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Grumman Hellcat

Grumman Hellcat

30. junija 1941 je Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation podpisala pogodbo z ameriškimi letalskimi silami za izdelavo novega lovca na letalski osnovi. Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 je prvič poletel 30. junija 1941, vendar je bil dostavljen ZDA šele oktobra 1942.

Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 je imel največjo hitrost 628 km in doseg 1.750 km. Dolg je bil 10,24 m, razpon kril pa 13,06 m. Letalo je bilo oboroženo s 6 mitraljezi. Januarja 1943 so jih dodelili letalonosilkam, Essexu, Yorktownu in Neodvisnost.

V zadnjih dveh letih druge svetovne vojne je Grumman Hellcat postalo najpomembnejše letalo s floto letalskih prevoznikov, leta 1943 pa je bilo skupaj 2545 dostavljenih na USF.

Leta 1944 je Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation zamenjala Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 z Grumman Hellcat FF6-5. Motor novega letala je bil izboljšan, za pilotom pa je bil nameščen dodaten oklep. Lahko bi nosil tudi 907 kg bomb. V zadnjih fazah vojne se je Hellcat izkazal kot očitno boljši od glavnega lovca japonskih letalskih sil, Mitsubishija A6M.


78 let Hellcats: Springfield Armory® Hellcat®, Grumman Hellcat in Buick Hellcat

Springfield Armory® Hellcat®. Slika zgoraj z dovoljenjem Springfield Armory®, Geneseo, Illinois, ZDA.

9. avgust 2020 | Srednja Florida, ZDA. Obveščen Mike Humphries, vodja odnosov z mediji pri Springfield Armory® Vojaške letalske kronike naslednjega: “ Ime Hellcat® je bilo izbrano, saj smo čutili, da zajema energijo in zmogljivosti pištole, ki ni vezana na letalo F6F Hellcat ali vozilo. ” Toda s tekočimi slovesnostmi ob 75. obletnici ob koncu druge svetovne vojne, ko se Američani oborožujejo v dobi razširjenega uničevanja lastnine, protestov, zmanjševanja financiranja organov pregona in policijskih aktov lokalnih vladnih organov, se preprosto ne moremo upreti skušnjavi nekaj primerjav med navidezno nepovezanim trojčkom, ki ima skupno ime.

F6F-3 Grumman Hellcats v zraku 1. januarja 1943. Slika: Narodni muzej mornariškega letalstva ZDA fotografija 2011-003-274-018.

Minilo je več kot sedem desetletij, odkar je lovsko letalo Hellcat, ki ga je proizvedel Grumman v Beth Pageu na Long Islandu v New Yorku, prvič prevzelo krilo po izstopu iz tovarne podjetja. Proizvodni modeli so se bojno premierno predstavili septembra 1943. Po prvih zračnih posegih s cesarsko Japonsko in hvaljenim lovskim letalom Mitsubishi A6M Zero (零 式 艦上 戦 闘 機) so letala Grumman oborožena s šestimi Browningovimi .50-calbre (12.7- milimetrov) mitraljezi, zaslužili priznanja za splošno vrhunsko zmogljivost, zanesljivost in vzdržljivost. Dejansko je bilo letalo med zavezniki in prevladujočim lovcem#8217 med letoma 1943 in 1945, tip, skupaj z Vought F4U Corsair, pa je ameriški mornarici in letalski floti kraljeve mornarice omogočil letalsko premoč nad ogromnimi pacifiškimi in daljnimi prostranstvi. Vzhod.

Fleet Air Arm Hellcat MK Is iz eskadrile 1840 junija 1944. Fotografija A24533 iz zbirk cesarskih vojnih muzejev.

V približno istem razvojnem obdobju je Buick Motor Division General Motors zasnoval in izdelal oklepni uničevalnik tankov M18 Hellcat. Poganjana z letalom Wright R-975 Whirlwind, sta se hitrost in uporabnost M18 ’s izkazali za veliko prednost na bojiščih. Ta gosenična vozila, ki so bila oborožena s 76-milimetrsko glavno puško in mitraljezom Browning .50-kalibra (12,7-milimetra), so se kompetentno lotila najbolj kritične naloge: taktične podpore kopenskim silam. M18 so uporabljali predvsem v zahodni Evropi. Ti stroji so dragocene storitve zagotavljali tudi v Pacifiku.

Buick Motor Division družbe General Motors M18 Hellcat. Foto: Državni arhiv.

Čeprav so ga prehiteli in premagali Wehrmacht (Nacistična Nemčija in vojska št. 8217) težki bojni tanki, kot sta Tiger I in Tiger II (Kralj Tiger), Posadke M18 Hellcat so se naučile premagati nasprotnike z napadi ‘pride ’ (skupina) —, ki niso v nasprotju z levi (ki so ‘ lovci na pakete ’) v naravi kot Rory Young, Ranker proti lovu proti lovu, inštruktor , in Strokovni vodnik navaja v spletni objavi Quora.com Zoologija: Ali so levi edini veliki mački, ki lovijo v ponos in zakaj so druge velike mačke osamljene?, “ Uporabljajo pastirstvo in druge tehnike skupaj z zalezovanjem. . . odstreliti velik plen. . . . ”

M18 Hellcats 6. oklepne divizije ameriške vojske in vojske#8217s se je ustavil pred invalidskim tankom Wehrmacht MK VI ‘King Tiger ’ (zgoraj desno) v Nemčiji 28. februarja 1945. Fotografija: Nacionalni arhiv.

Zdaj imamo mikrokompaktno pištolo Springfield Armory® Hellcat®. Ta Hellcat®, izjemno obrambno strelno orožje, ki je bilo po besedah ​​Springfield Armory® “ zasnovano posebej za vsakodnevno nošenje ”, primerno nosi oznako ‘Hellcat ’. Namen in naloga Hellcat® je#8217 braniti življenje in telesno blaginjo svojega nosilca. Leta 2019 je bil predstavljen Hellcat®, leta 2020 pa je strelno orožje prejelo priznanja kot nacionalna strelska zveza Ameriški strelec‘s � Pištola leta ’.

Kapaciteta Springfield Armory® Hellcat. Fotografija avtorja Springfield Armory®.

Springfield Armory® zdaj trži svoj Hellcat® kot “največjo zmogljivost na svetu z mikro kompaktom 9 mm. ” Zasnovani so posebej za vsakodnevno nošenje s prilagodljivo oprijemno teksturo ™ (Hellcat® zgornji drsniki maksimirajo oprijem enega ’s drsnik in ‘Adaptive Grip ’ tvorita močnejšo vez z močnejšim oprijemom) in sta opremljena z tritijem z visoko vidljivostjo in luminiscenčnim sprednjim očesom. Standardni vzvratni pogled Tactical Rack U-Dot ™ omogoča hitro zajemanje cilja v različnih svetlobnih pogojih. Strelno orožje je široko 25 milimetrov (1 palca) in ima 76-milimetrsko (3-palčno) cev. Posebni modeli imajo brušen drsnik, ki sprejme najmanjše merilne točke z mikro rdečimi pikami v konfiguraciji OSP ™ (optična pištola), pripravljena za optiko.

Hellcat® je opremljen z dvema režama, patentiranim rezervoarjem za strelivo z 11 kartušami s podaljškom za prst in podaljšanim vodnjakom s 13 kartušami. Spodnja izpiralna plošča na reviji je zasnovana tako, da čim bolj zmanjša pištolski odtis nog ’.

Konfiguracija standardne pištole Springfield Armory® Hellcat (levo) in optične pištole (OSP), pripravljene za optiko. Slika avtorja Springfield Armory®.

Toda zakaj bi se oborožili s Springfield Armory® Hellcat® in ne z zelo zanesljivim revolverjem, ki ostaja priljubljen pri lastnikih pištol? V članku z naslovom Kolesa: zakaj je še vedno privlačna v avgustovski številki leta 2020 Ameriški strelec, Field Editor Wiley Clapp (stran 74) o revolverjih kot obrambnem orožju za nošenje navaja naslednje: “ Razumljivo verjetni statistični podatki nam govorijo, da obrambni streli običajno vključujejo tri ali manj strelov. . . . Toda, kot nam povedo strani [stran 10 v reviji avgusta 2020] ‘Oboroženi državljan ’, pogosto zahteva več od povprečja, da se grožnja ustavi. ” Dejansko so verodostojne raziskave pokazale, da je knockdown ali ‘kill ’ je pogosto nepravilnost.

Poleg tega na prvi strani julija 2020 ‘Vprašajte osebje USCCA ’ v Revija skritih nošenj, Višji urednik Ed Combs poudarja več pomembnih točk. Najprej “ FBI pravi, da se številke pri ‘povprečnem ’ streljanju izkažejo za približno tri strele na razdalji približno 3 metre v približno 3 sekundah. ” Kljub temu, da ima kdo srečo in je napadalec navzdol in ne predstavlja več grožnje, dodaja, “ morda bi vas nekateri vaši napadalčevi zavezniki spremljali na varnostni položaj. ” Zato, če nosite samo revolver s 5 streli ali polavtomatsko z revijo z zmogljivostjo 6 ali 7 bo strelno orožje nevarno nizko pri nestreljenih nabojih, medtem ko grožnja še obstaja. Zaskrbljujoč potencialni dodatni dejavnik pri dobavi streliva bi lahko zelo zgrešili. Tako postaja očitna potreba po mikro kompaktnih pištolah velike zmogljivosti.

