F9F Cougar

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Grumman F9F Cougar
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F9F Cougar

F9F Cougar
RoleCarrier fighter
First flightSeptember 20, 1951
Entered ServiceNovember, 1952
Length42 ft 2 in12.9 m
Wingspan34 ft 6 in10.5 m
Height12 ft 3 in3.7 m
Wing area337 ft²31.3 m²
Empty11,866 lb5,382 kg
Loaded20,098 lb9,116 kg
Maximum takeoff24,763 lb11,232 kg
EnginePratt & Whitney J48-P-8A turbojet
Thrust7250 lbf dry
8500 lbf water inj.
32 kN
38 kN
Maximum speed647 mph1,041 km/h
Combat range1209 miles1,946 km
Ferry range1312 miles2,111 km
Service ceiling42,000 ft12,800 m
Rate of climb5750 ft/min1,750 m/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Guns4 × 20 mm cannon
Bombs2 × 1000 lb (450 kg) bombs
Missiles4 × AIM-9 Sidewinder

The Grumman F9F Cougar (redesignated the F-9 Cougar in the 1962 joint service aircraft designation system) was a aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on the earlier Grumman F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panther's straight wing with a more modern swept wing. The Navy considered the Cougar a mere new version of the Panther (despite adopting a different official name) and thus Cougars started off as F9F-5 and upwards.

Prototypes, modified Panthers, were quickly produced and the first flew on September 20, 1951. To the surprise of the Navy (who had been cautious about adopting swept-wing fighters on the carrier deck) the Cougar was easier to fly from carriers than the Panther. The aircraft was still subsonic, but the critical Mach number was increased from 0.79 to 0.86 at sea level and to 0.895 at 35,000 feet (10,000 m), improving performance markedly. The Cougar, unlike the Panther, would not be outclassed by Russian MiG-15s, but it was too late to see Korean war service.



Initial production (646 airfames) was the F9F-6, delivered from mid 1952 through July 1954. Armament was four 20 mm cannons in the nose and provision for 1000 lb (450 kg) bombs or 150 US gallon (570 L) drop tanks under the wings. Most were fitted with a UHF homing antenna under the nose, and some were fitted with probes for inflight refuelling. Sixty were built as reconnaissance F9F-6P aircraft with cameras instead of the nose cannon. After withdrawal from active service, many were used as unmanned drones for combat training, designated F9F-6K, or as drone directors, designated F9F-6D.

F9F-7 referred to the next batch of Cougars that were given the Allison J33 engine instead of the Pratt & Whitney J48. 168 were built, but the J33 proved both less powerful and less reliable than the J48. Almost all were converted to take J48s, and were thus indistinguishable from F9F-6s.

The F9F-8 was the final fighter version. It featured an 8 inch (200 mm) stretch in the fuselage () and modified wings with greater chord and wing area, to improve low-speed, high angle of attack flying and to give more room for fuel tanks. 601 aircraft were delivered between April 1954 and March 1957; most were given inflight refuelling probes, and late production were given the ability to carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles under the wings. Most earlier aircraft were modified to this configuration. A number were given nuclear bombing equipment.

F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958-59, replaced by the Vought F8U Crusader and Grumman F11F Tiger. Reserves used them until the mid-1960s, but none saw Vietnam War service.

110 photo reconnaissance versions, the F9F-8P, were also delivered in 1955-57. They were withdrawn after a short life in 1960, but some remained with reserve squadrons.

Training aircraft

The Navy acquired 377 two-seat F9F-8T trainers between 1956 and 1960. They were used for advanced training, weapons training and carrier training, and served until 1974. They were armed with twin 20 mm cannon and could carry a full bombs or missiles load. In the 1962 redesignation, these were called TF-9J.

Combat use

The only version of the Cougar to see combat was, oddly enough, the TF-9J trainer; they were used in the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.

Foreign use

The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was Argentina, who had previously used the Panther as well. Two F9F-8Ts were acquired in 1962, and served until 1971.

Related content
Related development

F9F Panther

Similar aircraft
Designation series (pre-1962) F7F - F8F - F9F Panther - F9F Cougar - F10F - F11F
Designation series (post-1962) F-7 - F-8 - F-9 - F-10 - F-11
Related lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft

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

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


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