Design and developmentBased on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that eventually was canceled, the company further developed the XP-65 (Model 51) 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 out-performed and out-gunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability.[2] Armament was heavy: four 20 mm cannons and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. Performance met expectations too; the F7F Tigercat was one of the highest performance piston-engined fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the US Navy's single-engined aircraft—71 mph faster than a F6F Hellcat at sea level.[3] Capt. Fred M. Trapnell, one of the Navy's premier test pilots, opined that: "It's the best damn fighter I've ever flown."[4] The Grumman F7F was originally named the "Tomcat" but this name was rejected as it was considered too suggestive, at the time.[5] The name would much later be used for the Grumman F-14. An F7F-3N of VMF(N)-513 at Wonsan, Korea, in 1952.All this 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 tail-hook design.[6] Therefore, the initial production series was only used from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar.[7] At first, they were single-seater F7F-1N aircraft, but after the 34th production aircraft, a second seat for a radar operator was added; these aircraft were designated F7F-2N. The next version produced, 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 (CV-38). A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification too. F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions.[8] A final version, the F7F-4N, was extensively rebuilt for additional strength and stability, and did pass carrier qualification, but only 12 were built.[8] Specifications (F7F-4N Tigercat) Drawing of an F7F-3N.Data from Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II[25] General characteristics Crew: 2 (pilot, radar operator) Length: 45 ft 4 in (13.8 m) Wingspan: 51 ft 6 in (15.7 m) Height: 16 ft 7 in (5.1 m) Wing area: 455 ft² (42.3 m²) Empty weight: 16,270 lb (7,380 kg) Max takeoff weight: 25,720 lb (11,670 kg) Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W "Double Wasp" radial engines, 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) each Performance Maximum speed: 460 mph (400 knots, 740 km/h) Range: 1,200 mi (1,000 nmi, 1,900 km) Service ceiling: 40,400 ft (12,300 m) Rate of climb: 4,530 ft/min (1,381 m/min) Armament Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) M2 cannon 4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun Bombs: 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs under wings or 1 × torpedo under fuselage Avionics AN/APS-19 radar

johnbr, Nov 26, 2011
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