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