Medtem ko za izdelavo ocenjevanja ni mogoče pridobiti na novo izdelanega Grummana ali Buicka Hellcata, je bil precej preprost postopek pridobitve novega, neožganega Springfield Armory® Hellcat®. Hellcat® se proizvaja na Hrvaškem in Vojaške letalske kronike prosil dva sodelavca pilota, naj ocenijo izdelek. Oba sta akreditirana inštruktorja Združenega prikritega prevoza Združenih držav za prikrito nošenje in domačo obrambo (CCHD), ki imata določeno stopnjo hrvaškega porekla. Starejši je veteran ameriške vojske, pravzaprav veteran konflikta v Vietnamu in nekdanji vojaški policist in pripadnik nacionalne garde. Mlajši je služil v tujini v uniformi in je pooblaščen inštruktor varnostnega častnika, ki se je v preteklih letih letno letno usposabljal za dežurno pištolo Glock 19. Oba sta v desetletjih rokovala in izstrelila številne pištole.

Zastavljalnica JD ’s v Auburndaleu na Floridi je pomagala pridobiti Hellcat® za oceno. Oba posameznika sta brez strel streljala s strelivom Federal American Eagle 9-milimetrske Luger 115 Grain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ). Odstranjevanje po čiščenju po streljanju je bilo preprosto in enostavno. Ob zaključku ocenjevanja je dvojec izjavil, da je “Pravilno sprožilno sprožitev [nadzor] strelcev pomembna za vsako uspešno streljanje s strelnim orožjem in Hellcat® ni izjema. ” Nadalje so poudarili pomen pogostih vaj ter usposabljanje za neizkušene in izkušene strelce.

Zastavljalnica JD ’s spredaj. Slika: Zastavljalnica JD ’s.

Videoposnetek bolj impresivnega testa Hellcat® je objavljen (in povezan spodaj) na spletnem mestu Armory Life Spletne strani. Pred tem je pištola pokazala odlično delovanje med dokumentiranim preskusom 10.000 krogov. Paul Carlson, lastnik Akademije za varnostne rešitve, in ekipa sta vzeli isto pištolo (serijska št. AT234795) in izstrelili (Hellcat: 20K krogov in štetje ojačevalnikov!) 10.000 nabojev streliva FMJ Federal American Eagle 124 zrn. Ta druga vaja je potrdila izrazito odpornost in zanesljivost Hellcata®. Ni presenetljivo, da se Springfield Armory® Hellcat® trenutno izkazuje kot zelo priljubljeno strelno orožje za civiliste in oborožene varnostnike.Ameriški strelec Izvršni urednik Joe Kurtenbach je naveden na spletnem mestu Springfield Armory®, ki je navedel naslednje: “ Preprosto povedano, hočem Hellcat, ker je pištola žival in je vzrejena za boj. ”

Na podlagi impresivnih statistik prodaje in pripomb nedavnih kupcev Hellcat® upravičeno in impresivno zajema pomemben odstotek obrambnega trga. Preprosto povedano, modeli Hellcat® trenutno letijo s polic trgovin z orožjem. Z nakupom enega kupec pridobi kompaktno strelno orožje +P 9 milimetrov, ki v osnovnem modelu in konfiguraciji vsebuje 12 nabojev. Tako tisti, ki uveljavljajo pravice iz drugega amandmaja v Združenih državah Amerike, in posamezniki v državah, ki imajo zakone, prijazne do strelnega orožja, uživajo večjo moč udarca, večjo penetracijo krogel in impresivno zalogo streliva.

Kaj pa sprejetje Hellcata® s strani organov pregona? Kar zadeva pištole, je Springfield Armory® Hellcat® odgovor na nadzor, ki je v sedemdesetih in zgodnjih osemdesetih letih prinesel hude posledice, kar je bil prisoten in v veliki meri zanemarjen od dvajsetih let prejšnjega stoletja.

V spletnem članku z naslovom Kratka zgodovina ameriške policijske stranske roke#8217 avtor David LaPell piše, “ Že desetletja so revolverji vladali, ko je šlo za opremljanje policista. . . . ” In kot vnos v Wikipedijo Smith & amp Wesson model 36 države, “ Dolga leta je bil model 36 standardni policijski detektiv in nosilec orožja za številne policijske agencije.##8221 Model 36 in drugi revolverji so čudovite puške. Najbolj priljubljene policijske pištole 1900-1999 avtorja Paul Scarlata in James Walter poudarjata to resnico: “ [dan] redko je videti ameriškega policista s podstavljenim revolverjem. . . . ” Zakaj je to? Kot odlična knjiga Požar FBI v Miamiju avtorja nekdanjih posebnih agentov Edmunda Mirelesa in Elizabeth Mireles ter članka Tactical Pew Pew Policijsko orožje: od preteklosti do danes Poudarite, da je FBI po streljanju leta 1986 v Miamiju začel iskati pištolo z učinkovitejšo zaustavitveno močjo, ki ne bi ovirala in ogrozila častnika s potrebo po ponovnem nalaganju jeklenk med ognjem. Za ponovno polnjenje pištole, še posebej revolverja, je očitno potreben dragocen čas, ki ga častnik ali oborožen državljan v realnem času ne bi imel v realnem življenju.

Neposredno zgoraj omenjena zaželenost bi se logično uporabila tudi za rezervno strelno orožje. Dejansko je upokojeni policijski kapitan in legendarni strokovnjak za strelno orožje Massad Ayoob prepričan (Hellcat: policajev najboljši prijatelj?) Hellcat® je odlična, hitro skrivajoča sekundarna pištola za uniformirana in navadna oblačila. Ayoobova oznaka ima veliko težo, saj je od leta 1974 učil tehnike streljanja kazenskega pregona, načela civilne samoobrambe in streljanje.

Glede na zmogljivost Springfield Armory® Hellcat® ’s bodo morda nekega dne kmalu postali priporočeni standard za oddelke mirovnih častnikov po vsej Kanadi in Združenih državah. Če boste v začetku tega leta pridobili priporočilo ‘Nacional Tactical Officers Association ’, boste nedvomno spodbujali nakupe agencij. Članek ‘Pew Pew Tactical ’ Policijsko orožje: od preteklosti do danes pomeni, da ko bodo policijske uprave začele nositi novo vrsto pištole, civilno lastništvo pogosto ne zaostaja. ” Kar zadeva Springfield Armory® Hellcat® in njegovo izjemno priljubljenost pri civilistih za prikrito nošenje in domačo obrambo, zgoraj omenjeno težnjo bi učinkovito obrnili, Hellcat® bi nato postal oblikovalec trendov.

Avtorji Policijsko orožje: od preteklosti do danes Upoštevajte, da “Med organi kazenskega pregona ti predstavljajo velike tri stranske puške - Glock, Sig Sauer in S & ampW - in tri izbrane kartuše - 9 mm, .40 S & ampW in .45 ACP. ” Dodajajo pa, “ Tudi pištole Ruger, Beretta in Springfield Armory ostajajo v teku. ” Vključitev Springfield Armory®, zlasti za rezervno uporabo, je precej omembe vredna, saj stara stražarska garnitura ne more dolgo zadrževati vrhunskega orožja!

Bi se lahko kmalu bližala tudi vojaška zaposlitev Hellcata®? Glede na rodovnik imena Hellcat ter najnovejše zmogljivosti in lastnosti Springfield Armory® Hellcat®, bodo morda kanadske letalske sile Royal United in letalske sile ZDA kmalu dobavile Hellcats® letalskim posadkam in enotam vojaške policije? V tem primeru bi bili ‘Hellcats ’ spet v zavezniški vojaški službi.

Avtor (John T. Stemple) se zahvaljuje Springfield Armory® in vodji odnosov z mediji Springfield ’s Mikeu Humphriesu. Zastavljalnica JD ’s v Auburndaleu na Floridi dolguje dolg za zagotavljanje podpore v zvezi s pridobitvijo Springfield Armory® Hellcat® za oceno.

Urednik ’s Opomba: Bralci so napoteni na dve temeljni deli, ki delno obravnavata predmet analize streljanja: Alexis Artwohl in Loren W. Christensen ’s Srečanja s smrtonosno silo: policaji in državljani, ki se branijo sami in drugi in Michael Martin ’s Osnove prikritega nošenja in domače obrambe.


