Well, they say you can find out anything on the internet. They’re probably right, but every now and then I am stymied in looking up certain obscure curiosities either to verify a sea story, or to check facts on a suspected tall tale.

This one’s sort of neither. It is a piece of Naval Aviation history that I can’t seem to put my finger on. To wit, was the North American FJ-1 Fury a re-design of the famous and wonderful P-51 Mustang with the addition of a jet engine? I have been told that the original design employed the same wing and empennage of the P-51 Mustang, with a fuselage redesign to incorporate the Allison J-35 turbojet power plant.

It certainly looks in the accompanying images that this is possible. With slight modification of the tail surfaces to account for jet exhaust and a slight dihedral of the horizontal surfaces, the similarities are remarkable.

I have never read this anywhere official, but have been told this as fact on several occasions. With the design being a North American product, certainly the opportunity existed. And perhaps this is logical, as the Mustang was the last word in piston engine fighter technology when the XFJ-1 was being built. Of course, the design of the FJ-1 eventually became the F-86 Sabre of Korean War fame.

Well, what say we? I would love to hear from the Naval Aviation geeks out there regarding the above. URR

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Aviation

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  • I think the Squadron/Signal books on the FJ and the F-86 both include this as well, but I do not have them handy, or anything more scholarly, to cite chapter and verse.

    The P-51 -> FJ -> F-86 -> F-100 -> F-107 is quite an evolutionary leap, if true.

  • Hayball

    However they did it, it looks like the same group of design engineers came up with superb historic aircraft, which then proceeded to provide air supremacy forthwith.

    Some of the same pilots too, I’ll wager.

    Tip o’ the hat to North American and USAF.

    Naval Aviators, too, althought we expect nothing less from them.

  • Not the same but similar and enlarged wing and empennage. For a summary of the FJ-1 program and a comparison drawing of the P-51 and FJ-1, see U.S. Naval Air Superiority by Tommy H. Thomason, a history of the development of carrier-based jet fighters.

  • I pullled my copies of Lloyd S. Jones’ U.S. Fighters (Aero Publishisher, Inc: Fallbrook, CA, 1975) and U.S. Naval Fighters (Aero Publishers, 1977) off the shelf and opened them to the sections on the P-51 and the FJ-1 respectively. With the schematic drawings side by side one can definately see similarities between the two designs.

    Jones wrote in his section on the FJ-1:

    “One of the major advantages of the jet was that it could be used with current design technology. It did not require a radical departure from existing aircraft engineering to build a jet fighter with noticeably better performance than the piston types then in use. This was seen when the Russians successfully adapted their piston-powered Yak-3 into the jet-engined Yak-15, substantially increasing its performance. The characteristics of the powerplant itself were largely responsible for this since the jet generally had less frontal area and a higher power-to-weight ratio; and its location in the middle of the fuselage permitted more efficient streamlinging. For this reason, the first generation of American Navy jet fighters looked very much like conventional airplanes, with without the propellers.”

  • @URR
    Checkout Flightdeck Friday: North American XFJ-1/FJ-1 Fury.
    And also second the recommendation on Tommy Thomason’s excellent work. It has become one of my primary references.
    – SJS

  • Raymond III

    The look is similar, but the wings aren’t the same.

    The P-51 used a NACA 45-100 airfoil,
    while the FJ-1 used a NACA 64-112 airfoil (both had the same airfoil shape from root to tip).

    They’re from the same airfoil series and they’re both laminar-flow wings, and I’d bet that the structural design of the wings is mostly the same, but they didn’t just take the wings off a P-51 and put them on their new jet.


    North American was the manufacturer of both types, so there would naturally be some similarity in design philosophy that crept in. Just to clarify an earlier post, yes, the FJ-1 was the source of the F-86 but it was also the ancestor of the FJ series used by the Navy. The Navy avoided swept-wing technology when the USAF adopted it, because they were concerned with the safety of handling jets at slow speed on approach to carriers. The Korean War and the swept-wing MiG-15 changed that and the FJ-2 was virtually a Navy-adopted F-86 in blue paint. The FJ-3 was fully navalized with revised nose gear, canopy, 20mm cannons, refuleing probe, catapult bridle hooks, etc. The FJ-4 was the final version and radically different from all of the earlier models. All of them, including the F-86 Sabre began with the FJ design.