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  • Grumman F9F Cougar Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft

    The Grumman F9F Cougar was essentially an all-new Grumman F9F Panther complete with swept-wing assemblies.

     Updated: 4/5/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    Even as the straight-winged F9F "Panther" was beginning to take shape on the design board during the latter stages of World War 2, Grumman looked to developing a swept-wing jet-powered fighter. Swept-wings were already in operational service with German jet-powered aircraft late in the war, such as the famous Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter, and German scientists were hard at work in pushing the boundaries of high-speed flight even into the last days of the conflict. Turbojet technology was being studied extensively during the period throughout Germany, Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union with only the British and the Germans bringing an operational-level quality fighter into service before the end of the war in 1945.

    For the Grumman concern, who eventually earned the favor of the United States Navy when selling its collection of excellent fighter types - from the World War 2-era F4F "Wildcat" and F6F "Hellcat", to the Cold War-era F-14 "Tomcat" - the F9F "Panther" proved its first jet-powered fighter and the first such notable aircraft to the USN. The series went on to see extensive service throughout the Korean War (1950-1953) as a ground attack platform while scoring several air-to-air kills even against the famed Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 "Fagot" swept-wing, single-seat fighter. The Panther formed a good portion of USN and USMC strength committed to the theater of war.

    A swept-wing version of the F9F Panther was conceived in what would ultimately emerge as the F9F "Cougar" - the natural evolution of the Panther for it retained the same overall physical appearance of the former design, the major difference becoming its new swept-back wing design. While studies of such an aircraft were being drawn up as early as December 1945, it was not until March of 1950 that the USN officially commissioned Grumman with its development. Considering the success of the straight-winged Panther in the Korean War, the Cougar could be developed along much quicker lines around the already-proven airframe utilizing the same technology within. Grumman was handed the USN contract in March of 1951 and, by this time, the USN was firmly entrenched in Korea where its Panther would go on to record over 78,000 sorties in the conflict. The arrival of the swept-wing, Soviet MiG-15 fighter only spurred greater American military interest in similar swept-wing fighters which ultimately culminated in the war-winning North American F-86 "Sabre" series detailed elsewhere on this site.

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    Grumman F9F-8 Cougar Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1952
    Type: Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Grumman - USA
    Production Total: 1,392

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 42.16 feet (12.85 meters)
    Width: 34.51 feet (10.52 meters)
    Height: 12.24 feet (3.73 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 11,865 lb (5,382 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 24,762 lb (11,232 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Pratt & Whitney J48-P-8A turbojet developing 7,200 lb of thrust.

    Maximum Speed: 647 mph (1,041 kph; 562 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,000 miles (1,610 km)
    Service Ceiling: 41,995 feet (12,800 meters; 7.95 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 5,750 feet-per-minute (1,753 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    4 x 20mm M2 cannons in nose assembly.

    6 x 5" (127mm) high-explosive air-to-surface rockets underwing.
    4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range, air-to-air missiles underwing (later models).
    2 x 1,000lb conventional dropbombs.

    Up to 2,000lbs of external ordinance.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Argentina; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XF9F-6 - Original three prototypes based on the F9F Panther.

    F9F-6 (F-9F) - Original production models based on the XF9F-6 prototypes; 646 examples produced.

    F9F-6P - Photographic Reconnaissance Variant; sans cannon armament; 60 examples produced.

    F9F-6D (DF-9F) - F6F-6-based drone director conversions

    F9F-6K (QF-9F) - F9F-6-based unmanned target drone conversions.

    F9F-6K2 (QF-9G) - Improved F9F-6K target drones

    F9F-6PD (DF-9F) - F9F-6P-based drone director conversions

    F9F-7 (F-9H) - Fitted with Allison J33 turbojet engine; most eventually re-engined with PW J48 engines.

    F9F-8 (F-9J) - Lengthened fuselage; revised wings; inflight refueling probe; provision for 4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder AA missiles; 601 examples produced.

    YF9F-8B (YAF-9J) - Single-seat strike variant prototype based on F9F-8 model.

    F9F-8B (AF-9J) - F9F-8 fighters converted for ground attack role.

    F9F-8P - Photographic reconnaissance variant of F9F-8B; sans cannon armament.

    YF9F-8T (YFT-9J) - Two-seat trainer prototype based on F9F-8 fighter

    F9F-8T (TF-9J) - Dedicated two-seat trainer based on YF9F-8T prototype; retaining combat capabilities; 377 examples produced.

    NTF-9J - Special test airframes based on TF-9J mounts

    YF9F-9 - Prototype airframe to become YF11F-1 "Tiger" prototype