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FJ1C

Fury

 

The story which didn't happen ... outside Atlantic Air Combat

 

 

  See also : = Land Variants
 -
Carrier Variants
 -
Seaplane Variants
 -
 
     

Introduction
By end of 1954, the US Navy had retired all FJ fighters from their inventory after having served briefly in front line service with VF-51 aboard the CV-55 USS Boxer.  They were then relegated to a reserve squadron, but not for very long neither.

Pilots who had had the opportunity to experience them said they were a delight to fly, but a deadly one.   Half of the aircrafts had crashed between 1948 and 1951 and among them 11 in the year following their delivery to the US Navy.   Not an outstanding safety record for an aircraft supposedly a pleasure to fly.   With six of the losses imputable to engine malfuctions, their reliability was clearly a major concern for their new Portuguese owners and an issue they would first wanted to be addressed properly before bringing these airframes back in the air.  But there had been a few structural failures too...

It all started with Spain purchasing the remaining F6U Pirates in 1951 and inviting Portugal to pull resources together to put up some credible maritime defense in order to keep potential foes at bay.   They both had survived WWII unscathed, but now with the USSR building up a ocean going navy, both Portuguese and Spanish possession in the mid-atlantic was generating some unwanted envy.   It seemed the ruthless regime in Moscow had paid attention at the key role played by Malta, defeating all German attempts to seize it.   Clearly, the poorly defended Canary, Azores and Madeira islands could too easily be turned into a Soviet stronghold.  And thus Madrid had come to Lisbon with a surprising but serious offer.  Spain intended to operate aircraft carriers, and with modern combat aircrafts scarcely available due to the ongoing Korean war, even more so carrier capable ones, the only option Madrid saw was to put their hands on whatever could become available, and leave it to their national aircraft industry to turn these alledgedly obsolete airframes into useful ones.   Actually, by 1951 Spain already had secured over two dozens of F6U even if new engines were being sought actively prior a total rebuild of the airframes.

All that Spain was asking was for Portugual to supply a similar number of jet fighters, clearly having either the Supermarine Attackers or the North American Furies in mind, and, possibly, one similarily sized squadron of attack/bomber airplanes.   They, in turn, would make ships available, and take care of the ASW part of the setup to look over their respective Atlantic possessions.   Naturally, the same concern could apply to the Spanish Baleares in Mediterranea, but these islands were close enough to their shores for their defence to be easily supplemented from the mainland, and also Madrid was convinced that neither France, Italy, nor the United Kingdom could bear the idea of having the Baleares fall in other hands.   The stakes of these countries around the Mediterranea, not forgetting Suez, made the suggestion of  NATO allowing the Soviets to set foot in the Baleares difficult to imagine so outside support was sort of relied upon.

The mid-Atlantic islands presented a different issue.   If NATO were to have their assets tied up in the North Atlantic, these more remote slands were too easy a prey for a daring Soviet attempt.  Alternatively, the idea of NATO seizing these islands preemptively as Britain did in Iceland in 1943 was no more comfortable.   The only solution would come out of close cooperation between them two.   Neither were rich, but Spain could afford the Naval part if Portugal was willing to share the burden of the air arm.

With two of the above mentioned archipelagos being theirs, Portugal eagerly agreed and managed to purchase both the remaining FJ-1 Fury and FH-1 Phantom airframes from the US Navy.  While fewer remained of the former than expected, and those still remaining were in a terrible state with many engines missing, acquiring the more numerous FH-1 Phantom at the same time allowed Lisbon to show his neighbour they were fully committed to the Accord.  Add two dozens of SB2C-5 Helldiver bombers in pristine conditions and indeed Portugal had shown they meant business.

As mentioned, the North American airframes were in poor conditions and CASA being excessively busy, Hispano Aviacion was tasked with the rebuilding of the 16 airframes.  Not an easy task, but HA was skilled enough to rebuild these aircrafts without having to canibalize them.  Reverse engineering them was even considered and although a heavier task, it was not ruled out.

