The FJ- series of U.S. Navy aircraft were developed by
North American Aircraft at the same time the highly
successful USAF F-86 Sabre Jet -- in the 1940’s. The
FJ-1 was straight-winged, subsonic and used the 3,820
lb. thrust GE J-35 engine. The capture of German data on
swept-wing aerodynamics resulted in the design of the
F-86 and the later FJ- series. The FJ-2 was
swept-winged, and used the GE J-47 with 6,000 lbs. of
thrust. Folding wings were designed to enable tighter
parking on carrier decks. The six 50-caliber F-86
machine guns were replaced with 4 20 mm. cannons. The
FJ-2 was 1,000 lbs. heavier than the F-86A and
performance suffered, so the FJ-3 was developed with the
7,600 lb. thrust Wright J-65 engine -- a much superior
aircraft. The FJ-4 was developed as a long-range
fighter, with a larger fuselage and larger, thinner
laminar flow wing enabling it to carry more internal
fuel. The wing was of the multi-spar design using
chemically milled structural skins, made from a single
billet of aluminum.
The FJ-4B was the attack version; the first jet designed
to carry a nuclear weapon off a carrier. It has mid-span
ailerons with spoilers on the upper surface of the flaps
for greater roll authority at low altitude transonic
speeds. High lift landing flaps, coupled with drooping
leading edge slats allowed the low speed handling
required for carrier operations. The horizontal
stabilizer and elevator function together as a
stabilator, to allow supersonic speeds (Mach 1.2), with
the elevator functioning as a damping device to reduce
low altitude, high speed, pilot induced oscillations (PIO).
A splitter plate rudder (solid aluminum plate reinforced
with external ribs) solved rudder flutter problems that
resulted in the loss of a test aircraft. The rudder is
cable actuated and a yaw damper is incorporated. All the
other control surfaces are hydraulically actuated, with
non-reversing, dual channel servos with completely
separated dual hydraulic systems. A hydraulic Ram Air
Turbine (RAT) may be deployed in the event of dual
hydraulic failure (eg. with a failed and seized engine).
For carrier operations, the FJ-4 has wide-track landing
gear, with a long-stroke, trailing link design to
cushion landings. A catapult hook, holdback fittings and
retracting A-frame arresting hook were incorporated.
Power for the FJ-4B was supplied by the Wright J65-W-16A
axial flow turbojet engine, producing 7,700 lbs. of
thrust. The -4B version also incorporated a “buddy
system” for refueling another FJ-4B. The two aircraft
would depart the carrier, one carrying the “special
external store” (read nuclear weapon) and the other with
the buddy refueling system. They would progress to a
pre-determined refueling point, where the attack plane
would refuel and proceed on to the target; the other
returning to the carrier. The FJ-4B was the first attack
aircraft to incorporate the Low Altitude Bombing System,
or “LABS”. It automates a low altitude attack where the
LABS system indicates the start of a pull-up,
automatically releases the weapon at the proper angle
and speed, and the aircraft continues a half-cuban eight
maneuver to avoid the nuclear blast.
Empty weight of the FJ-4B is 13,500 lbs. and it can take
off with a gross weight of 28,000 lbs., more than twice
it’s empty weight. Optimum range for the FJ-4B, on
internal fuel alone, is 1640 nautical miles. This can be
extended to 2,500 nautical miles using four 200 gallon
expendable drop tanks.
Nine Navy and three Marine squadrons were equipped with
the FJ-4B, which was ultimately replaced with the
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.
MiG Fury Fighter's FJ-4B, the last one flying in the world,
was built in 1958 in the second to last batch of 222
aircraft, and was delivered to VA-192 “Golden Dragons”
on board the USS Bon Homme Richard. It operated with
several other Navy squadrons, finishing its Navy career
with VA-216, the “Black Diamonds”, aboard the USS
Hancock in Vietnam. It was sent to Litchfield Park,
Arizona, for disposal but somehow missed demolition. In
1971, Bob Laidlaw, the President of Flight Systems in
Mojave California and a former NAA Test Pilot, was
looking for an aircraft that would stay subsonic in a
near-vertical dive from 50,000 ft. and came upon the
idea of using the FJ-4B. It has four large speedbrakes
that were part of the LABS system, which provided
sufficient drag to keep the aircraft subsonic. There was
a civilian contract to test the radar pattern-matching
guidance system of the Pershing II intermediate range
ballistic missle and it required such a profile. BuNo
143575 was restored to flight status and flew over 700
hours of roller coaster re-entry paths, while measuring
the ability of the Pershing warhead hung beneath the
wing to guide itself to various targets around the U.S..
While operating with Flight Systems, BuNo 143575 was
registered as N400FS, the registration she bears today.
Some of the other firsts for the FJ-4B “Fury” include an
absolute positioning longitudinal trim system, set with
a thumb wheel on the stick (allowing precise trim
setting for carrier launches), the first sealed wet
wing, and single point refueling of all five internal
When “575” finished the Pershing program she was again
put to pasture at Mojave, where she sat until 1991 when
Larry Mockford of T-Bird Aviation purchased the aircraft
and started restoring her. We purchased her from Larry
in 2002 and finished the restoration at Mojave with
Scott MacDonnell (her former crew chief and mechanic)
and at Teton Aviation in Driggs, Idaho where she now
resides. The paint scheme is that of the FJ-4’s of the
Fleet Air Gunnery Unit at NAS El Centro, California. It
was chosen for its uniqueness as well as an honor to all
FJ pilots, who did their gunnery training at FAGU El
We fly the “Fury-4” in the U.S. Navy Tailhook Legacy
Flight at airshows, mostly in the western U.S. promoting
Naval Aviation through the display of historic, and
current, Navy aircraft.
Length: 36 ft. 8 in.
Speed: 1.2 Mach (825 KTAS @ 35,000 feet)
Height: 13 ft. 11 in.
Fuel Capacity: 840 gal internal (1,540 gal. w.
Span: 39 ft. 2 in.
Range: 1,485 nm (2,500 nm w. ext. tanks)
Empty Wt.: 13,210 lb.
Ceiling: 50,000 + feet
Gross Weight: 22,000 Lb., 28,000 Lb. with stores
Number Still Flying Today: ONE, you are looking at