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Grumman F-9 Cougar

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Title: Grumman F-9 Cougar  
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Subject: Grumman F-11 Tiger, Grumman, Grumman F2F, Grumman G-118, Grumman F3F
Collection: Carrier-Based Aircraft, Grumman Aircraft, Low-Wing Aircraft, Single-Engined Jet Aircraft, United States Fighter Aircraft 1950–1959
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Grumman F-9 Cougar

F9F/F-9 Cougar
Grumman F9F-6 Cougar, 1952
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight 20 September 1951
Retired 1974, US Navy
Status Retired
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Argentine Navy
Number built 1,392
Developed from Grumman F9F Panther

The Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar was an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on Grumman's earlier F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panther's straight wing with a more modern swept wing. Thrust was also increased significantly. 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 upward.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
    • United States 2.1
    • Argentina 2.2
  • Variants 3
  • Operators 4
  • Aircraft on display 5
    • Argentina 5.1
    • United States 5.2
  • Specifications (F9F-8/F-9J) 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
    • Online sources 8.3
  • Further reading 9

Design and development

Prototypes were quickly produced by modifying Panthers, and the first (XF9F-6) flew on 20 September 1951. The aircraft was still subsonic, but the critical Mach number was increased from 0.79 to 0.86 at sea level and to 0.895 at 35,000 ft (10,000 m), improving performance markedly over the Panther. The Cougar was too late for Korean War service, however, and thus combat effectiveness estimates of the Cougar against potential foes such as the (likewise subsonic, but not carrier-rated) Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 necessarily remain in the sphere of conjecture.

A swept-wing F9F-6 Cougar (foreground) and a straight-wing F9F-5 Panther in flight
A TF-9J of H&MS-13 at Chu Lai, 1967.

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 (450 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.

F9F/F-9 Cougar is one of few aircraft which do not have ailerons; it uses spoilers for roll control.

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.

F9F-7 referred to the next batch of Cougars that were given the Allison J33 engine instead of the Pratt & Whitney J48, a licensed-built Rolls-Royce Tay. A total of 168 were built, but the J33 proved both less powerful and less reliable than the J48. Almost all were converted to take J48s, and were thus indistinguishable from F9F-6s. These were redesignated F-9H in 1962.

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.

The F9F-8B aircraft were F9F-8s converted into single-seat attack-fighters, later redesignated AF-9J.

A total of 110 F9F-8Ps were produced with an extensively modified nose carrying cameras. 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 has resulted in the following changes:
  • 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.[1]

The Navy acquired 377 two-seat F9F-8T trainers between 1956 and 1960. They were used for advanced training, weapons training and carrier training, and served until 1974. They were armed with twin 20 mm (.79 in) cannon and could carry a full bombs or missiles load. In the 1962 redesignation, these were called TF-9J.[2]

Operational history

An F9F-6 of VF-24 on Essex in 1955

United States

The F-9 arrived too late to see combat in the Korean war. It replaced the F9F Panther as the standard U.S. Navy carrier fighter in 1954.[3] F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958–59, replaced by F11F Tigers and F8U Crusaders. The Naval Reserves used them until the mid-1960s, but none of the single-seat versions were used in the Vietnam War.

The only version of the Cougar to see combat was the TF-9J trainer (until 1962, F9F-8T). Detachments of four Cougars served with US Marines Headquarters and Maintenance Squadrons H&MS-11 at Da Nang and H&MS-13 at Chu Lai, where they were used for fast-Forward Air Control and the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1968.[4][5] The TF-9J had a long service with the U.S. Navy, but the proposed Cougar modification (reengined with a J52 engine) was rejected, and the Navy selected the TA-4F Skyhawk. The last Cougar was phased out when VT-4 re-equipped on February 1974. A F9F-8T, BuNo 14276, is displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola.


The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was the Argentine Naval Aviation, who used the F9F Panther as well. Two F9F-8T trainers were acquired in 1962, and served until 1971. The Cougar was the first jet to break the sound barrier in Argentina.[6] One aircraft (serial 3-A-151) is on display at the Naval Aviation Museum (MUAN) at Bahía Blanca, while the other was sold to an owner in United States.[7]


The F9F-8 was fitted with an inflight refueling probe and Sidewinder missiles.
Two F9F-8Bs from VA-192 and an F9F-8P of VFP-61 over Formosa, in 1957.
A QF-9J target drone in 1970.
F9F-8Ts of VMT-1 near MCAS Cherry Point, 1962.
First three prototypes of the F9F Cougar
646 built; redesignated F-9F in 1962.
60 were built for reconnaissance
drone directors, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.
unmanned drones for combat training, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated QF-9F in 1962.
drone directors, converted from F9F-6Ps; redesignated DF-9F in 1962.
an improved version of the F9F-6K target drone, converted from F9F-6s; redesignated QF-9G in 1962.
168 were built with the Allison J33 engine; most were converted to take J48s; redesignated F-9H in 1962.
601 aircraft; redesignated F-9J in 1962; they had up to 4 AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles
Prototype for a single-seat attack-fighter aircraft converted from a F9F-8; later redesignated YAF-9J.
F9F-8s converted into single-seat attack-fighters; later redesignated AF-9J.
110 photo-reconnaissance versions.
one F9F-8 aircraft converted into a prototype for the F9F-8T training aircraft; later redesignated YTF-9J.
377 two-seat trainers acquired; redesignated TF-9J in 1962.
Two TF-9Js used for special test duties.
Original designation of the YF11F-1 Tiger prototypes. First flight was on 30 July 1954; redesignated in April 1955.


