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Grumman’s Revolutionary Fifi

20 September 2019

The Grumman FF-1 in the National Naval Aviation Museum—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The “Fifi”, as the Grumman FF-1 was nicknamed, was the first U.S. Navy aircraft with retractable landing gear, a modern stressed skin fuselage and fully enclosed cockpit. Leroy Grumman designed the novel manually retracting main landing gear and its design was so successful it was used in the later F3F, F4F as well as JF and J2F aircraft. The FF was fast for the day at a tad over 200 mph though its rate of climb was less than stellar at near 1600 feet per minute (sea level). The crew of two were armed with a pair of 0.30 caliber fuselage mounted machine gun and another on a flexible mount for the rear  observer/gunner. Power was supplied by a Wright R-1820-78 Cyclone radial engine rated at 700 hp.

The National Naval Aviation Museum has this FF-1 page and this FF-1 virtual cockpit page.

The Grumman FF-1 has manually retracting landing gear which folds into the fuselage making for a somewhat narrow track—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The FF-1 has stressed skin constructed fuselage though the wings were of conventional build—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

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