[IMAGE
SimpleHost Webstats produced by Analog 4.15

Do you want to see a
CARD TRICK?

AIRPLANES

SPAMMERS CLICK HERE!

SPAM PAYMENT INFO

[IMAGE

[IMAGE

Guillow's Grumman F3F Buffalo Scratch Built #503A 1/12 Blow
Plan 40"

[IMAGE] The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy, and served between the wars. Designed as an improvement on the single-seat F2F, it entered service in 1936. It was retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II, and was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo. The F3F which inherited the landing gear configuration first used on the Grumman FF served as the basis for a biplane design ultimately developed into the much more successful F4F Wildcat. When it entered combat, the Wildcat would quickly replace the Buffalo as the primary fighter of the Navy and Marines in the first part of World War II, and continue to be produced throughout the conflict.

Design and development

The Navy's experience with the F2F revealed issues with stability and unfavorable spin characteristics, prompting the 15 October 1934 contract for the improved XF3F-1, placed before F2F deliveries began. The contract also required a capability for ground attack, in addition to the design's fighter role. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior engine as the F2F, the fuselage was lengthened and wing area increased over the earlier design. A reduction in wheel diameter allowed greater fuselage streamlining, eliminating the prominent bulge behind the cowling of the F2F.

The prototype, BuNo. 9727, was delivered and first flown on 20 March 1935 with company test pilot Jimmy Collins making three flights that day. Two days later, six dive-recovery flights took place; on the 10th, the aircraft's pullout at 8,000 ft (2,438 m) registered 14 g on the test equipment. The aircraft broke up in midair, crashing in a cemetery and killing Collins. A second, strengthened prototype was built, but it crashed on 9 May of the same year following the pilot's bailout during an unsuccessful spin recovery. The second prototype was rebuilt in three weeks, flying on 20 June 1935. An order for 54 F3F-1 fighters was placed on 24 August of that year, following the conclusion of the flight test program. Operational history

The first production F3F-1 was delivered on 29 January 1936 to the test group at Naval Air Station Anacostia, with squadron service beginning in March to VF-5B of Ranger and VF-6B of Saratoga. Marine squadron VF-4M received the last six in January 1937. F3F-2 assigned to NAS Anacostia

Grumman, wanting to take advantage of the powerful new 950 hp (708 kW) Wright R-1820 supercharged radial engine, began work on the F3F-2 without a contract; the order for 81 aircraft was not placed until 25 July 1936, two days before the type's first flight. The engine's larger diameter changed the cowling's appearance, making the aircraft look even more like a barrel, though top speed increased to 255 mph (410 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,658 m).

The entire F3F-2 production series was delivered in between 1937 and 1938; when deliveries ended, all seven Navy and Marine Corps pursuit squadrons were equipped with Grumman single-seat fighters. Further aerodynamic developments were made to an F3F-2 returned to Grumman for maintenance; it became the XF3F-3, and featured a larger-diameter propeller, among other improvements. On 21 June 1938, the Navy ordered 27 improved F3F-3s, as new monoplane fighters like the Brewster F2A and Grumman's own F4F Wildcat were taking longer to develop than had been planned. The better known F4F Wildcat of World War II was a monoplane development of an improved F3F biplane design. This XF4F-3 prototype clearly shows the family lines.

With the introduction of the Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were numbered. All F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service by the end of 1941, though 117 were assigned to naval bases and used for training and utility duties until December 1943.

A few F3Fs were used by the U.S. Army Air Force as ferry-pilot trainers, under the designation UC-103.

A civilian aerobatic two-seat variant, the G-22A "Gulfhawk II," was constructed in 1938 and flown by Major Alfred "Al" Williams (Ret.), head of Gulf Oil's aviation department.

Survivors

[IMAGE] A Grumman F3F-2 was ditched off the coast of San Diego on 29 August 1940 while attempting a landing on Saratoga. The fighter was rediscovered by a navy submarine in June 1988, and recovered on 5 April 1991. It was restored at the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Today, four other surviving aircraft are flying, three F3F-2 models and the Gulf Oil G-32A, which were restored by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth. The restorations took four years and consisted of rebuilding the G-32A from original blueprints with tooling built at the Texas Airplane Factory. The main components of three -2 aircraft which had originally crashed in Hawaii were utilized to complete the other restorations. One of the resulting restorations is on display at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.

