The F7F Tigercat is one of the rarer warbirds flying in the world with only 364 built between 1943-1946 only seven are airworthy and only a dozen survivors in total. The Tigercat was built too late to be used in WWII but served in Korea as a night fighter and attack aircraft used in Marine units. While initially it was designed to be used on carriers multiple issues arose preventing carrier operations.
The F7F Tigercat was a multiple engine single seat attack fighter which was later adapted with radar and a second seat for a radar operator. Grumman’s goal was to build a fighter that would outperform all others. They succeeded with a plane that was 71mph faster then the F6F Hellcat and carried more firepower with 4 20mm cannons, 4 50mm machine guns, and hard points for bombs and torpedoes. However, the trade off was weight and high landing speeds forcing the heavy Tigercat be used on land bases.
Since combat use was minimal for the Tigercat some did survivor and were used as aerial tankers. The planes were fitter with a belly tank to be used as aerial fire bombers. One example, owned and operated by Rod Lewis, has flown at the Reno National Air Races for several years in the unlimited category. With a maximum speed of 460mph the plane could be a gold contender but due to its rarity was never entered in that category. Today F7F’s can be seen at some airshows and are a favorite among st spectators for its unique but powerful design.
Images captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 AF-S, 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film