Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat Fighter Plane
The Grumman Bearcat, nicknamed the "Bear", was ordered in November 1943 as an interceptor and the prototype first flew on the 21st August 1944. The first production aircraft was delivered in February 1945 but never saw combat in WW2. The Grumman Bearcat served with the United States Marines, France, South Vietnam and Thailand's air-forces. French Bearcats were successful in French Indochina as fighter-bombers in the early 1950's.
Although the Bearcat's primary users were the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, the aircraft was also operated by the French Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and the Vietnam Air Force who were the last to use the Bearcat operationally, they retired their last Bearcat's in 1961. The Grumman Bearcat F8F-2P pictured on this page was photo-reconnaissance version built in 1948, it served with the US Navy until January 1957 and was then privately owned, in 1981 she came to the UK and is now operated by the "The Fighter Collection" in the United Kingdom, it was photographed at Duxford in the September 2012 air-show.
Grumman F8F Bearcat Specifications:
- Crew: Pilot only
- Length: 28 ft 3 in (8.6 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft 10 in (10.9 m)
- Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.2 m)
- Max takeoff weight: 12,947 lb (5,870 kg)
- Engine: Single Pratt & Whitney 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) R-2800-34W Double Wasp twin row radial piston engine
- Maximum speed: 421 mph (680 km/h)
- Range: 1,105 miles (1,780 km)
- Service ceiling: 38,700 ft (11,800 m)
Grumman F8F Bearcat Armament:
- Four .50 caliber machine guns (or)
- Four 20 mm cannons
- Two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs
- Four 5 in unguided rocket projectiles
The Grumman F8F Bearcat was destined to be Grumman's last piston engine fighter, 1,265 aircraft were produced in total.
It is interesting to compare the Grumman F8F Bearcat with the Hawker Sea Fury FB-11, both aircraft designs were strongly influenced by captured Focke-Wulf FW 190's, and first flew within weeks of each other, they both entered service to late to see action in WW2 although both had been expected to see action in the Pacific campaign against Japan, both aircraft were the last piston engined fighters made by their respective companies, both were designed as interceptors but soon evolved into fighter bombers, their armament virtually identical! What was the difference in performance? The Sea Fury was slightly larger, lighter, more powerful and faster, the Bearcat had more range and a higher service ceiling, both aircraft are highly sought after by Pylon racers for obvious reasons although neither aircraft had the power or speed of the Spitfire Mk XVIII, the so-called super spitfire.
The speed record for a piston engine propeller driven aircraft (528.33 mph) has been held since the 21st of August 1989 by this highly modified and tuned 1946 Grumman Bearcat "Rare Bear".
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