Grumman F9F-2 Panther

Last revised January 23, 2000


The first production F9F-2 flew in August 1949. The production F9F-2 was externally similar to the XF9F-2 prototype but with wingtip tanks. However, it was equipped with an armament of four 20-mm cannon with 190 rounds per gun and the cockpit was provided with a Martin-Baker ejector seat. With the wingtip tanks, the total fuel capacity was now 923 US gallons. Because of the additional equipment and fuel, it was substantially heavier than the XF9F-2.

The first F9F-2s began their trials powered by J42-P-4 turbojets, but initial production F9F-2s were powered by J42-P-6s. Most F9F-2s were powered by J42-P-8s with a modified ignition system. All of these engines offered a maximum wet takeoff-thrust of 5750 pounds and a dry take-off thrust of 5000 pounds.

The production by Pratt & Whitney of the J42 adaptation of the Rolls-Royce Nene proceeded on schedule and with relatively few snags. The J42 engine was, in fact, so successful in service that the F9F-3 alternative J33-powered version was deemed not to be necessary and the few F9F-3s that were built were retrofitted with J42 engines and thus became indistinguishable from F9F-2s. A total of 564 Panthers were delivered as F9F-2.

A substantial number of early production F9F-2s were modified as F9F-2B fighter bombers by the addition of four bomb racks underneath each wing. The inboard rack could carry either a 150-gallon drop tank or a 1000-pound bomb, whereas the three outboard racks could carry 250-pound bombs or 5-inch HVAR rockets. Maximum load was 2000 pounds. Beginning with the 365th F9F-2 (BuNo 125083), these racks were installed at the factory. After most F9F-2s had been brought up to F9F-2B standards, the B suffix was usually dropped.

When the Korean War began in June 1950, the Navy had no jet-powered reconnaissance aircraft, since the McDonnell F2H-2P Banshee still had not undergone its first flight trials. As a stopgap measure, a small number of F9F-2s were modified as unarmed photographic reconnaissance aircraft under the designation F9F-2P. The four 20-mm cannon were removed and replaced by oblique and vertical cameras.

Following the withdrawal of the F9F-2 from service, a few F9F-2s were modified as unarmed radio-controlled drones under the designation F9F-2D. A few F9F-2s were modified as drone controllers under the designation F9F-2KD. F9F-2 BuNo 123050 is on display at the USN Pensacola Air Museum.

Serials of Grumman F9F-2 Panther:

122475 		Grumman XF9F-2 Panther 
122477 		Grumman XF9F-2 Panther 
122563 		Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
122567 		Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
122569 		Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
122570 		Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
122572 		Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
122586/122589 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
123016/123019 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
123044/123067 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
123077/123083 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
123397/123713 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
125083/125155 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 
127086/127215 	Grumman F9F-2 Panther 

Specification of the Grumman F9F-2 Panther:

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J42-P-6/P-8 turbojet, rated at 5000 lb.s.t. for takeoff dry and 5950 lb.s.t. for takeoff with water injection. Performance: Maximum speed 575 mph at sea level, 545 mph at 22,000 feet, 529 mph at 35,00 feet. Cruising speed 487 mph Landing speed 105 mph . Initial climb rate 5140 feet per minute. Service ceiling 44,600 feet. Normal range 1353 miles. Dimensions: wingspan 38 feet 0 inches, length 37 feet 5 3/8 inches, height 11 feet 4 inches, wing area 250 square feet. Weights: 9303 pounds empty, 14,235 pounds combat, 16,450 pounds gross, 19,494 pounds maximum takeoff. Internal fuel capacity 923 US gallons Armament: four 20-mm cannon. Underwing loads of up to 2000 pounds of bombs and rockets could be carried on eight underwing racks.

Sources:


  1. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  3. Grumman Aircraft Since 1929, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1989.

  4. American Combat Planes, 3rd Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.