Carrierborne Biplane Fighter Aircraft
The Grumman F2F served the United States Navy as a primary carrier fighter in limited quantities in the latter half of the 1930s.
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Leroy Grumman designed this portly biplane fighter for the United States Navy. Grumman had already made a steady image for his company with the design of the FF-1, a similar two-seat biplane fighter that proved quite the speedy performer for the time. As such, the United States Navy had little reservation when it awarded Grumman a contract for his new XF2F-1. 55 Total F2F-1 production fighters were eventually delivered. An initial order of 54 was augmented by one to replace an F2F-1 that had crashed. By today standards, the F2F served a short operational life serving from 1935 into 1940, no doubt overtaken by the more advanced systems appearing in war time America. First flight of the system was achieved on October 31st, 1933 with deliveries beginning on January 19th, 1935. Design was handled by Leroy Grumman himself.
At its core, the F2F was an aircraft design seemingly caught between two eras of aviation. It featured an open-air cockpit and staggered, uneven biplane wing assemblies supported by parallel struts and cabling with the pilot sitting just behind the upper wing element. The F2F was distinct in its portly stout fuselage which housed the then-experimental single Pratt & Whitney XR-1534-44 Twin Wasp Junior radial piston engine. Performance included a top speed of 238 miles per hour, a range of 985 miles and a service ceiling of 27,500 feet. As an inter-war aircraft design, however, the F2F was a hotrod.
Like other Grumman designs of the time, the undercarriage was retractable, though the wheels themselves were clearly visible along the sides of the forward fuselage even when fully retracted. The undercarriage was conventional, featuring two main landing gears and a tail wheel. The F2F was designed for operations originating from carriers or land-based airfields. Armament was limited to 2 x 7.62mm machine guns fixed into the engine cowl. The aircraft was also constructed to be watertight in the event that the aircraft was forced to crash land in the ocean - this was a naval aircraft after all.
By September of 1940, the little design had met its fate, replaced by vastly improved aircraft. The United States was the sole operator of the type. The Grumman F3F, another similar biplane design, was developed from the F2F and became the last American biplane accepted into operational service.