The F8F “Bearcat” was the speediest prop-driven fighter that Grumman ever produced, but it arrived too late to see combat in WWII. It was intended as an interceptor fighter, operating from carriers. In modern vernacular, it might have been called the "Hellcat Lite"; The F8F featured all-metal construction, a cantilever low-wing monoplane design, folding wings for carrier operations, self-sealing fuel tanks, four .50 caliber machine guns and power by Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine. The US Navy ordered 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 F8F-1.in February 1945, only six months after the first flight! The Navy's order totaled 2,033 airplanes, and Grumman contracted with General Motors to build the Bearcat under license, But only a few Bearcats had been delivered to the Navy when the end of the war halted production. Grumman has been building a total of 1,266 Bearcats of all types. Of which 765 F8F-1's 100 F8F-1B'. At least 24 US Navy squadrons flew the Bearcat, some until as late as 1952, after which some were sold to the French Air force for combat operations in Vietnam. Another 129 Bearcats were sold to the Thai Air Force.