Grumman F7F Tigercat

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F7F Tigercat
An F7F-3P preserved in United States Marine Corps markings in flight
Role Heavy fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight 2 November 1943
Introduction 1944
Retired 1954
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Produced 1943–1946
Number built 364
Developed into Grumman XTSF

The Grumman F7F Tigercat is a heavy fighter aircraft that served with the United States Navy (USN) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) 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.

Design and development[edit]

Based on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that was eventually canceled, 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 favor of the design that would eventually become the F7F.[1] 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.[2]

An F7F-3N of VMF(N)-513 at Wonsan, Korea, in 1952.

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.[3] Captain Fred Trapnell, one of the premier USN test pilots of the era, stated: "It's the best damn fighter I've ever flown."[4] The F7F was to be heavily-armed — four 20 mm cannon and four 50 caliber (0.50 in; 12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. This speed and firepower was 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.[5] The initial production series was, therefore, used only from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar.[6]

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;[7] (from the 1970s, the name Tomcat became commonly associated with, and officially used by the Navy for, another Grumman design, the F-14 twin-jet carrier-based interceptor). 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.[8]

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.[8]

Operational history[edit]

Marine Corps night fighter squadron VMF(N)-513 flying F7F-3N Tigercats saw action in the early stages of the Korean War, flying night interdiction and fighter missions and shooting down two Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes.[9] This was the only combat use of the aircraft.

Most F7F-2Ns were modified to control drones for combat training, and these gained bubble canopies over the rear cockpit for the drone controller. An F7F-2D used for pilot transitioning also had a rear sliding, bubble canopy.[10]

In 1945, two Tigercats, serial numbers TT346 and TT349, were evaluated, but rejected by the British Royal Navy in favour of a naval version of the de Havilland Hornet.[11]


The second XF7F-1 in 1946.
An F7F-2D drone controller with an additional F8F windshield.
An F7F-3N night fighter of VMF(N)-513 in April 1950.
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, 34 built.
F7F-1N Tigercat
Single-seat night fighter aircraft, fitted with an APS-6 radar.
Night-fighter prototype, one built.
F7F-2N Tigercat
Two-seat night fighter, 65 built.
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, 189 built.
F7F-3N Tigercat
Two-seat night fighter aircraft, 60 built.
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 tailhook and other naval equipment, 12 built.


 United States

Surviving aircraft[edit]

The Tigercat was designed to have a very small frontal area.
F7F-3N Tigercat in use with belly tank in the fire-fighting role in 1988
F7F Tigercat N747MX La Patrona at 2014 Reno Air Races

Beginning in 1949, F7Fs were flown to the then-U.S. Navy storage facility at Naval Air Station Litchfield Park, Arizona.[12] Although the vast majority of the airframes were eventually scrapped, a number of examples were purchased as surplus. The surviving Tigercats were primarily used as water bombers to fight wildfires in the 1960s and 1970s and Sis-Q Flying Services of Santa Rosa, California, operated an F7F-3N tanker in this role until retirement in the late 1980s.

On display
Under restoration or in storage

Specifications (F7F-4N Tigercat)[edit]

3-view drawing of a Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat

Data from Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II[30]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 45 ft 4 in (13.82 m)
  • Wingspan: 51 ft 6 in (15.70 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 7 in (5.05 m)
  • Wing area: 455 sq ft (42.3 m2)
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 23015; tip: NACA 23012[31]
  • Empty weight: 16,270 lb (7,380 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 25,720 lb (11,666 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W Double Wasp 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed fully-feathering propellers


  • Maximum speed: 460 mph (740 km/h, 400 kn)
  • Range: 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)


  • Guns:
    • 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 nightfighter)
  • Bombs:
    • 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, or
    • 8 x 127mm unguided rockets under wings and
    • 1 x 150 gallon fuel or napalm tank under fuselage, or
    • 1 × torpedo under fuselage (day fighter only)


