COURTESY: GRUMMAN F9F-2 PANTHER PROJECT N91867 (DE-REGISTERED) US NAVY BUREAU OF AERONAUTICS NUMBER: 127147 ARMADA ARGENTINA SERIAL NUMBER: 0455
One of the United States Navy's first successful carrier-based jet fighters, as well as Grumman’s first jet fighter!
The Panther it was transferred to VF-837 (Grand Slammers) after the unit had deployed to the west coast starting 1 April 1951. The Panther was accepted at Bethpage on 14 May 1951 and flown to NAS Alameda on 8 June 1951. In a matter of days, the aircraft was transferred to VF-837.
The Panther was assigned to Lt. Donald Van Gordon (later LCDR), a World War II carrier pilot, who was in the post-war reserves. At the time of his return to active duty, Van Gordon had over 525 hours in SBDs, over 240 hours in F6Fs, and over 340 hours in F4Us (more than 16,000 hours of flying time in all). His aircraft was given the code letters H/403—as Squadron Operations Officer, it would have been customary to receive a low number. Van Gordon flew the Panther for the first time on 28 June 1951.
VF-837 and another all jet squadron, VF-831 (coded with H/300s), were to be part of Carrier Air Group 15 (CAG-15) aboard the USS Antietam (CV-36). Assuming that VF-837 trained with VF-831 on the west coast, the Panther would have flown Field Carrier Landing Practice at Naval Auxiliary Field Crows Landing in the early part of July followed by live firing exercises at Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) El Centro in the latter part of the month. Van Gordon flew 127147 four times in July (the most of any month while he had the aircraft), although a fuel contamination issue sidelined the Panthers during the final week of practice at El Centro.
Next, it was back north to Alameda for more carrier landing practice before all Panthers were loaded on the Antietam on 18 August 1951 for a practice cruise to San Diego. The Antietam returned to the Bay Area (Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard) were some of the Panthers were repaired and/or replaced due to deck landing accidents during the cruise south. On 8 September 1951, the Antietam with CAG-15 sailed for Pearl Harbor on the first leg of the deployment to Korea.
The stay at Pearl lasted from 12 to 26 September 1951 after which the Antietam reached Yokosuka, Japan on 4 October. The Panther’s combat history began when the Antietam left Japan on 11 October 1951 and joined Carrier Task Force 77 (CTF 77) off the east coast of Korea on 15 October. VF-837 included 16 Panthers and 22 pilots and was commanded by LCDR R.H. Kenton.
The mission of CAG-15 (comprised of Panthers, Corsairs, and Skyraiders) was to perform:
interdiction flights – “strikes, armed reconnaissance flights, and heckler flights directed primarily against North Korean supply routes including railroad track and equipment, bridges, highways, and lower case supply areas;”
close air support missions; and
combat air patrol and anti-submarine patrol.
Van Gordon’s first combat flight in the Panther was on an armed reconnaissance mission on 25 October 1951. He records that he got “three boxcars” during the mission.
This first combat period of the deployment lasted until 16 November 1951 when the Antietam returned to Yokosuka. The major problem experienced with the Panthers during this period was 20-mm stoppages caused by failures in the hydraulic charging system. A typical ordnance load was six 5-in High-velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR) and two 100 lb bombs.
The Antietam returned to sea on 26 November 1951 for the second combat period lasting until 31 December when she arrived back at Yokosuka. The Panther sustained damage to the port horizontal stabilizer due to small arms fire on 18 December 1951 when “[R]ails were cut, buildings destroyed, boxcars damaged, troops killed, two trucks destroyed by the two jet squadrons.” The CAG-15 report noted that the group encountered more anti-aircraft and small arms fire due to an increase in North Korean weapons deployed in the attack areas during this period.
The ordnance load ch
*All aircraft loans are subject to credit approval. Monthly payments
illustrated above are based on terms available to the highest qualified
candidates, and are subject to additional documentation fees, terms and
conditions. Currency Capital, LLC is an independent finance company and
is not the manufacturer or supplier of any equipment. Currency Capital,
LLC utilizes its broad network of aircraft lenders to offer the most
competitive rates and terms available, for both businesses and consumers.
Commercial Financing may be provided by Currency Capital, LLC and loans
made or arranged pursuant to California Finance Lenders Law license number