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Diels Engineering, Inc. GRUMMAN F7F TIGERCAT

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KIT # 23. GRUMMAN F7F TIGERCAT. Late WW2 and Korean War US Navy twin engine fighter plane, 1/24 scale, 25.75 span, from plan #36. Designed for rubber power for both engines. Contains the usual high quality stuff including 2 double sided sheets of plans and instructions, printwood, stripwood, plastic canopy, decals, lightweight tissue, plastic props, and hardware.

[IMAGE The Grumman F7F Tigercat was the first twin-engined fighter aircraft design to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed for the new Midway-class aircraft carriers, the aircraft were too large to operate from earlier decks. Although delivered to United States Marine Corps (USMC) combat units before the end of World War II, the Tigercat did not see combat service in that war. Most F7Fs ended up in land-based service, as attack aircraft or night fighters; only the later F7F-4N was certified for carrier service. They saw service in the Korean War and were withdrawn from service in 1954.

The contract for the prototype XF7F-1 was signed on 30 June 1941. Grumman's aim was to produce a plane that out-performed and out-gunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability.[1] Armament was heavy: four 20 mm cannons and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. Performance met expectations too; the F7F Tigercat was one of the highest-performance piston-engined fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the US Navy's single-engined aircraft-71 mph faster than a F6F Hellcat at sea level. The opinion of Capt. Fred M. Trapnell, one of the Navy's premier test pilots, was that "It's the best damn fighter I've ever flown." The Grumman F7F was originally named the "Tomcat" but this name was rejected as it was considered at the time too suggestive. The name would much later be used for the Grumman F-14.

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Max Bialystock Lucille Parker, VP Engineering, Northrop - Grumman - Parker Aerospace Systems

All this was bought at the cost of heavy weight and a high landing speed, but what caused the aircraft to fail carrier suitability trials was poor directional stability with only one engine operational, as well as problems with the tail-hook design. Therefore, the initial production series was only used from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar. At first, they were single-seater F7F-1N aircraft, but after the 34th production aircraft, a second seat for a radar operator was added; these planes were designated F7F-2N.

The next version produced, the F7F-3 was modified to correct the issues that caused the aircraft to fail carrier acceptance and this version was again trialled on the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification too. F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions.

A final version, the F7F-4N, was extensively rebuilt for additional strength and stability, and did pass carrier qualification, but only 12 were built.[7]

[IMAGE A number of Tigercats were used as water bombers to fight forest fires in the 1960s and 1970s, and for this reason 12 examples exist today. Six of these are still airworthy.

As warbird racers, in 1976, Robert Forbes qualified an F7F-3N but did not race at Reno. Another modified F7F-3N Tigercat, (Bu No. 80503) "Big Bossman" owned by Mike Brown presently competes in the national air racing circuit.

The powerful F7F Tigercat continued the cat-named series of fighters by the Grumman company. The F7F was developed during the Second World War but would be cleared for service to late to take part in that conflict, opening the door for full operational use in the forthcoming Korean War. In the end, the system would prove successful, particularly as a nightfighter, and provide American forces with a capable land-based or carrier based piston-alternative.

The twin-engine Tigercat was being developed by Grumman as early as 1941 with the intention of it becoming the hardest hitting fighter-bomber available to all carrier groups. With reinforced substructures and folding wings, the system was primed for storage and operations aboard the Midway-class carriers, though in the end, the aircraft would become the heaviest of all carrier aircraft ever utilized. Power came from the two Pratt & Whitney radials and provided the aircraft with 2,100 horsepower at speeds in excess of 435 miles per hour. Initial systems were armed with the popular array of 4 x 20mm cannon while later variants could be seen pulling multirole duties with the use of rockets and bombs.

The United States Marine Corps would be the only branch of American service to utilize the F7F Tigercat in its production history. Despite missing action in the Second World War, F7F Tigercats would be one of the few Marine units stationed in Japan when fighting broke out on the Korean Peninsula. The F7F would prove its worth from land and sea operations throughout the war, fitting the role of nightfighter to good effect.

