Grumman F-9F/F-8P Cougar

The Grumman F-9F/F-8P Cougar was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on the earlier Grumman F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panther's straight wing with a more modern swept wing. The Navy considered the Cougar an updated version of the Panther, despite having a different official name, and thus Cougars started off from F9F-6 upwards. This Cougar went through a radical transformation by the restoration crew at Estrella Warbirds Museum in 2016.

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Manufacturer: Grumman
Year/Model: 1956 F-9/F-8P Cougar
Tail Number: 144388
Power Plant: One Pratt & Whitney J48-P-8A turbojet w/water injection
Wingspan: 34 feet 6 inches
Length: 42 feet 1.5 inches
Height: 12 feet 3 inches
Gross Weight: 20,098
Maximum Speed: 647 mph @2,000 feet
Maximum Range: 170 mph @ 5,000 feet
Ceiling: 42,000 feet
Range: 1.050 miles
Status: Restored as static display
Owner: Estrella Warbirds Museum

F9 Cougar shown in condition upon arrival and during restoration at Estrella Warbirds Museum.


Initial production (646 airframes) was the F9F-6, delivered from mid 1952 through July 1954. Armament was four 20 mm (.79 in) M2 cannons in the nose and provision for two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs or 150 US gal (570 l) drop tanks under the wings. Most were fitted with a UHF homing antenna under the nose, and some were fitted with probes for inflight refuelling. Later redesignated F-9F in 1962. Sixty were built as F9F-6P reconnaissance aircraft with cameras instead of the nose cannon.

After withdrawal from active service, many F9F-6s were used as unmanned drones for combat training, designated F9F-6K, or as drone directors, designated F9F-6D. The F9F-6K and the F9F-6D were redesignated the QF-9F and DF-9F, respectively.

The F9F-8 was the final fighter version. It featured an 8 in (20 cm) stretch in the fuselage and modified wings with greater chord and wing area, to improve low-speed, high angle of attack flying and to give more room for fuel tanks. 601 aircraft were delivered between April 1954 and March 1957; most were given inflight refuelling probes, and late production were given the ability to carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles under the wings. Most earlier aircraft were modified to this configuration. A number were given nuclear bombing equipment. These were redesignated F-9J in 1962.

A total of 110 F9F-8Ps were produced with an extensively modified nose carrying cameras, as shown on arrival pictures at Estrella Warbirds Musem. They were withdrawn after 1960 to reserve squadrons. In 1962, surviving F9F-6P and F9F-8P aircraft were re-designated RF-9F and RF-9J respectively.

Modifications of F9F-8 to convert to F9F-8P:

  • * The modification to eliminate the guns and related equipment and incorporate the photographic equipment and automatic pilot and their controls and instruments
  • * Rearrangement of electronics equipment installed in the area enclosed by the fuselage nose section, lengthening of this section by 12 inches, and shortening of the sliding nose section.
  • * Rearrangement of the left and right consoles and the main instrument panel to provide space for the controls associated with the additional equipment.
  • * Some minor changes of the fuselage structure and equipment installations to provide for the necessary ducting control for hot air from the engine compressor, which is used for defrosting the camera windows and heating the camera compartment.
  • * Removal of all armament and the Armament Control System, removal of AN/APG-30 system and installation of an additional armor plate bulkhead.

F9F Panther in Action

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