The GRUMMAN F6F HELLCAT is an American carrier -based fighter
World War II
Powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt "> The unpainted XF6F-1 prior to its first flight An F6F-3 aboard USS Yorktown has its Sto-Wing folding wings deployed for takeoff
Throughout early 1942 Leroy
Based on combat accounts of encounters between the F4F Wildcat and
A6M Zero, on 26 April 1942, BuAer directed
The F6F series were designed to take damage and get the pilot safely back to base. A bullet-resistant windshield and a total of 212 lb (96 kg) of cockpit armor was fitted, along with armor around the oil tank and oil cooler. A 250 gal (946 l) self-sealing fuel tank was fitted in the fuselage. Standard armament on the F6F-3 consisted of six .50 in (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning air-cooled machine guns with 400 rounds per gun. A center-section hardpoint under the fuselage could carry a single 150 gal (568 l) disposable drop tank , while later aircraft had single bomb racks installed under each wing, inboard of the undercarriage bays; with these and the center-section hard point late model F6F-3s could carry a total bomb-load in excess of 2,000 lb (900 kg). Six 5 in (127 mm) HVARs (High Velocity Aircraft Rocket) could be carried; three under each wing on "zero-length" launchers.
Two night fighter sub-variants of the F6F-3 were developed: the 18
F6F-3E\'S were converted from standard-3s and featured the AN/APS-4
radar in a pod mounted on a rack beneath the right wing, with a small
radar-scope fitted in the middle of the main instrument panel and
radar operating controls installed on the port side of the cockpit.
The later F6F-3N, first flown in July 1943, was fitted with the
AN/APS-6 radar in the fuselage, with the antenna dish in a bulbous
fairing mounted on the leading-edge of the outer right wing;
approximately 200 F6F-3Ns were built. Hellcat night fighters claimed
their first victories in November 1943. A total of 4,402 F6F-3s were
built through until April 1944, when production was changed to the
F6F-5. An early production F6F-5 being tested with eight 5 in.
The F6F-5 featured several improvements including a more powerful R-2800-10W engine employing a water-injection system and housed in a slightly more streamlined engine cowling, spring-loaded control tabs on the ailerons , and an improved, clear view windscreen, with a flat armored-glass front panel replacing the F6F-3's curved plexiglass panel and internal armor glass screen. In addition, the rear fuselage and tail units were strengthened, and, apart from some early production aircraft, the majority of the F6F-5's built were painted in an overall gloss sea blue finish. After the first few F6F-5s were built, the small windows behind the main canopy were deleted. The F6F-5N night fighter variant was fitted with an AN/APS-6 radar in a fairing on the outer-starboard wing. A small number of standard F6F-5s were also fitted with camera equipment for reconnaissance duties as the F6F-5P. While all F6F-5s were capable of carrying an armament mix of one 20 mm (.79 in) M2 cannon in each of the inboard gun bays (220 rounds per gun), along with two pairs of .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns (each with 400 rounds per gun), this configuration was only used on later F6F-5N night fighters. The F6F-5 was the most common F6F variant, with 7,870 being built.
Other prototypes in the F6F series included the XF6F-4 (02981, a conversion of the XF6F-1 powered by an R-2800-27 and armed with four 20mm M2 cannon) which first flew on 3 October 1942 as the prototype for the projected F6F-4. This version never entered production and 02981 was converted to an F6F-3 production aircraft. Another experimental prototype was the XF6F-2 (66244), an F6F-3 converted to use a Wright R-2600-15, fitted with a Birman manufactured mixed-flow turbocharger , which was later replaced by a Pratt "> VF-82 Grumman F6F-5 ready for launch from USS Bennington off Okinawa in May 1945. The majority of the F6F-5s built were painted overall Glossy Sea Blue.
The Hellcat first saw action against the Japanese on 1 September 1943
when fighters off the USS Independence shot down a Kawanishi H8K
"Emily" flying boat . Soon after, on 23 and 24 November, Hellcats
engaged Japanese aircraft over
When trials were flown against a captured A6M5 model Zero, they showed that the Hellcat was faster at all altitudes. The F6F out-climbed the Zero marginally above 14,000 ft and rolled faster at speeds above 235 mph. The Japanese fighter could out-turn its American opponent with ease at low speed and enjoyed a slightly better rate of climb below 14,000 ft. The trials report concluded:
Do not dogfight with a Zero 52. Do not try to follow a loop or half-roll with a pull-through. When attacking, use your superior power and high speed performance to engage at the most favourable moment. To evade a Zero 52 on your tail, roll and dive away into a high speed turn.
Hellcats were the major U.S. Navy fighter type involved in the Battle
of the Philippine Sea , where so many Japanese aircraft were shot down
that Navy aircrews nicknamed the battle "the Great Marianas Turkey
Shoot" . The F6F accounted for 75 percent of all aerial victories
recorded by the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.
A formidable opponent for the Hellcat was the Kawanishi N1K , but it was produced too late and in insufficient numbers to affect the outcome of the war.