Grumman F4F Wildcat

Wildcat se je prvič dvignil v zrak 2. septembra 1937. Čeprav zapisi kažejo, da je uspešen borec, ga je med drugo svetovno vojno na več področjih (manevriranje, hitrost vzpona in servisni strop) premagal njen sovražnik, Mitsubishi A6M “Zero. ” Toda ameriški piloti so premagali pomanjkljivosti Wildcat-a s taktiko, kot je na primer Thatch Weave (ki ga je razvil poveljnik poročnika Jimmy Thatch), križan vzorec, ki sta ga preletela par F4F-jev, da bi se pokrila pred napadalci. . General Motors ’ Eastern Aircraft Division je prav tako izdelal Wildcats pod oznako FM-2. Pravzaprav je vzhodnjak zgradil več divjih mačk kot Grumman. Preizkušena je bila različica, opremljena s plovcem, znana kot Wildcatfish, vendar je hitra širitev kopenskih baz in flote spremljevalnih nosilcev odpravila potrebo po letalu-amfibiju. (Z lovcem je letela tudi britanska kraljeva mornarica, ki jo je poimenovala Martlet.)

Specifikacije FM-2
Razpon:   38 ft. 0 in.
Dolžina:   28 ft. 11 in.
Višina:   9 ft. 11 in.
Prazna teža:  5.448 lbs.
Največja hitrost:   332 km / h
Normalni razpon:  900 mi.
Strop:   34.700 ft


Ko so se Hellcats borili proti Luftwaffeju

19. avgusta 1944 se je zastavnik ameriške mornarice Alfred Wood iz opazovalne lovske eskadrilje 1 (VOF-1), ki je letel na Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat s spremljevalnega prevoznika Tulagi, pripravil na napad na par Heinkel He-111 južno od Lyona v Franciji .

Grumman F6F, ki slovi kot najuspešnejši borec pacifiške vojne, je prispeval tudi k zmagi zaveznikov v evropskem gledališču.

Iz morja so priletele štiri peklenske mačke Grumman F6F-5, ki so lovile sovražna letala, ki so poskušala priti izven zračnega dežnika ameriške mornarice. Na poti v notranjost je vodja lovca zagledal dva bombnika z dvema motorjema, ki imata na krilih oznake sovražnika. Postavitev je bila skoraj idealna: voditelj in njegov kriminalec sta z nosom položila najbližjo tarčo v svoje reflektorske nišane in pritisnila sprožilce na ročajih palice. Svetlobni delci so se vrteli nad kamufliranim bombnikom, ki je absorbiral ves udarec 12 mitraljezov kalibra 50. Hudil je dim, se hitro spuščal in razbil v tla.

Še en uspešen sestrelitev na Pacifiku? Ne, Heinkel He-111 je pravkar postal prva nemška žrtev mornariške peklenske mačke v Evropi.

Datum je bil 19. avgust 1944, lokacija južna Francija. Peklenske mačke so 12 mesecev pridobivale zračno premoč nad osrednjim in zahodnim Pacifikom, vendar je rodovniška mačka z Long Islanda v resnični svetovni vojni razširila kremplje proti Nemčiji. Njegova služba je zajemala zadnjih 13 mesecev bojev v evropskem gledališču operacij, ki so leteli z britansko in ameriško mornarico.

Britanija je bila stalna stranka podjetja Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company, saj je Kraljevska mornarica močno potrebovala visokozmogljive lovce. Ian Cameron, britanski mornariški letalnik, je objokoval: "Med prvim dnevom vojne in zadnjim, letalska roka flote ni prejela niti enega britanskega letala, ki po naravi ni bilo neprimerno za delo na nosilcih ali je bilo zastarelo. ”

Britanci so med letoma 1940 in '44 kupili skoraj 1.100 Grumman Martlets (njihovo ime za F4F Wildcat) in 2.000 Vought Corsairjev, ki so se začeli junija 1943. Naslednji mesec je številka 800 eskadrilje zamenjala svoje Hawker Sea Hurricanes za F6F-3, imenovane Gannet Is po severna morska ptica in preimenovana v Hellcat Is januarja 1944. Na koncu je kraljeva mornarica pridobila 252 F6F-3 in 930 F6F-5 (kot Hellcat II), vključno z nekaterimi nočnimi lovci. Prve britanske peklenske mačke so v boj vstopile aprila 1944 v okolju, ki je daleč od znanih pacifiških podnebij F6F.


Britanski Hellcat je 3. aprila 1944 ob zori vzletel s spremljevalnega prevoznika HMS Emperor, da bi pomagal spremljati bombni napad na nemško bojno ladjo Tirpitz v Kaafjordu na Norveškem. (IWM A22653)

Nemška bojna ladja Bismarck maja 1941 je bila potopljena, a tri leta kasneje je bila njena sestrska ladja Tirpitz še vedno skrivajo v norveških fjordih in predstavljajo potencialno grožnjo zavezniškemu ladijskemu prometu. V začetku aprila sta v severne vode napotila dva britanska prevoznika flote in štirje spremljevalni prevozniki, ki sta nameravali odpraviti to grožnjo. Vkrcane eskadrilje so vključevale št. 800 na krovu HMS Cesar, s paro 150 milj severno od polarnega kroga.

Operativni načrt je vključeval dva napada, od katerih je vsak imel po 21 potapljaških bombnikov Fairey Barracuda, ki jih je spremljalo 20 Hellcats in Martlets. Prvo letalo je bilo lansirano zgodaj 3. aprila 1944, 120 milj od cilja. Letalci Kraljeve mornarice so leteli nizko - nekateri na le 50 čevljev -, da bi zmanjšali možnosti za odkrivanje nemških radarjev. Skoraj 90 minut kasneje je prva udarna sila zagledala Tirpitz45.000-tonski razsuti tovor se nahaja v skalnati zaščiti Kaafjorda. Branilci so opazili vstopne napadalce in pobrali generatorje dima, medtem ko so nekatere najbolj debele luske v Skandinaviji izbruhnile v hladnem zraku.

"Prvi napad je Nemce ujel s spuščenimi hlačami," je dejal podpolkovnik. Donald Sheppard. V bledi, poševni svetlobi so Grummanovi padli v potapljanje in se trudili, da bi zatreli protiletalski ogenj. Bili so presenetljivo učinkoviti, saj je bil sestreljen le en potapljaški bombnik. V zameno je neustrašni Barracudas zahteval šest zadetkov.

Nekaj ​​več kot eno uro pozneje je prišel drugi napad. Nemci so bili takrat popolnoma pripravljeni in njihovi strelci so zrušili Barracudo in Hellcat, vendar je kar devet bomb z neposrednimi zadetki ali skoraj zgrešenji pretreslo bojno ladjo. Vodja borcev, podpolkovnik Stanley Orr je zaključil: "Hellcat se je na tej misiji izkazal kot odlična strelna platforma."

Tirpitz do junija ni bilo v prometu, vendar so kasnejši napadi zaradi slabega vremena dosegli le nekaj rezultatov. Še ena eskadrila Hellcata, HMS JezenŠt. 1840, ki je zajemal zadnji napor, ki je zahteval le lažjo škodo na ladji.

Tirpitz novembra 1944 so ga Lancasters kraljevih letalskih sil potopili.


Piloti Hellcata na krovu Emperorja so preučevali zemljevide in model norveškega fjorda, preden so se pridružili stavki na Tirpitzu. (IWM A22651)

Mesec dni po prvem Tirpitz stavka, Hellcats so se vrnile na norveško nebo in se skupaj z Luftwaffe uvrstile v edinstven pasji boj. 8. maja CesarSquadron št. 800 je spremljala ladijsko stavko, ki so jo prestregli borci Jagdgeschwader (Krilo lovca) 5. Britanci so poročali o mešani vreči Me-109G in Fw-190A. Lovca Messerschmitt in Focke-Wulf sta bila na morski gladini približno tako hitra kot Grumman, vendar se noben ni mogel obrniti s Hellcatom. Ker je bil 109 lažji in z manjšo močjo, je imel 109 prednost pri vzponu.

Nemci so na prvem prehodu razstrelili enega Hellcata, drugi piloti Fleet Air Arma pa so s svojo vrhunsko vodljivostjo zahtevali dva 109 -a in 190. Slednji je bil pripisan poročniku Blythu Ritchieju, Škotu s 3½ prejšnjih zmag v Sea Hurricanes. Nemci so napačno zahtevali tri Grummane, čeprav je drugi Hellcat verjetno padel. Luftwaffe je dejansko izgubil tri Messerschmitte in pilote, saj ni padel noben Focke-Wulfs.

Naslednji dan CesarDruga eskadrila Hellcat, št. 804, je brizgala dve leteči čolni Blohm & amp Voss Bv-138. Poveljnik eskadrilje 804 je bil zelo izkušen podpolkovnik. Orr z najmanj 8½ zmagami v Fairey Fulmars iz svojih sredozemskih dni 1940–41.

14. maja CesarHellcats so se naletele na jato plavajočih letal Heinkel He-115 v bližini Rørvika. Ritchie, ki vodi let št. 800 eskadrilje, je z lahkoto ustrelil enega in postal eden od le 14 asov kraljeve mornarice. Nato se je srečal z Orrom in sodeloval pri uničenju drugega Heinkela. Vsaj dva druga He-115 sta bila pritrjena na vodo.

