Model Airplane News|
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1936
by Jo Kotula
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Grumman fighter development started with the two-seat Grumman FF biplane. The FF was the first US naval fighter with landing gear which retracted, but left the tires visibly exposed but flush on either forward fuselage side. The F2F and F3F were single-seat biplane fighters which established the general outlines and landing gear configuration of what would become the Wildcat. The next biplane design which entered in a US Navy competition was beaten by the monoplane Brewster F2A-1 design.Grumman's defeat resulted in its complete remodeling into the monoplane XF4F-2. The Wildcat would retain the fuselage-mounted, hand-cranked landing gear with its relatively narrow track. In service, this would lead to distressingly common landing accidents when the landing gear did not fully lock into place. This unusual main landing gear design was originally designed by Leroy Grumman for Grover Loening in the 1920s and used earlier on all of Grumman's fighter biplanes (from the FF-1 through the F3F) of the 1930s and on the J2F Duck amphibious flying boat.
Even this new monoplane fell short against the Buffalo. The XF4F-2 was marginally faster, but the the Buffalo was otherwise judged superior and was chosen for production.
Photos of the Grumman XF4F
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