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#2369685 - 11/03/07 12:16 PM OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War?  
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briny_norman Offline
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Read a small article on the F8F Bearcat today and got interested.
Seems like a pretty amazing plane.
I haven't been able to find out much about the operational history of the plane, though.
It arrived too late to see active combat service in WW2, but according to the numbers I've seen it was still very much operational during the Korean War.
But I haven't been able to find anything about it's performance and history in that war.
Can anyone enlighten me on this subject?
Did the plane ever see active combat service?

Last edited by briny_norman; 11/03/07 12:16 PM.
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#2369689 - 11/03/07 12:36 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: briny_norman]  
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 Quote:
Did the plane ever see active combat service?


Can't say for Korea, but it was very active with french squadrons in Indochina, especially at Dien Bien Phu (1954). No air to air there, only straffing and bombing, through very thick AAA.

pic here

#2369696 - 11/03/07 01:03 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: rollnloop.]  
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I haven't read anything about the Bearcat, but I would guess it WAS still in use in Korea. After all, the Corsair and Mustang still were, so it seems logical a later design was too, at least during the first stages of the conflict, before jets took over.

Cheers

Nico


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#2369698 - 11/03/07 01:07 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: rollnloop.]  
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Did a bit of research on the Cat when I hacked it. It was specifically designed to gain altitude quickly and bring down the Kamikaze. I've read that it was not until the F-16, that anything could beat it from a standing stop to altitude. Alas, no record of combat while in US service, including Korea; as it was replaced by the F9F Panther. Doesn't hurt to dream though ;\)



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#2369700 - 11/03/07 01:13 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: rollnloop.]  
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My Dad was the Exec of VF-193 back in 1947-48ish time frame, and they had F8Fs for a while, then went to AD's (or vise versa, can't remember which). He told me that, at that time the Navy was sending mechanics and crew chiefs with experience on the Bearcats to France to train French Navy crews on the planes that we were giving them back then. He went on to command VF-52, flying F9F Panthers during the Korean War, and told me that the only Bearcats to fly in combat were the French ones in Indochina (Viet Nam), and only in a ground attack role. In Korea, the F4U-4 and later, the AU, a Corsair optimized for the air to ground mission, and Douglas AD's were the only carrier based prop planes in extensive use by the US Navy. There were F7F Tigercats being used as night fighters from land bases, and a modified version of the TBM was being used as the first COD's (Carrier Onboard Delivery).

The Bearcat was concieved as a fleet defense fighter, designed to counter the Kamakazi threat they expected to see during the invasion of the Japanese homeland. The FG-2, a Corsair with the R-4360 up front was also designed for the same purpose. They were supposed to be able to get up to altitude, and out to the threat in record time, compared to the Hellcat and -4 Corsairs of that time period - 1945. The FG-2 was actually superior to the Bearcat in almost all respects, except for the small detail of the engine having a propensity to heat up and catch fire with disturbing regularity, hence the rarity of that bird compared to the F8F.


People in aviation who think they know it all, are particularly annoying to those of us who really do

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#2369757 - 11/03/07 03:34 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: VT-51_Razor]  
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Like rollnloop said it was used extensively by the French in Indochina, but I can't find anything about it being used in Algeria. A lot of ex-French ex-American hardware found its way into the African bush wars in the hands of mercs (in some cases with official sanction), so some Bearcats may have ended up there as well.

The Thai and South Vietnamese air forces used it too in the counterinsurgency role.


"I prefer to fly alone ... when alone, I perform those little coups of audacity which amuse me" - Ren Fonck
#2369859 - 11/03/07 06:24 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: Rudi Jaeger]  
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 Originally Posted By: Rudi Jaeger
I've read that it was not until the F-16, that anything could beat it from a standing stop to altitude.


"Operation Pogo Stick"- At the Cleveland Air Races in November '46, USN TacTest pilot Lt. Cdr. Merle Davenport took an F8F from brakes off to 10,000 ft. in 94 seconds, besting a time set earlier the same day by Cdr. Bill Leonard. The plane was a production F8F but carried no ammo and 50% fuel for the climb test. Here's a photo of the TacTest staff that Rich Leonard posted at another site. I'm not sure if this is at Cleveland. Behind them are a Bearcat and I think a Ryan Fireball.



Two USN squadrons were trained and preparing to ship out from Pearl Harbor when the war ended.

The French had F6F's as well as F8F's in Indochina.



-------------
Think the F6F is too slow? It is.
#2369926 - 11/03/07 08:40 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: R0NNC0]  
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By the time the Korean war opened, the first generation of jet fighters had taken over the role of fleet defense and interception and the Bearcat had been relegated to reserve units. As good as the Bearcat was, the jets were better at this task. The Corsair remained on active duty in the night fighter role(F4U-5N and -5NL) and in ground support (F4U-4, -4B, -5, and AU-1). The Corsair was ultimately replaced by the AD Skyraider series.