"Ko smo znižali hitrost in se obrnili, da bi spet naleteli nanje, so se tri preostala letalna letala premikala gor in dol po vodi, kot sedeče race," je dejal Orr. »White Flight je od takrat izčrpal strelivo, potem ko je prestregel preostale He 115, in mi smo jih morali dokončati. Sodeloval sem pri potopu enega, nato pa smo sežgali drugega. Letalo eskadrile št. 800, s katerim je letel podporočnik Holloway, je prišlo do povratnega ognja enega od He 115 in pilot je bil prisiljen pobegniti ob povratku v Cesar. Na žalost ga nikoli niso našli. "

Anvil-Dragoon je bila druga največja amfibijska operacija v Evropi med drugo svetovno vojno. Dva meseca in pol po izkrcanju v Normandiji so vojaki, ki so sodelovali na "dnevu D jug", pristali na najbolj glamuroznem prizorišču katerega koli vojaškega podjetja v vojni: na francoski rivieri.

Prvi pristanek je bil 15. avgusta med Toulonom in Cannesom. Med sedmimi britanskimi spremljevalnimi prevozniki je bil Dragoon Cesar, še vedno gosti Hellcats 800 eskadrilje. (Na drugih ploščatih plovilih kraljeve mornarice so bile divje mačke in morski požari.)

Hellcats so imeli neločljivo prednost pred Wildcats in Seafires kraljeve mornarice. F6F-5 so rutinsko nosili več nabojev, kar jim je omogočilo večjo vsestranskost kot lovski bombniki. Na primer, Seafire Mark III je običajno naložil štiri rakete v primerjavi s šestimi Hellcat.

Dve ameriški eskadrilji Hellcat sta bili na krovu spremljevalnih prevoznikov USS Tulagi in Zaliv Kasaan, vsak s 24 novimi F6F-5. Tulagi nosil poročnik komandir William "Bush" Bringle's Observation Fighter Squadron 1 (VOF-1), katere piloti so bili specializirani za odkrivanje pomorskega streljanja. Težke izkušnje so pokazale, da so tradicionalna letala za opazovanje ranljiva za sovražne borce, zato je posadka Bringle nosila dva klobuka kot opazovalca topništva in pilota lovcev. Pri obeh nalogah sta bila enako spretna.

Bringlejevi piloti so si na Vought F4U-1 odrezali zobe, prav tako poročnik komandir. VF-17 Toma Blackburna in VF-12 Joea Cliftona. "Všeč nam je bil Corsair," je dejal Bringle, toda mornarica v mešanici med levo in desno roko ni popolnoma razumela, da so tri eskadrile v veliki meri rešile zloglasne težave pri pristanku letala F4U. Zato sta se VOF-1 in VF-12 vojskovala v Hellcatsu.


Gostujoča ameriška mornarica F6F-5 odhaja iz cesarja, medtem ko ena od njegovih Hellcats čaka, da pride na palubo. (IWM A25503)

Zaliv Kasaan nosil VF-74 pod poveljnikom komandirja. Harry Bass, ki je bil na hitro napoten, da bi ustregel nujnim potrebam Anvil-Dragoona. Čeprav niso posebej usposobljeni za misije lovcev-bombnikov, bi piloti Bassa dosegli ugledne rekorde z bombami in raketami. Eskadrila je na Korziki "plavala" tudi enoto nočnih lovcev, ki je amfibijskim silam zagotavljala nočno zaščito.

Na dan D, 15. avgusta, je postalo sivo in megleno, obe ameriški eskadrili pa sta bombardirali nemške obalne obrambne puške. Naslednje misije so bile v glavnem oborožene izvidnice, ki so napadale tarče priložnosti z bombami, raketami in celo z udarci zlitimi globinskimi naboji.

Niti VOF-1 niti VF-74 nista bila usposobljena za tesno letalsko podporo, vendar sta po možnosti odgovarjala na zahteve ameriškega VI korpusa. Čeprav so pehoti opisovali natančne cilje, brez letalskega očesa, ki bi usmerjal lovce, letalcem ni bilo mogoče identificirati cilja.

Sovražnikova prometna omrežja so bila lažja in ranljivejša tarča. Hellcatsi so bombardirali železniške proge in prepletene ceste, napolnjene z nemškimi silami, ki so hitele proti jugu, da bi nasprotovale pristankom. Poročniku Fredu Schaufflerju je bila dvopasovna cesta podobna »prometu ob 5:00 proti domu v Bostonu«.

Dva "baby flattops" sta ta dan brez izgube zabeležila 100 letov. Ena Zaliv Kasaan Hellcat je utrpel hudo škodo, ki je preprečila spuščanje repnega trna, zato je pilot opomogel na kopnem na Korziki.

D-plus-2 je bil strožji. V iskanju verjetnih ciljev 17. je par pilotov VF-74 v slabem vremenu izginil po kopnem.

"Ponavadi smo leteli s šestimi raketami, včasih pa tudi z eno ali dvema bombama," se je spomnil Bringle. "Imeli smo nekaj časa nad tarčo pri odkrivanju streljanja, vmes pa smo pogosto iskali kaj za bombardiranje in streljanje."


Nemški vlak kadi, potem ko ga je napadel pilot VOF-1 zastavnik John Mooney zahodno od Carcassonna. (Nacionalni arhiv)

V prvih štirih dneh Hellcats niso videli letal Luftwaffe. Nato so 19. avgusta zjutraj nekateri piloti VOF-1 opazili tri He-111 50 kilometrov severozahodno od Marseillea, vendar jim je zmanjkalo goriva za nadaljevanje. Vendar je pozneje popoldne izvršni direktor Bringle, podpolkovnik. John Sandor, spral par Heinkelov 125 milj v notranjosti, južno od Lyona. He-111 so se razšli, Sandor in njegov vodja pa sta ga lovila do 700 čevljev. On in zastavnik David Robinson sta napadla z desne strani in dosegla dobre zadetke, bombnik pa je padel. Nekateri nemški člani posadke so bili ubiti, ko so Američani naredili prelaz.

Medtem se je drugi odsek zavrtel v drugem Heinkelu. Poročnik Rene Poucel in praporščak Alfred Wood sta ga sestrelila s krme in poslala v isto regijo, kjer so se rodili Poucelovi starši.

Sledil je dlje, Wood pa je naletel na drugega Heinkela, streljal od 6. ure in prižgal oba motorja. Sandor in njegovi trije piloti so zahtevali tudi 21 tovornjakov in uničili lokomotivo, preden so se ujeli Tulagi.

Boj proti 74 je tudi izrezal nekaj zarez 19. Patruljirala je ob reki Rhône, Bassova enota je to jutro zrušila Junkers Ju-88. Kasneje dva Zaliv Kasaan divizije so skočile z Dornier Do-217. Šest od osmih pilotov je napadlo, a sta dosegla le dva: zaslužka sta si delila poročnik (j.g.) Edwin Castenado in zastavnik Charles Hullard. Castenado je postal najboljši strelec eskadrilje s četrtino Ju-88 in polovico Do-217.

Ob sončnem zahodu na D-plus-4 so se mornariški letalci lahko zadovoljili, ker so se dobro odrezali na različnih misijah. 20. avgusta pa je postalo kislo: Bassovo Hellcat je med streljanjem severozahodno od Lyona udaril flak in se je smrtno zrušil.

Bringlova eskadrila je izgubila dve letali. Poročnik David Crockett je opazil strel nad pristaniščem Toulon, ko je bil prisiljen reševati. Nemci so ga ujeli in zdržal je štiri dni ujetništva, preden se je mesto predalo. Letalo poročnika Jamesa Alstona je bilo nato udarjeno med streljanjem. Povečal je do 5000 čevljev in skočil, ko je odpovedalo eno krilo. Še isti dan so ga prijavili na varno.


Zastavnik Alfred Wood (levo) in poročnik (j.g.) Edward Olszewski iz VOF-1 pozirata s Hellcat-om, v katerem je vsak dosegel dvojno zmago. (Ameriška mornarica preko Barretta Tillmana)

Več zračnih srečanj se je zgodilo 21., spet vpletenih Tulagi piloti. F6F-ji poročnika (j.g.) Edwarda Olszewskega in praporščaka Richarda Yentzerja so utrpeli hudo škodo, vendar so nadaljevali misijo in odkrili tri transporterje Junkers Ju-52/3m proti severu iz Marseilla. Olszewski je izbral najbližjega v formaciji in ga uničil v dveh prehodih. Potem, ko je še vedno streljal le en kaliber 0,50, je spustil drugi trimotor. Yentzer je trikrat streljal, da je zažgal vodilno letalo.

Tistega dne je VOF-1 utrpel še eno izgubo, ko se je med potapljanjem v konvoju tovornjakov razšel Hellcat poročnika (j.g.) Johna Coynea. Komaj je pravočasno odkorakal, da je odprl padalo, a je varno pristal.

Na večer D-plus-6 so se ameriški prevozniki umaknili za dva dni dopolnitve. Medtem je britanska eskadrila št. 800 ohranila prisotnost Hellcata nad južno Francijo, vendar je izgubila tri letala, verjetno vsa zaradi padca.


