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A Brief History of the Grumman F3F-2

The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy, serving between World Wars I and II. It first entered service in 1936 and was retired from the front line in late 1941, before it could ever serve in WWII, evolving instead into the far superior F4F Wildcat.

The F3F-2 series was produced and delivered in its entirety between 1937 and 38; when deliveries ended, all Navy and Marine Corps pursuit squadrons included Grumman single-seat fighters. Further aerodynamic developments culminated in the XF3F-3, notable primarily for its larger-diameter propeller.

With the appearance of the monoplane Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were coming to a close. By the end of 1941, all F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service, though some continued to be used at naval bases for training and utility purposes for another couple years. Others served as trainers for the U.S. Army Air Force.

An F3F-2 ditched off the coast of San Diego in August of 1940 during an attempted landing was rediscovered almost fifty years later by a navy submarine, recovered, and restored by the San Diego Aerospace Museum, where it is currently on display.

Four other surviving aircraft are still flying: three F3F-2s and one Gulf Oil G-32A, all restored by Herb Tischler's Fort Worth Texas Airplane Factory. The restorations took four years and were based on original blueprints and new tooling built at the Texas Airplane Factory.

Specifications

Role

Fighter aircraft

Manufacturer

Grumman

Designer

Leroy Grumman

First flight

March 20, 1935

Propulsion

Single-engine

1 Wright R-1820-22 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder radial engine, 950 hp (710 kW)

Performance

Max speed

264 m/h

Max cruising speed

150 m/h

Initial rate of climb

2,800 ft/m

Service ceiling

33,200 ft

Max range (no reserves)

850 nm

Weight (empty)

3,285 lbs

Max takeoff

4,795 lbs

Dimensions

Wing span

32' 0"

Length

23' 2"

Height

9' 4"

Wing area

260 sq ft

Seating Capacity

1

Armament

Guns

 

  • 1 0.30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 machine gun, 500 rounds (left)

  • 1 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun, 200 rounds (right)

Bombs

 

  •  2 116 lb (52.6 kg) Mk IV bombs, one under each wing
   

See a real Grumman F-3F at Museums...

Polk City, Florida

Garden City, New York

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Grumman F3F - USAF.COM