Vought F7U "Cutlass"
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Mark A Blocksom, e-mail, 02.02.2023 03:44

Hello Don,

I am a researcher on the USS Midway Museum library and am writing the history of our Cutlass, BuNo 129565. It was one of the first to arrive at Miramar for the "Project Cutlass" team. I would be interested in speaking with you about your experience if you have the time.


Mark B

Mark A Blocksom, e-mail, 02.02.2023 03:42

Hello Glenn,

I am a researcher on the USS Midway Museum library and am writing the history of our Cutlass, BuNo 129565. It was one of the first to arrive at Miramar for the "Project Cutlass" team. I would be interested in speaking with you about your experience if you have the time.


Mark B

michael Crosson, e-mail, 29.05.2020 05:03

My father, Bobby Crosson, was in aircraft maintenance with the Cutlass on that cruise. He was part of the staff left in Japan for part of the deployment. He told me a few stories, something about the marine squadron that replaced the Cutlass crews not being too happy about their unexpected deployment. We still have a few things he collected while in Japan. Unfortunately he passed in 2008. Like most grown kids, I wish I had paid better attention.

Al Hodges, e-mail, 07.03.2018 04:17

I was an avionics tech with VA_151, Alameda 1955 1956. we were on the Lexington cruise ,May 1956. And yes it was an "exciting" air ship! I believe we lost 3 total , one on fire after cat launch when fuel sprayed from vent and after burners made it a torch. lost the pilot, did not eject, Set deck on fire and a lot of diving for the catwalks. one on runway at NAS moffit with same type of "tail' fire, one in Moraga California being ferried to Fallon NV ,pilot tried to eject but seat failed. never had a nose gear fail, but was a leaking hydraulic "bucket. But the airplane was a good weapon platform. We trained at china lake and Fallon, in ,loft bombing and over the shoulder bombing based on time and "G"'s with LABS equipment some we retrofitted in Alameda. I still remember all of pilots as a great group with SKILLs One was an new ensign that I flew with in O&R flight test in Norfolk Virginia, one of vanishing breed of enlisted pilots from WWII. We also spent about 30 days in the "formosa' straights after the chinese shot down a P4M1Q from Atsugi
which the "ensign" flew as co pilot in Norfolk and I flew as a equipment operator. had general quarters and atayed on station. suffered serious damage from a Typoon. All of this is entirely missing from the USS Lexington, " May, 1956 "cruise" records. The F7U was an aircraft way before its time.

Steve Wells, e-mail, 05.03.2018 21:51

My uncle was Cdr. James S. "Bud" Brown, deceased since 1978. He was the CO of VF-124 and in charge of Project Cutlass. I am interested in photos or info about him. Thank you. Steve Wells Email me at vb21wells@att.net

reuben w. williams, e-mail, 21.03.2015 01:54

I made the 1956 mid.cruise on the u.s.s.intrepid and had first hand at seeing this a/c in operation.beautiful to watch when in the air,with the sun shining bounceing off the surfice of the wings,beautiful it was when flying...

Capt. Dudley Gillaspy USN/Ret, e-mail, 09.07.2014 22:28

I flew the 3's & 3M's w/ VA 83/;NAS Oceana,'55-'56,w/ cruise on Interepid.Great A/C except for MANY system failures.In 10 month 'workup & cruise" we lost 6 A/C.Very stable ord. platform,Many problems aboard ship w/ nosegear.However, it was a 'showstopper' wherever you went. Great plane to fly, especially in A/B. Maint. always a problem, managed to acquire 480 hrs however. Lifetime experiance tho..Will never forget it.

glenn, e-mail, 26.06.2014 01:12

I was in VF124 and Project Cutlass 1954 and 1953. I didn't go on the deployment to Japan but I did go on the Hancock short cruise to test the steam cats. I was a brown shirt and my plane was 01. One our pilots went on to be an astronaut and vowed being an astronaut was safer than flying a Cutlass.