F6F-5 iz VF-74 se pripravlja na izstrelitev iz zaliva USS Kassan, namenjen ciljem na jugu Francije. (Nacionalni arhiv)

Z Tulagi in Zaliv Kasaan spet na liniji se je operacija Dragoon nadaljevala še en teden. Od 24. do 29. avgusta sta bila v pristajališčih za vodo izgubljena še dva VOF-1 Grummana, med drugim tudi eskadrila CO Bringle. On in še en pilot sta bila rešena.

Ameriški eskadrilji sta 13 dni leteli in odpisali 11 F6F od 48 dodeljenih. Boj 74 je izgubil štiri pilote, VOF-1 pa dva. Toda med njimi sta bila zaslužna za sestrelitev osmih nemških letal, uničenje približno 800 vozil ter uničevanje ali imobilizacijo 84 lokomotiv.

A tribute to the Grummans’ effectiveness came from Rear Adm. Thomas Troubridge, the British commander of the Allied carrier force. He singled out the F6Fs in his after-action report, noting, “The U.S. aircraft, especially the Hellcats, proved their superiority.”

Meanwhile, Bush Bringle’s crew got on with the war. Redesignated as a composite squadron (VOC-1), the naval aviators became globetrotters, flying FM-2 “Wilder Wildcats” from escort carri­ers in the Pacific. Gunfire-spotting skills were so highly valued that VOC-1 probably logged more hours per pilot than any Pacific carrier squadron during 1945. In addition to the two Ju-52s he had downed over France, Ed Olszewski claimed a Nak­a­jima B5N Kate torpedo bomber off Oki­nawa to become one of probably three U.S. Navy pilots with German and Japanese planes to his credit.

For Grumman’s hardy Hellcat, World War II truly was a global conflict.

The Royal Air Force’s Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down evaluated a wide variety of Allied and German aircraft during the war. Based on those comparisons, the Grumman Hellcat and Messerschmitt Me-109G were evenly matched for top speed at sea level (305 mph), though the “Gustav” gained 20 mph minus its drop tank. Hellcats nearly always flew with a 150-gallon external tank. Top speed was very close for both fighters at 22,000 feet: 375 vs. 367, slightly favoring the Grumman, but the Messer­schmitt pulled ahead at 395 mph clean.


The British evaluated a number of Luftwaffe aircraft, such as this Messerschmitt Me-109G-6 captured in Italy in the summer of 1943. (National Archives)

In a turning fight the 109 could not compete with the Hellcat, whose 36 pounds per square foot wing loading trumped the Messerschmitt’s 42. But vertical performance gave the 109 a decided advantage, with a power loading of 4.9 pounds per square foot versus 6.1 for the Grumman. Those figures translated to average climb rates of 3,400 feet per minute for the 109 and 2,500 for the Hellcat. However, the Luftwaffe pilot would have to fly a fairly precise vertical profile to negate the Grumman’s superior maneuverability.

Grumman worked hard on cockpit geometry and design, giving the F6F pilot far better visibility than the Messerschmitt provided. Hellcats certainly packed a more lethal punch: six wing-mounted .50-caliber machine guns versus the 109’s typical battery of a 20mm cannon and two 13mm guns, all in the nose.

Finally, the rugged Grumman airframe and legendary Pratt & Whitney radial translated to better survivability than afforded by the lighter 109’s inline Daimler-Benz.

Comparing the F6F-3 to the Focke-Wulf Fw-190A, British test pilots found them well matched. Legendary Royal Navy pilot Eric “Winkle” Brown noted: “The German had a speed advantage the American had a slight advantage in climb. Both were maneuverable and had heavy firepower.

“Verdict: this was a contest so finely balanced that the skill of the pilot would probably be the deciding factor.

“So—the Hellcat and Corsair (not mentioned here, but generally a bit better than the Hellcat) would hold their own in the air over Germany.”

Barrett Tillman is the award-winning author of nearly 800 articles and more than 40 books, including Hellcat: The F6F in World War II in On Wave and Wing: The 100-Year Quest to Perfect the Aircraft Carrier, which are recommended for further reading.

This feature originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe click here!

Are you ready to build Olszewski and Wood’s F6F-5? Click here!


Build Your Own Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat

During Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in August 1944, Observation Fighter Squadron 1 (VOF-1) pilots Ensign Alfred Wood and Lt. (j.g.) Edward Olszewski took turns flying the same Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, shooting down a total of four German aircraft. The fighter they flew was an early model of the F6F-5.

The Czech model company Eduard has become known for their crisp detail and accuracy. For the picky modeler who wants to build that earlier version of the Hellcat, an Eduard kit is a great choice. Their “Profipack” early F6F-5 release (No. 8225) makes a great OOB (out of the box) project. Finely detailed resin wheels and a beautiful color PE (photo-etched) metal fret means there’s almost no need to buy extra aftermarket sets.

Start with the cockpit and a coat of “interior green” (FS34151) on cockpit walls, seat, bulkheads. Should you decide to use the PE detail set, find some quiet time and unpack your patience. Study the instructions and begin carefully working your way through the (sometimes very tiny) details. Toothpicks and even a small needle are good tools for applying glue to tiny areas. A pair of tweezers is a must.


A metal photo-etched fret yields cockpit instruments and a seat harness that add an extra level of detail without the added expense of an aftermarket set.

Align the cockpit between the fuselage halves, glue and clamp where needed. Set the assembly aside and move on to the next step. Overall the fit is very good—only some minor filling and sanding is needed.

The engine is a nice little model all by itself. Crisp detail on the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 is accentuated by a wiring harness from the PE fret. Paint the cylinders an aluminum color, the crankcase grey and wiring black. Use a dark wash to pop out the highlights.

Assemble the horizontal stabilizers. Glue the landing gear interior to the bottom half of the wings and put them together as well. After a little sanding, clean up the wings and stabilizers. Bring the assemblies together and the airplane is ready for the paint shop. Camouflage for this Hellcat is relatively easy. The fighter was painted an overall “sea blue” (FS 25042), including the landing gear. Mask off the cockpit and give the model its color.

A little weathering will add some interest to the monochromatic color scheme. With a cotton swab, ground black, white and a bit of blue oil pastel can create exhaust staining that resembles the way heated metal looks against a darker colored area. A little oil and some fuel stains help give the look of an airplane that spends time outside on a pitching carrier deck. Apply an overall spray of clear gloss and the model is ready for its markings.


By the latter part of 1944 camouflage of U.S. Navy aircraft was changed from a three-tone scheme popular with modelers to an overall "glossy sea blue 623."

There are a couple of aftermarket decal sets available that have the markings for Olszewski and Wood’s airplane. National insignia and stencils come from the kit’s decal sheet. The national insignia in particular is composed of just the white star and bars, using the dark blue of the airplane to substitute for the rest of the design. The fighter’s four victory markings and the names of the two pilots will make this Hellcat unique. Take care with the application of the delicate aftermarket decals. Seal the decals with a coat of clear semi-gloss.

The kit includes masks that are pre-cut to neatly fit the clear canopy pieces. The masks are easy to apply and the result is a clean, neat cockpit canopy. Add the assembled landing gear, the smaller bits, pitot, antenna and propeller. Attach the canopy and be sure to slide it back to show off all the cockpit detail.

Your European theater Hellcat is finally ready to display, an interesting addition to your Pacific Cats.


Grumman Hellcat - History

The Hellcat was a terrific airplane and very effective fighter. It was positively a piece of cake to fly just a dream. The difference between the F4F [Wildcat] and the F6F was night and day. We had more range, more speed, more power. more everything. (US Navy Ensign George Orner, a F6F Hellcat fighter pilot aboard USS Franklin, recalled his liking for his fighter).

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat was acarrier-based fighter aircraft designed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat andcompeted with the fasterVought F4U Corsair for use as a carrier based fighter.

F6F-3 Hellcat fighter being prepared for launch aboard USS Yorktown during the carrier's shakedown cruise, May 1943 [Via ww2db]

  1. The U.S. Navy much preferred the more docile flight qualities of the F6F compared with theVought F4U Corsair, despite the superior speed of the Corsair.

An early F6F-3 in Blue-Gray over Light Gull-Gray. A U.S. Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat of fighter squadron VF-1 over California (USA), in early 1943. VF-1 was redesignated VF-5 in July 1943 [Via Wikipedia]

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat used the same powerplant theVought F4U Corsair and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800.

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat was faster at all altitudes than JapaneseZero Type 52 Figther.

Tri-color camouflaged Hellcat fighters in flight, 21 Jun 1943 [Via ww2db]

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat was easy to maintain and had an airframe tough enough to withstand the rigors of routine carrier operations.The F6F series were designed to take damage and get the pilot safely back to base.
  1. 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. While later aircraft had single bomb racks installed under each wing. 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.

US Navy pilot Lieutenant Commander James H. Flatley's F6F-3 Hellcat fighter warming up on the deck of USS Yorktown, preparing to attack Marcus Island, 31 Aug 1943 [Via ww2db]

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat helped secure air superiority over thePacific Theater.
  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat first saw action against the Japanese on 1 September 1943 when fighters off theUSS Neodvisnost shot down a Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat.
  1. 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".

