Douglas F3D Skyknight

Douglas F3D Skyknight

Douglas F3D Skyknight

Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Internal Fuel:
External Fuel:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
First Flight:
Year Deployed:
Westinghouse J-34
2 x 3,400 lbs. ea.
15,000 lbs.
26,730 lbs.
1,350 U.S. gals.
300 U.S. Gals.
2,000 lbs.
4 x 20 mm
45 ft. 5 in.
50 ft.
450 mph
530 mph
3,000 fpm
36,700 feet
1,375 miles


The Douglas F3D Skyknight was one of the first jets produced as a dedicated all weather aircraft specialized for fighting at night. It served with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

The Douglas F3D Skyknight was a stout weapons platform, with room for sufficient fuel for long missions, plus a heavy radar system. The pilot and radar operator sat in the cockpit side by side.

The Douglas F3D Skyknight served admirably during the Korean War. They were primarily assigned as night time attack aircraft and for escorting heavy bombers.

Night attacks generally consisted of sorties against heavily fortified enemy armor positions.

For convoying bombing formations, the Douglas F3D Skyknight, in addition to flying with the bombers, would take up positions in advance of their flight path to intercept potential interceptors. A dozen or more F3D Skyknight aircraft would typically escort a bombing formation on its mission.

Enemy jets would usually attack in groups of up to half a dozen aircraft. Not being equipped with on-board radar, the jets would be guided by ground radar stations. The North Koreans would send a single aircraft up to try to lure the slower, less maneuverable Douglas F3D Skyknight into going after it. While the F3D Skyknight was so occupied, the remaining enemy aircraft would try to attack the aircraft from above and behind. The brilliant exhaust of the twin F3D Skyknight engines was visible from the rear of the aircraft at up to eight miles on a cloudless night.

The Douglas F3D Skyknight relied on a rear warning radar to detect closing enemy aircraft. They would quickly dive as an evasive maneuver, trying to get the fast flying enemy jets to overshoot them. Then they would use their on board radar to regain the offensive on the enemy aircraft which was flying blind at night.

The Douglas F3D Skyknight piloted by Marines claimed six victories over enemy aircraft, with a loss of two of their own aircraft during the Korean War.

A small number of Douglas F3D Skyknight aircraft saw action again during the early Vietnam War through 1969. This time the aircraft were used for ECM (Electronic Counter Measures). During their missions the aircraft spotted hostile radar installations, often using their electronic equipment to render them defenseless, while attack aircraft knocked them out. The Douglas F3D Skyknight was said to be extremely capable in its mission.

A total of 265 Douglas F3D Skyknight aircraft of all types were produced. They continued to serve with the U.S. Marine Corps through 1970. A small number of the aircraft flew as test aircraft for military contractors into 1980.

RC Douglas F3D Skyknight

RC Douglas F3D Skyknight

We want to thank Owen Hedger, from Australia, for sending us the picture of his magnificent RC Douglas F3D Skyknight and the following email:

“My RC Douglas F3D Skyknight is approximately 1/8th scale. It is a Power Scale Soaring model that is a glider for flying of a large slope. As is frequently the case, PSS models have their wing dimensions stretched to ensure they provide enough lift to carry aircraft that typically have a high wing loading. I did stretch this a little more than the typical upper limit, but it is a bulky subject.

The final weight of the RC Douglas F3D Skyknight is almost 18 lbs. The bulk of the fuselage is white foam over a pine 20 mm x 12 mm spine and 13 formers that is sheeted in obechi. Typically balsa is used instead, but that is quite expensive, and I had access to some obechi and decided to try that for sheeting. There is fiberglass tissue over the top. It’s a great finish, but sheeting it with obechi was very time consuming. My last model, I put fiberglass straight over the foam fuselage and was very happy with the result. Wings and control surfaces are still sheeted for the strength it provides.

My RC Douglas F3D Skyknight was constructed to be flown at the Manilla Slope Fest. Manilla (double l) is a small rural town in NSW where I grew up. The event takes place at Mount Borah which is an internationally recognized paragliding location (check out You may have heard about the female para glider pilot that survived being sucked up to 30,000 ft in a storm. That was at Manilla.

The event is essentially for like minded people to just enjoy flying at a great location. We do have some international visitors; they seem to enjoy having a holiday in rural Australia. There are a few competitions that are just for fun and a PSS competition is one. Part of PSS competition is how the model files, but conditions haven’t been the best for the heavy PSS models for the last few years (the event started in 2009). This year one of the afternoons had great conditions for the PSS section and I got to fly my RC Douglas F3D Skyknight, which was last years build, and another airplane, which was this years build for which was awarded PSS champion 2012. There are only a few of us that build large PSS models for Manilla, but an award I found very humbling.

The RC Douglas F3D Skyknight flew very will. The trim and the low rate controls were pretty close to spot on. The only trim was a little up elevator. If one wasn’t aware of it’s actual weight, you wouldn’t estimate that it was any where near 18 lbs. by it’s flight performance. Low passes were a little tricky as the lift in close was bumpy and there were people the full length of the slope taking pictures and video. The flight of the RC Douglas F3D Skyknight was short, as the lift got a bit soft. Rather than risking a difficult landing, it was brought in early.

RC Douglas F3D Skyknight specs are: 101 in. wingspan with MH-32 airfoil, 69 in. length, and a weight of about 18 lbs. for a wing loading of 30 oz/ft. Elevator airfoil is NACA-0008. Controls are ailerons, flaps, rudder, and elevator. There is no speed brake as on full scale version.”

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