Rich Sugden’s North American FJ-4B “Fury”

Rich Sugden’s North American FJ-4B “Fury”

US Specialty Insurance Company

This particular FJ-4B, the last one flying in the world, was built in 1958 in the second to last batch of 222 aircraft, and was delivered to VA-192 “Golden Dragons” on board the USS Bon Homme Richard. It operated with several other Navy squadrons, finishing its Navy career with VA-216, the “Black Diamonds”, aboard the USS Hancock in Vietnam. It was sent to Litchfield Park, Arizona, for disposal but somehow missed demolition. In 1971, Bob Laidlaw, the President of Flight Systems in Mojave California and a former NAA Test Pilot, was looking for an aircraft that would stay subsonic in a near-vertical dive from 50,000 ft. and came upon the idea of using the FJ-4B. It has four large speedbrakes that were part of the LABS system, which provided sufficient drag to keep the aircraft subsonic. There was a civilian contract to test the radar pattern-matching guidance system of the Pershing II intermediate range ballistic missle and it requred such a profile. BuNo 143575 was restored to flight status and flew over 700 hours of roller coaster re-entry paths, while measuring the ability of the Pershing warhead hung beneath the wing to guide itself to various targets around the U.S.. While operating with Flight Systems, BuNo 143575 was registered as N400FS, the registration she bears today.



Registration Number Date of Manufacture
N400FS 1958
Aircraft Role Nickname
Fighter / Bomber Fury
Aircraft Type: Wingspan:
North American FJ-4B “Fury” 36 ft. 8 in.
Overall length: Empty weight:
39 ft. 2 in. 13,210 Lbs.
Gross weight: Fuel capacity:
28,000 Lbs. 1,540 Gal.
Oil capacity Engine type:
8 Qts. Wright J-65
Propeller type: Max Speed
Rate of Climb Cruise Speed
7,500 FPM 510 KTAS
Service Ceiling Number of Crew
51,000 ft. 1
Armament Bomb Load
4 ea. 20 mm cannons 6,000 lbs
Number Built Number Surviving
222 1 Flying!



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When “575” finished the Pershing program she was again put to pasture at Mojave, where she sat until 1991 when Larry Mockford of T-Bird Aviation purchased the aircraft and started restoring her. We purchased her from Larry in 2002 and finished the restoration at Mojave with Scott MacDonnell (her former crew chief and mechanic) and at Teton Aviation in Driggs, Idaho where she now resides. The paint scheme is that of the FJ-4’s of the Fleet Air Gunnery Unit at NAS El Centro, California. It was chosen for its uniqueness as well as an honor to all FJ pilots, who did their gunnery training at FAGU El Centro.

Restoration Images

FJ4-Buckeye.1 FJ4_RS_OSH_05



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