Able to trace its roots back to 1938 it would not be until 1943 that the aircraft would fly as the F7F Tigercat. Intended to serve with the United States Marine Corps during World War 2, the
Grumman F7F Tigercat would not see action with the USMC until the Korean War.
The roots of the F7F Tigercat go back to 1938 when on the 30th June the United States Navy issued a prototype contract for a carrier fighter powered by two engines, leading to Grumman's XF5F-1
Submission, which was based on another Grumman aircraft the G-34 Skyrocket, however it failed to win a production contract. Nevertheless all the work and experienced gained wasn't wasted
and a brand new design, known as the G-51 Tigercat, lead to a contract issued on the 30th June 1941 for two prototype XF7F-1s.
Featuring a folding outer panel on the wing the first of the two prototypes took to the skies for the first time, over two years after the initial order, on the 2nd November 1943. Power
for this new aircraft was supplied by a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22W Double Wasp engines and also featured a tricycle landing gear and retractable deck arrester hook. Armament
consisted of four 0.50-in machine-guns in the nose and four 20-mm cannons in the wings and a bomb load of two 1,000lb bombs and a torpedo.
With the United States Marine Corps involved in operations to re-take Japanese held islands in the Pacific theatre of war an order for 500 F7F-1 Tigercats was placed before the prototype
had flown, however the Tigercat would never see service with the USMC during the Second World War.
Delivery of the aircraft began five months after the prototype flight during April 1944, and carrier trials were performed aboard the USS Shangri-La seven months later during November 1944,
with production underway the 35th production Tigercat was re-designated to XF7F-2N and would be used as a prototype for a night fighter version. This required the plane to be modified
with the removal of the aft fuselage fuel tank and the four 0.50-in machine-guns in the nose so a radar operator could be housed. The production Grumman F7F Tigercat night fighters were
designated F7F-2N and by March 1945 64 had been built.
The next version, the F7F-3, reverted back to being a single-seat plane and featured a fuel increase of 7% and a new engine, the R-2800-34, and the 189 of these built would be the last
produced before the end of World War 2 with the rest being cancelled after victory.
The Grumman Tigercat saw a brief renaissance post-war with another 73 aircraft being produced, 13 of which were F7F-4N night fighters with the rest being another batch of F7F-3Ns
and the United States Marine Corps would have three night fighter squadrons during the Korean War before being phased out by newer aircraft and a total of 364 were built.