Douglas F3D Skyknight airplane model. The Douglas F3D Skyknight was the world's first jet fighter designed for use as carrier-based night fighter. Its radar equipment required a wider-than-usual fuselage, so it was nicknamed "Willie the Whale".
The Navy asked Douglas to develop a carrier-based night fighter in 1946. Specifications included twin-jet power, side-by-side seating for a radar operator, a top speed of 500 mph, a combat radius of 500 miles, an operating altitude of 40,000 feet, and an escape system that allowed the crew to depart downward through the bottom of the fuselage.
Douglas produced 268 Skyknights, including several conversions to special-duty variants. During the Korean War, in 1952, an F3D Skyknight shot down a Yak-15 in the first jet-to-jet aerial victory scored at night. One Marine Corps night-fighter squadron went on to rack up the best night-fighter record of the Korean conflict.
After 1953, Skyknights were converted as trainers for radar intercept officers and for use as electronic reconnaissance and countermeasure aircraft during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. The Skyknight was the only Navy/Marine fighter to fly combat missions in both Korea and Vietnam, and the last was retired in l978.