How Many Grumman F8F Bearcat Exhaust Stacks?

Gallery Article by H. Davis Gandees on Dec 29 2020

My 1:32 Trumpeter F8F-2 Bearcat with correct 3 stack exhaust. 



There has existed a controversy for years, of how many exhaust stacks were on F8F Bearcats? Many sources incorrectly state that the F8F-1 had 5 stacks per side and the F8F-2 had 3. In a telephone interview in 2006 with former Grumman test pilot, Corwin “Corky” Meyer, who did much of the development test flights of the Bearcat unequivocally stated that only the 2 XF8F-1 prototypes and 23 pre-production Bearcats had 5 exhaust stacks per side. All other Bearcats had 3 stacks per side.

Click on images below to see larger images

This is one of 23 pre-production F8F-1s showing the modified exhaust. The lower part of the through has been blockeked off and 3 stacks replace the original 5. This is the exhaust stack arrangement used on all F8F-2s. The trough is slightly different than on F8F-1s. Also note the contoured cooling exit area behind the cowl flap that is not found on the F8F-1. This is one of the 2 XF8F-1 prototypes showing the original wider trough with 5 stacks that extends all the way down to the wing root that caused turbulent airflow. This arrangement was also used on the 23 pre-production F8F-1s.

This is one of the 23 pre-production F8F-1s with the wide trough that was eventually modified to a 3-stack arrangement.


Corky stated the reason for the change was that the wide exhaust trough close to the upper wing root, created turbulent airflow. So, 5 stacks were relaced to 3 and the trough was raised several inches and the problem was solved. The 5- stack arrangement on the 25 early aircraft was simply solved with a piece of curved sheet metal at the bottom of the trough and 3 stacks.

This F8F-1 shows the narrower 3-stack arrangement on all production F8F-1s.

It is hoped this article can resolve this longstanding controversy.

H. Davis Gandees

Click on images below to see larger images

This F8F-2 shows the 3-stack arrangement used on all F-8F-2s. The stacks extend beyond the cowling, slightly farther than on the F8F-1s.

Unless you’re building an XF8F-1 prototype or one of 23 preproduction F8F-1s, this is how the exhaust should look.


Photos and text © by H. Davis Gandees