Although, it was the speediest propeller-driven aircraft of Grumman genre ever produced, but it wasn’t used as much as it should have been since it arrived late on the World War 2 scene. It was designed after the hugely successful F6F Hellcat and the F8F Bearcat was 20 percent lighter and almost 50 MPH faster (421 vs. 376).
Primarily designed as an interceptor fighter, the purpose of the designers was to make a small and light frame that could accommodate Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine. With respect to F6F Hellcat, the Bearcat was 20% lighter, had a 30% better rate of climb and was 50 mph (80 km/h) faster. It was small in size that made its handling much easier as compared to a big Hellcat.
The powerful R-2800 Double Wasp engine operated a rotating 4-blade propeller system taking the Bearcat easily beyond 400 miles per hour. Low-monoplane straight-wing design was similar to the other ‘cat’ aircraft series before its arrival. The curved glass canopy provided better vision to the pilot. It was armed with four .50 caliber machines which later gave way to an array of 4 x 20mm cannons. The system was flexible enough to be adapted to the ground attack role and it could take on 12.7cm rockets (x4) or 1 x 1,000lb bomb under-fuselage.
It could operate well at even at low altitude with high speeds. France bought used this aircraft and used it in Indo-China affair. It was also used for the countries of North and South Vietnam along with Thailand.
|Max Speed:||421mph (677kmh; 366kts)|
|Max Range:||1,105miles (1,778km)|
|Ceiling:||38,698ft (11,795m; 7.3miles)|
|Empty Weight:||7,068lbs (3,206kg)|
|Engine(s):||1 x Pratt & Whitney 2,100 hp R-2800-34W Double-Wasp 18-cylinder radial piston engine.|
|Guns:||4x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns (Four 20mm M3 cannon F8F-1B)|
|Rockets:||4x 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets|
|Bombs:||1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs|