Grumman JF Duck

by Jack McKillop

The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation

See Grumman F3F.


The JF was an all-metal, single-engine, general utility amphibian biplane. The wings were equal span with four ailerons, all fabric covered, while the fuselage and horizontal and vertical stabilizers where all-metal with fabric covered rudder and elevators. The monocoque central float housed the retractable landing gear with the wheels retracting into recesses in the float. Attached to the aft portion of the float was a tail wheel which also acted as a rudder. Stabilizer floats were mounted beneath each lower wing and a tail hook for aircraft carrier operations was attached to the rear fuselage. The Duck was classified as a "single bay" biplane, meaning there was only a single set of struts outboard of the fuselage and a single set of bracing wires between the upper and lower wings on each side.

Production History

Grover C. Loening formed the Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corporation in New York City in 1917. In 1928, Loening merged with the Keystone Aircraft Corporation of Bristol, Pennsylvania and Loening formed the Grover Loening Aircraft Company. In 1931, the company submitted their XO2L-1 design to the U.S. Navy. The Navy was intrigued with the design, but as Loening had no production facilities, Grover Loening was directed to Grumman. After modifications to make it more easily produced, Grumman submitted the specifications to the Navy in 1932 and the Navy accepted it as the XJF-1.

XJF-1: This aircraft was powered by a 700-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830-62 14-cylinder, twin-row, air-cooled radial engine driving a three-blade Hamilton Standard propeller. A crew of two was accommodated with a fully enclosed canopy and two people could be seated in the rear of the float accessed by folding doors in the floor of the rear cockpit. The Duck could be armed with a 0.30-caliber (7.62 mm) flexible machine gun in the rear cockpit and two 100-pound (45-kilogram) bombs, one under each wing.

The XJF-1 made its first flight on 24 April 1933 and was delivered to Naval Air Station (NAS) Anacostia, District of Columbia for testing on 4 May 1933. During testing, a longitudinal instability problem was found and corrected by Grumman and after additional testing in early 1934, the aircraft was accepted by the Navy. It was assigned to Experimental Squadron One of the Fifth Naval District (VX-1D5) at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, and crashed on 8 March 1934.

JF-1: The Navy signed a contract for 27 JF-1s in early 1934 and the first one made its first flight on 17 April 1934; the first Duck was delivered to NAS Norfolk in May. The JF-1 was similar to the XJF-1 but the armament was usually deleted and a station for a radio operator was added in the rear of the float.

JF-2: The 15 JF-2s were unarmed aircraft for the U.S. Coast Guard and were powered by the 700-horsepower Wright R-1820-102 nine-cylinder, single row, air-cooled radial engine with a narrow chord engine cowling. All of these aircraft had a radio loop direction finding antenna on the dorsal surface aft of the canopy and they were not equipped with an arrester hook. The first nine aircraft were delivered between October 1934 and January 1935 and the remaining five were delivered in October and November 1935. One of these aircraft was traded to the U.S. Marine Corps for a Lockheed XR3O-1 and four were traded to the U.S. Navy for four Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3s.

JF-3: The five unarmed JF-3s were built for Navy and Marine Corps reserve units in 1935. These aircraft were powered by a 750-horsepower Wright R-1820-80 nine-cylinder, single row, air-cooled radial engine. Like the JF-2, these aircraft lacked an arrester hook. The last JF-3 was delivered on 18 October 1935.

Operational History                                                             

The first JF-1 joined the Navy in May 1934 and the first for the Marine Corps was in February 1935. By June 1936,  the JF-1 was serving in the Utility Units of the aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-2), Ranger (CV-4) and Saratoga (CV-3); Utility Units at Fleet Air Base, Coco Solo, Canal Zone and Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii; Utility Squadron One Battle Force (VJ-1F) at NAS San Diego, California; the minesweeper USS Heron (AM-10) in the Philippines and Marine Utility Squadron Six (VJ-6M) at Aircraft One, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia and VJ-7M, Aircraft Two, NAS San Diego.

On 31 December 1941, there were 21 of the 47 JFs built still on the inventory; the U.S. Navy had 11 JF-1s and the Marines had two, the U.S. Coast Guard had five JF-2s and there were three JF-3s at three reserve bases..

Survivors On Display In The U.S.

There are no JF Ducks on display in the U.S.

USN BuAer Numbers

0266..............JF-2 USCG V135 transferred to USN January 1941
9439..............JF-1 to USCG as 439
9449..............JF-1 to USCG as 449
00371............JF-2 USCG V-141 transferred to USN January 1941
00372............JF-2 USCG V-144 transferred to USN January 1941
01647............JF-2 USCG V-146 transferred to USN January 1941

USCG Aircraft Serial Number
161/175.............JF-2 All re-serialled V-135/V-148 in 1936
439....................JF-1 BuNo 9439 transferred from USN after WWII       
449....................JF-1 BuNo 9449 transferred from USN after WWII
V-135................JF-2 To USN January 1941 and new USN BuNo 0266
V-141................JF-2 To USN January 1941 and new USN BuNo 00171
V-144................JF-2 To USN January 1941 with new USN BuNo  00372
V-146................JF-2 To USN January 1941 with new USN BuNo 01647

Specifications For JF-1

Wingspan: 39-feet (11.89-meters)
Wing area: 409-square-feet (38-square-meters)
Length: 33-feet (10.06-meters)
Height: 14-feet 6-inches (4.42-meters)
Empty weight: 4,133-pounds (1,875-kilograms)
Maximum speed: 168 mph (270 km/h) at sea level
Service ceiling: 18,000-feet (5,485-meters)