Grumman F8F Bearcat
The Bearcat was the last of Grumman's carrier-based piston-engined fighters that had begun with the F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat. Design began in November 1943, in response to Japan's newest threat--Kamikaze fighters. The plane was 20% lighter than the Hellcat, and designed to carry the most powerful engine available at the time, the R-2800 Double Wasp by Pratt and Whitney. This produced a light, highly maneuverable and fast interceptor with a climb rate 30% greater than the Hellcat.
The plane entered production rapidly, thanks to its similarity to the Hellcat and allowing production of the plane with little retooling. The F8F-1 arrived just six months after the first flight of the prototype, and was delivered to the US Navy on May 21, 1945. The VF-19 squadron aboard the USS Langley contained the first of the Bearcats, and was en route to Japan with the planes when the war ended.
Production continued in the post-war years, with the Navy including the plane in its squadrons until 1952. The plane was so maneuverable that it could actually outperform some of the earliest jets, but it was ultimately replaced by the F9F Panther jet. After this time, some 250 craft were refurbished and sold to the French Armee de l'Air for operations in Indo-China, and another 129 Bearcats were sold to the Thai Air Force. A total of 1,266 Bearcats of all types were produced, with the initial F8F-1 version being the most numerous (765 built).
The Bearcat uses 78 gallons of aviation fuel per hour at routine usage. A full load of fuel and ammo (not including bombs) costs $57.
Subassemblies: Heavy Fighter chassis with good streamlining +3; folding Light Fighter wings with High-Agility option +3; 3 retractable wheels +0.
Powertrain: 1,566-kW aerial supercharged HP gas engine with 1,566-kW prop and 185-gallon self-sealing tanks.
Occ.: 1 CS
Cargo: 0 Body
Armor F RL B T U
Body: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3
Wings: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3
Wheels: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3
Cockpit: 0/0 0/+10 0/+20 0/+10 0/+10
4xLong Aircraft HMGs/M-3 [Wings:F] (500 rounds each).*
*Linked in pairs, plus additional links can fire all four at once.
Body: Arrestor hook, medium radio and transmitter and receiver, navigation instruments, autopilot, bombsight, IFF. Wings: Two 500-lb. hardpoints each.
Size: 28'x35'x13' Payload: 1.26 tons Lwt.: 5.35 tons
Volume: 104 Maint.: 45 hours Cost: $19,750
HT: 9 HPs: 208 Body, 90 each Wing, 24 each Wheel
aSpeed: 434 aAccel: 9 aDecel: 24 aMR: 6 aSR: 3
Stall Speed 94.
gSpeed: 273 gAccel: 14 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.75 gSR: 3
Ground Pressure High. 1/6 Off-Road Speed.
I had initially designed this craft with a Medium Fighter Chassis, but determined that the design worked better shaving 20% off the weight, HPs and cost of a Heavy Fighter Chassis (as was more-or-less done historically). This makes the design more consistent with the F4F on p. W:D81 in terms of architecture and engineering, while improving the performance statistics of the Bearcat.
Calculated aSpeed was 501; this was reduced to the historical. The historical wing area of 244 sf was used for performance calculations. Ammo loadouts are a guess. Electronics were based upon the F4F design, as I have no historical references for them.
Typical load-outs for the underwing hardpoints included two 1,000-lb. bombs, four 500-lb. bombs, four 5-inch (127mm) rockets, or two 150-gallon drop tanks.
The F8F-1B was armed with 20mm cannons instead of the four machine guns. 100 were converted.
The F8F-N1 was a night-fighting variant equipped with radar. 36 built.
The F8F-2 came with the 20mm cannons as standard. It also had a redesigned engine cowling and a taller fin-and-rudder assembly. 293 built.
The F8F-2N was the night-fighter version. 12 built.
The F8F-2P was a photo-recon version. 60 built.
The G-58A was a civilian version produced for the Gulf Oil Company. 2 were built.
From the Aerodrome for GURPS
© 2008 by Jim Antonicic