Grumman FF, SF


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Grumman FF, SF

In 1928 the US Navy aircraft carrier Langley participated in an exercise in which it made a surprise attack on the naval base of Pearl Harbor. The irony of this exercise aside, it proved two things: firstly that the US Navy appreciated that the base would be a prime target for any enemy during a major Pacific war; secondly that the aircraft carrier was one of the major offensive weapons of the future. As a result of this thinking USS Lexington and Saratoga were completed in 1927 and subsequently commissioned to bring the Navy's carrier force to three.

In 1931 the XFF-1 prototype two-seat carrier-based biplane fighter flew for the first time. It was of advanced design with enclosed cockpits (the canopy made up of telescoping sections) and a landing gear that retracted into well-type recesses in the forward fuselage sides (almost identical with that used previously on the Dayton-Wright racing monoplane of 1920). During 1933 production FF-1s were delivered, each powered by a single 559kW Wright R-1820-78 radial engine, followed in 1934 by similar but R-1820-84-powered SF-1 scouts. FF-1s and SF-1s totalled 60 aircraft, sufficient to equip the Lexington. These remained on board until 1936, when they were replaced by F2Fs. Thereafter the fighters were converted into FF-2 dual-control trainers.

In addition to US Navy aircraft, Turkey received 40 FF-1s and the RGAF 15 as Goblin 1s, all built by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company under licence. The Turkish fighters had by far the most interesting service life, being passed over to the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, with whom they fought for a time with other obsolete aircraft against well-equipped Nationalist forces. These were the only American-designed aircraft to fight in Spain. Another irony, only matched by that mentioned above, is that a single FF-1 was sold to Japan, a country that learned quickly the lessons in carrier operations taught throughout the inter-war period by unsuspecting nations.

Grumman FF, SF

 ENGINE1 x Wright R-1820-78, 552kW
  Take-off weight2190 kg4828 lb
  Empty weight1474 kg3250 lb
  Wingspan10.52 m35 ft 6 in
  Length7.47 m25 ft 6 in
  Height3.38 m11 ft 1 in
  Wing area28.80 m2310.00 sq ft
  Max. speed333 km/h207 mph
  Ceiling6400 m21000 ft
  Range1428 km887 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 7.62mm machine-guns

Grumman FF, SF

Martin Lagos, e-mail, 27.05.2011 23:17

Several of these planes served within the Argentine Navy Air Arm in the 40's and 50's for land-based observation purposes, as this navy did not acquire carriers until the 60's. In the September 1955 upsrising against the Perón regime, the already obsolete Grummans straffed army columns attacking the Navy's principal naval base in Puerto Belgrano. Two of them were downed, with the three-men crew of one of them loosing their lives.


Klaatu, e-mail, 26.05.2011 17:25

The concept of the single-engined, two-seat fighter resulted from the success of the Bristol Fighter during World War I. Although many Air Services experimented with the idea intermittently throughout the 20s and 30s, it was completely discredited by the time World War II began. Grumman's first fighter, the FF-1, was a typical example of the type, and was designed to satisfy a US Navy requirement. The fact that the Navy quickly became disenchanted with the concept was reflected in the change in designation from FF-1 to SF-1, denoting the change in operational role from Fighter to Scout.


Tony Moors, e-mail, 05.05.2011 21:20

If you want to see the only known restored FF-1 in existance visit the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Fl. Amost excellent display of aircraft or email me fora picture of the plane and the description plaque. Also there is a movie from '34 with a squadron of ff-1's called 'Fighter Command'. I saw it on TCM in '10. No copies available yet.


AM3 Francisco I. Hinojosa, e-mail, 24.10.2007 15:50

How much was this Aircraft valued at or sold to the U.S. Navy in 1932?


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