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Grumman Cougar

The Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar was a carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps.

Based on Grumman’s earlier F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panther’s straight wing with a more modern swept wing.

Thrust was also increased with the installation of a newer, more powerful engine.

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.

Rumours that the Soviet Union had produced a swept-wing fighter had circulated a year before the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 first appeared at air shows in 1949.

Despite the level of activity taking place with swept-wing aircraft, the Navy was not initially focused on the development of such aircraft.

This was largely because the Navy’s focus at the time was defending the battle group against high-speed, high-altitude bombers with interceptors, as well as escorting medium-range carrier-based bombers in all weather conditions.

Air-to-air combat was of less interest.

Nonetheless, the Navy appreciated the importance of getting a capable carrier-based swept-wing jet fighter.

Grumman was awarded a contract for the development of a swept-wing fighter jet in 1951.

The arrival of the MiG-15, which easily outclassed straight-wing fighters in the air war over North Korea, was a major factor.

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.

Instead of using conventional ailerons for roll control, the F9F-6 uses spoilers on the upper surfaces of the wing.

Wing fences were soon added, and the spoilers extended from the fences to the tips of the wing.

The rudder pedals controlled the part of the rudder below the horizontal tail surface, while the upper portion of the rudder was controlled by a yaw damper.

This allowed the Cougar to fly safely and easily without the upper portion of the tail.



Prototypes built from the F9F-5 Panther, featuring swept-wing design.


Initial production version; redesignated F-9F in 1962.


Photo-reconnaissance versions; redesignated RF-9J in 1962.


Drone director aircraft, converted from F9F-6Ps; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.


Drone director aircraft, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.


Unmanned drone for combat training, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated QF-9F in 1962.


An improved version of the F9F-6K target drone; redesignated QF-9G in 1962.


Built with the Allison J33 engine; most were converted to take J48s; redesignated F-9H in 1962.


Longer centre fuselage, strengthened canopy, redesigned wing, increased fuel capacity, and the ability to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles; 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.


Photo-reconnaissance versions built from F9F-8s; later redesignated RF-9F.


One F9F-8 aircraft converted into a prototype for the F9F-8T training aircraft; later redesignated YTF-9J.


Two-seat trainers built from F9F-8s; redesignated TF-9J in 1962.


Two TF-9Js used for special test duties.


Original designation of the YF11F-1 Tiger prototypes.

First flight was on 30 July 1954; redesignated in April 1955.





40 ft 11 in (12.47 m)


34 ft 6 in (10.52 m)


14 ft 2 in (4.32 m) folded (tail plane span)


12 ft 3.5 in (3.747 m)

Height folded

15 ft 10 in (4.8 m) (wingtips)

Wing area

300 sq ft (28 m2)

Aspect ratio



NACA 64A010

Empty weight

11,483 lb (5,209 kg)

Empty equipped

12,090 lb (5,484 kg)

Gross weight

15,800 lb (7,167 kg)

Combat weight

16,244 lb (7,368 kg)

Max take-off weight

21,000 lb (9,525 kg) on land

20,000 lb (9,072 kg) from catapult

Maximum landing weight

16,000 lb (7,257 kg) on land

14,000 lb (6,350 kg) arrested landing

Fuel capacity

763 US gal (635 imp gal; 2,890 l) in two fuselage tanks


156 US gal (130 imp gal; 590 l) in four wing leading edge tanks;

Total 919 US gal (765 imp gal; 3,480 l)


1 × Pratt & Whitney J48-P-8 centrifugal-flow turbojet engine,

7,250 lbf (32.2 kN) thrust at 11,000 rpm for take-off / Military power at sea level

5,600 lbf (24.91 kN) at 10,450 rpm maximum continuous at sea level


Maximum speed

654 mph (1,053 km/h, 568 kn) at sea level at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg) TOW

Cruise speed

541 mph (871 km/h, 470 kn) at 41,200–45,000 ft (12,558–13,716 m)

Stall speed

128 mph (206 km/h, 111 kn) at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg) TOW power off

107 mph (93 kn; 172 km/h) at 15,157 lb (6,875 kg) with approach power

Combat range

293 mi (472 km, 255 nmi) with 1 hour 24 minutes mission time

Service ceiling

44,500 ft (13,600 m)

G limits

+7.5 at 15,800 lb (7,167 kg); +5.5 at MTOW

Rate of climb

6,750 ft/min (34.3 m/s) at sea level at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg)


Time to altitude

20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 4 minutes at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg)


30,000 ft (9,144 m) in 6 minutes 48 seconds at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg) TOW

Wing loading

61.5 lb/sq ft (300 kg/m2) at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg) TOW

Take-off runs

2,100 ft (640 m) at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg)

TOW in nil wind

1,360 ft (415 m) at 18,450 lb (8,369 kg)

TOW in 29 mph (25 kn; 47 km/h) wind



4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) AN/M3 cannon, 190 rounds per gun


6 × 5 in (127 mm) rockets


2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs on inboard pylons


2 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs on outer pylons


Radar ranging 






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