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F9F/F-9 Cougar
Grumman F9F-6 Cougar, 1952
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight 20 September 1951
Retired 1974, US Navy
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Argentine Navy
Developed from F9F Panther

The Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar was an 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 an updated version of the Panther, despite having a different official name, and thus Cougars started off from F9F-6 upwards.


Design and development

Prototypes were quickly produced by modifying Panthers, and the first (XF9F-6) flew on 20 September 1951. 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 ft (10,000 m), improving performance markedly over the Panther. The Cougar was too late for Korean War service, however, and thus combat effectiveness estimates of the Cougar against potential foes such as the (likewise subsonic, but not carrier-rated) Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 necessarily remain in the sphere of conjecture.

A swept-wing F9F-6 Cougar (foreground) and a straight-wing F9F-5 Panther in flight
Launch of the last USN TF-9Js from USS John F. Kennedy, 1974.

Initial production (646 airframes) was the F9F-6, delivered from mid 1952 through July 1954. Armament was four 20 mm (.79 in) M2 cannons in the nose and provision for two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs or 150 US gal (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. Later redesignated F-9F in 1962. Sixty were built as F9F-6P reconnaissance aircraft with cameras instead of the nose cannon.

After withdrawal from active service, many F9F-6s were used as unmanned drones for combat training, designated F9F-6K, or as drone directors, designated F9F-6D. The F9F-6K and the F9F-6D were redesignated the QF-9F and DF-9F, respectively.

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. These were redesignated F-9H in 1962.

The F9F-8 was the final fighter version. It featured an 8 in (20 cm) 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. These were redesignated F-9J in 1962.

The F9F-8B aircraft were F9F-8s converted into single-seat attack-fighters, later redesignated AF-9J.
A total of 110 F9F-8Ps were produced with an extensively modified nose carrying cameras. They were withdrawn after 1960 to reserve squadrons. In 1962, surviving F9F-6P and F9F-8P aircraft were re-designated RF-9F and RF-9J respectively.

—Modifications of F9F-8 to Convert to F9F-8P —
  • The modification to eliminate the guns and related equipment and incorporate the photographic equipment and automatic pilot and their controls and instruments has resulted in the following changes:
  • Rearrangement of electronics equipment installed in the area enclosed by the fuselage nose section, lengthening of this section by 12 inches, and shortening of the sliding nose section.
  • Rearrangement of the left and right consoles and the main instrument panel to provide space for the controls associated with the additional equipment.
  • Some minor changes of the fuselage structure and equipment installations to provide for the necessary ducting control for hot air from the engine compressor, which is used for defrosting the camera windows and heating the camera compartment.
  • Removal of all armament and the Armament Control System, removal of AN/APG-30 system and installation of an additional armor plate bulkhead.[1][2]

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 (.79 in) cannon and could carry a full bombs or missiles load. In the 1962 redesignation, these were called TF-9J.[3]

Operational history

An F9F-6 of VF-24 on the USS Essex in 1955

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

The only version of the Cougar to see combat was the TF-9J trainer.[citation needed] They were used in the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.[citation needed]

The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was the Argentine Navy, who used the F9F Panther as well. Two F9F-8Ts trainers were acquired in 1962, and served until 1971. The Argentine Navy, after several failed attempts, managed to get the two airframes delivered by taking advantage of a bureaucracy designation mistake, but the United States refused to send spare parts during the following years. The Cougar was the first jet to break the sound barrier in Argentina.[4]


The F9F-8 was fitted with an inflight refueling probe and Sidewinder missiles.
Two F9F-8P from VFP-62 over Malta in 1958.
An F9F-6K drone in 1959.
An F9F-8T on the USS Saratoga.
First three prototypes of the F9F Cougar
646 built; redesignated F-9F in 1962.
60 were built for reconnaissance
drone directors, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.
unmanned drones for combat training, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated QF-9F in 1962.
drone directors, converted from F9F-6Ps; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.
an improved version of the F9F-6K target drone, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated QF-9G in 1962.
168 were built with the Allison J33 engine; most were converted to take J48s; redesignated F-9H in 1962.
601 aircraft; redesignated F-9J in 1962.
Prototype for a single-seat attack-fighter aircraft converted from a F9F-8; later redesignated YAF-9J.
F9F-8s converted into single-seat attack-fighters; later redesignated AF-9J.
110 photo-reconnaissance versions.
one F9F-8 aircraft converted into a prototype for the F9F-8T training aircraft; later redesignated YTF-9J.
377 two-seat trainers acquired; redesignated TF-9J in 1962.
Two TF-9Js used for special test duties.
Original designation of the YF11F-1 Tiger protoypes. First flight was in 30 July 1954; redesignated in April 1955.


 United States

Specifications (F9F-8/F-9J)

Grumman F-9 Cougar line drawings.PNG

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 42 ft 2 in (12.9 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 6 in (10.5 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 3 in (3.7 m)
  • Wing area: 337 ft² (31.3 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,866 lb (5,382 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 20,098 lb (9,116 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,763 lb (11,232 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney J48-P-8A turbojet, 8,500 lbf (38 kN) with water injection



Aircraft on Display

There is an TF-9J Cougar on display in the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown (CV-10) at the Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, SC.

An F9F-6P Cougar sits in front of the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial.

The Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial in the Town of Tonawanda, New York features an F9F-6P Cougar airframe, which is on loan to the town from the U.S. government and has been on display at the site since May 1959.[5] During the construction of the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial in the summer of 2009, a local auto collision shop volunteered to refurbish the F9F-6P airframe.[5] To refurbish the aluminum structure, volunteers removed all old paint, pounded out dents, filled in cracks and gaps, repainted all surfaces, and applied decals to the fuselage and wings.[5] The entire process and took roughly three weeks to complete. However, the blue colour and the markings do not represent any historic U.S. Navy camouflage. Since its installation, the F9F-6P airframe had been used as a piece of playground equipment by local children.[6] However, in February 2009, town government officials received paperwork from the National Museum of Naval Aviation requesting that the town take full responsibility for the loaned airframe's upkeep and make an effort to prevent people from climbing on its wings and fuselage.[6] In response to this request, the town has installed signage asking visitors to refrain from climbing on the airframe.

The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum has recently acquired a F9F-8 (AF-9J) (on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation). It was built in Grummans' Bethpage factory in 1955 and retired from active service in 1965. Once restored, it will wear fighter squadron VF-61 colors, which flew from Intrepid in 1956.

An F9F-7 Cougar is on display in the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York on Long Island (on loan from the US Navy)[7].

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. ^
  2. ^ USN Flight Handbook, F9F-8
  3. ^ Gordon Swanborough, Peter M. Bowers: United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland (USA), pp. 249-251. ISBN 0-87021-792-5
  4. ^ External Link in Spanish with pictures
  5. ^ a b c Adamczyk, Ed. (August 14, 2009). "Honoring those who served, and everyone else". Tonawanda News.
  6. ^ a b Becker, Maki. (May 30, 2009). "Keep off Navy plane, Tonawanda children told". The Buffalo News.
  7. ^ Cradle of Aviation F9F-7 Cougar

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