DescriptionThe Grumman F8F Bearcat is an American single-engine carrier-based fighter aircraft introduced in late World War II.
It served during the mid-20th century in the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the air forces of other nations. It was Grumman Aircraft's last piston engined fighter aircraft.
Modified versions of the Bearcat have broken speed records for piston-engined aircraft. Today, the Bearcat is popular among warbird owners and air racers.
In 1943, Grumman was in the process of introducing the F6F Hellcat, powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine which provided 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW). The R-2800 was the most powerful American engine available at that time, so it would be retained for the G-58. This meant that improved performance would have to come from a lighter airframe.
To meet this goal, the Bearcat's fuselage was about 5 feet (1.5 m) shorter than the Hellcat, and was cut down vertically behind the cockpit area. This allowed the use of a bubble canopy, the first to be fitted to a US Navy fighter. The vertical stabilizer was the same height as the Hellcat's, but increased aspect ratio, giving it a thinner look. The wingspan was 7 feet less than the Hellcat's. Structurally the fuselage used flush riveting as well as spot welding, with a heavy gauge 302W aluminum alloy skin suitable for carrier landings. Armor protection was provided for the pilot, engine and oil cooler.
The Hellcat used a 13 ft 1 in three-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. A slight reduction in size was made by moving to a 12 ft 7 in Aeroproducts four-bladed propeller. Keeping the prop clear of the deck required long landing gear, which, combined with the shortened fuselage, gave the Bearcat a significant "nose-up" profile on land. The hydraulically operated undercarriage used an articulated trunnion which extended the length of the oleo legs when lowered; as the undercarriage retracted the legs were shortened, enabling them to fit into a wheel well which was entirely in the wing. An additional benefit of the inward retracting units was a wide track, which helped counter propeller torque on takeoff and gave the F8F good ground and carrier deck handling.
For more details of the development, design,operational history and 18 variants, click here.
- Crew: 1
- 28 ft 3 in (8.61 m)
- 35 ft 10 in (10.92 m)
- 13 ft 10 in (4.22 m)
- Wing Area:
- 244 sq ft (22.7 sq m)
- Wing Loading:
- 42 lb/sq ft (210 kg/sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 7,650 lb (3,470 kg)
- 13,460 lb (6,105 kg)
- 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-30W Double Wasp 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 2,250 hp (1,680 kW)
- Maximum speed: 455 mph (732 km/h, 395 kn)
- 1,105 mi (1,778 km, 960 nmi)
- Rate of Climb:
- 4,465 ft/min (22.68 m/s)
- Service Ceiling:
- 40,800 ft (12,400 m)