YouTube - F8F Bearcat
P & W R2800
4- .50 caliber
28 ft. 3 in.
35 ft. 10 in.
The F8F Bearcat produced by Grumman was the last piston engine fighter produced by the corporation.
The F8F Bearcat was built around the largest, most power per weight, and most reliable aircraft engine of the time, the P & W R2800.
The first US Navy F8F Bearcat squadron became operational on May 21,1945, just before WW II was over. They never saw combat. After World War II, the aircraft were the primary U.S. Navy carrier fighters.
Eventually total of 24 squadrons of the U.S. Navy would be equipped with the aircraft. They were flown into the early 1950's. Many pilots regarded them as the most maneuverable and fastest accelerating U. S. piston engine fighters ever built.
F8F Bearcat aircraft were originally fitted with "Safety Wing Tips", the outer 40 inches of which were designed to break off cleanly in case of the wing being over stressed in a dive or other maneuver. After several incidents where one or both wing tips unintentionally tore off, this feature was eliminated from later production aircraft.
The F8F Bearcat features a low single wing design, all metal construction, a bubble canopy, folding wings for carrier operations, self-sealing fuel tanks, four 50 caliber machine guns, pilot armor, a retractable tail wheel, and an eighteen cylinder Pratt & Whitney engine.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels started flying the F8F Bearcat for their demonstrations in 1946.
In the 1950's both the Thai and French employed the fighter. They were used primarily as fighter bombers against the Viet Minh.
An unmodified production F8F Bearcat set a 1946 time to climb record to 10,000 feet in 94 seconds, after a run of 115 ft. The record stood for 10 years until a jet fighter broke it. However the jet could not take off in only 115 ft.
The Rare Bear, a modified F8F Bearcat racer owned by Lyle Shelton, holds the record for the fastest single engine propeller driven aircraft in the world with an average speed of 528.33 mph over a 3 km (1.864 mile) course. The only faster propeller driven aircraft is the four engine Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear.
A total of 1,265 F8F Bearcat aircraft were built.
The F8F Bearcat from Nick Ziroli is available from plans or as a kit. It has a wingspan of 86 in. and a length of 69 in. Construction is all wood. Power can come from 62 to 85 cc engines. All up weight is around 32 lbs. Check out the comments below for a review).