Sortie, Kill And Loss Figures
U.S. Navy and Marine F6F pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills (56% of all U.S. Navy/Marine air victories of the war) at a recorded cost of 270 Hellcats in aerial combat (an overall kill-to-loss ratio of 19:1 based on claimed but not confirmed kills). Claimed victories were often highly exaggerated during the war. Even so, the aircraft performed well against the best Japanese opponents with a claimed 13:1 kill ratio against the A6M Zero, 9.5:1 against the Nakajima Ki-84 , and 3.7:1 against the Mitsubishi J2M during the last year of the war. The F6F became the prime ace-maker aircraft in the American inventory, with 305 Hellcat aces. The U.S. successes were not only attributed to superior aircraft, but also from 1942 onwards, they faced increasingly inexperienced Japanese aviators as well as having the advantage of increasing numerical superiority. In the ground attack role, Hellcats dropped 6,503 tons (5,899 tonnes) of bombs.
The U.S. Navy's all-time leading ace, Captain David McCampbell USN (Ret), scored all his 34 victories in the Hellcat. He once described the F6F as "... an outstanding fighter plane. It performed well, was easy to fly and was a stable gun platform. But what I really remember most was that it was rugged and easy to maintain."
During the course of World War II, 2,462 F6F Hellcats were lost to all causes; 270 in aerial combat, 553 lost to anti-aircraft ground and shipboard fire, and 341 were lost to operational causes. Of the total figure 1,298 were destroyed in training and ferry operations, normally outside of the combat zones.
A section of Fleet Air Arm Hellcat F Mk.Is of 1840 Squadron in June 1944
Fleet Air Arm (FAA) received 1,263 F6Fs under the
Lend-Lease Act ; initially it was known as the GRUMMAN GANNET MARK I.
The name Hellcat replaced it in early 1943 for the sake of simplicity,
FAA Hellcats, as with other Lend-Lease aircraft, were rapidly replaced by British aircraft after the end of the war, with only two of the 12 squadrons equipped with the Hellcat at VJ-Day still retaining Hellcats by the end of 1945. These two squadrons were disbanded in 1946. Postwar service: A bright orange F6F-3K target drone
Postwar, the Hellcat was succeeded by the F8F Bearcat , which was
smaller, more powerful (powered by uprated Double Wasp radials) and
more maneuverable, but entered service too late to see combat in World
War II. The Hellcat was used for second-line USN duties, including
training. In late 1952, Guided Missile Unit 90 used F6F-5K drones,
each carrying a 2000 lb bomb, to attack bridges in Korea; flying from
USS Boxer , radio controlled from an escorting
AD Skyraider . The
Aéronavale was equipped with F6F-5 Hellcats and used them in
The F6F-5 subtype also gained fame as the first aircraft used by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels official flight demonstration team at its formation in 1946.
XF6F-1 First prototype, powered by a two-stage 1,600 hp (1,500 kW) Wright R-2600 -10 Cyclone 14 radial piston engine. XF6F-2 The first XF6F-1 prototype revised and fitted with a turbocharged Wright R-2600-16 Cyclone radial piston engine. R-2600 replaced by turbo-charged R-2800-21. XF6F-2 showing the later R-2800-21 installation with Birman turbo-charger. XF6F-3 Second prototype fitted with a two-stage supercharged 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp radial piston engine. XF6F-4 One F6F-3 fitted with a two-speed turbocharged 2,100 hp (1,567 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp radial piston engine. XF6F-6 Two F6F-5s that were fitted with the 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-18W radial piston engine, and four-bladed propellers.
F6F-3 (British designations
Gannet Mk. I then Hellcat Mk. I)
Single-seat fighter, fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by a 2,000 hp
(1,500 kW) Pratt powered by a 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) Pratt "> F6F-5N
night fighter with AN/APS-6 radar and 2 20mm M2 cannon. F6F-5N
Hellcat (British Hellcat N.F. Mk II) Night fighter version, fitted
with an AN/APS-6 radar. Some were armed with two 20 mm (0.79 in) AN/M2
cannon in the inner wing bays and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning
machine guns in the outer. F6F-5P Hellcat Small numbers of F6F-5s were
converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft, with the camera
equipment being fitted in the rear fuselage. Hellcat FR Mk II This
designation was given to British Hellcats fitted with camera
equipment. FV-1 Proposed designation for Hellcats to be built by
A relatively large number of
* 80141 – The Fighter Collection in Duxford .
On display F6F-5
* 79779 – Fleet Air Arm Museum in RNAS Yeovilton .
Chino Warbirds' F6F-3 painted as a Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk. I. Airworthy F6F-3
* 41930 – Comanche Warbirds Inc. in
* 70222 –
Commemorative Air Force (Southern California Wing) at
Camarillo Airport (former Oxnard AFB) in
Camarillo, California .
* 78645 –
Yanks Air Museum in
Chino, California .
* 79863 –
Flying Heritage Collection in
On display F6F-3
* 25910 –
National Naval Aviation Museum at
NAS Pensacola in
* 70185 –
Quonset Air Museum at
Quonset State Airport (former NAS
Quonset Point ) in
Quonset Point, Rhode Island .
