Following recent editions of the heavy branch which covers the P-38 as well as the iconic F7F Tigercat, I thought of ways to join the rest of the missing Grumman family into the game without the need for a complete overhaul.
What aircraft would need to be added?
- F6F Hellcat
- F8F Bearcat
- F9F Panther
- F9F-8 Cougar
How would thease aircraft fit in?
The line already has its foundations set in place with the F2F, F3F and F4F placed perfectly:
F2F (II) > F3F (III) > F2A (IV) > F4F Wildcat (V) > F6F Hellcat (VI) > F7F Tigercat (VII) > F8F Bearcat (VIII) > F9F Panther (IX) > F9F-8 Cougar (X)
Fundamentally the new additions would begin from the Wildcat. The F6F would be the alternative tier 6 fighter to the Corsair to research from the F4F. Following on from this, the F6F would lead to the F7F Tigercat (The research link from the Corsair to F7F should now be removed as the F6F serves this purpose and is more logically linked to the F7F). Once completed the Tigercat would lead to the F8F Bearcat at tier 8, representing the pinnacle of Grumman piston performance. From this we lead into the jet age at tier 9 and 10, with the F9F Panther and F9F-8 Cougar.
Aircraft in detail:
Research variant upgrades: XF6F / F6F-3 model / F6F-5 Model
Leads to: F7F Tigercat
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft conceived to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy (USN) service. The Hellcat was an erstwhile rival of the faster Vought F4U Corsair for use as a carrier based fighter. However, the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landing that the Hellcat did not, allowing the Hellcat to steal a march as the Navy's dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position the Hellcat did not relinquish. The Corsair instead was primarily deployed to great effect in land-based use by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Although the F6F resembled the Wildcat in some ways, it was a completely new design, powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the same powerplant used for both the Corsair and the United States Army Air Force's (USAAF) Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Some military observers tagged the Hellcat as the "Wildcat's big brother".
The F6F was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in early 1943, to counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater. Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12,200 being built in just over two years.
Hellcats were credited with destroying 5,223 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. This was more than any other Allied naval aircraft. Postwar, the Hellcat was phased out of frontline service, but remained in service as late as 1954 as a night fighter.
Research variant upgrades: XF8F-1 / F8F-1B / F8F-2
Leads to: F9F Panther
The Grumman F8F Bearcat (nicknamed "Bear") was an American single-engine naval fighter aircraft of the 1940s. It went on to serve into the mid-20th century in the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the air forces of other nations. It would be Grumman Aircraft's final piston engined fighter aircraft. Modified versions have broken speed records for piston-engined aircraft, and are popular among warbird owners.
The F8F prototypes were ordered in November 1943 and first flew on 21 August 1944, a mere nine months later.[N 1] The first production aircraft was delivered in February 1945 and the first squadron, Fighter Squadron 19 (VF-19), was operational by 21 May 1945, but World War II was over before the aircraft saw combat service.
Postwar, the F8F became a major U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps fighter, equipping 24 fighter squadrons in the Navy and a smaller number in the Marines. Often mentioned as one of the best-handling piston-engine fighters ever built, its performance was sufficient to outperform many early jets. Its capability for aerobatic performance is illustrated by its selection as the first demonstration aircraft for the navy's elite Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron in 1946, who flew it until the team was temporarily disbanded in 1950 during the Korean War and pressed into operational combat service. The F9F Panther and McDonnell F2H Banshee largely replaced the Bearcat as their performance and other advantages eclipsed piston-engine fighters.
Research variant upgrades: XF9F / F9F-2 / F9F-5
Leads to: F9F-8 Cougar
The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer's first jet fighter and one of the United States Navy's first successful carrier-based jet fighters. A single-engined, straight-winged day fighter, it was fitted with an armament of four 20 mm (0.79 in) cannons and could carry a wide assortment of air-to-ground munitions.
The Panther was used extensively by the U.S. Navy and the United States Marine Corps in the Korean War. It was also was the first jet aircraft used by the Blue Angels flight team, being used by them from 1949 through to late 1954. The aircraft was exported to Argentina and was the first jet used by the Argentine Naval Aviation.
Total F9F production was 1,382. The design evolved into the swept wing Grumman F-9 Cougar.
Research variant upgrades: XF9F-6 / F9F-8
The Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on Grumman's earlier 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 upward.
F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958-59, replaced by F11F Tigers and F8U Crusaders. The Naval Reserves used them until the mid-1960s, but none of the single-seat versions were used in the Vietnam War.
The only version of the Cougar to see combat was the TF-9J trainer (until 1962, F9F-8T). Detachments of four Cougars served with US Marines Headquarters and Maintenance Squadrons H&MS-11 at Da Nang and H&MS-13 at Chu Lai, where they were used for fast-Forward Air Control and the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1968. The TF-9J had a long service with the U.S. Navy, but the proposed Cougar modification (reengined with a J52 engine) was rejected, and the Navy selected the TA-4F Skyhawk. The last Cougar was phased out when VT-4 re-equipped on February 1974. A F9F-8T, BuNo 14276, is displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola.