Dick Sarpolus' Grumman F9F Panther



Designed by Dick Sarpolus.
Free plans from Summer 2013
Park Pilot.


The electric ducted-fan (EDF) units available today are powerful, easy to use and reasonably priced. Now, when we want to replicate a warbird, we can choose a jet fighter just as confidently as we used to choose a propeller-driven machine. Simply fit an EDF unit into a profile fuselage, and the model will perform.

Remember when small EDF airframes had to be built as light as possible, and needed to be hand launched by a javelin-throwing Olympian? This F9F Panther is easily hand launched with an underhand swing-arm toss — and on short, dry grass, it can taxi around and jump into the air, no landing gear needed. This EDF is fun.

Right after WW II, the U.S. military was jumping into jet-powered aircraft. McDonnell, North American and Vought all had potential Navy jets in the air by the time Grumman flew its F9F Panther in late 1947. Grumman scored success with the F9F, producing roughly 1,400 Panther aircraft for the Navy.

After the U.S. got the German swept-wing, aircraft-design information out to the aircraft industry, many of those early jet fighter designs were modified to incorporate a swept wing. Grumman added the swept wing to its Panther jet and called it the Cougar, although the F9F designation was retained. The Cougar first flew in late 1951. The Cougar was also successful, and roughly 700 swept-wing F9F jets were produced for the Navy. Incidentally, if the swept-wing Cougar interests you, please take a look at my construction article for that profile EDF in the July 2013 issue of RC Sport Flyer.

I can’t tell you about the Panther without mentioning The Bridges at Toko-Ri. I will never forget the scenes with William Holden flying his Panther to take out those bridges in Korea and return home to Grace Kelly. That was a great film, with plenty of meat for the aviation enthusiast.

Most F9F Panthers were painted in Navy blue, but to get a more interesting appearance, I went with the blue, yellow and red trim on F9Fs that were used as drone controllers.

Read the entire build article inside the Summer 2013 issue of Park Pilot.




Sheet foam, plywood and cut-foam wing panels are used in constructing Dick Sarpolus’ F9F Panther EDF jet.








The Grumman Panther was a frontline American fighter in its day. Similar in platform to the Cougar, Dick chose the Panther because of its straight wing; the Cougar has swept wings.








The airframe is easy to build, and the thick wing has a symmetrical airfoil for good flying characteristics.








Landing the Panther is easy. This EDF model handles predictably at lower speeds, and settles down nicely.








No, it isn’t poor knife-edge flight. It’s Dick’s Panther on entry for a slow, climbing, victory roll to the right.








Dick displays a trio of his EDF designs. Left to right are an F-4 Phantom, the F9F Panther and its swept-wing sister, the F9F Cougar.








The Panther is appropriately aerobatic. It can reach speeds on the high end of the Park Pilot Program, and can burn up a lot of sky. The model looks best when flown like a full-scale jet fighter, making smooth, wide-radius turns.








Click here to download your free Panter Build It Plans.





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