When you know as much as I do, you become a danger to yourself. - Stans, 2006
#2369942 - 11/03/07 09:04 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: R0NNC0]  
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 Originally Posted By: R0NNC0


The French had F6F's as well as F8F's in Indochina.



Uuhhh, and look what hot skirt Frenchie wears on display... \:D

#2369946 - 11/03/07 09:09 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: stans]  
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briny_norman Offline
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Lot's of great info here, thanks!
Seems the Bearcat was one of those planes that fell into a hole between wars.
Anybody know if it was ever tested against other fighters (I'm sure it was in some way or another), perhaps even against captured Japanese fighters or just other period US fighters? Would be interesting to know how it seemed to perform in such tests...
I know the British (and US I'm sure) performed many such tests in Europe with captured German material.

#2369950 - 11/03/07 09:11 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: muffinstomp]  
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in the Cockpit of whatever I a...
The Bearcat was NOT designed to counter the Kamikaze threat.
In fact, it was designed to counter a FW-190 threat, after Bob Hall from Grumman had opportunity to review a captured Focke Wulf.
The idea was simply to create the most powerful fighter with the highest maneuverability in the smallest airframe possible.
Out of this came the light, powerful fighter that climbed like mad.
I once read that shortly after the war, back in the States, there developed an argument in a bar between Bearcat and Lightning pilots about which fighter was the better one.
It was agreed that to settle that issue, a mock fight should be carried out, starting with idle power on a runway.
Both fighters started their take off run simultaneously and the Bearcat was airborne, had its wheels retracted and had made an overhead run on the Lightning before the Lockheed fighter had even taken off.

Ah I loved the Bearcat in CFS2 and even before in AOTP \:\)


Experience of battle divides those who talk about nothing but the anticipation from those who talk about everything but the memory of it.
#2370018 - 11/03/07 11:17 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: BlackLion]  
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Its a pretty awesome aircraft in RL too... \:\)

#2370206 - 11/04/07 06:56 AM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: VT-51_Razor]  
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 Originally Posted By: VT-51_Razor
The FG-2 was actually superior to the Bearcat in almost all respects, except for the small detail of the engine having a propensity to heat up and catch fire with disturbing regularity, hence the rarity of that bird compared to the F8F.
LOL...


Dozer
#2370211 - 11/04/07 07:28 AM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: Dozer]  
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Hellcat Gospel Pulpit
Only 10 F2G's being built didn't help it much either.


-------------
Think the F6F is too slow? It is.
#2370232 - 11/04/07 10:33 AM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: R0NNC0]  
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moving around europe...
considering the F8F as unbeaten in climb until the F-16 is a bit too much guys ;\)

his climb record held for ten years (which was already a lot, for a piston engine fighter). In the 50's there were several fighters that outclimbed it by a really big margin, and it's just an example

#2370256 - 11/04/07 12:19 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: BlackLion]  
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 Originally Posted By: BlackLion
The Bearcat was NOT designed to counter the Kamikaze threat.
In fact, it was designed to counter a FW-190 threat, after Bob Hall from Grumman had opportunity to review a captured Focke Wulf.
The idea was simply to create the most powerful fighter with the highest maneuverability in the smallest airframe possible.

BL, why would a navy a/c be used to counter the 190?


There was only 16 squadrons of RAF fighters that used 100 octane during the BoB.
The Fw190A could not fly with the outer cannon removed.
There was no Fw190A-8s flying with the JGs in 1945.
#2370324 - 11/04/07 02:25 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: KraziKanuK]  
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KK, the Bearcat was not designed to counter the 190 specifically, but Bob Hall was so impressed by the FW-190 when he had the chance to examine a captured example that he decided to base the specs of the new Grumman fighter (the then to be designed and built F8F) on the 190 and wanted the new Grumman fighter to surpass the 190 in every respect.
remember, this was at a time when the 190 was considered to be the best fighter in the world (fall of 1942 IIRC) and the USN was still using the F4F....


Experience of battle divides those who talk about nothing but the anticipation from those who talk about everything but the memory of it.
#2370548 - 11/04/07 07:49 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: BlackLion]  
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This is what Wikipedia says about the Focke Wulf and the kamikazes:

The Bearcat's design was influenced by an evaluation in early 1943 by Grumman test pilots and engineering staff of a captured Fw 190 fighter in England. After flying the Fw 190, Grumman test pilot Bob Hall wrote a report he directed to President Leroy Grumman who personally laid out the specifications for Design 58, the successor to the Hellcat, closely emulating the design philosophy that had spawned the German fighter. The F8F Bearcat would emanate from Design 58 with the primary missions of outperforming highly maneuverable late-model Japanese fighter aircraft such as the A6M-5 Zero, and defending the fleet against incoming airborne suicide (kamikaze) attacks.

