Grumman F9F Panther

The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer's first jet fighter and one of the United States Navy's first successful carrier-based jet fighters. A single-engined, straight-winged day fighter, it was fitted with an armament of four 20 mm (0.79 in) cannons and could carry a wide assortment of air-to-ground munitions.

The Panther was used extensively by the U.S. Navy and the United States Marine Corps in the Korean War. It was also the first jet aircraft used by the Blue Angels flight team, being used by them from 1949 through to late 1954. The aircraft was exported to Argentina and was the first jet used by the Argentine Naval Aviation.

Total F9F production was 1,382. The design evolved into the swept wing Grumman F-9 Cougar.

Grumman F9F Panther
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Grumman
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1947
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Argentina 1947 1969 View
United States of America 1947 1958 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Grumman 1382 View

Development studies at the Grumman company for jet-powered fighter aircraft began near the end of World War II as the first jet engines emerged. In a competition for a jet-powered night fighter for the United States navy, the Douglas XF3D-1 was selected over Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation's G-75 two-seat, four-Westinghouse J30-powered design, with Douglas being issued a contract on 3 April 1946. The U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) also issued a contract to Grumman for two Model G-75 experimental aircraft on 11 April 1946, being given the Navy designation XF9F-1, in case the Skyknight ran into problems. Grumman soon realized the G-75 was a losing design but had been working on a completely different, single-engine day fighter known as the Grumman G-79. Due to some interesting bureaucracy, BuAer did not cancel the G-75 (XF9F-1) contract but changed the wording to include three entirely different G-79 prototypes. The G-79 became the Grumman F9F Panther.

The prototype Panther, piloted by test pilot Corky Meyer, first flew on 24 November 1947. American engines available at the time included the Allison J33 and Westinghouse J34, but these were not considered sufficiently reliable, so the Navy specified the imported Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet, which was also more powerful at 5,000 lb. of thrust. Production aircraft would have a Nene engine built under license by Pratt & Whitney as the J42. Since there was insufficient space within the wings and fuselage for fuel for the thirsty jet, permanently mounted wingtip fuel tanks were added, which incidentally improved the fighter's rate of roll. It was cleared for flight from aircraft carriers in September 1949. During the development phase, Grumman decided to change the Panther's engine, selecting the Pratt & Whitney J48-P-2, a license built version of the Rolls-Royce RB.44 Tay. The other engine that had been tested was the Allison J33-A-16. The armament was a quartet of 20 mm guns, the Navy having already switched to this caliber (as opposed to the USAAF/USAF which continued to use 12.7 mm M2/M3 guns). As well, the Panther soon was armed with underwing air-to-ground rockets and up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) of bombs.

From 1946, a swept-wing version was considered and after concerns about the Panther's inferiority to its MiG opponents in Korea, a conversion of the Panther (Design 93) resulted in a swept-wing derivative of the Panther, the F9F Cougar, which retained the Panther's designation number.

Role Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight 24 November 1947
Retired 1958, U.S. Navy
1969, Argentina
Primary users United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Argentine Navy
Number built 1382
Developed into Grumman F-9 Cougar

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 37 ft 5 in (11.3 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in (11.6 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 4 in (3.8 m)
  • Wing area: 250 ft² (23 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,303 lb (4,220 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 14,235 lb (6,456 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 16,450 lb (7,462 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J42-P-6/P-8 turbojet, 5,950 lbf (26.5 kN) with water injection


  • Maximum speed: 500 kn (575 mph, 925 km/h)
  • Range: 1,300 mi (1,100 nmi, 2,100 km)
  • Service ceiling: 44,600 ft (13,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 5,140 ft/min (26.1 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 71 lb/ft² (350 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.42


  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) M2 cannon, 190 rpg
  • Hardpoints: Underwing hardpoints  and provisions to carry combinations of:
    Rockets: 6 × 5 in (127 mm) rockets on underwing hardpoints
    Bombs: 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs

End notes