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Air War: How the Navy’s 1st Fighter Jet Battled MiGs over North Korea
The Navy still saw further potential in the Panther, so Grumman built a swept-wing version called the F9F-6 Cougar. The Cougar was a bit faster and could fly significantly higher, but had shorter range due to added weight. Though it did not see action in the Korean War, it replaced the Panther soon afterwards. Though the Cougar was adapted to carry the first Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and even tactical nuclear weapons, it never saw combat except for a few Marine TF-9J trainers used as Forward Air Controllers in the Vietnam War.
After World War II, the U.S. Navy scrambled to field its own jet fighters—but designing a warplane that could fly dramatically faster while still landing on a short carrier deck proved a challenge. The Navy’s first operational jet, the underpowered FH Phantom, was retired after only two years of service.
(This first appeared early last year.)
Naval aircraft manufacture Grumman received funding in 1946 to develop a four-turbojet G-75 prototype based on the twin piston engine F7F Tigercat. However, the concept proved so unpromising the firm used creative accounting to use the funds for a single-engine project called the G-79. This XF9F prototype first flew in November 1947 from the production facility in Bethpage, New York.