  Type Serial IN Fate OUT

-

Portugal

FJ-1
1955

F1J1B
1960

F1J1C
1960

-













1 XFJ-1 39053 1946 Retired - - 1955 ==  053  - -
2 XFJ-1 39054 1946 Crash.+ Flight 1947 = == - - -
3 XFJ-1 39055 1947 Retired - - 1955 ==  055  - -
1 FJ-1 120342 1947 Crash.+ airframe 1947 = == - - -
2 FJ-1 120343 1947 Crash.+ engine 1951 = == - - -
3 FJ-1 120344 1947 Retired - 1954 1955 == -  301  -
4 FJ-1 120345 1947 Crashed engine 1948 = == - - -
5 FJ-1 120346 1948 Retired - 1952 1955 == -  302  -
6 FJ-1 120347 1948 Retired - 1954 1955 == -  303  -
7 FJ-1 120348 1948 Crashed engine 1949 = == - - -
8 FJ-1 120349 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  304  -
9 FJ-1 120350 1948 Damaged CV.landing 1948 1955 == -  305  -
10 FJ-1 120351 1948 Retired - 1954 1955 == -  306  -
11 FJ-1 120352 1948 Retired - 1952 1955 == -  307  -
12 FJ-1 120353 1948 Crashed ? 1948 = == - - -
13 FJ-1 120354 1948 Crashed airframe 1950 = == - - -
14 FJ-1 120355 1948 Crashed ? 1949 = == - - -
15 FJ-1 120356 1948 Retired - 1954 1955 == -  308  -
16 FJ-1 120357 1948 Crashed stalled 1951 = == - - -
17 FJ-1 120358 1948 Retired - 1951 1955 == -  311  -
18 FJ-1 120359 1948 Crashed engine 1948 = == - - -
19 FJ-1 120360 1948 Crashed landing 1950 = == - - -
20 FJ-1 120361 1948 Crashed ? 1949 = == - - -
21 FJ-1 120362 1948 Retired - 1952 1955 == -  312  -
22 FJ-1 120363 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  313  -
23 FJ-1 120364 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  314  -
24 FJ-1 120365 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  315  -
25 FJ-1 120366 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  316  -
26 FJ-1 120367 1948 Damaged landing.CV 1948 1955 == -  317  -
27 FJ-1 120368 1948 Crashed engine 1950 = == - - -
28 FJ-1 120369 1948 Retired - 1953 1955 == -  318  -
29 FJ-1 120370 1948 Crashed engine 1948 = == - - -
30 FJ-1 120371 1948 Crashed airframe 1948 = == - - -












33 - - 17 crashes - - 18 - 2 16 -

The above (fantasy) data is based on researchs conducted by Nathan Decker and published on http://www.millionmonkeytheater.com/FJ.html 

As the carriers were not to become available before the end of the decade, HA, like CASA had some time ahead of them to look at the matter.   As a matter of standardization, Hispano was instructed to adapt the airframes to the Bristol Orpheus engines, the procurement of which had already been negociated.  Ideally speaking, replacing the 1800 Kgp J35A2 with an uprated variant, like the 2500 Kgp J35A29 or J35A33 would have been a much easier task but the USA was reluctant to divert more technology, even though the J35 was getting older.

Engine Power
Dry-Kgp
Power
AFB-Kgp
      
mm

Length
mm

Weight
Kgs

Consumption
kg/Hr/Kgp

 








J35A_2 1816 - 1067

7254

1293 1.120 -
J35A29 2542 - 1067

7254

1293 1.120 -
J35A33 2542 3360 3360

7254

1293 1.120 2.600
Or3/804 2270 - 823

1916

359 0.964 -

Then, the Orpheus being significantly smaller than the J35, the adaptation was at least feasible.   And while only offering a 25% power increase compared to the J35A2, the engine itself was close to a ton lighter, a weight difference which would either further improve performances or allow for additional equipment, among them a Martin-Baker ejection seat.

But if the original engine could be blamed for many crashes (flame out or other handling defficiencies), a couple of fatal accidents had been due to structural failures.   When dismantling the airframes, many wing-fuselage junctions were found to have cracks which called for a complete rebuild of the wings.   Could North American, the orginal FJ manufacturer, have underestimated the stress on the wings ?   As a matter of fact, the removal of the gun bays had weakened the wing.   Instead of reverse engineering the wings and reinforce the structure, the Sevillian company elected to study the wings of a P-51D which had been interned by Spain during the war.  Although derelict, the airframe was worth looking at and the wing design and assembly actually was of much stronger construction than its more recent FJ iteration.

Surely aircrafts endure crashes, but Hispano was determined not to allow an airframe to be lost due to a structural failure and thus, with their client's approval, elected to rebuild wings based on the P-51D type, which themselves would be attached to a new wing/fuselage junction box.  This new assembly would slightly increase wingspan from 11.63m to 12.50m (without tiptanks)..  The landing gear needed to be repositioned naturally and the wing further stengthened to resolve the initlal issue but also to take much heavier loads, adding a second outboard pylon and making provision for wing tip tanks.  The original pylon position was restressed for a 1000 lbs load instead of the original 500lbs, while the external one was restricted to 500 lbs.  Provision was thus made for tip tanks (or Sidewinder missiles) but the original 170 US gallons (645 L) tanks, of which only a handful had been delivered would be replaced by 140 US gallons (530 L) tanks being remanufactured by CASA for the F6U.

At first, the new wing retained the orginal gunbay for six .50cal guns, with the main landing gear nicely tucked behind them but while these, added to the six nose guns, would have provided quite a punch (twelve M2 guns firing at 750 rpm each, that's 9000 rounds a minute in the air, 14400 if they were M3s !) it was considered as unnecessary.