Ray Rinaldi PR3, e-mail, 08.02.2014 01:38

I dont know what ship Gilbert Baron was on but I was on the Hancock not the Hornet when we were put ashore to Atsugi. We were not sent back to Miramar. I was at atsugi for about 1 month. So Robert Morris was right.

GARY MYERS, e-mail, 07.02.2014 18:19


Don Zaros, e-mail, 29.11.2013 04:27

During a 1956 deployment to Morocco from the USS Intrepid with half of VA-83ís F7U-3M aircraft I was driving a jeep down the hill toward the airstrip at night I was watching one of our aircraft doing touch and goes. When the aircraft touched down it created sparks of light from its underside. I immediately thought his nose gear had collapsed. I sped down to the strip and followed the A/C and found that the pilot had not let down his gear and there was no one in the cockpit. By this time the magnesium structure was starting to burn brightly and the fire crew was there. We looked for the pilot but found him in the hanger about a quarter of a mile away with a broken back. Thank God he was alive.

Bill Veno, e-mail, 09.04.2013 01:44

I am repairing a 64" wing for a single rudder cutlass, and I can not find any information. The only cutlass I can find has two rudders.
Thanks for any helb you can send me.

Bill. R/C flyers of Burlington, MA. 01803

Bill George, e-mail, 30.07.2012 04:45

All the negatives may be true, but look at the design of this fighter. Look at the year is was built. Then, look at a bunch of contemporary airplanes and you will see the similarities in configuration to the F7U. If the engines that the airplane was designed for had been available it might have been a great airplane. (Former Chance Vought employee.)

Barry, 11.05.2012 15:10

This was a bad plane. It's serviceability was extremely poor and the downtime, especially when embarked on the USS Hancock, was such that the number of flight hours achieved was far lower than any other plane in the fleet. Problems with the engines and flight controls were exacipated by corrosion problems that were experienced with the natural metal finish, somewhat releived by the application of paint.

Timothy Rauleigh, 16.02.2012 03:16

Had the scare of my life watching one of these things stall on takeoff and sideslip across the local airfield. The pilot corrected and managed to dodge the control tower. This was on a visit to San Diego some time in 1952.

Zspoiler, e-mail, 09.02.2012 07:49

One of prototypes is located at the Seattle Flight Museums restoration shop ,At Paine Field, near Everett ,Washington.Maybe they can be of some help.

Capt. Bob Thomas, e-mail, 30.08.2011 23:24

When all systemms were go in the F7U-3, she was one heck of an airplane. In a fight, burners gave us the edge unitl the F-100 series came along. But she burned too much gas and was not carrier suitable (nose gear collapse).

demoor, e-mail, 18.03.2011 15:40

The Cutlass was one of my first jetex-powered Keil Kraft planes. Admired the real thing, being 12 years old. 1954.
A Dutch aircraft-carrier was in Mayport,Fla in feb '59.
From a film I took a snapshot of a rare Cutlass on a barge in the harbour, obtained it only today.
How do I send a picture to you?

Tom Quillin, e-mail, 16.03.2011 03:14

Lou Markey and Rex were the factory Reps on my 1956 Med Cruise on the Intrepid.

Tom Quillin, e-mail, 16.03.2011 03:11

VA-83 deployed to the med in 1956 and I wound up with a total of 58 carrier landings onthe Uss Intrepid,CVA-11. A straight deck. I loved the nCutless.Questions' I have answers.

Dick Bailey, e-mail, 21.02.2011 23:14

I remmember this plane being tested in Ardmore, OK sometime between 1949 and 1952. Can someone shed any light on this?

John Cummings, e-mail, 07.12.2010 19:28

There was a surplus Cutlass near Highway 6 going through Milford, Nebraska. 1959-1962 time period. I attended then, NVTS Milford and during off class time I would sit in the cockpit and fantasize flying it.

greg, e-mail, 04.12.2010 23:17

i remember one went down (forced landing) on the new york state thruway in early 60's. the navy trucked it to a shopping plaza nearby and put it on display for "airminded youth". i was one of those-----climbing around on and admiring that f-7 is what inspired me to get into naval aviation.good memories.

dominic bonanni, e-mail, 20.10.2010 21:24

anigrad crafstwork has a resin model of the protitype XF-7u

Jim Hommel, e-mail, 30.09.2010 09:28

Does anyone remember the F7U that crashed on final while conducting night FCLP's at NBB approximately 1954? Now you see him now you don't. I was an AC3 in the tower at the time.

