F8f Bearcat Detail in Action
The Grumman F8F Bearcat represents the pinnacle of US carrier-borne piston-engine fighter design. Marrying a compact, lightweight airframe with a powerful 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp radial engine churning out more than 2,000 hp produced an aircraft intended to be an interceptor that could operate from the smallest escort carriers. Although the Bearcat prototype first took to the air in August 1944, and the first squadron equipped with the new fighters was operational in May 1945, WWII ended before the Bearcat saw combat. The type ultimately saw combat in the First Indochina War.