The Portuguese Navy briefly surveyed the guns options that could be associated with the remanufacture of the FJs (i.e.: adding guns in the wings, exchanging the M2s for more quickly firing M3, installing 20mm cannons in the nose and various iterations mixing these weapons) but decided not to make any change at all.  The decisions might be seen as conservative but was essentially a practical one : six M2 .50cal guns offered enough firepower and the Navy was much more interrested by the fact the landing gear had been repositioned where the Mustang's main fuel tanks had been located and asked Hispano to study two further options and submit prototypes to static tests : one where a fuel tank would be added in the former landing gear bay, and another where the guns bay would also be used to fit more fuel.   With both prototype wings showing no flaws, the second version was automatically chosen, actually the third one, taking the "gun-wing" mock-up into account

F1J-2C New Wing by Hispano Aviacion









However limited was Hispano experience in fighter building, HA expressed concernes about maximum take-off weight.   Increasing underwing ordnance was one thing, as it was somehow a trade off against the weight saved on the engine, but yet another 1650 kgs of fuel in the wings was perhaps asking for trouble ?  A hunt for weight saving was started and although not much could be done, some 300 kgs were nevertheless saved on the airframe itself.

Aircraft Engine

Thrust
Kgp
Dry

Thrust
Kgp
Wet

- Body Motor

Fuel:
Main

1760 L

Fuel:
Wings

1372 L

Fuel:
Tips

1288 L

Guns
1500x
.50

Pylons
Outer
500 lbs

Pylons
Inner
1000 lbs

Fuel
Total

Weight
Total















F1J1   J35A_2 1818 - Kg 2717 1293

1338

-

534
534

173

-

-

-

6589
L - -

1760

-

644
644

-

-

-

3048

- J35A29 2542 - - 2408 1293

1338

1043

908

173

454

908

-

8525
- J35A33 2542 3360 - 2408 1293

1338

1043

908

173

454

908

-

8525
F1J1C Or3/804 2270 - Kg 2408 359

1338

1043

454
454

173

227
227

454
454

000

7591
L - -

1760

686
686

530
530

-

-

530
530

4952

-

When it became clear that Portugal was becoming a very active NATO partner, the United States offered both financial and technical backing, even making the A29 and reheated A33 versions of the Allison engine available, with similar support being granted for the FH Phantom project.  Surely, second-hand J35A29 engine (taken from F84Gs) would fit easily and cost less than brand new engines (either J35A33 or Bristol Orpheus), the latter requiring some significant alterations to the engine bay, but at the cost of gross weight and ... fuel.  So, while more poweful than the original engine, a J35A29 or A33, sucking 16% more fuel, would not only cost range but also some significant amount of hard currency on the ong run.   Also, the Spanish carriers being relatively small, the more different spare parts to have on board to maintain the variety of aircrafts to be handled, the more difficult it would be.   So, while re-engining the FHs (or not) was still a matter to tackle, the FJs would get the same engine as their Spanish counterparts.

So, with stronger newly built wings, each equipped with a 1000lbs (wet) hardpoint close to the main landing gear and with an extra position intended for one or two Sidewinder missiles further out, the FJ could now be rebuilt for a second life    Notwithstanding US backing, financial constraints let the Portuguese government to cut his order down to from 16 to 12 re-engined airframes.   However, this decision came too late as far as the airframes rebuild was concerned, and with half a dozen original engines available after overhaul, the last four airframes were rebuilt with their original Allison powerplant.

Consideration had been given to have a few airframes transformed into photo-reconnaissance aircrafts, but there wasn't enough room anywhere in the fuselage to do that so, nor enough airframes to be diverted for that role.  Instead, Recce pods were aquired, and the port outer wing station wired to handle them.

With CASA having wired the F6U to enable them to carry podded radars on the starboard external station, the same had been performed on the FJs, further increasing their efficiency as a shipboard fighter, and soon two squadrons of Furys were able to join in with the Spanish F6Us.

 

 Name

 Engine

 Details
1948  FJ-1 Fury  J35A2  Initial ex-factory denomination and engine installation
1960  F1J1C  Or3/804  12 airframes rebuilt and re-engined as fighter-bombers
1960  F1J1B  J35A2    4 airframes  rebuilt but not re-engined

F1J1C

 

 

 

 

 

F1J1B

 

 

 

 

 

F1J1B

 

 

 

 

 

F1J1C

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colors and Markings
For obvious reasons, the Portuguese Naval Aviation sort of aligned their marking to the ones used on Spanish carriers and similar colors were used for airplanes with a light grey underneath and a darker grey on the top side.  Compared to their Spanish colleagues, the Portugese colors were slightly blueish with aircrafts allocated to the 31st Squadron being marked 311 through 318 and those of the 30th Squadron 301 through 301.  The two Allison powered aircraft were relegated to liaison role and was allocated on an ad hoc basis.   Usually unarmed they were repainted in Navy blue, although a lighter shade than the original.

The United States having offered financial backing for this operation, technically all airframes actually belonged to the Uncle Sam and all aircrafts kept their original US serial number.

1960

F1J1B

 

1960

F1J1C

     

1960

F1J1B

 

1960

F1J1B

 

___________