A training film made for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell, this movie covers normal flight, take-off and climb, maneuvers, single engine flight, approach and landing, and securing the aircraft. The McDonnell F2H Banshee was a single-seat carrier-based jet fighter aircraft deployed by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps from 1948 to 1961. It was one of the primary American fighters used during the Korean War and was the only jet-powered fighter ever deployed by the Royal Canadian Navy, serving the RCN from 1955 until 1962. The aircraft’s name is derived from the banshee of Celtic mythology.

The F2H-2 served during the Korean War with the U.S. Navy Task Force 77 and the Marine Corps. Pilots spoke of F2H as the “banjo”. Due to its good performance at high altitude, it initially proved its worth as an escort for long-range USAF bomber formations. As the war progressed, USN and USMC fighters were primarily assigned to ground attack missions, including close air support of ground troops and destruction of the North Korean army’s supply lines. The North Korean air forces had been almost completely annihilated during the opening weeks of the war by the combined US and UK Far East Air Force (FEAF), mostly due to the far superior training and World War II combat experience of the US and Commonwealth pilots. Air-to-Air combat missions, such as patrols in the Yalu River area, were primarily assigned to F-86 Sabres. Consequently, the Banshee would score no victories nor suffer any losses in air-to-air combat, although three F2H-2s were lost to anti-aircraft gunfire.

Air defense tactics still largely depended on being able to see the enemy, and US commanders soon discovered that a lone high-flying F2H-2P was almost impossible for ground forces to spot, much less shoot down. The aircraft was soon in very high demand for the invaluable battlefield photography it could provide. F2H-2Ps even received USAF fighter escorts when operating in areas frequented by enemy fighters. Despite being deployed constantly throughout the war, only two F2H-2Ps were lost to radar-directed AAA gunfire, with no air-to-air losses.

In the late 1940s, the USN had resisted the novel swept wing design concept, fearing that the tricky low-speed handling displayed by early swept wing airplanes would make it unsafe to operate them from aircraft carriers. Unfortunately, the USN failed to fully appreciate how much this would hamper the performance of its new jets. As a consequence of its unswept wings, the Banshee was almost 100 mph (160 km/h) slower than new Soviet jet fighters such as the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, a serious handicap in air-to-air combat. As further testing proved that swept wing aircraft could be flown safely at low speeds, development of new swept wing USN fighters began.

In 1954, a Banshee flew coast-to-coast, nonstop without refueling, approximately 1,900 miles from NAS Los Alamitos, California to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, in approximately four hours.

During the Korean War, the US was concerned about a general war in Europe involving the Soviet Union and the total lack of intelligence on that country, in particular the location of airfields. The US Navy devised a plan named “Operation Steve Brody,” where four F2H-2P photo reconnaissance Banshees would launch from a carrier cruising on routine maneuvers off the north-east coast of Greece and fly north photographing the land mass of Russia bordering the Black Sea. In May 1952, the U.S. Navy presented the plan to Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett, with the request that he take it to President Harry Truman. Lovett refused, effectively canceling the operation.

Later, in 1955, there was another crisis involving the possible invasion of Taiwan by Communist China. Marine Banshees were chosen for secret overflights of areas where the Communist Chinese would be preparing such an invasion. Unlike the purposed photo-flights over the Soviet Union in 1952, these missions were escorted by other Marine Banshee fighters based in South Korea. Twenty-seven missions took place without incident.

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