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Grumman Tigercat

The Grumman F7F Tigercat is a heavy fighter aircraft that served with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps from late in World War II until 1954.

It was the first twin-engine fighter to be deployed by the USN.

While the Tigercat was delivered too late to see combat in World War II, it saw action as a night fighter and attack aircraft during the Korean War.

Designed initially for service on Midway-class aircraft carriers, early production F7Fs were land-based variants.

The type was too large to operate from older and smaller carriers, and only a late variant (F7F-4N) was certified for carrier service.

Based on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that was eventually cancelled, the company developed the XP-65 (Model 51) further for a future “convoy fighter” concept.

In 1943, work on the XP-65 was terminated in favour of the design that would eventually become the F7F.

The contract for the prototype XF7F-1 was signed on 30 June 1941.

Grumman’s aim was to produce a fighter that outperformed and outgunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability.

Performance of the prototype and initial production aircraft met expectations; the F7F was one of the fastest piston-engine fighters, with a top speed significantly greater than single-engine USN aircraft 71 mph faster than a Grumman F6F Hellcat at sea level.

Captain Fred Trapnell, one of the premier USN test pilots of the era, stated: “It’s the best damn fighter I’ve ever flown.”

The F7F was to be heavily armed four 20 mm cannon and four 50 calibre (0.50 in; 12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes.

This speed and firepower were bought at the cost of heavy weight and a high landing speed, but what caused the aircraft to fail carrier suitability trials was poor directional stability with only one engine operational, as well as problems with the tailhook design.

The initial production series was, therefore, used only from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar.

While the F7F was initially also known as the Grumman Tomcat, this name was abandoned, because it was considered at the time to have excessively sexual overtones.

The first production variant was the single-seat F7F-1N aircraft; after the 34th production aircraft, a second seat for a radar operator was added and these aircraft were designated F7F-2N.

A second production version, the F7F-3, was modified to correct the issues that caused the aircraft to fail carrier acceptance, and this version was again trialled on the USS Shangri-La.

A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification as well.

F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter, and photo-reconnaissance versions.

The final production version, the F7F-4N, was extensively rebuilt for additional strength and stability, and did pass carrier qualification, but only 12 were built.



Proposed United States Army Air Forces pursuit fighter.


Prototype aircraft, two built.

F7F-1 Tigercat

Twin-engine fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22W radial piston engines.

First production version.

F7F-1N Tigercat

Single-seat night fighter aircraft, fitted with an APS-6 radar.


Night-fighter prototype.

F7F-2N Tigercat

Two-seat night fighter.


Small numbers of F7F-2Ns converted into drone control aircraft.

The aircraft were fitted with a Grumman F8F Bearcat windshield behind the cockpit.

F7F-3 Tigercat

Single-seat fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W radial piston engines and featuring an enlarged tailfin for improved stability at high altitudes.

F7F-3N Tigercat

Two-seat night fighter aircraft.

F7F-3E Tigercat

Small numbers of F7F-3s were converted into electronic warfare aircraft.

F7F-3P Tigercat

Small numbers of F7F-3s were converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft.

F7F-4N Tigercat

Two-seat night-fighter aircraft, fitted with a tail hook and other naval equipment.





45 ft 4 in (13.82 m)


51 ft 6 in (15.70 m)


16 ft 7 in (5.05 m)

Wing area

455 sq ft (42.3 m2)



NACA 23015


NACA 23012

Empty weight

16,270 lb (7,380 kg)

Max take-off weight

25,720 lb (11,666 kg)


2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W Double Wasp,

18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines,

2,100 hp (1,600 kW) each


3-bladed constant-speed fully feathering propellers


Maximum speed

460 mph (740 km/h, 400 kn)


1,200 mi (1,900 km, 1,000 nmi)

Service ceiling

40,400 ft (12,300 m)

Rate of climb

4,530 ft/min (23.0 m/s)



4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) AN/M3 cannon (200 rpg, wing roots)

4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun

(400 rpg, in nose)

(Normal fighter versions only; replaced by radar unit in the -3N night fighter)


2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs,


8 x 127mm unguided rockets under wings and

1 x 150-gallon fuel or napalm tank under fuselage,


1 × torpedo under fuselage (day fighter only)


AN/APS-19 radar.




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