  • AN/APS-19 radar

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Dorr and Donald 1990, p. 119.
  2. ^ Thruelsen 1976, p. 204.
  3. ^ Meyer 2002, p. 51.
  4. ^ Meyer 2002, p. 54.
  5. ^ Meyer 2002, p. 55.
  6. ^ Thruelsen 1976, p. 205.
  7. ^ Meyer 2002, p. 50
  8. ^ a b Taylor 1969, p. 504.
  9. ^ Grossnick and Armstrong 1997
  10. ^ Gault 1973, p. 25.
  11. ^ Zuk 2004, p. 129.
  12. ^ Legg 1991, p. 26.
  13. ^ "FAA Registry: N7629C". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80374." Grumman F7F Tigercat. Retrieved: 14 July 2021.
  15. ^ "FAA Registry: N379AK". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80375." Grumman F7F Tigercat. Retrieved: 14 July 2021.
  17. ^ "FAA Registry: N700F". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80390". Lewis Air Legends. Retrieved: 13 January 2020.
  19. ^ "FAA Registry: N207F." Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80411" Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine. Palm Springs Air Museum. Retrieved: 23 February 2014.
  21. ^ "FAA Registry: N909TC". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  22. ^ "FAA Registry: N6178C". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  23. ^ "FAA Registry: N747MX". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80503". Lewis Air Legends. Retrieved: 13 January 2020.
  25. ^ "FAA Registry: N7195C". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80373". National Naval Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 23 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80382". Planes of Fame Museum. Retrieved: 23 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Grumman F7F Tigercat/Bu. 80410". Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 23 March 2020.
  29. ^ "FAA Registry: N7626C". Retrieved: 15 July 2021.
  30. ^ Bridgman 1946, p. 233.
  31. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  • Bridgman, Leonard (ed.). "The Grumman Tigercat." Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Carlson, Ted. "Semper Fi Tigercat". Flight Journal, Volume 13, Issue 2, April 2008.
  • Carr, Orrin I. "Fire 'Cat!" Air Classics, Vol. 12, No. 9, Sept. 1976. Canoga Park, CA: Challenge Publications, pp. 38–47.
  • Dorr, Robert F. and David Donald. Fighters of the United States Air Force. London: Temple, 1990. ISBN 0-600-55094-X.
  • Gault, Owen. "Grumman's Tiger Twins: The Skyrocket & Tigercat". Air Classics, Vol. 9, No. 8, Aug. 1973. Canoga Park, CA: Challenge Publications, pp. 22–27.
  • Green, William. "Grumman F7F-1 – F7F-3 Tigercat". War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Four: Fighters London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers) Ltd., 1961, pp. 106–108. ISBN 0-356-01448-7.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "Grumman F7F Tigercat". WW2 Fact Files: US Navy and Marine Corps Fighters. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1976, pp. 57–61. ISBN 0-356-08222-9.
  • Grossnick, Roy A. and William J. Armstrong. United States Naval Aviation: 1910–1995. Annapolis, MA: Naval Historical Center, 1997. ISBN 0-16-049124-X.
  • Legg, David. "Tigercat on camera". Aircraft Illustrated, Volume 24, no. 1, January 1991.
  • Meyer, Corwin ("Corky") H. "F7F Tigercat: The Untold Story". Flight Journal, August 2002. Ridgefield, CT: AirAge Publications. pp. 48–56, 58.
  • Morgan, Eric B. "Grumman F7F Tigercat F.7/30". Twentyfirst Profile, Volume 1, No. 11. New Milton, Hants, UK: 21st Profile Ltd. ISSN 0961-8120.
  • Morgan, Eric B. "The Grumman Twins". Twentyfirst Profile, Volume 2, No. 15. New Milton, Hants, UK: 21st Profile Ltd. ISSN 0961-8120.
  • O'Leary, Michael. "Tigercat Restoration". Air Classics, Vol. 38, No. 11, Nov. 2002. Canoga Park, CA: Challenge Publications.
  • O'Leary, Michael. United States Naval Fighters of World War II in Action. Poole, Dorset, UK: Blandford Press, 1980. ISBN 0-7137-0956-1.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "Grumman F7F Tigercat". Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the Present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • Thruelsen, Richard. The Grumman Story. New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc., 1976. ISBN 0-275-54260-2.
  • Zuk, Bill. Janusz Zurakowski: Legends in the Sky. St. Catharine's, Ontario: Vanwell, 2004. ISBN 1-55125-083-7.

External links[edit]