* 77722 –
Naval Air Facility Washington at Joint Base Andrews
Andrews AFB ) in
Data from WWII Aircraft Performance Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of
World War II
* CREW: 1 * LENGTH: 33 ft 7 in (10.24 m) * WINGSPAN : 42 ft 10 in (13.06 m) * HEIGHT: 13 ft 1 in (3.99 m) * WING AREA: 334 ft² (31 m²) * AIRFOIL : NACA 23015.6 mod root; NACA 23009 tip * EMPTY WEIGHT : 9,238 lb (4,190 kg) * LOADED WEIGHT: 12,598 lb (5,714 kg) * MAX. TAKEOFF WEIGHT : 15,415 lb (6,990 kg) * *FUEL CAPACITY: 250 gal (946 L) internal; up to 3 × 150 gal (568 L) external drop tanks * ZERO-LIFT DRAG COEFFICIENT : 0.0211 * DRAG AREA: 7.05 ft² (0.65 m²) * ASPECT RATIO : 5.5 * POWERPLANT : 1 × Pratt ">PERFORMANCE
* MAXIMUM SPEED : 330 kn (391 mph, 629 km/h) * STALL SPEED : 73 kn (84 mph, 135 km/h) * COMBAT RADIUS : 820 nmi (945 mi, 1,520 km) * FERRY RANGE : 1,330 nmi (1,530 mi, 2,460 km) * SERVICE CEILING : 37,300 ft (11,370 m) * RATE OF CLIMB : 3,500 ft/min (17.8 m/s) * WING LOADING : 37.7 lb/ft² (184 kg/m²) * POWER/MASS : 0.16 hp/lb (260 W/kg) * TIME-TO-ALTITUDE: 7.7 min to 20,000 ft (6,100 m) * LIFT-TO-DRAG RATIO : 12.2 * TAKEOFF ROLL: 799 ft (244 m)
* 6× 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns , with 400 rounds per gun, (All F6F-3, and most F6F-5) or * 2 × 0.79 in (20 mm) AN/M2 cannon, with 225 rounds per gun and 4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns with 400 rounds per gun
* 6 × 5 in (127 mm) HVARs or * 2 × 11¾ in (298 mm) Tiny Tim unguided rockets
* BOMBS: up to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) full load, including:
* BOMBS OR TORPEDOES: (Fuselage mounted on centreline rack)
* 1 × 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb or * 1 × Mk.13-3 torpedo;
* UNDERWING BOMBS: (F6F-5 had two additional weapons racks either side of fuselage on wing centre-section)
* 2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) or * 4 × 500 lb (227 kg) * 8 × 250 lb (110 kg)
Alexander Vraciu , who had 19 victories on Hellcats flying with
VF-6 (9) and VF-16 (10) during World War II.
David McCampbell , the top U.S. Navy ace of
World War II
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
* Focke-Wulf Fw-190D
* List of aircraft of the
Fleet Air Arm
* List of aircraft of the
* ^ The insignia red outline around the national markings indicate
that this picture was taken circa June–September 1943.
* ^ This can be broken down as 5,163 in the Pacific and eight more
during the invasion of Southern France, plus 52 with the FAA during
World War II.
* ^ On the previous day, while receiving the
Medal of Honor
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* ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 30–31.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 28–29.
* ^ Green 1975, p. 91.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 6–7.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 7.
* ^ Green 1975, pp. 93–94.
* ^ Kinzey 1987, p. 27.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 32.
* ^ White 2001, pp. 260, 508.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 17–18.
* ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 50–51.
* ^ Sullivan 1979, p. 46.
* ^ Winchester 2004, p. 110.
* ^ Styling 1995, p. 67.
* ^ Tillman 1996, p. 6.
* ^ A B C Dean 1997, p. 559.
* ^ Spick 1983, p. 118.
* ^ Tillman 1979, p. 9.
* ^ "Fact Sheets: Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden Kai." National Museum of
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* ^ A B Barber 1946, Table 2.
* ^ Barber 1946, Table 28.
* ^ "Airpower Classics." Air Force Magazine, April 2006, p. 98.
* ^ Kinzey 1987, p. 58.
* ^ OPNAV-P-23V No. A129, 17 June 1946, p. 15.
* ^ Green 1975, p. 93.
* ^ Thruelsen 1976, p. 181.
* ^ Tillman 1996, p. 96.
* ^ Tillman 1996, p. 78.
* ^ A B Thetford 1994, p. 217.
* ^ O'Leary 1980, pp. 147–148.
* ^ Jackson 1998, p. 126.
* ^ Donald, 1995, p. 145.
* ^ "Historical aircraft of the Blue Angels." Archived 19 April
2012 at the
* Anderton, David A. Hellcat. London: Jane's Publishing Company
Ltd., 1981. ISBN 0-7106-0036-4 .
* Barber, S.B. Naval Aviation Combat Statistics: World War II,
OPNAV-P-23V No. A129. Washington, D.C.: Air Branch, Office of Naval
* Bridgman, Leonard, ed. “The
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