In the nightfighting role, the Tigercat was beginning to be armed with the latest in the line of powerful nightfighting radars in the nose. As such, this added another crewmember along with the radar housing and cost te airframe some fuel capacity, shrinking the combat range of the aircraft down a bit. Nose-mounted armaments were also removed. With other variants, the series saw improvements in the way of powerplants and subtle aerodynamic redesigns that assisted in making the craft ever more the consummate fighter. Reconnaissance and electronic warfare variants followed later on.

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In the end, the powerful Tigercat might have made a difference in Pacific operations in the Second World War. As luck would have it, the system would be delayed long enough for it to miss that conflict altogether. With the war in Korea a short six years away, the F7F Tigercat would not have to wait too long to see combat action in the hands of the United States Marines. To this day, the Tigercat is considered a classic warbird - most likely due to its power and handling capabilities.

Although overshadowed by its F6F Hellcatpredecessor and F8F Bearcat successor in the Grumman "cat" family, the F7F Tigercat was an equally distinguished fighter. Best known as Marine night fighters, Tigercats missed WW II but saw combat early in the Korean conflict.

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Technical problems and changing requirements led to production delays. The handsome Tigercat arrived too late to see combat in World War II, despite having made its first flight in November 1943. It was the first Navy fighter to have tricycle landing gear and was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. The last of 364 Tigercats was delivered in November 1946.

Produced as a single-seat fighter, a two-seat night-fighter and a photoreconnaissance aircraft, the Tigercat saw combat in Korea until replaced by the F3D Skyknight. Two Marine Corps squadrons used F3F-3N variants as ground support and night fighters in Korea from September 1951 through November 1952.

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The Army and Navy were contracting for a common design twin-engine, high-performance fighter. The Navy sought a high-altitude carrier fighter with increased speed, range and weapons. Grumman's competition winner was a twin-engine, tricycle landing gear design. Both the Army and Navy planned to use Wright R-2600 engines with advanced supercharging.

With the loss of the XP-50 on 14 May 1941, the Army Air Corps transferred funding to the XP-65 project. The original project called for dual-development of a joint Army-Navy fighter (Model G-51), but differing requirements soon forced design of similar but separate aircraft. Priorities after Pearl Harbor led the Army to cancel its contract. The XP-65 project was canceled before any aircraft were built, but the Navy version became the XF7F-1 and went into production as the F7F "Tigercat."

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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.

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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.

The first of 500 planned F7F-1s flew in April 1944. Initial production would be night fighters with APS-6 radar in the nose and Pratt and Whitney 2,100 hp R-2800-22 engines. The third was modified to the two-place XF7F-2 with a radar operator's cockpit behind the pilot. Deemed a more effective night fighter configuration, all airplanes after the first 34 would be F7F-2s. An unacceptable tailhook design and other problems found during XF7F-1 flight testing indicated needed changes, and Tigercats went to shore-based Marine squadrons.

Supported by successful test operations of an F7F-1 on board Shangri-La (CV 38) in November 1944, -2 production would end at 100 with subsequent F7F-3s having a strengthened airframe and an updated R-2800- 34W engine. By this time, the -1s and -2s had been redesignated -1Ns and -2Ns as night fighters.

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Initial -3s were produced as single-seat fighters, with some having photo installations added as -3Ps, and others a more effective radar as two-place -3Ns. The Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, Johnsville, Pa., prototyped the -3P; Grumman prototyped the two-place -3N with nose guns removed and a larger "drooped nose" for the radar.

To expedite production of the different -3 models, all were built single-place with some variations to accommodate the changes for the intended final model. The Ps and Ns were accepted at Grumman and ferried to the Navy Lockheed Service Center in Van Nuys, Calif., where they were completed for final delivery to operating units. A larger vertical fin was tested and finally incorporated in pro-duction, as well as backfitted in earlier -3 models. Like earlier models, all -3s could carry bombs or external fuel tanks on two inner wing panel store racks; the centerline rack was capable of carrying a larger bomb or tank, or a torpedo.

