GRUMMAN F8F-2 BEARCAT
By 1947, the engine which the Navy had originally wanted for the Bearcat, the 2,250 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-30W, finally became available in quantity. Grumman retained one production F8F-1 and one F8F-1B, which were used to build two XF8F-2 prototypes. The main difference between the F8F-1 and XF8F-2 being the installation of the R-2800-30W engine (which was the same size and dimensions as the -34W engine.) A unique feature of the R-2800-30W engine was the Automatic Engine Control (AEC) which connected the throttle and variable speed supercharger in one control.
Because of the increased torque of the more powerful engine, it was necessary to increase the height of the vertical tail by twelve inches. The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) had recommended a sixteen inch increase, however, such an increase would have required a complete redesign of the vertical tail. The tall tail configuration became the principal identification feature of the F8F-2, although the aircraft also featured a revised engine cowling, four M3 cannon armament and a reinforced canopy with an additional frame installed near the rear of the canopy.
CAPT Bob Elder compared the performance of the F8F-1 and F8F-2:
I flew both the F8F-1 and F8F-2
models of the beloved Bearcat and only wish that the little jewel
Another unlikely source, COL George I. Ruddell, USAF, Ret. (then a MAJ) commented on the F8F-2 COL. Ruddell served as an exchange pilot with VF-73 during 1948.
Although I was already in Heaven, flying as a member of
the only jet group in the Air Force, I just
In September of 1948, only two years after adopting a new squadron designation system, a completely different system was introduced. The 1948 system tied the squadron number to the Carrier AirGroup (CVG) to which the squadron was attached. AirGroup Sevens two fighter squadrons were designated VF-71 and VF-72, while CVG-19s were designated VF-191 and VF-192.
The Marine Corps received a few Bearcats, mostly F8F-2s. The Bearcats
were used to equip advanced training units at three Marine Corps Air Stations (MCAS):
Grumman delivered the first production F8F-2 in October of 1947 and
production ended on
By July of 1955, the last Reserve squadrons had replaced their Bearcats with jet fighters. During 1956, the last F8F-2s were stricken from the Navy inventory and transferred to storage facilities. The fantastic little Bearcat was now only a fond memory in the Navy a victim of the advancing technology of the jet age.