The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation made some amazing planes in their Cat Series during World War II. But the Cat Series jets that came after WWII, were the real game changers when they hit the scene. The Grumman F9F Panther one of the early American jets that defined a new age of aerial combat.
Designed as a carrier-based aircraft the Grumman F9F Panther made its debut in 1947 and would get the chance to show off its stuff in the Korean War. In 1950 a Panther won a dogfight against a MiG-15 making it the first Navy jet to take down a hostile jet. A young pilot by the name of Neil Armstrong made history when he successfully flew his F9F Panther back to base after one of its wings was torn off.
“It was a very sleek looking craft with elevators sitting high on a tail that jutted out past the tailpipe of the J-42 Nene. Air was scooped to the engine through triangular openings at the wing roots. It could reach 20,000 ft. (6,096 m) in just over two and a half minutes and zip along at 573 mph (922.16 kph) at that altitude. Top speed was just under 600 mph (965.61 kph) at sea level.”
The Panther transitioned from a straight-wing fighter and later adopted a 35-degree swept-wing design for improved performance. The slow speeds added to its performance as a close air support fighter during the Korean War. After its time in combat, the Panther became the first jet operated by the Blue Angels for their aerobatic performances.