Marine squadrons began combat training in mid-1944 with F7F-1s. An F7F-2N equipped Marine squadron was transported to Guam in summer 1945, flying on as Marine Night Fighter Squadron [VMF(N)] 531 to reach Okinawa just as the war ended.

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Similarly, a Marine photo squadron started training in March 1945, also reaching Okinawa by V-J Day. During the rest of 1945, production continued at a lower rate toward a planned total of 400 F7Fs, and Marine Tigercatsquadrons were cut back. Two squadrons operated in China -- Marine Photographic Squadron 254 on coast photo mapping with -3Ps, and VMF(N)-533 with -3Ns replacing -2Ns.

By the end of the year, production of the last 110 was scheduled at Grumman as F7F-3Ns. In February 1946, VMF(N)-534 took its -3Ns aboard Shangri-Lafor carrier qualifications. After repeated landings, an inner wing panel of one plane failed on touchdown, bringing an end to carquals.

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In April -3N production was cut back, after which 12 -4Ns with extensive changes for carrier operating strength would be built. Also included was a new APS-19 radar in a stream-lined nose, tested on a -3N as the XF7F-4N. Production -4Ns went to Night Composite Squadrons 1 and 2 for carrier operational evaluation, flying from Essex-class carriers after testing on board Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42).

A new use for Tigercats surfaced. The -2Ns had been used for drone control, and all remaining -2Ns were redesignated -2Ds, modified with an F8F-type canopy over the rear cockpit for the drone control pilot. Marine land-based squadrons continued to operate Tigercatsin diminishing numbers, with VMF(N)s 513 and 542 flying night interdiction and fighter missions in the early months of the Korean conflict. As they were withdrawn from the war, Tigercats were gradually phased out, with the -2Ds serving into the mid-1950s.

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After the close of World War II, advances made in military aircraft technology during the war were quickly pressed into peacetime service to fight one of the oldest and most feared natural phenomena-wildfires. Until the 1950s, once a wildfire had spread across bone-dry forests or parched grasslands, there wasn't much that firefighters could do except watch it burn and try to rein in its swath of destruction. That unbalanced playing field was somewhat leveled with the introduction of the air tanker.

Ingenious (but ultimately impractical) early experiments in California focused on dumping water or fire-retardants onto forest fires from wooden beer kegs mounted in single engine airplanes, or even using a common garden hose to spray water from above into the inferno. In the early 1950s, public safety officials in California recognized the potential for aerial firefighting and teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a practical air tanker to combat forest fires.

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By the mid-1950s, surplus World War II Stearman PT-17 and N3N military biplanes had been modified for use as air tankers and the development effort was shifted to larger military aircraft that could carry greater loads of fire retardant chemicals or water. The decision to retrofit existing military aircraft was a wise one based on several factors: surplus aircraft were readily available and relatively inexpensive; originally constructed to transport bombs or cargo over long distances, they were ideally suited to haul the heavy loads of fire retardant chemicals or water required for efficient aerial firefighting; designed for maneuverability and speed, they could withstand extreme stresses on their airframes; and they were sturdily built, which allowed for the installation of heavy water or retardant storage tanks.

Soon, a wide variety of World War II-era aircraft could be spotted in aerial firefighting efforts over the forests of the western United States-Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, Grumman PBY Supercats and Privateers, F7F Tigercats, and Fairchild C-119 Boxcars were some of the early recruits in the aerial firefighting ranks. Later in the century, more modern military aircraft, such as Lockheed P-3 Orions and C-130 Hercules, formed the backbone of the air tanker fleet.

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Large commercial aircraft, such as the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7, Martin Mars and Ilyushin IL-76, have also been transformed into air tankers. Modified helicopters, including the Sikorsky Black Hawk, are widely used in aerial firefighting to extract firefighters and victims from dangerous fire zones, and also to precisely apply water and fire-retardant chemicals to smaller fires in "mop-up" operations.

