|STANDARD DATA: Seats 1. Gross wt. 9,300. Empty wt. 7,070. Fuel capacity 185, two drop tanks 150 gals. each. Engine 2,100-hp Pratt & Whitney 18-cylinder radial.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 425. Cruise mph (economy) 163. Initial climb rate 5,700. Range 1,105. Ceiling 42,300.
The Grumman F8F Bearcat was originally designed as a replacement for the Hellcat, and it was hoped that the Bearcat would have better maneuverability and be able to operate from the smallest Navy carriers. The Bearcat was small, limited in weight and armed with four .50-caliber guns and external fittings for two 1,000- pound bombs, drop tanks, or four rockets. It was powered by a 2,100-hp Pratt & Whitney 18-cylinder radial engine, which accounts for an exceptional climb rate. Contracts for 2,023 Bearcats were approved in October 1944, and deliveries started in February 1945. The end of the war reduced the contract for the F8F-1D, and a total of 1,263 were produced. Surplus Bearcats designated F8F-ID and fitted with a modified fuel system were used in the Indochina war by the French Armee de l’Air. A number of Bearcats were later transferred to the Vietnam Air Force. The Bearcat was the last of Grumman’s piston-engine carrier fighters.