YouTube – F7F Tigercat
2 x 2,200 hp. ea.
45 ft. 4 in.
51 ft. 6 in.
4 x .50 cal.
4 x 20 mm
F7F Tigercat aircraft, produced by Grumman, were the first multi-engine fighters of the United States Navy. Although deployed to some Marine Corps squadrons before the end of World War II, they did not see any action in the war.
The concept of the F7F Tigercat originated in 1941. It was to be a speedy, heavily armed, carrier based fighter that could also be used in a ground support role. As the aircraft developed, it became apparent that it was going to be heavier and faster than all prior U.S. Navy carrier aircraft. It also differed from most U.S. Navy aircraft of the time by having a tricycle landing gear arrangement, while retaining the arresting hook and folding wings of carrier-based aircraft.
Even prior to the prototype’s first flight, the U.S. Marine Corps had placed an order for 500 of the aircraft. They wanted to use the F7F Tigercat primarily as a close ground support aircraft, flying from land bases. When the F7F Tigercat flew for the first time on Nov. 2, 1943, it was too large for many U.S. Navy carriers of the time. Initially only the Marines used it. The aircraft needed some redesign before it would be able to operate from the newest, larger U.S. Navy carriers.It was determined that the vertical stabilizer of the F7F Tigercat needed to be enlarged by about 30% so that it would meet U.S. Navy single engine handling requirements. The modification took about 30 months to accomplish. Eventually only twelve of the aircraft were produced that met U.S. Navy aircraft carrier requirements. These were never deployed aboard aircraft carriers.The F7F Tigercat was a fast climbing, quick accelerating aircraft, with excellent forward visibility. It had the best range of any U.S. Navy aircraft of its time. However, it was not without its faults. First and foremost was its tendency to flat spin to the point where it would not recover. In response, the Navy issued a directive prohibiting spinning the aircraft. Also, due to its heavy wing loading, it needed a relatively high speed to maintain control of the aircraft with an engine out.Grumman produced a night fighter version of the aircraft. A fuel tank was removed so that a station could be added to accommodate a radar operator, while nose armament gave way to radar. Another version of the F7F Tigercat had more powerful engines and additional fuel capacity.Production of the aircraft continued after WWII ended. Newer aircraft had radar housed in longer noses. Some F7F Tigercat aircraft were equipped for reconnaissance with electronic and photographic equipment.
During the Korean War, F7F Tigercat aircraft were used to escort B-29 Superfortress bombers. U.S. Marine Corps fighter unit VMF-513 flew the F7F Tigercat night fighters from bases in Japan. At the outbreak of the Korean War, they went into action as night intruders against fortified enemy positions.
When jet interceptors were employed by the North Koreans, the F7F Tigercat was retired from escort service in favor of faster jet aircraft. The last F7F Tigercat flew for the U.S. military in 1954.
A total of 364 F-7F Tigercat aircraft of all type were built. They served as reconnaissance aircraft, fighters, ground attack aircraft, bomber escorts, and night fighters.
After being retired from military service, a number of F7F Tigercat aircraft went on to serve as air tankers for fighting forest blazes. At least two were converted to air racers. At last count, six of the aircraft are still flying.
RC F7F Tigercat