Our Aircraft’s History

Grumman F9F-8P “Cougar” (S/N 144402) ~ This swept-wing version of the F9F “Panther”, was manufactured at the Grumman Corporation, Bethpage, New York and accepted by the US Navy on June 6, 1957. The F9F-8 was designed as a carrier based fighter, but the F9F-8P version was made with a modified nose, eliminating the guns to carry cameras and other armament for additional armor plating. The unique role had cameras for both vertical and oblique use. This allowed accommodation for the K-17 and Trimetrogon cameras. The other armament systems that were removed were fitted with a nose refueling probe and the compressor ducting was re-routed to provide heat to defrost the camera windows.

Assigned to the Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, VFP-62 in Jacksonville, Florida where the Cougar started its military service, including but not limited to: 

  • June 1957 – USS Randolph (Mediterranean)
  • June 1958 – USS Essex (Mediterranean)
  • November 1959 – Maintenance and Support Squadron (NAS), Norfolk, Virginia
  • February 1960 – Bureau of Naval Weapons Detachment, Norfolk, Virginia

This aircraft was then removed from the Navy aircraft inventory in May, 1962. She jumped around a couple museums, including the National Warplane Museum in June 1962 and in June 1964, the Wings of Eagles Museum.  Sold to a private individual in March 2005 (a unique story in of itself) and finally placed on indefinite loan to MAPS Air Museum on October 11, 2012. Our F9F-8P (RF-9J after 1962) is finished and under general maintenance by Crew Chief Matt Oltersdorf.

Specifications/Performance (F9F-8)

  • Role: Photo Recon
  • Manufacturer: Grumman
  • First flight: September 20, 1951
  • Introduction: March 1, 1952
  • Retired: June 14, 1974 (US Navy)
  • Number built: 110 (1,988 F9F series)
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 40 ft 11 in
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 6 in
  • Height: 12 ft 4 in
  • Empty weight: 11,483 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 21,000 lb
  • Engines: 1 x Pratt & Whitney J48-P-8A turbojet, 7,250 lbf
  • Max speed: 654 mph
  • Cruise speed: 541 mph
  • Range: 932 mi (w/o tanks)
  • Service ceiling: 44,500 ft

Armament, notable (F9F-8): 

  • Guns: 4 x 20 mm AN/M3 cannon (190 rounds per gun)
  • Rockets: 6 x 127 mm rockets
  • Missiles: 4 x AIM-9 Sidewinders
  • Bombs: 2 x 1,000 lb, plus 2 x 500 lb

Museum display notes: our Cougar is painted and marked as it was with Air Task Group (ATG)-201 on the CVA-9 USS Essex as the VFP-62 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadrons Light  62 “Hawkeyes” when they were deployed February 2, 1958 through November 17, 1958.

Designed from and to replace: Grumman F9F “Panther” (straight-wing) and first successful carrier-based jet fighter

Intended aircraft to replace the F9F-8: F11F “Tigers” and F8U “Crusaders”