For the best single reference on F8U-1/2 configuration differences, buy Squadron Signal Publications Walk Around Number 38, F-8 Crusader by Ed Barthelmes. It includes details that I hadn't noticed or knew about, copiously illustrated in color.
For a summary of Crusader armament changes, see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-brief-history-of-f8u-crusader-armament.html
This is another work-in-progress. I got a request for this particular one and since I had done some work on it, I've decided to post it and perfect it later. For a bigger picture, click on it.
The solid nose wheel was introduced with the F8U-2N (F-8D) and retrofitted to earlier production Crusaders as they came through overhaul, so there isn’t anything like a BuNo (other than 147037 and sub) or date certain that can be used. There are also examples of Es and possibly even NEs with the spoked nose wheel, but these are almost certainly shore-based airplanes taking advantage of built-up spares.
Here are pictures of the early spoked nose wheel hub:
The tendency of an F8U to land on the nose wheel, particularly after an in-flight engagement, may be why the Navy went to a solid hub nose wheel. One of the tenets of good design is that you don't make something relatively cheap and easily replaceable so strong that instead of it breaking in an overload situation to relieve the load, something else does that's expensive and/or very hard to replace or repair.
The early main landing gear wheel was also different.
According to my notes, the Sidewinders and refueling probe were added to 143701 (F8U-1 production #66) and subsequent. Note also that the spoilers for better lateral control weren't added until 143771 (#136) and sub.
Also the small inboard flap was incorporated on production #17 and sub, although this and probably the refueling probe/Sidewinder and wing spoiler installs were retrofitted to at least one of the early aircraft for test and evaluation purposes. (e.g. BuNo 1440446 had the inboard flap for the carrier trials on Forrestal in April 1956)
Vought Ejection Seat
One unusual feature of the four-Sidewinder installation is that none of the missiles are mounted at the same angle in order to clear its partner on the Y-mount as well as the in-flight refueling probe on upper left side and the ram-air turbine on the lower right. Some kit manufacturer haven't gotten this right. Bill Gilman reports that Academy did with its 1/72 F8U but neglected to provide adequate instructions as to which pylon went where.
For more on the photo Gator, see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2013/12/photo-gator.html