F3D-2/EF-10B Skyknight

A carrier-capable Night fighter jet aircraft manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company in El Segundo, California was employed by the US Navy and Marines.  The first flight of the XF3D-1 occurred on 23 March 1948.  28 F3D-1s were built and the F3D-2 was first ordered in August 1949 with a total of 237 F3D-2s built before production ended on 23 March 1952.




– Two J34-WE-36 Westinghouse jet engines in lower fuselage.
– AN/APS-21 search radar and AN/APG-26 tracking radar in nose.
Tail mounted AN/APS-28 warning radar.
All three radars together had 300+ vacuum tubes.
– Four 20mm Hispano-Suiza M2 cannons (200 rpg) in lower nose.
– Fuel tanks located along upper fuselage behind cockpit.
– Fuel Capacity with drop tanks: 1650 US gallons (9900 pounds)
– Range: 1,374 mi (1,195 nmi, 2,212 km)


– Pilot and Radar Operator (RO) seated side by side.
– Cockpit was pressurized and air conditioned.
Had a built-in cigarette lighter but no cup holders.




The F3D-2 had no ejection seats.  An escape hatch was located at the rear of the cockpit which allowed the crew to slide down an angled chute which passed between the jet engines and exited the underside of the fuselage.





Korea 1952-53


In June 1952, land based US Marine Night Fighter Squadron VMF(N)-513  “Flying Nightmares” (tail code WF) received their first F3D-2s.  Initially designed to shoot down bombers, they were painted black and performed night fighter sweeps ahead of USAF B-29 bombers night raids over North Korean targets.  The unusual portly profile earned it the nickname “Willie the Whale”.


Although the F3D-2 was equipped with radar, the Migs were not and relied  on directions provided from Ground Controlled Intercept (GCI) radar.   When the enemy GCI controller detects an intruder (F3D-2) entering their sector, they scrambled 4 to 6 Migs and have them orbit the area in circular pattern and waited.  Once the intruder got close enough, the CGI controller directed the nearest Mig to a course in front of the intruder to become bait.  When the intruder tracked and locked on the Mig bait, the other Migs were then directed to the tail of the intruder.  In this situation, the F3D-2 tail radar provided ample warning  to the F3D-2 pilot allowing him to either break off the engagement or turn the tables on the pursuing Migs.  Due to its straight wings, the F3D-2 was able to out turn the Mig-15 in a dog fight.  The Mig could not react as quickly since they had to receive directions from their GCI controller.





Aerial Victories

  • 3 Nov 1952, Maj Stratton/M.Sgt Hoglind, Yakovlev Yak-17
    First enemy jet ever destroyed by an airborne intercept radar
    equipped fighter.
  • 8 Nov 1952, Capt Davis/WO Fessler, Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-15
  • 10 Dec 1952, 1st Lt Corvi/M.Sgt George, two Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes
    First enemy aircraft kill through the use of radar track and lock-on
    without visual contact. The second Po-2 was credited as a probable kill.
  • 12 Jan 1953, Maj Dunn/M.Sgt Fortin, Mig-15
  • 26 Jan 1953, Capt Weaver/M.Sgt Becker, Mig-15
  • 31 Jan 1953, Lt Col Conley/M.Sgt Scott, Mig-15
  • 2 Jul 1953, Lt (jg) Bick/ATC Smith, Mig-15
    Bick reported a Mig-15 kill, then reported a tail contact and  has received fire.  Bick’s F3D-2 was listed MIA and the Mig was listed as a probable kill.


Maj Dunn/M.Sgt Fortin in front of F3D-2.






After the Korean war, the squadron mainly operated out of NAS Atsugi, Japan. VMF(N)-513 was later re-designated VMF(AW)-513 and continued to operate the F3D-2 from bases in Korea and Japan.


In 1954, the F3D-2M was the first Navy jet aircraft which carried four Sparrow I air-to-air missiles.  In the late 1950s, 35 Marine F3D-2s were re-configured as electronic warfare aircraft and were re-designated the F3D-2Q. The radars were removed and radar jamming gear was installed.  In 1962, when the US Navy and Air Force unified their designation systems, the F3D-1 was re-designated F-10A and the F3D-2 was re-designated F-10B and the F3D-2Q became the EF-10B.



Vietnam 1965-69


US Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron One VMCJ-1 “Golden Hawks” began operating the EF-10B in Vietnam on 17 April 1965 at Da Nang Air Base with six aircraft.  The Electronic Warfare (EW) Skyknight was employed to jam NVA SA-2 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and AAA guns tracking/guidance systems. VMCJ-1 made history when the EF-10Bs conducted the first USMC airborne radar jamming mission on 29 April 1965 supporting a USAF strike mission.  On 27 July 1965 under code name “Spring High”, six EF-10Bs supported a massive strike against new SA-2 SAM sites near Hanoi, North Vietnam.  Gradually the EF-10B was replaced by the EA-6A Intruder.  The EF-10B continued to fly low threat EW missions until they were withdrawn from Vietnam in October 1969.  In Vietnam, the EF-10B was nicknamed the “drut.”  Note the name when spelled backwards.


EF-10B (BuNo 125849) was one of the six Skyknights
which was on the strike mission on 27 July 1965.



EF-10B (BuNo 127041) was downed by an SA-2 missile from the
NVA 61st Battalion, 236th Missile Regiment over Nghe An province
on 18 March 1966.




The US Marine Corps retired its last EF-10Bs in June 1970.    In 1968, three Skyknights were transferred to the U.S. Army.     These aircraft were operated by the Raytheon Corporation at Holloman AFB  where they were used as test planes at the White Sands Missile Range into the 1980’s.    These were the last flyable Skyknights.





3 thoughts on “F3D-2/EF-10B Skyknight

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