The F9F-5P was a specially built unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the F9F-5. Unlike the F9F-2Ps, which were modified from existing F9F-2 airframes, the F9F-5Ps were built from scratch as unarmed photo-reconnaissance aircraft. 36 were built. The modified nose had the armament replaced by a housing for vertical and oblique cameras. The overall length was 40 feet as compared to 38 feet 10 1/2 inches for the standard F9F-5.
The F9F-5P was deployed with a detachment of VC-61 aboard the USS Princeton during late 1952, supplanting the earlier F9F-2P.
Some F9F-5Ps were modified as F9F-5KD drone directors. In the F9F-5KD, the camera gear was removed and was replaced by radio control equipment. In 1962, the Defense Department introduced the new Tri-Service designation scheme under which the separate USAF/Navy designations were replaced by a new unified designation system. This required that all existing Navy aircraft be redesignated. By this time, the only Panthers remaining in Navy service were the F9F-5KD drone directors, which were redesignated DF-9E. The last DF-9Es were struck off charge in the mid-1960s.
F9F-5P BuNo 126275 is on display at the USN Pensacola Air Museum.
125314/125321 Grumman F9F-5P Panther 126265/126290 Grumman F9F-5P Panther 127471/127472 Grumman F9F-5P Panther