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.
Shown here is a 1:48 scale replica of a US Navy Grumman F9F-2P Panther photo reconnaissance aircraft that was embarked upon the USS Essex during 1951.
Release Date: July 2008
She was the first carrier to launch F2H Banshee twin jet fighters on combat missions; on September 16th, 1951, one of these planes, damaged in combat, crashed into aircraft parked on the forward flight deck causing an explosion and fire which killed seven. After repairs at Yokosuka she returned to frontline action on October 3rd to launch strikes up to the Yalu River and provide close air support for U.N. troops. Her two deployments in the Korean War were from August 1951-March 1952 and July 1952-January 1953.
On December 1st, 1953, she started her final tour of the war, sailing the China Sea with the Peace Patrol. From November 1954 to June 1955 she engaged in training exercises, operated for 3 months with the 7th Fleet, assisted in the Tachen Islands evacuation, and engaged in air operations and fleet maneuvers off Okinawa.