When the Great Depression struck at the end of 1929, one fledgling aircraft producer managed to keep the doors open by building retractable landing gear for another company's amphibian aircraft designs. In the early 1930's in the USA the only source for large contracts in aircraft production was the US Navy and Army and Leroy Grumman went for the big contract. Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company designed their first fighter for the USN. This two place carrier borne fighter had the same retractable landing gear designed earlier for amphibians and was the first USN carrier plane without fixed gear. The prototype XFF-1 flew in 1931 and the design was ordered in two variants, a fighter designated as the FF-1 (Fighter Grumman 1st Design) and a scout/reconnaissance version designated as SF-1 (Scout Grumman 1st Design). A total of 27 of the FF-1 fighters and 33 of the SF-1 scouts were ordered and were operated from the navy's carriers from 1933 to 1936. Because of the FF letters and the number 1 in the official designation the FF1 was informally known as the Fifi. A small number were apparently built under license in Canada, where it was called the Goblin. As newer and better designs emerged, the initial Grumman design fell from front line service. The National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola NAS has the only surviving copy of this first Grumman USN fighter. This particular FF-1 had been buried when placed for disposal and fortunately was relocated, recovered and fully restored by the museum.

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