|A FJ-1 Fury in 1947|
|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||North American Aviation|
|First flight||11 September 1946|
|Primary users||United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
|Number built||31 (including prototype)|
|Developed into||North American F-86 Sabre|
The North American FJ-1 Fury was the first operational jet aircraft in United States Navy service, and was developed by North American Aviation as the NA-135. The FJ-1 was an early transitional jet of limited success which carried over similar tail surfaces, wing and canopy derived from the piston-engined P-51D Mustang. The evolution of the design to incorporate swept wings would become the basis for the land-based XP-86 prototype - itself originally designed with a very similar straight-wing planform to the FJ-1 airframe - of the United States Air Force's enormously influential F-86 Sabre, which itself formed the basis for the Navy's carrier-based North American FJ-2/-3 Fury.
Ordered in late 1944 as the XFJ-1 in competition with proposals from Douglas and Vought, the Fury began as a straight-wing, tricycle gear fighter with a single turbojet passing through the fuselage. The wing, empennage and canopy strongly resembled that of the piston-engined P-51D Mustang, North American Aviation's highly successful World War II fighter.
The first flight of the prototype XFJ-1 took place on 11 September 1946, with the first of 30 deliveries beginning in October 1947. Flown by Navy squadron VF-5A, the FJ-1 made the USN's first operational aircraft carrier landing with a jet fighter at sea[N 1] on 10 March 1948 aboard USS Boxer, pioneering jet-powered carrier operations and underscoring the need for catapult-equipped carriers. The Fury was capable of launching without catapult assistance, but on a crowded flight deck the capability was of small practicality. In reality, taking off without a catapult launch, pitched the FJ-1 into a perilous, slow climb that was considered too risky for normal operations.
As straight wings were seen at the time as the only way to ensure the low speed and stability needed for carrier landings, the FJ-1 used a straight wing. No provision for wing-folding had been made as dive brakes mounted in the wings made that option unfeasible. In order to conserve carrier deck space, a unique "kneeling" nose undercarriage along with a swivelling "jockey wheel" allowed the FJ-1 to be stacked tail-high, close to another FJ-1.
Although ordered into production, the initial order for 100 units was trimmed to only 30 aircraft which were mainly used in testing at NAS North Island, California. VF-5A, soon redesignated as VF-51, operated the type in service beginning in August 1948. Although VF-51 went to sea on Boxer by May 1949, the FJ-1s were phased out in favor of the new F9F-2 Panther.
Ending its service career in U.S. Naval Reserve units, the FJ-1 eventually was retired in 1953. The one highlight in its short service life was VF-51's win in the Bendix Trophy Race for jets in September 1948. The unit entered seven FJ-1s, flying from Long Beach, California to Cleveland, Ohio, with VF-51 aircraft taking the first four places, ahead of two California Air National Guard Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars.
Media related to North American FJ-1 Fury at Wikimedia Commons
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