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F6F Hellcat

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Grumman F6F Hellcat
F6F Hellcat
Description
RoleCarrier fighter
CrewOne
First FlightJune 26, 1942
Entered Service1943
ManufacturerGrumman
Dimensions
Length33 ft 7 in10.24 m
Wingspan42 ft 10 in13.06 m
Height13 ft 1 in3.99 m
Wing area334 ft²102 m²
Weights
Empty9,238 lb4,190 kg
Loaded12,598 lb5,714 kg
Maximum takeoff15,415 lb6,990 kg
Powerplant
EnginesPratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp
Power2,000 hp1,492 kW
Performance
Maximum speed376 mph612 km/h
Combat range945 miles1,521 km
Ferry range1,530 miles2,462 km
Service ceiling37,300 ft11,369 m
Rate of climb3500 ft/min1067 m/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Power/Masshp/lbkW/kg
Armament
Guns6 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machineguns
Bombs3 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
RocketsTiny Tim unguided rockets

The Grumman F6F Hellcat started development as an improved F4F Wildcat, but turned into a completely new design sharing a family resemblance to the Wildcat but with practically no shared parts. The Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were the primary United States Navy carrier fighters in the second half of World War II. The Hellcat was withdrawn from service shortly after the war's end.

The Hellcat was also used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm where it was initially known as the "Gannet" however this name was later discontinued and the Hellcat name used instead.

Development

Originally to be given the Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine of 1,700 hp (1,268 kW), the Hellcat was given the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) after British combat experience with the Wildcat indicated better performance was necessary.

The first, Cyclone-equipped prototype flew on June 26 1942, and the first Double Wasp-equipped aircraft on July 30, 1942. The first production aircraft off the line flew on 3 October 1942; the type reached operational readiness with VF-9 on USS Essex in March 1943.

Construction

Like the Wildcat, the Hellcat was a tough, straightforward aircraft, designed to be easy to manufacture and able to take severe damage and return safely to the carrier. 212 lb (96 kg) of cockpit armor was fitted to aid survival, as well as a bullet-proof windshield and armor around the engine oil tank and oil cooler.

The family resemblance to the earlier aircraft was strong, but the Hellcat wasn't just a bigger, heavier, faster Wildcat. Instead of the Wildcat's narrow-track undercarriage retracting into the fuselage by hand, the Hellcat had hydraulically-actuated undercarriage legs set wider and retracting backward into the wings. The wing was low-mounted instead of mid-mounted.

Armament consisted of the same six 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machineguns as later Grumman-built Wildcats; later aircraft gained three hardpoints to carry 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs.

Action

The Hellcat first saw action against the Japanese on 1 September 1943 when fighters off the USS Independence (CVL-22) shot down a snooping seaplane. Soon after, on 23 November, Hellcats engaged Japanese aircraft over Tarawa shooting down a claimed 30 Mitsubishi Zeros for the loss of one F6F.

Hellcats were involved in practically all engagements with Japanese air power from that point onward. They were the major type of USN fighter involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea where so many Japanese aircraft were shot down that the USN aircrews nicknamed the battle The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

Related content
Related Development
Similar Aircraft Mitsubishi A7M
Designation Series F3F - F4F - F5F - F6F - F7F - F8F - F9F
Related Lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft - List of aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm


Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

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