Grumman F9F-6P Cougar

Grumman TF-9J Cougar

The Grumman F-9 Cougar was the US Navy’s first swept wing carrier based fighter and was a swept wing version of the Grumman F9F Panther. On 2 Mar 1951 the initial contract was signed for the conversion of three F9F-5 airframes. The converted aircraft retained the fuselage, vertical tail, engine and landing gear of the Panther, but were fitted with new wings and tail surfaces swept to 35 degrees. After some rather unusual handling characteristics were resolved, it was found that the performance of the swept wing aircraft showed a marked improvement with the critical mach number increasing from 0.79 to 0.86 at sea level and 8.95 st 35,000ft. The first 30 aircraft were fitted with theJ-48-P-6A engine and all remaining aircraft received the J48-P-8 engine developing 7,250 lbs of thrust. Armament consisted of four internal 20mm M3 cannons together with two underwing ranks which could carry two 150 gal drop tanks or 3,000lbs of bombs. The first Cougar was delivered in November 1952, but was too late to see service in Korea, and the last of 646 aircraft was delivered in July 1954.

In common with many other fighter aircraft of this period, it was decided to build a number of Cougars adapted for tactical reconnaissance duties. A total of 110 aircraft were built with a lengthened nose and the four cannons were removed to make way for a vertical and oblique camera installation. These aircraft, designated the Cougar F9F-6P, were all delivered between August 1955 and July 1957 and saw service in dedicated reconnaissance squadrons on various carriers alongside the F9F-6 Cougars. However, rapid advances in technology soon saw the F9F-6P Cougars made obsolete by the Vought F9U-1P Crusader and the F9F-6P began to be phased out of the carrier based reconnaissance squadrons in February 1960 - a very short period of front-line service, even for this particular era. In 1962 the remaining aircraft were re-designated the RF-9J and remained in service with reserve units until the mid-1960s. The F9F-6 Cougar was gradually replaced by the Grumman Tiger in the fighter role and the Douglas Skyhawk in the attack role, but although some aircraft soldiered on for a while as drones, the end was inevitable and the final aircraft was retired in Feb 1974.