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F-9 Cougar

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F9F Cougar
Type Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
Introduced 1951-09-20
Retired 1971, Argentina
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Argentine Navy
Developed from F9F Panther

The Grumman F9F Cougar (redesignated the F-9 Cougar in the 1962 joint service aircraft designation system) was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy.

Design and development

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 a mere new version of the Panther (despite adopting a different official name) and thus Cougars started off as F9F-6 and upwards.

Prototypes, modified Panthers, were quickly produced and the first (XF9F-6) flew on September 20, 1951. To the surprise of the Navy (who had been cautious about adopting swept-wing fighters on the carrier deck) the Cougar was easier to fly from carriers than the Panther. 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 feet (10,000 m), improving performance markedly. The Cougar, unlike the Panther, would not be outclassed by Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s, but it was too late to see Korean war service.


Combat aircraft

  • Initial production (646 airframes) was the F9F-6, delivered from mid 1952 through July 1954. Armament was four 20 mm M2 cannons in the nose and provision for two 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs or 150 US gallon (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 reconnaissance F9F-6P aircraft with cameras instead of the nose cannon. After withdrawal from active service, many were used as unmanned drones for combat training, designated F9F-6K, or as drone directors, designated F9F-6D. Both the F9F-6K and the F9F-6D, were both redesignated the QF-9F and DF-9F respectively.
  • The F9F-6PD was the redesignation of F9F-6P aircraft converted into drone directors.
  • The F9F-9K2 was an improved version of the F9F-6K target drone. Later redesignated QF-9G in 1962.
  • 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. Later redesignated F-9H in 1962.
  • The F9F-8 was the final fighter version. It featured an 8 inch (200 mm) 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. Later redesignated F-9J in 1962.

F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958-59, replaced by the Vought F8U Crusader and Grumman F11F Tiger.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

  • The YF9F-8B was a prototype for a single-seat attack-fighter aircraft. One F9F-8 was converted into the YF9F-8B prototype. Later redesignated YAF-9J.
  • The F9F-8B were F9F-8s converted into single-seat attack-fighters. Later redesignated AF-9J.
  • 110 photo-reconnaissance versions, the F9F-8P, were also delivered in 1955-57. They were withdrawn after a short life in 1960, but some remained with reserve squadrons.
  • The XF9F-6 was the designation given to the first three prototypes of the F9F Cougar.

Training aircraft

  • 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 cannon and could carry a full bombs or missiles load. In the 1962 redesignation, these were called TF-9J.
  • The YF9F-8T was the designation given to one F9F-8 aircraft converted into a prototype. This two-seat prototype was used in the development of the F9F-8T training aircraft. Later redesignated YTF-9J.
  • NTF-9J : This designation was given to two TF-9Js used for special test duties.

Combat use

The only version of the Cougar to see combat was, oddly enough, the TF-9J trainer; they were used in the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.

Foreign use

The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was Argentina 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. External Link in Spanish with pictures


Specifications (F9F Cougar)

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



Related content

Related development

Designation sequence

  • Navy sequence (before 1962): F6F - F7F - F8F -
F9F Panther - XF10F - F11F - F12F
F9F Cougar
  • Unified sequence (after 1962): F-6 - F-7 - F-8 -
F-9 Panther - F-10 - F-11 - YF-12
F-9 Cougar

Related lists

de:Grumman F9F fr:Grumman F9F Cougar it:Grumman F9F Cougar ja:F9F (戦闘機) no:Grumman F-9 Cougar