The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer's first jet fighter and the U.S. Navy's second. The Panther was the most widely used U.S. Navy jet fighter of the Korean War. It flew 78,000 sorties and was responsible for the first air kill by the US Navy in the war - the downing of a North Korean Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter. Total F9F production was 1,382, with several variants being shipped to Argentina for export.
Development studies at the Grumman company began near the end of the World War II as the first jet engines emerged. The prototype Panther, piloted by test pilot Corky Meyer, first flew on November 24th, 1947. Propulsion was a Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet built under license by Pratt & Whitney as the J42. Since there was insufficient space within the wings and fuselage for fuel for the thirsty jet, permanently-mounted wingtip fuel tanks were added which incidentally improved the fighter's rate of roll. It was cleared for flight from aircraft carriers in September 1949. During the development phase, Grumman decided to change the Panther's engine, selecting the Pratt & Whitney J48-P-2, a license built version of the Rolls-Royce Tay. The other engine that had been tested was the Allison J33-A-16, a development of the Rolls-Royce Derwent.
From 1946, a swept-wing version was considered and after concerns about the Panther's inferiority to its MiG opponents in Korea, a conversion of the Panther (Design 93) resulted in a swept-wing derivative of the Panther, the Grumman F9F Cougar, which retained the Panther's designation number.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a F9F-2 Panther known as "Paper Doll" which was assigned to VF-781 "Pacemakers" then embarked upon the USS Bon Homme Richard CV/CVA 31 during the Korean Conflict in 1951.
Release Date: March 2008
Bon Homme Richard was a 27,100-ton Essex-class aircraft carrier built at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York. Commissioned in November 1944, she went to the Pacific in March 1945 and in June joined the fast carriers in the combat zone and took part in the final raids on Japan.
The outbreak of the Korean War in late June 1950 called Bon Homme Richard back to active duty. She recommissioned in January 1951 and deployed to the Western Pacific that May, launching her planes against enemy targets in Korea until the deployment ended late in the year. A second combat tour followed in May-December 1952, highlighted by large-scale joint service air attacks on the Sui-ho Dam and Pyongyang, during which she was redesignated CVA-31. The carrier decommissioned in May 1953 to undergo a major conversion to equip her to operate high-performance jet aircraft.