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Colours & Markings: F-8E(FN) Crusader

by Gaëtan Marie


Please note that these notes on the Crusader's colours & markings are based on a limited number of documents, and therefore are not authoritative. Mistakes or omissions have probably made their way in the text. If so, please excuse me for it and help me improve these series by mailing me your suggestions and/or corrections.

The first F-8 Crusader received by the French Navy in November 1964 were quite similar to those operated by the US Navy: Light Gull Grey overall with Insignia White undersurfaces and mobile parts. A large French roundel with an anchor and a yellow border was located between the wings and tail assembly on both sides of the fuselage. This Aéronavale insignia was also carried on the port wing uppersurface and the starboard wing undersurface. The unit's badge was generally painted on both sides of the cockpit.

The aircraft's tactical number was painted in black on the fin and on both fuselage sides behind the cockpit. The number is also repeated on the starboard wing uppersurface. The radome and forward canopy are also painted black. The fin's leading edge is painted dark grey. Stenciling is identical to that of USN aircraft.

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A variation of this initial camouflage was later introduced, probably in the early 1980s: the F-8 Crusaders were painted entirely grey, in a lighter tone than Light Gull Grey. The word “MARINE” (NAVY) was painted black above the horizontal stabilizer. Stenciling was now written in French, while the numbers and roundels remained unchanged.

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The last paint scheme worn by the French Crusaders appeared in the early 1990s. They were painted in a dark grey-blue colour reminiscent of the PRU Blue used on World War II RAF reconnaissance aircraft. The tactical numbers and « MARINE » word were painted light grey. The roundel lost its yellow border and its size was significantly reduced. Stenciling also evolved substantially and was more present than previously was the case.

F-8E(FN) #17 of Flottille 14.F based at Landivisiau in 1973. The aircraft is painted in the standard US Navy scheme: Light Gull Grey over Insignia White. Stenciling is also identical to USN Crusaders.

Crusader # 7 of Flottille 12.F wearing the early-style camouflage and carrying missile launcher rails. The Crusader was the Aéronavale's sole interceptor for nearly 40 years.

“Crouze” #32 was sent by Flotilla 12.F to the Greenham Common Airshow in the United Kingdom in June 1981 to represent the French Aéronavale. Unlike earlier Crusaders, it is entirely painted light grey with no white undersurfaces. Notice that the stenciling has evolved also.

Crusader n°30 of Flottille 12.F in May 1982 at Landivisiau NAS. This heavily weathered aircraft had just returned from a firing campaign, hence the smoke marks around the gun ports. It carries an AIM-9D Sidewinder. The Sidewinder was not used very often by the Aéronavale, and was retired in 1986 in favor of the French Magic II.


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