Grumman F9F-2 Panther – VMF-311 Tomcats, USMC, Pohang AFB, Korean War 1952
1 in stock
1 in stock
Falcon Models 1/72 scale FA721001: Grumman F9F-2 Panther of VMF-311 Tomcats, USMC, Pohang AFB, South Korea, 1952
Length 6.5 inches Wingspan 6.25 inches
Replicating a Grumman F9F-2B Panther flown by the U.S. Marines VMF-311 “Tomcats” – who were stationed at K-3 (Pohang) airbase – on ground-attack missions in support of UN forces in Korea in 1952, this model features four 20mm cannons mounted in the nose, prototypical wing roots with detailed engine air intakes, wing-mounted HVAR rockets, authentic “panther head” nose markings, and more.
Designed as a carrierborne jet fighter for the US Navy, the F9F was first flown on November 24th, 1947. During the Korean War, the Panther was the Navy’s most heavily used jet fighter. It flew 78,000 sorties and was responsible for the first US Navy air to air kill of the conflict. The Panther’s armament included four 20mm cannons and two bombs or an assortment of rockets. The wingtip fuel tanks and dark sea blue coloring made the aircraft extremely recognizable. The Panther was such a successful design that in 1949 it became the first jet flown by the “Blue Angels.”
The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer’s first jet fighter and one of the U.S. Navy’s first successful carrier-based jet fighters. The Panther was the most widely used U.S. Navy jet fighter of the Korean War, flying 78,000 sorties and scoring the first air-to-air kill by the US Navy in the war, the downing of a North Korean Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter. Total F9F production was 1,382, with several variants being exported to Argentina. The Panther was the first jet aircraft used by the Blue Angels flight team, being used by them from 1949 through to late 1954.
Development studies at the Grumman company began near the end of the World War II as the first jet engines emerged. The prototype Panther, piloted by test pilot Corky Meyer, first flew on 24 November 1947. Propulsion was an imported Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet, although 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). Panther soon was armed as well with underwing air-to ground rockets and bombs, up to 2,000 lbs.
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 Grumman F9F Cougar, which retained the Panther’s designation number.
F9F-2s, F9F-3s and F9F-5s served with distinction in the Korean War, mainly as attack aircraft, showing noticeable resistance to anti-aircraft fire; despite their relative slow speed, they also managed in downing two Yak-9s and five Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s for the loss of two F9Fs. On 3 July 1950, Lieutenant, junior grade Leonard H. Plog of U.S. Navy’s VF-51 flying an F9F-3 scored the first U.S. Navy air victory of the war by shooting down a Yak-9. The first MiG-15 downed was on 9 November 1950 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander William (Bill) Amen of VF-111 “Sundowners” Squadron flying an F9F-2B. Two more were downed on 18 November 1950, and the other two were downed on 18 November 1952. The type was the primary Navy and USMC jet fighter and ground-attack aircraft in the Korean War. Future astronaut Neil Armstrong flew the F9F extensively during the war, even ejecting from one of the aircraft when it was brought down by a wire strung across a valley. Future astronaut John Glenn and Boston Red Sox All Star Ted Williams as Marine Corps pilots, also flew the F9F.
Panthers were withdrawn from front-line service in 1956, but remained in training roles and with Naval Air Reserve and Marine Air Reserve units until 1958, some continuing to serve in small numbers into the 1960s.
The only foreign buyer of the Panther was the Argentine Naval Aviation, who bought 24 ex-USN aircraft in 1958. The catapults on the then only Argentinian carrier, ARA Independencia (V-1), were considered not powerful enough to launch the F9F, so the aircraft were land-based.
The Argentinian Panthers were involved in the general mobilization during the 1965 border clash between Argentina and Chile but no combat occurred. They were taken out of service in 1969 due to the lack of spare parts and replaced with A-4Q Skyhawks. The Argentinian Navy also operated the Grumman F-9 Cougar.