Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

A Tigercat Roars Again

By Stephan Wilkinson 
Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: September 06, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

James Slattery's Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat made its debut at the EAA AirVenture this summer. [Image: Jim Koepnick]
James Slattery's Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat made its debut at the EAA AirVenture this summer. [Image: Jim Koepnick]

The only reason to restore a Grumman F7F Tigercat is because it's so beautiful. The airplane was rejected as a carrier-borne fighter, the role for which it was designed. Too fast and large for anything but the Navy's Midway-class fleet carriers, it blew two carrier-qualification tests, one because of a bad tailhook design and dodgy single-engine handing, the next because a wing failed during a hard landing. Its entire combat career was brief and inconsequential; the only opponents that ever fell to a Tigercat's four .50s and four 20mm cannons—its nosecone was a broadside in a box—were two ancient Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes during the Korean War. The airplane stayed in service for barely 10 years, and not a single foreign air force ever used it. Even Grumman knew the Tigercat was a mistake, and it quickly engineered the F8F Bearcat to do what the Tigercat couldn't.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Aviation History magazine

Never mind. It's perhaps the most beautiful twin-piston-engine airplane ever built, every bit the equal of Geoffrey de Havilland's Comet, and for those who love the sound of one Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the trumpeting of two is twice as tingly.

Which, we have to assume, is why James Slattery has had WestPac Restorations renovate a good-as-new F7F-3N. He also owns a second Tigercat that will be restored by Steve Hinton's company, Fighter Rebuilders, and the two double-breasted felines will join a collection that already includes 44 historic aircraft. Slattery plans to soon open the Greatest Generation Naval Museum, in San Diego, to exhibit them.

His WestPac Tigercat is said to be the most unmolested of the dozen or so complete F7Fs that still exist—four on static display, the balance either airworthy or under restoration to flight status. Never flown in civil use, it was acquired in a trade directly from the Marine Corps Museum back when that was still possible. (The Navy has since then claimed ownership of everything it or the Marine Corps ever flew, including yet-undiscovered wrecks.) When WestPac started Bu. No. 80375's engines late last April, it was the first time they'd been run in 60 years, back in the days when the airplane had been in service with the Marines as a two-seat night fighter with a RIO behind the pilot in a separate sliding-canopy cockpit.


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy