Chance Vought F7U-3 “Cutlass”

Our Aircraft’s History

Chance Vought F7U-3 Cutlass (Serial #129685) ~ A Cold War era carrier-based jet fighter/fighter-bomber for the US Navy, this tailless aircraft was the last aircraft designed by Rex Beisel, who was responsible for the first ever fighter for the US Navy, the Curtiss TS-1 in 1922.

This aircraft was Chance Vought’s submission into the US Navy’s competition for a carrier-capable day fighter in June 1945. She was plagued by technical and handling issues over its short service career, particularly due to its insufficient engine-thrust.

Over one quarter of all Cutlasses built were destroyed in accidents, taking 4 test pilots and 21 other US Navy pilots with them. Some notorious nicknames given by naval aviators were: the Gutless Cutless, the Ensign Eliminator or the Praying Mantis.

Here is our Chance Vought F7U-3’s short history, after arriving with the military on September 24, 1954:

  • November 1, 1954 – Transferred to VF-81, Oceana
  • July 1, 1955 – Transferred to VA-66, Oceana
  • August 8, 1955 – Transferred to BAR FA, Dallas, Texas
  • February 21, 1956 – Transferred to OAMP (Operations, Administration, Maintenance, Procurements), Norfolk, Virginia
  • March 19, 1956 – Transferred to FASRON 5 (Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron), Oceana
  • September 13, 1956 – Transferred to FASRON 9, Cecil Field, Florida
  • September 18, 1956 – Transferred to VA-12, Cecil Field, Florida
  • May 10, 1957 – Transferred to NART, NAS South Weymouth, Massachusetts
  • 1962 – Struck off Strength/Charge from the US Navy, TT 299; transferred to Walter Soplata Aviation Collection, Newsbury, Ohio. 
  • 2021 – Transferred to MAPS Air Museum

In late summer of 2021, it was announced that MAPS Air Museum acquired the “Cutlass” from the Walter Soplata Aviation Collection.  The Area 51 crew of MAPS will get to renovating her this coming fall.  Exact delivery date this fall is still to be determined. Additional historical research is ongoing on this aircraft.

Specifications/Performance (F7U-3M):

  • Role: Navy multirole fighter
  • Manufacturer: Chance Vought
  • First Flight: September 29, 1948
  • Introduction: July 1951
  • Retired: March 2, 1959
  • Produced: 1948-1955
  • Built: 320
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 41 ft 3.5 in
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 8 in; Wings folded: 22.3 ft
  • Height: 14 ft 
  • Empty weight: 18,210 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 31,840 lb
  • Engine: 2 x Westinghouse J46-WE-8B after-burning turbojet engines, 4,600 lbf thrust each dry, 6,000 lbf with afterburner
  • Cruise speed: 560 mph at 38,700 ft
  • Max speed: 697 mph at sea level
  • Combat radius: 920 mi
  • Service Ceiling: 40,600 ft

Armament, notable

  • Guns: 4 x 20mm M3 cannon
  • 4 hardpoints with capacity of 5,500 lb
  • 4 x AAM-N-2 Sparrow I air-to-air missiles

Museum display notes: to be determined

Designed to replace: Grumman F9F-5 “Panther”

Replaced by:  immediately by the Grumman F9F-8 “Cougar”  and eventually the Vought F8 (F8U) “Crusader”