While wandering around Pima Museum's yard last month, I happened upon this graceful creature.
A Grumman F7F Tigercat. I almost missed it due to that seriously thin profile. Despite having two of Pratt and Whitney's huge R2800 Double Wasp engines (seen also in the F6F Hellcat, P-47 and the F8F Bearcat to come), that plane is thinner than an Ethiopian anorexic.
Designed during World War Two as a twin-engined carrier-borne fighter, it was a great flyer but it was too big and too fast for the carriers of the day and came along too late to make it into the war. But it was still around for Korea, and it came in handy as a land-based Marine Corps night fighter. Retired after that war, a few went into civilian service as fire-bombers. (Again with the cool planes to the Forest Service?)
Earlier versions had eight .50 caliber machine guns in the wing root and fuselage, but eventually those were dropped in favor of four 20mm cannon by the time that this F7F-3 came out.
"Nuthin' but tail." With a top speed of over 460 mph, that's all most pilots of other aircraft ever saw of her.
Yeah, I need one of these in my hangar...and I need a hangar, too. Guess I'm buying a lottery ticket tonight.