Sharpening its Claws

The Panther in the Korean War

Warren E Thompson tells how the F9F Panther scored history-making aerial victories in the Korean War


Grumman F9F Panther

Panther BuNo.125912 was one of a flight of four VF-51 F9F-2s returning from a bombing mission to their carrier USS ‘Essex’, in September 1951.

A fast jet capable of defending itself and delivering heavy ordnance was an urgent requirement for America after World War Two. Intelligence sources had little idea what the Soviet Union was creating in terms of fighter aircraft design, so the US had to make as much progress as possible without knowing the MiG- 15 was well into its development. The ‘Fagot’, as it was named by NATO, first flew on December 30, 1947 and it equipped a great many Soviet and Warsaw Pact/Communist units from 1949. The swept-wing MiG-15 would constantly be a problem for the straight-mainplane F9F fighters, which the USN and USMC had to use for the duration of the Korean War.

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