The modification of F9F-8 to fit the F9F-8P formatEdit
The modification made to eliminate the guns and related equipment and incorporate the photographic equipment and automatic pilot, plus their controls and instruments has resulted in the following changes:
- Rearrangement of electronics equipment installed in the area enclosed by the fuselage nose section, lengthening of this section by 12 inches, and shortening of the sliding nose section.
- Rearrangement of the left and right consoles and the main instrument panel to provide space for the controls associated with the additional equipment.
- Some minor changes of the fuselage structure and equipment installations to provide for the necessary ducting control for hot air from the engine compressor, which is used for defrosting the camera windows and heating the camera compartment.
- Removal of all armament and the Armament Control System, removal of AN/APG-30 system and installation of an additional armor plate bulkhead.
Despite missing combat action in the Korean war, the Navy put the F9F Cougar to good technical use by setting the transcontinental crossing record on April 1, 1954. Three pilots from fleet squadron VF-21 completed the 2,438-mile flight in under four hours with LCdr. F.X. Brady setting the quickest time of 3 hours 45 minutes and 30 seconds. This was the first time the distance had been covered in under four hours. The three F9F-6 aircraft refueled over Kansas from a North American AJ Savage, using an experimental refueling probe mounted on the nose.
The Cougar was the first jet to break the sound barrier over Argentina.
Usage in the USA began with the USN and then later with the USN's Blue Angels display team. The first F9F-6s were assigned to fleet squadron VF-32 at the end of 1952. The First F9F Cougar squadron to actually deploy was VF-24, assigned to the USS Yorktown in August 1953 but arrived too late to the Korean theater to participate in the air war.
The only version of the Cougar to see combat was the TF-9J trainer (until 1962, F9F-8T). Detachments of four Cougars served with US Marines Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 11 (H&MS-11) at Da Nang and H&MS-13 at Chu Lai, where they were used for fast-Forward Air Control and the airborne command role, directing airstrikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam between 1966 and 1968.
F9F-8s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1958–59, replaced by F11F Tigers and F8U Crusaders. The Naval Reserves used them until the mid-1960s, but none of the single-seat versions were used in the Vietnam War.
The TF-9J had a long service with the U.S. Navy, but the proposed Cougar modification (reengined with a J52 engine) was rejected, and the Navy selected the TA-4F Skyhawk. The last Cougar was phased out when VT-4 re-equipped on February 1974. A F9F-8T, BuNo 14276, is displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola.
The only foreign air arm to use the F9F Cougar was the Argentine Naval Aviation, who also used the F9F Panther as well. Two F9F-8T trainers were acquired in 1962, and served until 1971. The Cougar was the first jet to break the sound barrier in Argentina. One aircraft (serial 3-A-151) is on display at the Naval Aviation Museum (MUAN) at Bahía Blanca, while the other was sold to an owner in United States.
The Argentine navy were greatfull for the significant upgrade to their air force these plains provided.