The McDonnell FH-1 Phantom: The Forgotten Father...

The McDonnell FH Phantom: The Forgotten Father…

(Polls are at the bottom)


Hello again everyone! I hope your day is going great so far, and if not I hope my post may add a drop in the bucket! Today I wish to suggest a revolutionary aircraft, appearing at the end of the second world war, and it’s service would lead to the naval aircraft we see today, the McDonnell FH-1 Phantom.

Basic Information

Designation: FH-1 (Military), XFD-1 (Manufacturer)

Name: “Phantom”

Role: Naval Fighter

Crew: 1

Manufacturer: McDonnell Aircraft Corporation

Total built: 62

First Flight: January 26, 1945

Introduced: August 1947

Retired: July 1954



  • Length: 37 ft 3 in (11.35 m)

  • Wing Area: 273.74 sq ft (25.431 m²)

  • Wingspan (Open): 40 ft 9 in (12.42 m)

  • Wingspan (Folded): 16 ft 3 in (4.95 m)

  • Height (Open): 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)

  • Height (Folded): 16 ft 10 in (5 m)

Flight Performance:

  • Engine(s): 2x Westinghouse J30-WE-20 turbojet, 1,600 lbf (7.1 kN) thrust each

  • Maximum Speed: 505 mph (813 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,100 m)

  • Cruise Speed: 248 mph (399 km/h)

  • Landing Speed: 80 mph (130 km/h)

  • Service Ceiling: 41,100 ft (12,500 m)

  • Rate of Climb: 4,230 ft/min (21.5 m/s)

  • Max Range: 1,400 mi (2,300 km, 1,200 nmi) with external belly tank

  • Empty weight: 6,683 lb (3,031 kg)

  • Max Takeoff Weight: 12,035 lb (5,459 kg)


  • Primary: 4x .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in the nose

  • Suspended: 8x 5 in (127 mm) High Velocity Aircraft Rockets

Additional Information:

  • Fuel Capacity: 375 US gal (1,420 L) gasoline internal, with optional 295 US gal (1,120 L) external belly tank.

Usage in Battles

The FH-1 would make a relatively good start to Naval jets, however it would preform rather mediocre to other jets and even props at it’s BR and uptiers, being vulnerable to top-down attacks. Boom and Zoom tactics are your best option, remaining at higher altitudes for dogfights.


  • Decent Energy Retention

  • Good Sustained Turn Rate

  • Guns Concentrated in Nose


  • Weaker Armament

  • Poor Acceleration

  • Large Turn Radius


McDonnell was invited by the US Navy to cooperate in the development of a shipboard jet fighter, using an engine from the turbojets being developed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, with three prototypes being ordered on 30 August 1943, the new aircraft gaining the designation XFD-1.

When the first XFD-1 was completed in January 1945, only one Westinghouse 19XB-2B engine was ready for installation. As a result, Ground runs and taxi tests were conducted with the single engine. Eventually McDonnell grew so confident in the aircraft that the first flight on January 26, 1945 was made with only the one turbojet engine. During these flight tests, the Phantom became the first U.S. Navy aircraft to exceed 500 mph (805 km/h). With successful completion of tests, a production contract was awarded on March 7, 1945 for 100 FD-1 aircraft. With the end of the war, the Phantom production contract was then reduced to 30 aircraft, but was soon increased back to 60.

The first Phantoms were delivered to USN fighter squadron VF-17A (later redesignated VF-171) in August 1947, with the squadron receiving a full complement of 24 aircraft on May 29, 1948. Beginning in November 1947, Phantoms were delivered to United States Marine Corps squadron VMF-122, making it the first USMC combat squadron to deploy jets. VF-17A became the USN’s first fully operational jet carrier squadron when it deployed aboard USS Saipan on May 5, 1948.

The Phantoms in their early years mainly served in air shows and exhibition flying, famously flown by the Gray Angels and the Flying Leathernecks. As for her combat service, she would be short-lived. The Phantoms limited range and light armament, notably its inability to carry bombs made it best suited for duty as a point-defence interceptor aircraft. However, its speed and rate of climb were only marginally better than existing propeller-powered fighters and fell short of other jets of the era, such as the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, prompting concerns that the Phantom would be outmatched by enemy jets it might face. In addition, recent World War II had demonstrated the value of naval fighters that could double as fighter-bombers, a capability the Phantom noticably lacked. Finally, the aircraft exhibited some design issues, its navigational avionics were poor, it could not carry ejection seats, and the location of the machine guns in the nose caused pilots to be blinded by muzzle flash.

By the time of the Phantom’s introduction, The F2H Banshee and Grumman F9F Panther, had already began flight tests around the time, better satisfying the navy’s desire for a versatile, long-range, high-performance jet. Consequently, the FH-1 saw little weapons training, and was mainly used for conversion training from prop fighters to jets in preparation for flying the Panther or Banshee. In June 1949, VF-171 (VF-17A) was re-equipped with the Banshee, and thus their Phantoms were turned over to VF-172. This squadron, along with the NATC, VX-3, and VMF-122, turned over their Phantoms to the United States Naval Reserve by late 1949 after receiving their own F2H-1 Banshees. The FH-1 would see training duties with the USNR until being replaced by the F9F Panther in July 1954, with no FH-1 ever seeing combat, having been retired from frontline service before to the outbreak of the Korean War.

Additional Photos


McDonnell FH Phantom - Wikipedia

McDonnell FH-1 Phantom I | National Air and Space Museum

FH-1 Phantom

McDonnell FH-1 - Pima Air & Space

FH-1 Phantom - NNAM

McDonnell FH / FD Phantom Carrierborne Single-Seat, Jet-Powered Fighter

McDonnell FH Phantom - carrier-borne fighter

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0 voters

Sould like it would struggle a lot, but it’d be ok if it were foldered with the Banshee!

7.0 it’s very high for him

1 Like

And he have 2 x 1000 lb thrust rocket boosters
Also, with the help of these boosters, he could take off from old aircraft carriers
And he near banshee

+1 I need first US navy 1st gen fighter

Urgently needed 7.0 TT.

Phantom’s father that went to buy fuel

1 Like

Why I’m surpriced vote FH-1 Phantom at 6.7 ?

Or max speed & rate of climb slower another jet fighter 7.0 ?

It lacks speed and proper offensive armaments for 7.0


You guess FH Phantom would be 6.7 or 7.0 BR in rank V ?

6.7 probably


The FH-1 had two different external tanks, not just one: A 190-gallon one for combat overload and a 295-gallon one for ferry overload. DIDKO2005gf is correct in stating the FH-1 had JATO ability, with both units providing 1000 pounds of thrust each.
The FH-1 has an empty weight of 6,699 lbs., a combat weight of 9,974 lbs., and a maximum takeoff and landing weight of 12,500 lbs.