Grumman F6F Hellcat aterrant en el USS Yorktown (CV-10) [Via Wikipedia]

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat accounted for 75% of all aerial victories recorded by the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.
  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat were credited with destroying 5,223 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and theRoyal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
  1. U.S. Navy and Marine Grumman F6F Hellcat 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).

F6F-3 Hellcat flown by Commander Joseph C. Clifton of VF-12, Saratoga, 1944 [Via Navy Pilot Overseas]

  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat became the prime ace-maker aircraft in the American inventory, with 305 Hellcat aces.
  1. The Grumman F6F Hellcat claimed 13:1 kill ratio against the A6M Zero, 9.5:1 against theNakajima Ki-84, and 3.7:1 against the Mitsubishi J2M during the last year of the war.
  1. 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.

  1. The BritishFleet Air Arm (FAA) received 1,263 Grumman F6Fs Hellcat under the Lend-Lease Act.
  1. In Europe, the FAA Hellcats saw action off Norway, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East. A number were fitted with photographic reconnaissance equipment similar to the F6F-5P, receiving the designation Hellcat FR Mk.II.
  1. In the Pacific Theater, FAA Hellcats claimed a total of 52 enemy aircraft kills during 18 aerial combats from May 1944 to July 1945. 1844 Naval Air Squadron, on board HMS Nezlomljivo of the British Pacific Fleet was the highest scoring unit, with 32.5 kills.

British Royal Navy Hellcat fighter, circa 1943 [Via ww2db]

  1. The Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat subtype gained fame as the first aircraft used by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels official flight demonstration team at its formation in 1946.

The Blue Angels taking delivery of their new aircraft in Bethpage, 1946 [Via Blue Angels]

  1. Radar-equipped Hellcat night fighter squadrons appeared in early 1944. The Grumman F6F Hellcat were used as a night fighter after war.
  1. The XF6F-6s were the fastest version of the Hellcat series with a top speed of 417 mph (671 km/h), but the war ended before this variant could be mass-produced.
  1. Grumman built a total of 12,275 F6F Hellcat, of which 11,000 were built in just two years.

F6F Hellcat fighters going through launch procedures aboard the carrier Saratoga, off Gilbert Islands, early 1943 [Via ww2db]


Grumman F6F Hellcat

By Stephen Sherman, Apr. 2002. Updated January 23, 2012.

T he highly successful follow-on to the Wildcat. Built specifically to counter the Japanese Zero, the Hellcat filled the bill, and earned the nickname "ace maker." Its docile handling characteristics, especially important for a carrier-based plane to be used by a large number of reasonably well-trained pilots, made it the Navy's first choice fighter to deploy with the Essex-class carriers.

In the critical years 1943 and 1944, the Hellcat ruled the skies of the Western Pacific.

Eugene Valencia, one of the Navy's top aces, quipped. "I love this airplane so much, that if it could cook, I'd marry it."

Razvoj

Although the F6F had been on the drawing boards at Grumman, even before Pearl Harbor, the advent of the war gave great impetus to the development of the replacement for the Wildcat. From the start it was a much bigger airplane. Leroy Grumman, and his two top engineers, Leon Swirbul and Bill Schwendler, laid out a plane with higher performance, more fuel & ammunition, and huge wings. The wings extended over 334 square feet the average was less than 250 sq. ft.. The wings folded back and pivoted ingeniously, so that they folded up next to and alongside the fuselage.

The first prototype, the XF6F-1, was under development when the war started. Based on combat experience against the Zero and the intact A6M captured in the Aleutians, it was clear that speed and better climb would be needed from the Hellcat. Test pilot Robert L. Hall first flew the XF6F-1 in late June, 1942. Powered by a Wright Cyclone R-2600-16 engine (1,600 horsepower), the aircraft didn't have the needed performance. Grumman proposed the Pratt & Whitney 2800 Double Wasp (2,000 horsepower). Equipped with the P&W 2800, the original prototype airframe became the XF6F-3. A month later, Bob Hall flew the new configuration. Despite a crash of the XF6F-3 in August, the Navy placed an order.

Grumman had to build a new facility, Plant Number 3, to produce the Hellcat. Obtaining the structural steel for the buildings was a challenge, met in part by the purchase of scrap from the Second Avenue El. Even before Plant Number 3 was finished, Hellcats began rolling off the production lines. Another Grumman test pilot, Selden "Connie" Converse took up a production F6F-3 for the first time on October 3, 1942. Grumman's Hellcat output picked up quickly: 12 planes in the last quarter of 1942, 128 in the first quarter of 1943, and then 130 in the month of April, 1943. Eventually they would be churning out 500 per month. The company built over 12,000 in three years.

During "The War," Grumman was an outstanding example of American productivity, employing 20,000 workers, few of whom had ever worked in the aircraft industry before many of them were women. Bethpage was a happy place there were no strikes, work stoppages, nor unions. Grumman took care of its employees with daycare centers for working mothers, social events for all, Christmas turkeys, and the famous "Green Car Service" to help employees with dead batteries and other minor problems.

F6F Performance

Especially with the delays in the F4U program, the US Navy needed a superior carrier-based fighter in 1942-43. The Hellcat filled the bill. On average, it flew 55 MPH faster than the Zero at about 20,000 feet it was 70 MPH faster. At altitudes in excess of 10,000 feet, it had a comparable rate of climb. At all altitudes, due to its heavier weight and greater power, it could out-dive the A6M. (This was generally true of American fighters in a tough spot, the pilots could nose over, firewall the throttle, and zoom down.)

The 'dash Five' closely resembled the 'dash Three.' It had some extra armor, stronger main gear legs, spring tabs on the ailerons (for better maneuverability), and most of them had water-injection engines (the R-2800-10W). Both versions had 250 gallons capacity in internal tanks and a 150 gallon belly drop-tank.

Its armament, power, and range gave the Hellcat great versatility. The basic weaponry consisted of six wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, each with 400 rounds of ammunition. Many, including all F6F-5N and F6F-5P variants substituted a 20mm cannon with 200 rounds for the innermost machine gun in each wing. The Hellcat could carry a up two 1,000 pound bombs. Its most destructive weapons were six 5-inch HVAR's (High Velocity Aircraft Rockets), which the author Barrett Tillman described as "equal to a destroyer's broadside."

This variety of weapons and equipment permitted the Hellcat to carry out a broad range of missions: fighter versus fighter combat, strike plane escort, combat air patrol, long range search, ground support over invasion beaches, night fighting (see F6F-5N), and photo recon (see F6F-5P).

Operations - 1943

Fighting Squadron Nine (VF-9) took delivery of the first Hellcats in January, 1943. As they were flying from the Long Island factory to their Norfolk base, one crashed near Cape May, New Jersey. VF-6, commanded by Butch O'Hare, also received early deliveries of the F6F.

The Hellcat's first combat mission occurred on August 31, 1943, in a strike against Marcus Island, including Cdr. Charles Crommelin's VF-5, Lt. Cdr. Phil Torrey's VF-9, and a detachment of O'Hare's VF-6. The early-morning raiders destroyed eight twin-engine bombers on the ground while losing two Hellcats to anti-aircraft fire and one to engine trouble. The next day, over Howland and Bakers Islands, Lt.(jg) Dick Loesch and Ens. A.W. Nyquist scored the Hellcat's first aerial victory when they teamed up to shoot down a Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat.

Large-scale carrier operations began in October, with a attack on Wake. When four carriers struck Wake Island on October 5-6, the Hellcats saw their first significant aerial combat. Half an hour before dawn on the 5th, each of the four carriers launched three fighter divisions, 47 Hellcats in all. When they were still 50 miles out from Wake, the Japanese radar detected them, and 27 Zeros intercepted. In the ensuing dogfight, Fighting Nine's skipper, Phil Torrey, shot down one Zero, then evaded two more by dodging in and out of clouds. Lt. Hadden, while watching a shared kill fall into the ocean, was jumped by two Zeros, and was lucky enough to make it back to Essex with most of his engine oil emptied out through several 20mm holes. Lt. (jg) Hamilton McWhorter dove into a gaggle of Zeros, when one serendipitously appeared in his gunsight. He fired a short burst and exploded the Zero - his first aerial victory.

The raid showed that the new Hellcats could more than hold its own against the Zeros. They destroyed 22 of 34 aircraft at Wake, and 12 American planes were lost - 6 to the Zeros and 6 to AA gunfire.

In early November, the U.S. forces attacked the large Japanese base at Rabaul, and again the Hellcats overmatched the Zeros.

Night Fighters

The Navy saw the need for night fighters and started the Project Affirm program in early 1942, originally with Corsairs equipped with primitive AI (Air Interception) radar sets built by MIT engineers. In 1943, the Hellcat emerged as the preferred night fighter because of its easier landing characteristics and greater stability as a gun platform. The F6F-3E, converted in the field at MCAS Quonset Point, was the first Hellcat night fighter, using the AI radar, red cockpit lighting (to preserve the pilot's night vision), and without an easily scratched Plexiglass windscreen fairing. Eighteen F6F-3E's were built. (On November 26, 1943, Butch O'Hare, flying an unmodified F6F-3 on a night mission with a TBF Avenger, disappeared over the Gilberts. One of the best books I have read about the Pacific War, Crossing the Line, by Alvin Kernan - who was the gunner on the Avenger that night - deals with this event in detail.)

