F7F Tigercat

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Grumman F7F-4N Tigercat
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Grumman_F7F_Tigercat.jpg
Grumman F7F Tigercat

Description
RoleHeavy naval fighter
Crew1 or 2
First flightDecember 1943
Entered serviceApril 1944
ManufacturerGrumman
Dimensions
Length45 ft 4 in13.8 m
Wingspan51 ft 6 in15.7 m
Height16 ft 7 in5.1 m
Wing area455 ft²42.3 m²
Weights
Empty16,270 lb7,380 kg
Loadedlbkg
Maximum takeoff25,720 lb11,670 kg
Powerplant
Engines2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W Double Wasp
Power2 × 2,100 hp1,600 kW
Performance
Maximum speed460 mph740 km/h
Combat rangemileskm
Ferry range1,200 miles1,900 km
Service ceiling40,400 ft12,300 m
Rate of climbft/minm/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Power/Masshp/lbkW/kg
Avionics
RadarAN/APS-19
Armament
Guns4 × 20 mm cannon
4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
Bombs2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs under wings
Missiles
Rockets
OtherTorpedo under fuselage

The Grumman F7F Tigercat was the first twin-engined fighter aircraft design to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed for the new Midway class aircraft carriers, the aircraft were too large to operate from earlier decks. Although delivered to United States Marine Corps combat units before the end of World War II, the aircraft did not see combat service in that war. Most F7Fs ended up in land-based service, as attack aircraft or night fighters; only the later F7F-4N was ever certified for carrier service. They saw service in the Korean war, and were withdrawn from service in 1954.

Grumman's aim was to produce a plane that out-performed and out-gunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability. Armament was heavy; four 20 mm cannons and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. Performance met expectations too: the F7F Tigercat was one of the highest-performance piston-engined fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the US Navy's single-engined aircraft - 80 mph (130 km/h) faster than a F4U Corsair at sea level. The opinion of the Navy flight testers read, in part, "in addition to its potentialities as a night fighter, this airplane is the best medium-altitude day fighter, Army, Navy or foreign, yet evaluated."

All this was bought at the cost of heavy weight and a high landing speed, but what caused the aircraft to fail carrier suitability trials was poor directional stability with only one engine operational, as well as problems with the tail-hook design. Therefore, initial production was only used from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar. At first they were single-seater F7F-1N aircraft, but after the 34th production aircraft a second seat for a radar operator was added; these planes were designated F7F-2N.

The next version produced, the F7F-3, and modified to correct the issues that caused the aircraft to fail carrier acceptance, and this version was again trialled on the USS Shangri-La. A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification too. F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions.

A final version, the F7F-4N, was extensively rebuilt for additional strength and stability, and this did pass carrier qualification, but only twelve were built.

Marine Corps units flying Tigercats saw action in the early stages of the Korean War, flying night interdiction and fighter missions. This was the only combat use of the aircraft.

Most F7F-2Ns were modified to control drones for combat training, and these gained bubble canopies over the rear cockpit for the drone controller.

Two Tigercats were evaluated, but rejected, by the British Royal Navy in 1945, preferring a navalized version of the de Havilland Hornet.

A number of Tigercats were used as water bombers to fight forest fires in the 1960s and 1970s, and for this reason twelve examples exist today. Six of these are still airworthy.

Related content
Related development
Similar aircraft
Designation series

F4F - F5F - F6F - F7F - F8F - F9F - F10F

Related lists

List of military aircraft of the United States


Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

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