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United States' Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter

Photos

  • Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters
  • Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters
  • Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters
  • Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter

Design

The Naval Bureau of Aeronautics (BUAER) ordered a replacement for the F4F in June 1941. The F6F Hellcat was designed after Pearl Harbor and was rushed into production.

The fuel tanks were self sealing.

Cockpit

There was armor for the pilot.

Pilots took off with the canopy open in case of a takeoff accident they could make their escape.

Fuselage

The plane was built around very strong central spars. The F6F Hellcat was very strong and could withstand a lot of punishment.

F6F-5

The F6F-5 had changes made to the windshield, engine cowling, and ailerons. The tail was reinforced. There was more armored added behind the pilot.

Engine

The engine could use water injection.

Prototype

On June 30, 1941, a contract was signed to build two prototypes.

On June 26, 1942 the XF6F-1 / XF6F-3 prototype made its first flight.

The XF6F-5 flew in April 1944.

Production

Five weeks after to prototype flew production models (F6F-3) were delivered.

At its New York plant Grumman produced 12,275 Hellcats from June 1942 to November 1945. This was the largest number of fighters produced in a single factory.

The F3F-3 first flew in October 1942.

The F6F-5 first flew in April 4, 1944.

  • Grumman XF6F-1: 1
  • Grumman XF6F-3: 1
  • Grumman F6F-3: 4,403, 4,423
  • Grumman F6F-5: 6,435, 6,681, 6,940
    • Production: April 1944 - November 1945
  • Grumman F6F-5N: 1,189, 1,434, 6,435
  • Total: 11,090, 12,272, 12,275
    • Manufacturer: Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
    • Manufacturing location: Bethpage, New York
    • Production: August 31, 1943 - November 1945

Variants

  • Grumman XF6F-1: Prototype. Had Wright R-2600 Double Cyclone (1,700 HP).
  • Grumman XF6F-2: Prototype with R-2800 engine.
  • Grumman XF6F-3: Prototype. Had Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engine.
  • Grumman XF6F-4: Prototype with R-2800-27 engine.
  • Grumman XF6F-5: Improved cowling, windscreen, ailerons, armor, and strong points in the wings.
  • Grumman XF6F-6: Prototype with R-2800-18W engine. Had four blade propeller.
  • Grumman F6F: Production. Spinner removed. Landing gear fairing modified.
  • Grumman F6F-3 / Grumman Hellcat Mk I: Initial production model.
  • Grumman F6F-3E: Night fighter. Radar was located in a pod on the wing.
  • Grumman F6F-3K: Drones that were used to gather particles from the atomic cloud during the atomic tests in 1946 at Bikini atoll.
  • Grumman F6F-3N: Night fighter. Radar was located in a pod on the wing.
  • Grumman F6F-5 / Grumman Hellcat Mk II: Could carry 2,000 lb / 907 kg of bombs. Some models had two 20 mm cannons replacing the two inboard 12.7 mm machine guns. Cowling was changed.
  • Grumman F6F-5N: Night fighter.
  • Grumman F6F-5P: Photo reconnaissance.

Usage

Out of the 6,477 planes shot down by US Navy pilots, 4,947 (76%) were in Hellcats. The land based United States Marine Corps Hellcats shot down 209 enemy planes.

First Action

The USS Essex had some of the initial F6F-3s assigned to its VF-5 / VF-9 squadron which used them on August 31, 1943 against Marcus Island.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom used 252 Hellcat Mk Is (F6F-3s) and 930 / 932 Hellcat Mk IIs (F6F-5s). 70 / 175 of those were converted to F6F-5N night fighters.

The Tirpitz was attacked by Royal Navy Hellcats on April 3, 1944, at Kaafjord, Norway.

Marianas Turkey Shoot

Around 400 Japanese planes were shot down by Hellcats during the Marianas Turkey Shoot from June 19 to June 20, 1944.

Korean War

The final Hellcats in service with the US Navy were used at unmanned flying bombs.

F6F-3

223 F6F-3s were modified to be night fighters.

Specifications

  Grumman F6F Hellcat
Type Carrier based fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp
OR Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp
Cylinders Radial 18
HP 10: 2,000
10W: 2,200
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 42' 10"
13.05 m
Length 33' 7"
10.24 m
Height 13' 1"
3.99 m
Armament  
Wings 6: 0.5" MG
Bombs under fuselage 2,000 lb
907 kg
OR  
Rockets - under wings 6
  Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 2,000
Dimensions  
Span 42' 10"
Length 33' 7"
Height 13' 1"
Weight  
Empty 9,042 lb
4,101 kg
Loaded 11,381 lb, 12,186 lb
5,527 kg
Maximum load 13,228 lb
6,000 kg
Performance  
Speed at 17,300' 376 mph
Service ceiling 38,400'
Range 1,090 miles
Armament 6: MG
  Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
Type Carrier based fighter, Fighter, Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp piston, Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 2,000, 2,200
Propeller Blades 3, 3 constant speed, 3 Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant speed
Propeller Diameter 13' 1"
4 m
Dimensions  
Span 42' 10"
13 m, 13.05 m, 13.08 m
Span - Wings Folded 16' 2"
4.9 m
Length 33' 6 5/8", 33' 7"
10.2 m, 10.23 m, 10.24 m
Height 13', 13' 1"
3.96 m, 3.99 m
Wing area 334 sq ft
31 sq m, 31.03 sq m
Weight  
Empty 9,200 lb, 9,153 lb, 9,238 lb
4,190 kg, 4,191 kg
Loaded 12,500 lb
Maximum load 15,400 lb, 15,413 lb
6,991 kg
Performance  
Speed 380 mph
602 kph
Speed at sea level 324 mph
521 kph
Speed at 17,300' 386 mph
Speed at 23,400' / 7,130 m 380 mph
612 kph
Speed at 23,400' / 7,132 m 380 mph
611 kph
Cruising speed 159 mph, 168 mph
270 kph
Climb 2,980'/minute, 3,000'/minute
908 m/minute, 915 m/minute
Service ceiling 37,300', 37,500', 37,800'
11,370 m, 11,500 m, 11,530 m
Range 945 miles, 1,040 miles
1,520 km, 1,529 km, 1,675 km
Range - Loaded 1,040 miles
Range - Maximum 1,530 miles, 1,800 miles
2,880 km
Armament  
Wings 6: MG
6: 12.7 mm Browning M2 MG
6: 12.7 mm / 0.5" MG
6: .50 cal MG
OR 2: 20 mm
4: 12.7 mm / 0.5" MG
Bombs 2: 1,000 lb
2,000 lb
2: 454 kg
907 kg
OR  
Rockets 2: 11.75"
Rockets 6
6: 5"
6: 127 mm
6: HVAR

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  7. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Bill Gunston, 1989
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site