Next came the F6F-3N, 205 of these built by the Grumman factory. The F6F-3N employed an improved radar, the APS-6. Installed in a bulbous pod on the starboard wing, the APS-6 was simple to operate (only six knobs), had a range of five miles, and weighed 250 pounds. It featured a double-dot system that displayed a shadow blip to the right of the true blip this secondary blip showed the target's altitude relative to the F6F. The -3E's and -3N's deployed to the carriers in the Pacific in early 1944, but were difficult to integrate into carrier operations, as they essentially would have required round-the-clock duty by launch and recovery crews. Nonetheless, three Hellcat-equipped night squadrons (VF(N)-76, VF(N)-77, and VF(N)-78) served in the Pacific in 1944.

The F6F-5N was the definitive night-fighting version of the Hellcat, over 1500 of these built by Grumman.

Post War Service

Hellcats flew with the French Aeronavale in the Indochina war of the early 1950's.

Surviving Hellcats

As late as 1980, sixteen Hellcats survived (including some in private hands). More recently, there are at least ten Hellcats at the following museums:


The Hellcat moves into a new phase of life, restored to the highest standards of her stock condition.

The history of the Hellcat is intertwined with the birth of USN Night Fighter development. The USN faced a real challenge in early 1942. Japanese air attacks were simply something they had no defense against. Evan “Pete” Aurand was an ambitious naval officer who had been assigned to Scouting 2, flying SBD dive-bombers and he simply had to get into fighters. Accepting the first assignment offered in May 1942, Aurand headed for NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He became immersed in the effort to build a night fighting aircraft to protect the fleet. It would be a type of plane the U.S. Navy had never possessed before. Aurand worked with scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to improve the Hellcat’s effectiveness as a night fighter. VF(N)-76 began as one of three pioneer squadrons to use the new radar and navigation tools. Pete Aurand was instrumental in this secret program, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his contributions to developing these important technologies.

Select brand new F6F-3 Hellcats coming off the line at Grumman were modified in secret. Very little is known about the actual conversion process of the planes. We do know a new instrument panel and a radar pod were installed. The modifications made F6F-3N a different beast. It was designed to hone in on a target with its AIA or AN/APS-6 radar. The pilot was trained to fly the plane through the scope, before picking up the target aircraft visually at very close range.

On January 15, 1944 our F6F-3N Hellcat Bu (bureau number) 41476 was accepted by the USN and delivered 5 days later. The initial acceptance was to VF(N)-76 at Quonset Point. In talks with pilots from the squadron it was revealed that each aircraft had unique radar. No two worked exactly alike. Reaching squadron strength, the aircraft were flown to San Diego, CA for embarkation on a ship to Hawaii. From there the aircraft joined Task Force 58, rushing headlong into the Philippine campaign.

From January to September of 1944 Hellcat Bu 41476 was assigned to one of four detachments in the Pacific Fleet. The Detachments were assigned to the aircraft carriers Bunker Hill, Yorktown, Hornet, Essex, and Lexington. Dispersed among 5 ships, each detachment had little time for detailed record keeping cohesion. The squadrons were successful immediately. They began to take a toll on the night raiders that were previously unopposed. In fact VF(N)-76 was the highest scoring night fighter squadron with one detachment scoring 26 victories. The task force pressed the attack against the Imperial Japanese Navy. Well-known engagements included the Battle of Philippine Sea, the “Marianas Turkey Shoot” and attacks on Iwo Jima. Several Hellcat pilots became “aces” during this period.

Our Hellcat was then assigned to VFN-101 in September of 1944, the squadron previously operating the F4U-2 night fighting Corsair in a combat role, and perhaps destined to use the F6F next. However, within the month Bu 41476 was moved to CASU-27 at NAS Charleston, Rhode Island (CASU stands for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit). CASU-27 was responsible for maintaining the night fighters for training and preparing aircraft for several night fighter squadrons going to the fleet. Bu 41476 was assigned to VF(N)-91 in 1945. At this point, things were moving very quickly. New F6F-5N Hellcats were reaching squadrons in greater numbers, and the war-tired F6F-3N aircraft were considered “yesterday’s new car.”

Bu 41476 remained stateside for this round of deployment. All F6F-3N’s were replaced in fleet use by the F6F-5N. November through January 1945 Bu 41476 joined the NACTU Land or Night Attack and Combat Training Unit Atlantic Fleet. From there, she was assigned to VF-52, the precursor to VF(N)-52, then on to the day fighter squadron VF-3. In July 1945, the nomadic Bu 41476 was assigned as a pool aircraft with CASU 23 near NAS Norfolk. Eventually, like thousands of other postwar surplus aircraft, she was stricken from USN record.

At NAS Norfolk she became a training airframe, serving a new generation of maintenance trainees until she was put in storage. Navy Captain Walt Ohlrich found Bu 41476, sourced a set of new outer wings and restored the old fighter to flight worthy condition – unheard of for a U.S. government owned museum aircraft.

For the next several years, the Hellcat showcased Navy and Marine aviation history at airshows on the east coast. Alas, all good things must come to an end. A government bureaucrat found out the historic aircraft was flying and forced her to be grounded. After that, the Hellcat was displayed at the USMC Museum in Quantico, Virginia. Hellcat Bu 41467 moved again in 2002, this time on loan to the Evergreen Museum. It was displayed as a day fighter for the next ten years.

Now, the Hellcat moves into a new phase of life, restored to the highest standards of her stock condition. The story of WWII Naval Aviation and the role of the night fighters will be told through this aircraft. Joining the F4U-5N Korean War Night fighting Corsair currently flown by the Foundation, the Hellcat is the Alpha in the USN night fighting legacy. This aircraft represents a vital and little researched link to the past. While its detailed combat record may never be fully known, it is one of the most important aircraft the Foundation may ever find.

*The Hellcat is currently on display inside the American Heritage Museum next to our Pacific Theater exhibit.


Hellcats in the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy acquired large numbers of F4Fs as Grumman Martlets and made extensive use of the type. The F4F’s successor was the Grumman F6F Hellcat, designed as a private initiative in response to feedback from fleet aviators, which entered front-line service in mid-1943. It was powered by a 2,000 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial engine, giving it a maximum speed of 376 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 168 miles per hour, and a range of 1,090 miles on internal fuel or 1,590 miles with a 150-gallon drop tank. The F6F was armed with six 0.5-inch machine guns and also could carry rockets or bombs. The Royal Navy also operated substantial numbers of F6Fs as the Grumman Hellcat.

From April 1943, the British started receiving F6Fs as part of the Lend-Lease program, which America used to arm its ally. At first, they renamed these planes with the far more British title of “Gannet” instead of “Hellcat”.

The British received 252 Hellcats, but these planes never became as important for the Royal Navy as they were for its US counterpart.

On 16 July 1945 four carriers of the British Pacific Fleet joined the American fast-carriers as Task Force 37. They contained 112 Seafire or Firefly fighters, 73 Corsairs, and 62 Avengers. But the HMS Formidable also embarked a detachment of Hellcats from the HMS Indomitable’s outstanding 1844 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm.

British use of Hellcats in the Pacific extended back to the fall of 1944. In a series of strikes on Sumatran oil fields in December and January, 1844 and 1839 Squadrons off the Indomitable had accounted for some 15 aerial victories with few losses. Then came the Okinawa Campaign where 1844 ran up the largest one-day score for British F6Fs by downing four Oscars, a Tony, and a Zeke over Formosa on 12 April. It was a mighty small bag by U.S. Navy standards, but proof the British could put the Hellcat to good use.

The Royal Navy put its F6Fs to a different use the night of 25 July. When a small Japanese formation was detected heading for the British task group, two of 1844’s Hellcats were scrambled from the Formidable under a full moon. These were conventional Hellcat II’s (F6F-5s) without radar, but their pilots had been trained in night flying and were vectored by the ship’s FDO to an intercept position.

Lieutenant W. H. Atkinson, a Canadian, led the element and made contact. He identified the bandits as big, single-engine Grace torpedo planes and took his New Zealand wingman, Sub-Lieutenant R. F. Mackie, into the attack. Atkinson latched on to a pair of Graces and shot them both into the water while Mackie dumped a third. Then, in routing the other bandits, a fourth Grace was damaged and the attack was completely broken up.

It was ironic that the British, who led the Allies in night flying experience, should find themselves without their own carrier-based single-seat night fighters. Two Hellcat NF-II squadrons, 891 and 892, were forming with F6F-5Ns but would not become operational in time to fly combat.

