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Grumman F6F Hellcat

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The sturdy, powerful F6F Hellcat is one of the few fighters developed after the outbreak of World War II to succeed in that conflict. A big, heavy machine in an age when experts lauded small, light fighters, the Hellcat was fast enough and agile enough to become the outstanding dogfighter of the Pacific war.

Pilot also praised the strength of the F6F, which they jokingly called a product of the 'Grumman' Iron Works' because they knew that sustaining damage in combat no longer meant certain death. The Hellcat could and did bring its pilot home.

This remarkable aircraft also proved its merit as a night-fighter (using early air-intercept radar) and a reconnaissance aircraft. Britain employed the Hellcat throughout the East Indies, Malaya, Burma and in the final assault on Japan. Half a decade later, the Hellcat was all but gone from American service when the final examples were used as unmanned flying bombs - the Korean War's equivalent of today's cruise missile.

Powerful and pugnacious, the Hellcat is one of the few aircraft in history which was right from the start. Designed after Pearl Harbor, the Hellcat required almost no testing or development work before being rushed into production. Swarms of these beefy, gloss-blue fighters wrested control of Pacific skies from the vaunted Japanese Zero and chalked up a record of success in air combat that has rarely been matched.


Grumman F6F Hellcat

Grumman F6F Hellcat single-seat carrier based fighter Take-off flag for Grumman F6F Hellcat Grumman F6F Hellcat preparing for war
The Hellcat was fast enough and agile enough to become the outstanding dogfighter of the Pacific war. Lieutenant John Clarke gives the take-off signal flag to an F6F pilot. Taking off with the canopy open meant that it was easy to escape if the aircraft ditched after leaving the ship. Two of the elements which won the Pacific War: the F6F Hellcat aboard an 'Essex'-class carrier.

Grumman F6F Hellcat (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat carrier based fighter
Manufacturer Grumman
Maximum Speed 620 kmh (380 mph)
Maximum Range 1,675 km (1,040 miles)
Ceiling 11,500 meters (37,500 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

4,191 kg (9,200 lbs)
6,991 kg (15,400 lbs)
Wing Area

13.80 meters (42 ft 10 in)
10.23 meters (33 ft 7 in)
3.99 meters (13 ft 1 in)
31.03 square meters (334 sq ft)
Engines One Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial piston engine which provides 1,492-kW (2,000 hp)
Armament Six 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) Browning M2 machine guns up to 907 kg (2,000 lbs) of bombs
Six 127 mm (5 in) rockets

Photo Gallery

Hellcat serving with the French Navy in Indochina in the 1950s.

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