Grumman F3F
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Grumman F3F

Developed from the FF-1, the XF2F-1 prototype single-seat carrier-borne biplane fighter made its first flight just a few months after deliveries began of the earlier type. In terms of performance it was a great improvement over naval fighters then operational and so the US Navy ordered it into production. The F2F-1 production version was powered by the 484.4kW Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 radial engine, had a neat cockpit canopy which was faired into the rear fuselage and retained the type of retractable landing gear used on the FF-1.

Grumman F3F-3

Soon after all F2F-1 had been delivered, Grumman produced a new prototype, the XF3F-1, which flew for the first time in March 1935. This version was slightly larger and production aircraft entered service in the following year. F3F-1 and later F3F-2 were powered by 484.4kW R-1535-84 and 559kW Wright Cyclone engines respectively, although in general construction they were identical to the F2F-1. Maximum level speed of the F3F-2 was 434.5km/h, a clear 48km/h faster than the F3F-1. Altogether a total of 216 F2F/F3F were produced, remaining operational until the latter part of 1939.

Grumman F3F

 ENGINE1 x Wright R-1820-22, 708kW
    Take-off weight2175 kg4795 lb
    Empty weight1490 kg3285 lb
    Wingspan9.75 m32 ft 0 in
    Length7.06 m23 ft 2 in
    Height2.84 m9 ft 4 in
    Wing area24.15 m2259.95 sq ft
    Max. speed425 km/h264 mph
    Cruise speed241 km/h150 mph
    Ceiling10120 m33200 ft
    Range1577 km980 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 7.62mm machine-guns

Grumman F3F-1A three-view drawing of Grumman F3F-1 (1280 x 956)

MICHAEL J PASCALE, 08.12.2014reply

I am in the process of building this plane out of balsa wood the airplane plans came from Cleveland Models Ohio.The W/S well be 40" This is 1/16 scale.

Doug R, e-mail, 18.07.2012reply

I meant F3F Gulfhawk of course.

Doug R, e-mail, 18.07.2012reply

The best movie to see F3F's in is "Dive Bomber" made in I think 1939 and in color! Starring Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray. The F3F is just as big a star as those actors in the movie. It's neat to see the movie where the F3F's are front line fighters! . I'm not sure if its available on dvd. TV cable shows it once in a while.
Isn't it true that the only surviving F8F is the Al Williams Gulfhawk in the Smithsonian? I think the others around were rebuilt out of wrecks were they used very little of the original airframe.
I have a question, I have never been able to figure out if Navy F3F fuselages were natural varnished aluminum or painted gray. Anyone know?

Mike, 27.06.2011reply

This is a really good plane and the F2F-1 has got a Pratt&Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior radial engine.
I think this fighter was the best Grumman Biplane.

Klaatu, e-mail, 19.06.2011reply

Incidentally, the purpose of the "V" shaped marking on the upper wing, visible in the photo above, was to aid in formation flying. In the period prior to World War II, military pilots expended a great deal of effort on perfecting their skill at maintaining perfect flying formations. Squadrons often lined up in echelon, or in Vees, stepped upward from the leader, lining up using the painted markings on the wings as visual guides. Of course, all of that sort of thing went out the window once they got into actual combat!

Klaatu, e-mail, 19.06.2011reply

There's a motion picture called "Fighter Command", released by MGM in 1940, that featured these aircraft. I believe it's still shown from time to time. It's amazing to think that the Navy still regarded these biplanes as first-line fighters in 1940, but then again, at that same time, the Royal Navy was still operating Sea-Gladiators!

Jackie, 08.08.2010reply

The Grumman F3F was the predecessor of the successful F4F Wildcat. Its design was similar to the Wildcat and it was the last biplane delivered to the US Navy, and served between the wars. Designed as an improvement on the single-seat F2F, it entered service in 1936. It was retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II, and was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo. When it entered combat, the Wildcat would quickly replace the Buffalo as the primary fighter of the Navy and Marines in the first part of WWII, and continue to be produced throughout the conflict.

ROGER, e-mail, 17.08.2010reply

Pictures are great. How bout talking American. This aircraft worked under Horsepower, and cruised at 257 MILES PER HOUR, and traveled 450 MILES in distance. could dive out to 340 MILES PER HOUR and so on. The landing gear was a chain and sprocket affair requiring so 20 plus turns to retracked it.

Gary Fortington, e-mail, 29.09.2008reply

I am trying to locate a photo of Jimmy Collins, test pilot who was contracted by Grumman and killed during the first test flight of the XF3F-1 which took place on March 20, 1935. I understand that Jimmy was also employed by one of my ancestors “Gus” Fortington, an influential figure within Paramount Pictures back in the 1930’s.

I hope that you are able to help me or, perhaps, point me towards someone that might be able to.


Gary Fortington
Queensland, Australia

Frank Hannegan, e-mail, 25.05.2008reply

In 1936 my father was ordered to duty in VF-4, a squadron attached to USS RANGER. This squadron was named "Red Rippers"...the second to have this name in a long and celebrated line. About the time my father arrived the squadron took delivery of the F-3F. Intitial familiarization and trianing was provided by Grumman and a famoous gentleman by the name of Al Williams was the instructor. The first CO during my father's tour of duty was "Gotch" Dillon and shortly he was followed by Wendy Switzer(later a Vice Admiral)

Paul R. Flow, e-mail, 11.05.2008reply

I went through Aviation Machinist's Mate School in Millington(near Memphis) in 1943-44. We had some retired F3F's to practice on. It was there on that plane that I learned how to rig the wings on a bi-plane.
In answer to Vladimir's question, The gear cranked up and down with a crank on the right side of the cockpit-just like the F4F/FM-2.

Rob W, 20.12.2007reply

I believe this aircraft is in the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola Florida

Art B, e-mail, 21.04.2007reply

In which museum in the USA can I see the actual airplane?

Vladimir, e-mail, 26.11.2006reply

I've got a question.What is the mechanisme of the gear?Help me,if it is possible

Do you have any comments?

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