The Bearcat design was the Grumman response to the US Navy’s request in the latter war years for a fast responsive fighter to be deployed in the Pacific Theatre.
The type did not see operational service during the Second World War as the conflict had ended before the type saw combat service. It was however used to great effect in French Indo-China by the French Air Force. The Bearcat could outperform many early Jet fighter aircraft of the period.
The Fighter Collection aircraft was built in 1948 and taken on charge in August of that year by the US Navy. She served at a number of Naval Air Stations before undergoing modification to F8F-2P standard in 1952. Following further Navy service she was finally struck off charge in January 1957.
Our Bearcat passed through two sets of private ownership in the US, the first between 1957 and 1972, and the second until 1981. It was under this second private ownership that she underwent a full overhaul and flew once again in 1975. It was in 1981 that the Bearcat joined what was to become The Fighter Collection and has gone on to be the longest serving member of the fleet.