet aircraft to land on a US aircraft carrier, and both the first to serve with the US Navy and the US Marine Corps. Additionally, the Phantom was the first successful fighter for McDonnell; and would lead to the development of the F2H Banshee, a notable jet fighter in it’s own right. Lastly, Phantoms would be the first jet used for exhibition flying by the US military; in a unit called the Gray Angels.

Development for what would become the FH Phantom began in 1943  and ended in early 1945. The vehicles was powered by two engines, and armed with four .50-caliber machine guns in the nose, with the option of eight 5 in High Velocity rockets that could be mounted under the wing. The vehicle would be produced between 1945 and 1947, serving with active units; and reserve units long after it’s production run had ended.

The first US aircraft carrier to operate a Phantom was the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt as it began it’s trials. Operationally Phantoms would server on the USS Saipan, another US Navy aircraft carrier.

The Phantom suffered from many problems; in fact a number would be lost to mechanical failure. There are multiple surviving Phantoms. One example is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C..

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