In 1969, Darryl Greenamyer broke the 30-year-old speed record for piston-engine aircraft held by the German Messerschmitt Me 209 when he reached 777 kilometers (483 miles) per hour in this heavily modified Grumman Bearcat. Greenamyer also won the National Air Races six times with this airplane before he donated it to the Smithsonian in 1977.
Grumman designed the Bearcat late in World War II as a replacement for the F6F Hellcat Navy fighter. It was noted for its exceptional climbing ability and maneuverability. Conquest 1 featured a shorter wingspan than the production Bearcat, a special small bubble canopy, a larger propeller taken from a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, and a propeller spinner from a North American P-51H Mustang. Special high-octane gasoline, fuel additives, and putty-sealed gaps to reduce drag greatly increased its speed.
Gift of the Fighter Aircraft Museum