Grumman P-65B Cheetah
Based on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that eventually was cancelled, the company further developed the XP-65 (Model 51) for a future "convoy fighter" concept. The contract for the prototype XP-65 was signed on 30 June 1941. Grumman's aim was to produce a fighter that outperformed and outgunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability. Armament was heavy: four 20 mm cannons and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs. Performance met expectations too; the P-65 Cheetah was one of the highest performance piston-engined fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the USAAF single-engined aircraft
The first prototype flew in November 1943 and after a relative short development period the first P-65A fighters were delivered in 1944. The P-65A was soon followed by the P-65B and C models. The type was used as an escort fighter for bomber missions over Germany. Itís long range proving very valuable here.
A Navy variant called F7F was considered but was dropped as the Navy feared that the aircraft was too heavy for carrier use.
In all 6.543 Cheetahs were delivered. The type remained in use until 1954, seeing action in WW2 and Korea.