The Grumman F8F Bearcat was intended as an interceptor fighter, operating from carriers. In modern vernacular, it might have been called the "Hellcat Lite," designed for the smallest and lightest airframe that could support the Pratt &, Whitney R-2800-34 radial engine, its fuel, weapons, and armor. The US Navy order two prototypes, XF8F-1, in November, 1943. First flown nine months later, the Bearcat prototype outperformed its heavier predecessor, notably with a thirty percent better climb rate. Grumman then delivered the first production model in February, 1945, only six months after first flight!
As many as 24 US Navy squadrons were equipped with Bearcats in the late 1940's. Pilots loved the plane for its speed and maneuverablity. One pilot compared the Bearcat to a Harley-Davidson. but they were soon made obsolescent by the F9F Panther jet.