The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy and Marine Corps from 1936 to 1941. The three known versions of this aircraft are F3F-1, F3F-2, and F3F-3.

The Grumman F3F was essentially a continuation of the F2F, a single-seat biplane, which was the first American aircraft to use retractable landing gear. However, the F2F did not suit the military due to the lack of stability and poor landing characteristics. Therefore, when designing a new machine Grumman company engineers tried to eliminate the existing defects, and make the F3F faster and more maneuverable.

The fuselage length of the F3F-1 was increased by 533 mm, and the wingspan was increased by 1120 mm. The diameter of the gear wheel, retractable into the body of the plane, was reduced which made it possible to make the plane less "pot-like" and more rapid.

Tests of the new machine began on 20 March, 1935, but two days later a tragedy shook the testing ground. The fighter overloading reached 9 g at a nosedive exit from, and its construction could not stand it: the engine and wings just came off the plane. Its pieces fell from a height of 2.5 kilometers on a cemetery near the testing ground, and its pilot Jimmy Collins lost his life.

The flights continued on the second prototype. But on 17 May the F3F entered a tailspin, and after unsuccessful attempts to get the plane back under control the pilot had to leave the flying machine. He made 52 rounds and jumped out with a parachute at an altitude of 610 meters, whereas the plane went on a tailspin to the ground.

[IMAGE] After this incident, the Grumman company engineers seriously revised the fighter: they mounted on a powerful lightweight engine, a new propeller and added two small wheels under the fuselage rear.

By August 1935, the tests were successfully completed and the U.S. Navy received 54 units of Grumman F3F-1, which was named "the flying barrel" for a peculiar shape of the fuselage.

Generally, by the time it was already clear that the era of biplanes in the Air Force was coming to an end, and the monoplanes Brewster F2A and Grumman F4F were to substitute the F3F. Yet their development was slow, with the designers constantly facing a number of intractable technical problems. And the Grumman engineers continued to improve F3F.

In 1936, a modification of the F3F-2 biplane was produced: it was equipped with a more powerful engine Wright R-1820-22 Cyclone, which accelerated the flying machine up to a top speed of 410 km/h. The enlarged diameter of the engine changed the shape of the plane body, making it look even more like a keg. Besides that, a three-bladed pitch-controlled propeller was mounted on the fighters. Thus, the second modification of the F3F was the most popular and U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps ordered 81 vehicles of this type.

The last Grumman F3F-3 had little difference from the F3F-2: it had a propeller with a larger diameter and a few improved aerodynamic parameters, allowing the fighter to reach the speed of 425 km/h. All in all, 27 units of F3F-3 were produced and taken into service.

All three series-produced modifications embodied two machine guns of 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm, and two 50 kg bombs.

In autumn 1941, just before the U.S. entry into World War II, the Grumman F3F was removed from service and transferred to a training aircraft category. In this way it was in use until December 1943. This fighter was to become an intermediate machine between the reliable but obsolescent biplanes and high-speed but not yet mastered monoplanes, having great potential. Although Grumman F3F avoided participation in hostilities, it gave the outlines and the original airframe to Grumman F4F Wildcat, the famous fighter of WWII, which rubbed through the fierce air battles with the Japanese on Midway Atoll in 1942. Yet that is another story.

The Grumman Gulfhawk airplane was built for Major Al Williams, who had previously raced airplanes up until 1930 and was holder of the airplane speed record until 1934. The Gulfhawk was painted in the Gulf Oil Company's colors. Records don't indicate whether Wiliams or Gulf Oil purchased the airplane. The Gulfhawk design was almost identical to the Grumman F3F fighter airplanes that were aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers until 1941. The Gulfhawk was much lighter, stripped of all the military equipment.

