The Grumman Cats

Just under nine lives that created a company legend.

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F6F-5 Specs
Span: 42 ft. 10 in.
Length:  33 ft. 7 in.
Height:  13 ft. 1 in.
Empty Weight:  9,238 lbs.
Max Speed:  380 mph
Normal Range:  945 mi.
Ceiling:  37,300 ft.

Grumman F7F Tigercat

Initially designed as a twin-engine carrier-based fighter, the Tigercat revealed a problem maintaining directional stability when it was first flown on November 3, 1943. After Grumman improved the design, the F7F became a favored radar-equipped night fighter and attack aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps. The F7F also proved to be a decent platform for the launch and control of drones. After the war, civilian users added belly tanks to operate Tigercats as firebombers.

F7F-3 Specs
Span:  51 ft. 6 in.
Length:  45 ft. 4 in.
Height:  16 ft. 4 in.
Empty Weight:  16,270 lbs.
Max Speed:  450 mph
Normal Range:  1,200 mi.
Ceiling:  40,700 ft.

Grumman XF10F-1 Jaguar

The world’s first variable-sweep-wing fighter (although the Messerschmitt P1101 and Bell X-5 preceded it as variable-sweep research aircraft), the XF10F was first flown on May 19, 1952, in a short hop that revealed stability and control problems and an inadequate powerplant. The wing-sweep mechanism would be fine, however, and in later years the knowledge gained from the Jaguar was applied to the F-111 Aardvark and F-14 Tomcat. Only one XF10F was completed: It and the nearly complete second airframe ignominiously ended their days as arresting-barrier test airframes.

Span, extended:  50 ft. 7 in.
Span, swept:  36 ft. 8 in.
Length:  54 ft. 5 in.
Height:  16 ft. 3 in.
Empty Weight:  20,426 lbs.
Max Speed:  710 mph
Normal Range:  1,670 mi.
Ceiling:  45,800 ft.

Grumman F9F Panther/Cougar

On November 9, 1950, during the Korean War, the Pratt & Whitney-turbojet-powered F9F Panther became the first Navy jet to shoot down another jet (a MiG-15) in combat. Later in the war, Ensign Neil Armstrong of the Navy’s VF-51 squadron (yes, that Neil Armstrong) ran into a cable over North Korea, an encounter that sheared off six feet of his wing. Armstrong managed to fly to a base, so he could eject over friendly territory. In a departure from the military’s usual practice, the F9F designation was retained even after the aircraft was transformed into the Cougar: In 1951, the Panther’s straight wing was replaced with a wing swept back 35 degrees. The redesign improved the performance of the F9F and led to a long service life, with F9Fs flying into the 1970s.

F9F-6 cougar Specs
Span:  34 ft. 6 in.
Length:  40 ft. 10 in.
Height:  12 ft. 4 in.
Empty Weight:  11,255 lbs.
Max Speed:  654 mph
Normal Range:  932 mi.
Ceiling:  44,600 ft.

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