These three victories raised the Hellcat’s tally to 47½ under British colors in the Pacific. Not surprisingly, 1844 Squadron remained the most successful F6F unit in the Fleet Air Arm with 31½ of the Royal Navy total. It also produced the individual top scorer, Sub-Lieutenant E. T. Wilson, who claimed 4.83 victories flying from the Indomitable in the Sumatran and Okinawan operations.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was an American designed carrier borne fighter. Its design began as a development of the F4F Wildcat powered by the R-2600 engine, but soon evolved into a much larger and more capable aircraft, with the R-2800 engine. The Hellcat was designed and put into service in a very short period in order to counteract the A6M ‘Zero’ from the second half of 1943 onwards, and soon became the main shipboard fighter of the US Navy for the last two years of the Pacific War. The Hellcat was the most sucessful allied fighter in WWII with over 5,000 aerial victories, and credited with 76% of all aircraft destroyed by USN carrier fighters.

On 30 June, 1941 the US Navy ordered the prototypes XF6F-1 and XF6F-2, rugged aircraft that lacked aesthetic appeal. In order to keep the take-off and landing speeds at a reasonable level, Grumman made the wings proportionally larger than most aircraft (including the Thunderbolt) to reduce wing loading. In fact, the Hellcat had the largest wing area of any single engine fighter of WWII at 334 square feet (102 square meters). They were to have the Pratt-Whitney Double Wasp 2600-10 with a two-stage supercharger installed delivering 1,700 hp (1,269 kW) for take-off. Immediately after the first flight of the XF6F1 on 26, June, 1942, the craft was redesignated the “XF6F-3”.

In 1942, the design of the prototype was adapted to take into account the analysis of the first ever captured and undamaged Japanese Zero, found by a US Navy PBY Catalina making a routine patrol over Akutan Island in the Pacific. The Zero was dismantled and shipped directly to the Grumman Aircraft factory in California where it was reassembled and flown. The information from the test flight of the Zero aided in the final design development of the Hellcat. It was found the XF6F-1 was marginally slower than the Zero, thus the change from the Pratt-Whitney Double Wasp R-2600 to the R-2800. This engine boosted the Hellcat’s top speed to 375 mph, 29 mph faster than the Zero. No other unfavourable differences between the two planes could be found and the Hellcat was deemed ready for production. The finalized version of the XF6F-3 was almost identical to the production F6F-3 and Grumman shifted the assembly line into high gear.

Hellcat production started in 1943 and a quick and effective distribution was subsequently organised. Well over 2,500 Hellcat were delivered during the first year, making it possible to re-equip Hellcat squadrons rapidly with this more potent fighter, and it remained in frontline service with the FAA and US Navy for the remainder of World War II.

The Hellcat was used extensively as a search aircraft and fighter-bomber, playing a major and increasing part in strikes on Japanese warships and mercantile shipping in 1944 and 1945. In this role, and for ground attack, it could carry up to 2,000 lb of bombs, or be armed with six 5-inch rockets on underwing pylons.

By the time Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat production ended in mid-1944, a total of 4,423 Hellcats had been built. Their numbers included 18 F6F-3E night fighters with APS-4 radar mounted in a pod beneath the starboard wing, and 205 generally similar F6F-3N night fighters with APS-6 radar. Postwar some were converted into unmanned flying bombs, used in Korea.

Hellcat I FAA equivalent F6F-3, 252 lendlease, initial production model

Hellcat II NF.II, FAA equivalent of F6F-5, 5n. 930 lendlease, redesigned cowling, provision for rockets or bombs, also nightfighter version (N)

The Royal Navy received 252 F6F-3s as Hellcat I under Lend-Lease. Production continued until November 1945 by which time 7870 F6F-5s had been built, of which some 930 had been supplied to the Royal Navy as Hellcat II and 1434 of the total had been completed as F6F-5N night-fighters. Ultimately, the Hellcat equiped 14 FAA front-line squadrons.

The first Hellcat Mark Is started to be delivered to the Fleet Air Arm on 13 March 1943, FN321 and FN323 arriving three months later, in June 1943 to the A and C Flights of A&AEE, Boscombe Down for service trials by RN pilots, and in July 1943 FN330 was tested by 778 squadron at Crail.

Very soon afterwards the Hellcat was distributed to operational squadrons, 800 squadron receiving its first Hellcat in batches in July, August and October 1943 (eg FN337, FN334, FN332, FN334, FN332), and 1839 squadron from December 1943 (FN328). Not long after this, on 31 August, 1943 the first combat sorties were being flown by the USN VF9 and VF-5 squadrons aboard USS Yorktown against Japanese targets on Marcus Island (Minami-tori Island) some 700 miles southeast of Japan.

The first batch and second batches of 188 F6F-5 Hellcat Mark IIs started to be delivered to the Royal Navy from May 1944, primarily to 1840 squadron. By this time many Hellcats were being shipped to overseas FAA squadrons directly from Norfolk, Virginia, USA to HMS Thane 14 August 1944 and on to RNARY Wingfield, thence to 804 squadron in September 1944.

The subsequent batch of 295 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Mk F.II was also shipped directly to RNARY Wingfield (eg JX670 to JX720) in HMS Ranee in September 1944, and on to RNARY Coimbatore. Many of these Hellcat were still in service in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) after the end of the war and into1946. However, quite a number were surplus to requirement after VJ-Day and dumped in the sea off Australia by HMS Colossus in 1945 (eg JX821).

The final 293 Hellcat II to be delivered to the Fleet Air Arm arrived between January and May 1945, the very last aircraft, KE265 being delivered on 11 May 1945.


Grumman Hellcat - History

Grumman Hellcat F6F G-BTCC (This aircraft is no longer part of the collection at Duxford)

The Grumman F6F Hellcat design was greatly influenced by feedback from squadrons flying her direct ancestor, the F4F Wildcat, in the Pacific Theatre as well as input from studying European Theatre air combat reports. The Hellcat was ordered by the US Navy in June 1941, and less than ayear later the prototype XF6F-1 flew. During prototype flight trials it was realised that a more powerful engine would give the Hellcat an edge in combat and so she was mated with a 2000hp Pratt & Whitney R2800-10 and subsequently re-designated the F6F-3. It was in this guise that she made her combat debut in August 1943.

The Hellcat must be considered one of the best carrier-borne aircraft of all time, with outstandingperformance at any altitude. The type made its presence known by accounting for 75% of all USNaval aerial victories securing air supremacy across the Pacific Theatre. The Hellcat also holds the distinction of destroying more enemy aircraft, over 5000, than any other Allied aircraft.

In additionto her US Naval service, the Hellcat also served with the US Marine Corps in the Pacific and with the British Fleet Air Arm in Europe where she was initially known as the Grumman Gannet Mk.I before reverting back to her American name in early 1943.

The Fighter Collection’s Hellcat is the only example flying outside of America and is presented in the colours of US Navy Ace Lt Alex Vraciu who flew this particular aircraft. Vraciu finished the war as the US Navy’s fourth highest ace with 19 aerial victories, 9 of which whilst flying this particular aircraft when assigned to Navy Squadron VF-6 aboard USS Intrepid (CV-11).

Our Hellcat was built in late 1943 and issued directly to VF-6 where she amounted 115.7 flying hours before being transferred to the newly-formed VF-18 which was undergoing pre-deployment workupsat Hilo in the Hawaiian Islands. A further 200 hours were clocked up with VF-18 being flown by anumber of pilots who went on to become Aces, before being transferred to the Naval Air Technical Training College (NATTC) in Chicago during August 1944. It was whilst she was at the NATTC that she was re-united with Alex Vraciu during a War Bond fund raising tour of the Mid-West. Following amajor rally in Chicago, she was left on show at a naval base in the city until being struck off charge when the NATTC closed. The Chicago vocational training school duly opened in its place and ourHellcat continued to serve as a training aid for the next 20 years.

The Hellcat was then acquired by collector Earl Rienhart and displayed as part of his Victory AirMuseum outside at an airstrip in Mundelein, Illinois. In 1979 she passed to Ed Maloney and wasmoved to the Planes of Fame collection in California, where she was stored until around 1983 when she moved into the ownership of Tom Friedkin to assist in the rebuild of his own Hellcat which suffered serious damage as a result of a forced landing following an engine failure in April 1979.

The restoration incorporated the port wing from the crashed example and an unused, crated starboard wing along with the fuselage from our Hellcat, but used the identity of the Friedkin’s machine (F6F-5K Bu No 80141) for convenience. Before the rebuild could be completed she passed to the Yankee Air Corps at Chino, California.

In 1988 the incomplete Hellcat became part of The Fighter Collection when Fighter Rebuilders, also at Chino, were commissioned to continue the rebuild following which she was shipped to the UK where she arrived in August 1990.

The Fighter Collection contacted Alex Vraciu, who confirmed its war record, provided details of her colour scheme and even lent owner, Stephen Grey, his original flying gloves for his first flight in the recently completed Hellcat. Alex was even able to reacquaint himself with his old mount when he travelled to Duxford.

Since her arrival our Hellcat has been a popular performer appearing at many airshows across Europe demonstrating the type’s amazing performance which made such an impact across the Pacific Theatre during World War Two.