It led to some problems, however:

Unfortunately the target weight was essentially impossible to achieve as the aircraft had to be made stronger for aircraft carrier landings, unlike the Focke-Wulf fighter. As a weight saving concept the designers came up with detachable wings - if the g-force exceeded 7.5g then the tips would snap off, leaving a perfectly flyable aircraft still capable of carrier landing. Unfortunately while this worked very well under carefully controlled conditions in flight and on the ground, in the field, where aircraft were repetitively stressed by landing on carriers and since the wings were slightly less carefully made in the factories, wings tended to break off while the vehicle bombed targets, and the aircraft would then crash. This was replaced with an explosives system to blow the wings off together, which also worked well, however this ended when a ground technician died due to accidental triggering. In the end the wings were reinforced and the aircraft limited to 4.5g. However crashes still continued, as this limit would sometimes be exceeded, and the wing would tend to break off at the root.



"I prefer to fly alone ... when alone, I perform those little coups of audacity which amuse me" - Ren Fonck
#2370568 - 11/04/07 08:25 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: Guderian]  
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Indochina was the Bearcat's only real war:

As a result of the Korean War US authorities decided to supply France with B-26 Invaders as an interim measure. The French would also be given priority access to all materiel not immediately required by frontline UN units. Ex-USAF C-47 transports soon replaced the inadequate Toucan [French-built Ju 52] in the transport role. The Aronavale received additional Hellcats in lieu of Corsairs, while the Arme de l'Air got the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat, a type relegated to Navy Reserve and National Guard units in the US.

The Bearcat's short legs were a problem, even if it fought to the last:

The single-engined types lacked the range and endurance that were increasingly necessary now that Viet Minh were concentrated in Laos and along the Chinese border. The mainstay of the fighter-bomber force, the F8F, had, after all, been designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor of kamikazes ... When the French mounted their last and greatest exercise in counterinsurgency warfare in Indochina, the battle of Dien Bien Phu, it was a disaster. The plan called for a modest garrison of lite paras and Legionaires to parachute into a remote valley deep in enemy territory. Aerial resupply and firepower would turn this seemingly exposed and isolated position into an impregnable fortress. Viet Minh troops would rush out into the open plain, intent on swallowing up the deceptively vulnerable French position, and air strikes would annihilate them, winning the war more or less at a single stroke.

Unfortunately for the paras, French and American planners had seriously overestimated their ability to resupply and support the force deployed from the air. C-47s and C-119s could not mount enough sorties or carry enough food and ammunition in the face of bad weather and heavy enemy fire. At first, only B-26s and PB4Y-2 Privateers could provide any useful coverage of Dien Bien Phu. Bearcats could manage only a single strafing run over the target areas and, even then, had to carry so much extra fuel for the round trip that they could carry no bombs or rockets. By building an airstrip inside the perimeter at Dien Bien Phu, the French were able to base a half-dozen Bearcats there. ... Heavy shelling quickly made the airstrip unusable, drastically reducing the flow of supplies into the base. The Bearcats could no longer operate from the valley, sharply reducing the volume and timeliness of air support. Giap's heavy automatic weapons - 12.7-mm machine guns and 37-mm antiaircraft guns emplaced on the heights above the valley - took a heavy toll of the strike aircraft and transports. Much of available strike capacity had to be dedicated to flak suppression, just so the C-119s could drop desperately needed ammunition and plasma into a rapidly shrinking French perimeter. When Dien Bien Phu finally collapsed, the French war effort in Southeast Asia collapsed with it, and colonial rule came to an end.


The source is an excellent article called COIN: French Counter-Insurgency Aircraft, 1946-1965 from Chandelle magazine. It has colour profiles too!

The French were probably the world's premier CAS and COIN air force in the decades following WWII. The reason was not that they didn't love fast jets, but that constant colonial wars and limited resources kept them firmly grounded in reality.

In Indochina their preference was for WWII American propeller aircraft, which were big and rugged and held up well in the tropical climate. By the time of Algeria they couldn't get spares for most of them anymore, so after a failed experiment with license-built Vampire jets they reverted to props again. This time it was B-26s, T-6s, T-28s, Skyraiders (which fought on in Africa until the late 70s), and various converted trainers. In Algeria they were also the first to use helicopter gunships.


"I prefer to fly alone ... when alone, I perform those little coups of audacity which amuse me" - Ren Fonck
#2370655 - 11/04/07 10:44 PM Re: OT: F8F Bearcat in the Korean War? [Re: Guderian]  
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 Originally Posted By: Guderian

In the end the wings were reinforced and the aircraft limited to 4.5g. However crashes still continued, as this limit would sometimes be exceeded, and the wing would tend to break off at the root.


The Wiki article has been improved, but still has errors. Corky Meyer, test pilot on the F8F:

 Quote:
A steelstrap fix was installed to give the Bearcat sufficient strength for carrier landings and 7.5G in the air, but the Bearcat was soon supplanted in operational squadrons by the much faster Grumman Panther and McDonnell Banshee jet fighters.


-------------
Think the F6F is too slow? It is.
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