The most unique aircraft engaged in aerial firefighting-and the only aircraft in the world specifically built for that purpose-is the Canadair CL-215. (Canadair was one of the companies that had become General Dynamics.) This plane was designed to meet the requirement for a firefighting amphibian that could replace the assortment of planes used as "water bombers" in the 1960s. The plane's basic configuration emerged from a December 1963 meeting on forest fire protection held in Ottawa, Canada, and the decision to produce the plane was made in early 1966. The plane's first customers were the Province of Quebec in Canada and the French Protection Civile, ordering 20 and 10 CL-215s respectively to take the lead in forest fire detection and suppression. The plane also had a secondary role for search and rescue and utility work.

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The first CL-215 flew in October 1967, and it was produced until April 1990. During those 33 years, 125 planes were delivered to Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Thailand, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia.

Flying just 100 feet (30 meters) above a fire, the CL-215's belly-doors-much like the bomb bay doors on a military aircraft-open to drop 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) of water or chemicals onto a fire. (This Canadair aircraft will be generically referred to as the CL-215, which is powered by piston engines; a jet-engine version is designated the CL-415). An amphibian by design, the CL-215 can take off (and land) from both airfields and open water using its retractable landing gear, with floats fitted to the end of its wings for greater stability on the water. When operating from an airfield, the CL-215's storage tanks can be quickly pressure-filled with water or fire-retardants in just about two minutes.

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The CL-215's unique capabilities become apparent when the twin-engine water bomber swoops down onto a lake and scoops up more than 1,400 gallons of water in just over ten seconds, then smoothly climbs back up to drop the water onto the wildfire. Twin scoops incorporated into a narrow hull allow the CL-215 to scoop up water from shallow lakes or rivers just 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) deep.

Equipped with two 705-gallon (2,669-liter) main water tanks, positioned in the left and right center of the fuselage, the CL-215 is a very ruggedly constructed aircraft, designed not only to withstand its "dive bomber" tactics but also to endure corrosion from the water and retardant chemicals as well as the heat and pollutants from the fire itself. Durability and reliability were the driving requirements in the CL-215's design since the demands of a raging forest or wildfire may require dozens of fire bombing runs in a single day; in fact, a single CL-215 in Yugoslavia once flew an amazing 225 water bombing runs in a 24-hour period.

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Once over the fire, the water bomber pilot tries to attack his target with a dispersal pattern that suits the particular circumstances of the wildfire. Dumping water (or flame retardants) concurrently from both wing tanks focuses the water on a concentrated area in a deluge, while dumping the four tanks in sequence soaks a longer, slender swath of earth. On certain CL-215 models, water spray pipes and nozzles have been affixed to the bottom of the wings, allowing a fine mist to be sprayed over a much larger area.

The Beriev Be-200 is an amphibious multirole turbofan aircraft designed by the Berieva Aviatsionnyi Kompaniya (Beriev Aviation Company), with the Russian Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPO) responsible for the production engineering development phase of the program. The first flight took place in 1998 and the aircraft was first seen in the west at the 1999 Paris Air Show.

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The Be-200 was first developed for fire-fighting missions. It can start, take-off and land on water. The first prototype aircraft was delivered in June 2003 and has successfully completed 650 flight hours and carries Russian certification as a fire fighting aircraft. In a fire-fighting mission, the fully fuelled aircraft can fly 200km from the airfield to a water reservoir, make successive trips between the site of the fire and the reservoir (over a range of 10km from the fire zone to the reservoir), to drop a total of 310,000kg of water on the fire and make the 200km return flight to the airfield for refuelling. The aircraft is capable of scooping 12t of water in 14 seconds from seas with waves up to 1.2m. The aircraft flies at speeds above a minimum drop speed of 220km/h to empty the water tanks over the site of the fire in 0.8 to 1.0 seconds.

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The wildfires that spread across the grasslands and forests of the United States and Canada every summer pose an incredible danger to firefighters as they bravely struggle to protect people, property and wildlife. The mighty roar of an air tanker or water bomber flying low over the front lines of the firestorm is a most welcome sound to those battling the flames on the ground.

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