Grumman Aircraft Company had a close relationship with the Navy, but by the mid 1930s, company officials were worried about the firm's sole reliance on military business and decided to also design planes for the commercial market. The company's first ventures into the non-military realm occurred in 1936 when it developed the G-21 "Goose" and the G-22 "Gulfhawk."

The Gulfhawk was made-to-order for the famous stunt pilot and one time air speed record holder Major Al Williams. A former naval aviator, Williams had long admired Grumman engineering, and when he needed a new acrobatic plane, he had Grumman build it. The Gulfhawk was a highly manoeuvrable single-engine, biplane with a maximum speed of 290 miles per hour (467 kilometres per hour), and in Williams's hands, it performed brilliantly. During the late 1930s, it was a major attraction at air shows worldwide. His demonstrations were also to promote Gulf Oil Company's aviation products.

[IMAGE] The Grumman F3F was the last biplane fighter in U.S. Navy. The designed was an improvement on the single-seat F2F and it entered service in 1936 and was shortly retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II. Brewster F2A Buffalo first replaced it and quickly earned the name as the "Flying coffin" due to the boxie appearance and its unforgiving handling characteristics. The F3F which inherited the landing gear configuration first used on the Grumman FF served as the basis for a biplane design ultimately developed into the much more successful F4F Wildcat. When it entered combat, the Wildcat would quickly replace the Buffalo as the primary fighter of the Navy and Marines in the first part of World War II.

The Navy's experience with the F2F revealed issues with stability and unfavorable spin characteristics. The contract also required a capability for ground attack, in addition to the design's fighter role. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior engine as the F2F, the fuselage was lengthened and wing area increased over the earlier design. A reduction in wheel diameter allowed greater fuselage streamlining, eliminating the prominent bulge behind the cowling of the F2F.

Grumman, wanting to take advantage of the powerful new 950 hp (708 kW) Wright R-1820 supercharged radial engine, began work on the F3F-2 without a contract; the order for 81 aircraft was not placed until 25 July 1936, two days before the type's first flight. The engine's larger diameter changed the cowling's appearance, making the aircraft look even more like a barrel, though top speed increased to 255 mph (410 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,658 m).

The entire F3F-2 production series was delivered in between 1937 and 1938; when deliveries ended, all seven Navy and Marine Corps pursuit squadrons were equipped with Grumman single-seat fighters. Further aerodynamic developments were made to an F3F-2 returned to Grumman for maintenance; it became the XF3F-3, and featured a larger-diameter propeller, among other improvements. On 21 June 1938, the Navy ordered 27 improved F3F-3s, as new monoplane fighters like the Brewster F2A and Grumman's own F4F Wildcat were taking longer to develop than had been planned.

The better known F4F Wildcat of World War II was a monoplane development of an improved F3F biplane design. This XF4F-3 prototype clearly shows the family lines.

With the introduction of the Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were numbered. All F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service by the end of 1941, though 117 were assigned to naval bases and used for training and utility duties until December 1943.

A few F3Fs were used by the U.S. Army Air Force as ferry-pilot trainers, under the designation UC-103.

A civilian aerobatic two-seat variant, the G-32A "Gulfhawk II," was constructed in 1938 and flown by Major Alfred "Al" Williams (Ret.), head of Gulf Oil's aviation department

A Grumman F3F-2 was ditched off the coast of San Diego on 29 August 1940 while attempting a landing on Saratoga. The fighter was rediscovered by a navy submarine in June 1988, and recovered on 5 April 1991. It was restored at the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Today, four other surviving aircraft are flying, three F3F-2 models and the Gulf Oil G-32A, which were restored by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth. The restorations took four years and consisted of rebuilding the G-32A, from original blueprints with tooling built at the Texas Airplane Factory. The main components of three -2 aircraft which had originally crashed in Hawaii were utilized to complete the other restorations. One of the resulting restorations is on display at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.

The Build: CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE...

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE
[IMAGE
[IMAGE

[IMAGE

NEXT:

P-40

Parker Information Resources
Houston, Texas
E - mail: bparker@parkerinfo.com
[PIR]

The HTML Writers Guild
Notepad only
[raphael]
[hbd]
[Netscape]
[PIR]