With the introduction of the faster and more agile generation of Japanese carrier borne fighters such as the A6M5 Zero, the US Pacific Fleet found themselves in desperate need of an equally fast and manoeuvrable dedicated fighter to counter the losses being experienced by the carrier based fighter/bombers such as the Dauntless and Avenger.
The USN’s existing fighter, the F4F Wildcat struggled to compete with the faster A6 Zero being consistently outperformed by the heavier armed and tighter turning Zero.
The solution came in the form of two fighters — the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair.
Both competed for the role of primary carrier based fighter but while the Corsair was by far the faster of the two, it struggled in a carrier borne role with pilots needing to bring the aircraft to almost stall speed to land safely on the pitching decks. The extreme angle of the extended nose completely blocked forward vision making it impossible to see the landing controller and with the Corsair becoming highly unstable at slower speeds — many were lost over the side or destroyed after colliding with the deck or other stationary aircraft.
Despite its slower speed, the Grumman F6F Hellcat became the preferred naval fighter and the Corsairs were released to the US Marines and moved to land based operations where they excelled in their ground attack role as the US island hopped across the Pacific..
While the Hellcat featured the same folding wing design as the Wildcat and was often called the Wildcat's big brother, it was a vastly different aircraft.
Unlike the Wildcat's, narrow spaced and manually cranked landing gear, the Hellcat’s wide-set, reinforced hydraulically actuated landing gear struts rotated through 90° while retracting backwards into the wings. Its 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine with its twin turbo chargers gave the Hellcat a maximum speed of 391mph with a vastly superior rate of climb than the A6 Zero.
The Hellcat’s 3 internal self-sealing fuel tanks (one in each wing and the reserve under the pilots seat) gave the powerful fighter a range of almost a 1000 miles which could be further extended with externally fitted wing mounted drop tanks.
Seeing its first combat in late 1943, when fighters from the USS Independence shot down a Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat, the Hellcat went onto engage with Japanese aircraft over the heavily fortified Japanese held island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.
It was to be the beginning of the US Central Pacific campaign and F6F Hellcats claimed 30 Mitsubishi Zeros with the loss of only one aircraft.
Later that year over Rabaul New Britain, Corsairs and Hellcats fought day-long battles for air supremacy against the Japanese shooting down another 50 Zeros, with the F6F Hellcat going onto account for 75 percent of all aerial victories recorded by the US Navy in the Pacific.
In all, US Navy and Marine F6F pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills at a recorded cost of 270 Hellcats in aerial combat.
All Grumman F6F Hellcat Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
All Grumman F6F Hellcat Collectables listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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