MCARA Aircraft > McDonnell F2H-2P Banshee
The F2H-2 variant had increased fuel, 200 gallon wing tanks, and the more powerful Westinghouse J-34-WE-34 turbojet engine than the F2H-1. A total of 89 of the recon types were built with the first flight on 12 October, 1950. It had a wider and longer nose than the fighter which accommodated six vertical and oblique cameras. For night photography, a container holding 20 flash cartridges could be carried underneath each wing.
Marine Photo Reconnaissance Squadron One (VMJ-1) flew the Banshees from its K-3 base near Pohang in South Korea beginning in 1952 .The J-1 Banshees were considered the best of the photo reconnaissance aircraft in Korea and the squadron was credited with providing the highest percentage of the film taken by any unit in the Far East Air Forces and was assigned to the highest value targets ranging from the Main Line of Resistance to the Yalu River on the China border. The Banshees were often engaged by Mig-15s and were usually escorted by F-86 fighters. One of VMJ-1’s famous enlisted pilots MSGT. Ed Chestnut, was quoted as saying “Sure, an F2H will outrun a Mig, if you don’t mind putting the nose down and popping a few revets!”
After the Korea War the Banshees of VMJ-1 under their CO and WW II ACE Lt. Col Marion Carl were tasked to conduct clandestine photo missions over China which added to the squadron and their CO’s fame. The Banshees were later replaced by the F9F Panther and Cougars.