Jim, e-mail, 10.09.2010 07:08

I served on USS Ticonderoga CVA-14 October 1955 until August 1956. We had a squadron of these planes aboard during our Mediterranean cruise. I thought they were the most beautiful planes I had ever seen. They operated for a short time but nose wheel collapse sidelined them at some point. They were great to look at though.

Ron, e-mail, 01.06.2010 04:32

I know I'm overly critical of inadequate specs but no max speed even?
I believe it did 680 mph clean and
initial climb was 13,000'/min.
Too bad it had such engine trouble!
Reliability is a Navy fighter prerequisite always!

Gilbert Baron, e-mail, 20.05.2010 00:54

Joe: My email address is barongil@msn.com. I did notice that email section doesn't work, but who do you tell/ask about it??

joe, e-mail, 15.05.2010 10:02

Please leave email address'. How am i gonna expand my video collection if you guys don't leave an address? Am i the only one who realises that the email link does'nt work.

Gilbert Baron, e-mail, 13.05.2010 18:22

Larry Watson: As I remember, seat was black & wheel wells were white (entire underneath of aircraft was white).

Gilbert Baron, e-mail, 13.05.2010 18:09

VA-116 deployed to Westpac Apr 57 on Hancock (Happy Hanna) and completed cruise Sept 57. We did not offload the entire squadron during the deployment, but sent two dets to NAS Atsugi (May 57 & June 57) while ship was in port (Yokohama). VA-116 was last F7U sqd and made full cruise intact. Upon return to Miramar we transitioned to FJ4B.

Gilbert Baron, e-mail, 13.05.2010 18:00

I hate to disagree with PR2 R. Moris, but I was a plane captain in VA-116 (1956-1957). We were not kicked off the USS Hancock for starting deck fires on her wooden deck, we were "kicked off" the USS Hornet while on carrier quals (11/26/56-11/30/56). Since Hornet had no jet blast deflector (JBD) and the F7U high nose/low tail angle, when afterburner was selected the exhaust went directly to the deck, thus starting the fire. After launch the deck crew had to rush out with buckets of water to extinguish the fire. The "Air Boss" tolerated this for a short time, but I guess he finally convinced the ships CO to "invite" us to leave. The aircraft returned to NAS Miramar.

michael, 12.05.2010 07:20

yes this had many nicknames ensign killer was due to the landing gear colapsing and sending the ensin into the canopy top due to the ejection seat goin off it also had gutless due the engine not powerfull enough it also the nickname burn out couse of the after burner and the plane didnt not have rivets it was all weldied stress metal lary watson

Larry Watson, e-mail, 08.05.2010 16:36

I would like to build a model of a bare metal variant of the F7U-3. Can anyone tell where I can get a schematic showing the rivet lines on the aircraft as I would like to reproduce these to some degree. Also, I would imagine that the gull gray and white aircraft would have cockpits that are dark gull gray (FS 36231. Would the seats also be that colour? Can anyone comment on colour of the wheel wells ?
In a bare metal variant would it be possible that the cockpit is black from the consoles up with an interior green floor? Any thoughts on the colour of the seat and and wheel wells?

David Branham, e-mail, 01.05.2010 02:39

Looking over a Rareplane (1/72nd scale) vacuformed F7U-3 model that made its way into my stash some time ago for possible conversion back to F7U-1 configuration -- before I found the Anigrand resin kit of the "dash one" It includes a "belly pack", but does not indicate what in the world this "belly pack was for, or what in the sam hill that it did. I found a picture of an F7U-3M on the net that shows this thing pretty clearly, but again no mention of it's purpose. Looks like two large holes in the slanted front. . .Maybe a camera/photo-recon pod?? I would be very happy if someone could shed a little light on what this "belly pack" was for. Thanks much to anyone who might be willing to help.

