The “Bad Kitty” Back­story

Model Airplane News - - FLIGHT TEST -

The Grum­man Air­craft En­gi­neer­ing Cor­po­ra­tion saw the jet age com­ing and started pro­duc­ing the F9F Pan­ther jet in 1947. But with the Tiger­cat, Grum­man was not ready to give up on pis­ton-driven in­no­va­tion. The com­pany gave the United States Navy not just its first twinengine fighter but also a fighter that could launch and land from Mid­way car­ri­ers. Grum­man de­liv­ered a plane pow­ered by a 2800 HP

Pratt & Whit­ney en­gine, and at the time, it out­per­formed all ex­ist­ing fight­ers. The Tiger­cat was big, but it com­pacted neatly with re­tractable wings, wheels, and nose land­ing gear. It could take off quickly with 3,000 pounds of weaponry, four 20mm can­nons, and four .50-cal­iber ma­chine guns, and it could reach speeds of 450mph.

“Bad Kitty” flew for only 46 hours and then went to the in­fa­mous Litch­field “grave­yard” in Ari­zona, where most of the Tiger­cats sat wait­ing for the scrap­per. Sis Q Fly­ing Ser­vice pur­chased “Bad Kitty” and a few other ’Cats rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sively and then fit them with belly tanks that held fire re­tar­dant. After win­ning the 1962 U.S. For­est Ser­vice com­pe­ti­tion, Sis Q sent the planes to Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia. “Bad Kitty” saw more than 1,300 hours as a fire­fighter.

“Bad Kitty” is to­day one of the rarest war­birds on record, as fewer than 20 Tiger­cats were sal­vaged from Litch­field and, to date, only six are in fly­ing con­di­tion. The His­toric Flight Foun­da­tion ac­quired “Bad Kitty” in 2003 and gave the plane what it de­served: a full restora­tion.

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