Thursday, February 7, 2013

F8F Formation Lights

I'm not on very firm ground here. My understanding is that some F8Fs had formation lights on the outboard wing panels both above and below the wing. The F8F Pilot's Handbook revised 15 January 1949 mentions them and there is an illustration of the lighting control panel that shows a switch for them.

The bulbs were covered by a blue-tinted lens. They were located about half way out along the wing just ahead of the aileron, inboard of the middle aileron hinge. Here is a color picture that isn't very distinct.
 The light is just at the bottom of the '3".

Here is a picture of the underside of the wing.
(The hole at the bottom of the outboard panel is where a bar was inserted to manually fold the wing.)

And finally, here's the underside of the wing of a restored Bearcat with what looks like a blue lens exactly where if appears in the wing in the above pictures.

I wrote "some" F8Fs because on a high-resolution copy of this picture of an F8F-2 taken during a Grumman acceptance flight, there is clearly no light installation on the outboard wing panel. Note however that there is still a white "recognition" light on the top of the fuselage just ahead of the dorsal fin.

For more on U.S. Navy airplane exterior lights, see

1 comment:

  1. I did some looking into this myself a couple of years ago due to discussions elsewhere about the Academy kit (which has those lights molded into the wings. After poring over every F8F pic I could get my hands on, I personally reached the following conclusions:

    -1s and -1Bs did not have the lights. I could not find a single pic of a -1 or -1B that showed them, but found plenty of pics that very clearly showed -1s WITHOUT lights. For example, Beetle Bomb, G-58A Gulfhawk 4, VNAF -1 photographed with wings folded for a crystal-clear view of the lower wing, etc. If anyone has the FAOTW book of the F7F and F8F check the color shot of the VNAF F8F-1 and G-58A, also the FAOTW book on the F4F, F6F and F8F shows -1 "ST47" as clearly not having the lights, a closeup of what is identified as a -1 wing folded where there are no lights.

    Also note in the FAOTW volume on the F4F- F6F and F8F there is a photo of the starboard console that clearly shows five switches on the light panel, not 6. The model is not identified but "90446" is visible on the instrument panel, and 90446 was the BuNo for an F8F-1.

    Some -2s had the lights, some did not. For example, in the FAOTW book on the F4F, F6F and F8F there is a pic of -2 factory number 612 on a delivery flight and it clearly does not have them. However some other pics of -2 aircraft do show lights.

    All images I could find of -2P where the lights would have been visible clearly show the lights.

    Therefore my presumption is the lights were added sometime during the -2 production run. Given the location just inboard of the break line for the safety wingtips, I almost want to wonder if they were not added at the same time as the wing structure was modified with the elimination of the safety wingtip feature.