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Rare Grumman F6F Hellcat fuel tank gauge from original carrier- launched USN

There is a poignant scene in the Canadian-American 2009 film Amelia Earhart when, after frantically scanning the horizon for a glimpse of land or a ship’s smoke trail whilst watching the needle of her Lockheed Electra’s fuel gauge drop to empty, she looks back at her navigator, Fred Noonan with dull resignation in her eyes. Her navigator holds his head in his hands as their aircraft drops to the ocean below.

While the mystery of Earhart’s final flight may never be solved, for many WWII USN carrier-launched pilots venturing further and further out in their mission to locate the elusive Japanese battle fleets, running out of fuel and having to ditch at sea was a constant danger.

Even having successfully located the Japanese ships, they faced fierce anti-aircraft fire as they pressed home their attacks, all the while desperately trying to fend of the streams of enemy fighters intent on stopping them. 

If they miraculously survived their target run-ups, they still faced the wrath of the many Japanese fighters that would engage them continually in deadly duels all the way back to their own carriers, further depleting their dwindling fuel supplies.

Both sides quickly realised that the key to success in the Pacific was to locate and sink the enemy’s battle fleet before they located and attacked yours.

Naval aircraft designers were soon factoring in the additional fuel carrying capacity for their carrier launched fighters and torpedo bombers essential to increasing their patrol range.

For one of the most successful USN fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat, this meant the inclusion of an additional 60 gallon reserve fuel tank directly beneath the pilots seat. With the Hellcat’s two wing tanks each carrying 87.5 gallons, this gave the aircraft a range of over 821 nautical miles, almost double that of the Wildcat.

The later Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat could also carry a 150 gallon centreline drop tank which further increased its mission range.

To monitor the Hellcat’s fuel consumption, the aircraft was fitted with a General Electric Type DJ-20, 3 tank, fuel gauge located on the lower panel on the Hellcat’s starboard adjacent to the aircraft's fuel and oil pressure gauges.

Like many other allied combat aircraft, all three of the Hellcat’s fuel tanks were self sealing against enemy bullets but this did not prevent their tanks from rupturing as a result of catastrophic damage such as that sustained by enemy flak or prolonged fighter bursts.

Imagine trying to nurse your severely damaged Hellcat back to your carrier knowing you’re sitting directly atop 80 gallons of high-octane aviation fuel.

Smashing into the flight deck at over 85mph with a badly damaged aircraft likely to turn into a blazing inferno at any moment was a frighteningly realo scenario for all carrier pilots and some of the most dramatic aircraft carrier crash landings of WWII involve hapless naval pilots scrambling along the wing of a blazing Hellcat or being pulled from a burning cockpit by courageous ground crews.

This General Electric DJ.20 3 x tank fuel gauge is a War in the Pacific veteran from one of the most iconic USN carrier launched fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

Bearing the USN stamp on the rear of its casing and with a relatively unscratched glass face and bezel, this original Grumman F6F Hellcat cockpit instrument display would make a fantastic and irreplaceable gift for any aviation enthusiast.

Manufactured by General Electric this 115412 T-52H, Engine Oil Temperature Gauge comes complete with Manufacture's plate and would fantastic with its detailed 1/72 or 1/48 scale model of the iconic Grumman F6F Hellcat atop its 100yr old Mango Wood stand. What a great original one-of-a-kind gift for any aviation enthusiast or budding, active or retired pilot.

This Grumman F6F Hellcat Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.

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Your Grumman F6F Hellcat fuel tank gauge, Original Recovery Curios Warbird Collectable includes:

  • Original Warbird instrument
  • Highly detailed hand-built and airbrushed 1/72 plastic scale model of the aircraft,* or 1/72 Diecast scale model**
  • Hand-crafted and beautifully finished 100yr, Far North Queensland Mango Wood display stand
  • Detailed, 2-sided, printed and laminated Instrument Fact Sheet detailing aircraft and instrument
  • Removable Magnetic Display Arm

*An upgrade to the larger and more detailed 1/48 scale model is also available in the hand-built and airbrushed plastic version for an additional $40 (Click on the 1/48 scale option)

** The 1/72 Diecast scale model comes with landing gear up mor down but cockpit is closed and colour scheme fixed.

Both the 1/72 & 1/48 scale hand-built and airbrushed plastic models are available with 'canopy open or closed' options with a choice of two Squadron markings and camouflage.

Upon order placement you will receive an email asking for your preferred configuration.

Your complete Recovery Curios Original Instrument Collectable is securely packed and delivery normally takes between 4 - 6 weeks approx.

Did you fly, crew or maintain a Grumman F6F Hellcat or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.