MAVRICK 1, 16.03.2010 13:42

Had the F-7U Cutlass had more prowerful engines the aircarft would had been advance for time.

MAVRICK 1, 16.03.2010 13:41

Had the F-7U Cutlass had more prowerful engines the aircarft would had been advance for time.

R. Moris, e-mail, 05.03.2010 02:40

Had the pleasure [?] of helping maintain the "Gutlass" I was assigned to VA116 [ known as "callis's cutlass coolies " ] for our Skipper Cdr. Callis. We were commisioned at NAS Miramar in 1955. I believe that we were the last squadron to take the bird aboard ship for a normal Westpac deployment. The Hancock, CVA 19 in 1957. As I recall our maintance hours were 14 vs 1 hour flight time. Which was considered an excellent time ratio achivement. As I recall the ships skipper at that time was Capt Bueie. He saw to it that we were put ashore at Asugi naval Air Station due to setting fire to his Teak wood flight deck when we sat too long in one spot waiting for launch. During the time I was with the squadron we lost as I recall 5 birds for one reason or another. All sucessful ejections or wheelups landings ie. no Pilots lost. would be happy to talk/message to anyone that has questions that maybe I have the answers too.

Skip Hickey, e-mail, 07.01.2010 21:38

I am a retired aero engineer and am very interested in acquiring the Aerodynamic data base, Mass and inertia characteristics and flight control info on the Cutlass. I would like to use the cutlass data for a stability and control / flying qualities analyses. I am aware of the shortcomongs of the airplane but have no intention of denegrating it.It is an interesting configuration and would be a good model for analyses purposes.So if anyone can help or would be interested, let me know. Thanks.

Electric Joe, e-mail, 24.12.2009 09:14

The most notorious nickname was "Gutless Cutlass" due to it being under-powered/over-weight, not an uncommon phenomenon in the early jet era.

"Ensign Killer" is a nickname that has been borne by a number of aircraft through the years.

Len Eisner, e-mail, 01.12.2009 23:42

I flew the F7U-3M in VA-83 during 1955-56. We deployed with it on Intreped to the Med with reasonable success. The only problem was it's size which restricted the number of birds we could keep aboard; the rest operated out of Port Lautey (sp?) in Morocco. It was a very comfortable bird to fly but it's single engine performance was poor, particularly if one had to come aboard ship with one engine. We changed engines after only 40 hours so it kept the maintenance crews unduly busy. I knew nothing about a wingwash problem noted by Jim Bass but if one stalled the bird it was possible to get into a J C (Jesus Christ) maneuver which was uncontrollable and usually resulted in bailout. Later it was found if one had enough altitude and guts that if you turned loose of the controls the airplane got out of the problem by itself. All in all I enjoyed my tour in the Cutlass. It was truly ahead of it's time.

leo rudnicki, e-mail, 07.04.2009 04:04

The nosewheel leg regularly collapsed dropping the nose to the deck and doing things to the pilot's spine.

Jim Bass, e-mail, 25.06.2008 20:37

I concur with Mr Pitmann. I was in the Navy during the 60's, and some of the pilots that I knew referred to the F-7 as "The Ensign Eater", because it was unsafe for carrier landings, and had killed a number of pilots on carriers. Apparently the rudders would get caught in the wingwash during the high angle of attack on short final, and the aircraft became yaw unstable. Apparently also the Navy allowed the production of this because they wanted the F8, and LTV might have gone under if they cancelled the contract early. That is, of course, scuttlebutt. Any comments are welcome.

francesco, 08.04.2008 11:22

beautuful and original but too modern for those times...

Aero-Fox, 29.03.2008 01:04

Very attractive little airplane, in any case...

Marc Pittman, e-mail, 03.07.2007 21:10

Didn't it have the ominous nick-name, "The Ensign Killer" ?

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