Two XF7F-1s were ordered on 30 June 1941,
the same days as two XF6F-1s. To meet the F6F’s priority with Grumman’s available engineering staff, the F7F design
start was deferred. The XF7F-1 Tigercat was ordered with the intention of being operated from the forthcoming 45,000-ton carriers
of the Midway class. This was to become the first twin engine tricycle undercarriage Navy fighter. Designed to operate in
the ground support role, it was heavily armed with four 20mm cannons in the wing root and four .50 caliber machine guns in
the nose. A fuselage rack could carry a 1,000-pound bomb, and wing stations were provided later for aircraft rockets.
XF7F-1 engineering design began in late
spring 1942, with mockup inspection in September. By summer 1943, production was being negotiated and a major engine change—from
Wright’s R-2600 to the Pratt and Whitney R-2800—eliminated supporting an engine model unique to the F7F, but resulted
in a loss in high-alti-tude performance.
The first XF7F-1 made its initial flight
in November. After changes, including increased vertical tail height and rudder chord, it went to NAS Patuxent River, Md.,
in December for flight test evaluation. While noting concern over directional control with one engine out during carrier launch
or waveoff conditions, Flight Test’s opinion was that “in addition to its potentialities as a night fighter, this
airplane is the best medium-altitude day fighter, Army, Navy or foreign, yet evaluated.” In spite of its large size,
its design provided increased speed while carrying four .50 nose guns and four 20 mm wing cannons.
Prototype twin engined, single-seater, carrier-based
fighter-bomber. 4 nose guns, 4 wing
Produced 1942 - 1943
Grumman Bethpage, New York (F)