1950 TO 1961

 

 

  Vought Enters the Supersonic Age

 

Products

       Regulus

       TE-1

       Silvair

       Riley Twin

       Model 33

       F8U

       TT-1

       XKDT-1

       Slam

       XASM (Corvus)

       Scout

       Saturn Tanks

Plant Location

       Dallas (50s)

History

       1950

       1951

       1953

       1955

       1956

       1957

       1960

Special Stories

       Transition Years


After World War II the employment at Chance Vought dropped to 3,600 from a peak of 13,516 during the war. As the Cold War tensions increased in the 1950ís, so did the employment at Vought, which reached 13,800 by November 1953 and 17,000 by 1957.  In the early 1950s, Vought was still producing the F4U Corsairs which were seeing heavy duty in the Korean War.  Corsairs were used mostly for low-altitude ground support, but Corsair pilots shot down twelve enemy aircraft including a MIG-15 jet. The last Corsair (the 12,571st) was delivered in February 1953, and the last operational carrier landing of a F4U Corsair was made on the USS Valley Forge in 1956.

Development of the F7U Cutlass, which started in the late 1940ís continued in the early 1950ís, and production of the Cutlass started in 1953. However, production was cut back in 1954, and the last Cutlass rolled out the door in 1956.

 Development of the Regulus I guided missile started in the late 1940ís, and flight testing began in 1950. The Regulus I missile was powered by a turbojet engine and cruised at subsonic speeds, going supersonic in its terminal dive to the target.  It had a 500-nautical mile range and was designed to carry nuclear warheads to inland targets when launched from offshore submarines and cruisers.  Regulus I missiles were deployed on submarines through 1964.

 In May 1953 Chance Vought Division of United Aircraft won the new day fighter contract over seven other competitors. This new fighter, the XF8U-1 Crusader, flew supersonic on its maiden flight on March 2 5, 1955. Twelve-hundred-sixty-three Crusaders were eventually built. The aircraft set several speed records and won a number of awards for excellence. Later, in the 1960s, several hundred were remanufactured to extend their service life.  Reserve U.S. units used them until 1986.  Forty- two were built for the French Navy, and the final flights of these French Crusaders occurred at the aircraftís retirement ceremonies in Brest, France on December, 1, 2, 3, 1999.

On July 1, 1954 the Vought Division separated from United Aircraft and became an independent corporation, Chance Vought Aircraft Inc., with C. J. McCarthy as Chairman of the Board and Fred Detweiler as president.

In the months after the Allied victory, Vought began work on two important programs. The first was a 600 mph jet interceptor, the XF7U-1 Cutlass. This was the first American tail-less design and the Navy's first swept-wing design. A production version was delivered to the Navy in the spring of 1950. The second project begun in 1945 was an air-breathing missile that became Regulus I. It too would make its first flight in 1950. Vought was more than ready for the new decade.

The early years of peace brought Vought another kind of engineering challenge. For reasons of national security, the Navy was intent on distributing essential military manufacturers across the country, moving them out of the congested and vulnerable coastal areas of the Northeast. When North American vacated the modern facilities it had built near Dallas for wartime aircraft production, the Navy proposed that Vought take them over. The advantages were clear: Vought's plant at Stratford was already too small for its new projects and it was beginning to show signs of age. But the challenges were also clear: The company would have to move 1,300 key personnel and their families together with 27 million pounds of equipment-while still trying to produce the F4U-5 and F6U-1. The move was announced in April, 1948 and completed only fourteen months later. It was the largest overland industrial relocation up to that time, and there were plans in Hollywood to make a movie of it starring Spencer Tracy.