 United States

Aircraft on display

The "Blue Jet". An F9F-6P Cougar sits in front of the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial.
F9F-8T at the Argentine Naval Aviation Museum



United States

  • unknown - The Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial in the Town of Tonawanda, New York.[10] The aircraft has been on display since 1959 and in 2009 was refurbished when the new Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial was created.[10]
  • 127484 - Former Marine Corps aircraft has been a ground display for children to play on in Boysen Park in Anaheim, California, since about 1960. For safety reasons, in 1967 the aircraft was coated in gunite to cover sharp edges that had developed.[11][12]

Specifications (F9F-8/F-9J)

Data from The American Fighter[34]

General characteristics



See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ USN Flight Handbook, F9F-8
  2. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1990, pp. 249–251.
  3. ^ "Grumman F9F Cougar Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft". Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Mersky Aviation News 17–31 August 1989, pp. 320–322.
  5. ^ Baugher, Joe. "Grumman F9F-8T/TF-9J Cougar." US Navy Fighters, 29 January 2000. Retrieved: 19 July 2011.
  6. ^ "TR=AT Cougar". (Spanish) Retrieved: 19 July 2011.
  7. ^ a b Cicalesi, Juan Carlos; Rivas, Santiago. "Grumman Panther en Argentina". Instituto Aeronaval. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  8. ^ "F9F Cougar/126670" Smithsonian, National Air Museum. Retrieved: 12 January 2015.
  9. ^ "F9F Cougar/128109." National Naval Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  10. ^ a b Adamczyk, Ed. "Honoring those who served, and everyone else." Tonawanda News, 14 August 2009.
  11. ^ "F9F Cougar/127484." Retrieved: 29 May 2015.
  12. ^ [Issue] Contributors: Suzi Brown, Mike Ebbing, Nikki Moreno, Jane Newell, Meghan Schinderle, Karen Vera, Phil Yuhas (Winter 2006). Nicoletti, John James; Fontes, Linda, eds. "A Jet Fueled by Imagination" (PDF). Features. Anaheim Magazine (Anaheim, California: City of Anaheim): 14–15. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "F9F Cougar/130763." Cradle of Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  14. ^ "F9F Cougar/130802." Retrieved: 8 April 2015.
  15. ^ "F9F Cougar/131063." Texas Air Museum. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  16. ^ "F9F Cougar/131230." National Naval Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  17. ^ "F9F Cougar/131232." Museum of Flight. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  18. ^ "F9F Cougar/138876" Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  19. ^ "F9F Cougar/141117." Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  20. ^ "F9F Cougar/141121." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  21. ^ "F9F Cougar/147275." Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  22. ^ "F9F Cougar/141675" Yanks Air Museum. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  23. ^ "FAA Registry: N9256." Retrieved: 21 January 2015/
  24. ^ "F9F Cougar/141702." Midway Aircraft Museum. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  25. ^ "F9F Cougar/141722." Flying Letherneck Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  26. ^ "F9F Cougar/144388." Estrella Warbird Museum. Retrieved: 21 January 2015.
  27. ^ "F9F Cougar/144426." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  28. ^ "F9F Cougar/144404." MAPS. Retrieved: 12 January 2014.
  29. ^ "F9F Cougar/142442." The Town of Woodridge NY. Retrieved: 21 April 2014.
  30. ^ "F9F Cougar/147276." USS Lexington Museum. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  31. ^ "F9F Cougar/147283." Air Zoo. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  32. ^ "F9F Cougar/147385." Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Retrieved: 30 October 2012.
  33. ^ "F9F Cougar/147397." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 15 January 2015.
  34. ^ Angelucci and Bowers 1987, p. 246.


  • Angelucci, Enzo and Peter Bowers. The American Fighter. Sparkford, UK: Haynes, 1987. ISBN 0-85429-635-2.
  • Mersky, Peter. "Flying Cougars and other unusual aircraft in Vietnam". Aviation News magazine, Vol. 18, No. 7, 17–31 August 1989. pp. 320–322.
  • Neubeck, Ken. F9F Cougar Walk Around. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 2012. ISBN 978-0-89747-666-9.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87021-792-5.

Online sources

  • Cicalesi, Juan Carlos; Rivas, Santiago (22 December 2008). "Grumman Panther en Argentina" [Grumman Panther in Argentina]. Instituto Aeronaval - Articulos - Historia (in Spanish). Instituto Aeronaval. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 

Further reading

  • Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix (2010). Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix, ed. Grumman F9F Panther & Cougar. Serie Aeronaval (in Spanish) 29. Bahía Blanca, Argentina: Fuerzas Aeronavales.  
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