Articles

HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2)

HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2)



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2)

This picture shows part of the flight deck of the Colossus class light fleet carrier HMS Ocean, with the Hunt class destroyer HMS Meynell acting as a crash ship. The aircraft on deck is a Hellcat of No.892 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm. The picture was taken in the Mediterranean in 1946.

Many thanks to David Horne for sending us these pictures, which came from the collection of his father, Peter Horne, who served with the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 to 1946.


Post by Imad » 20 Jun 2005, 18:26

Post by Huck » 20 Jun 2005, 18:47

US Built Carrier Fighters

Post by R Leonard » 20 Jun 2005, 23:29

Standard canned response to questions regarding US built carrier fighters operations other than Pacific Theater:

The names Wildcat, Hellcat and Corsair conjure for most visions of the Pacific Theater, the big carrier battles – Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz, and Philippine Sea tropical island battles – Guadalcanal and the long march up the Solomons and desperate battles against the Kamikazes off Okinawa and the coast of Japan. These were the fighter planes of the US Navy and Marine Corps through their battles and campaigns of the Pacific. There is, however, another side to their story. Wildcats, Hellcats, and Corsairs were also in other theaters, notably Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean and US naval aviators flew other fighters in Europe beyond these mainstays.

Employment of US designed and built carrier fighters by both the Americans and the British in the European and African Theaters pertains to three aircraft types. The navies of both countries fought using the F4F (or, its later variant, the FM-2) and the F6F. The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm also employed the F4U in the European waters (operating off carriers some eight months before the Americans made a practice of it), but the US Navy did not, sending all their F4U's to the Pacific. There were numerous aerial clashes between the British and American US built carrier fighters and their German, Italian, and Vichy opponents, but very few fighter-to-fighter duels, especially against the Luftwaffe.

US Navy F4F aerial actions, and where most fighter-to-fighter duels took place, were concentrated in Operation Torch against Vichy aircraft. There were some 109 Wildcats assigned to four carriers: VF-41 (Lieut. Comdr. CT Booth, USN) and VF-9 (Lieut. Comdr. JA Raby, USN), USS Ranger VGF-27 (Lieut. Comdr. TK Wright, USN), VGF-28 (Lieut. Comdr. JI Bandy, USN), and VGS-30 (Lieut. Comdr. MP Bagdanovitch, USN – a scouting squadron that, curiously, flew F4Fs), USS Suwannee VGF-26 (Lieut. Comdr. WE Ellis, USN), USS Sangamon and VGF-29 (Lieut. Comdr. JT Blackburn, USN, later of VF-17 fame), USS Santee.

On 8 November, over Cazes, VF-41 brought down 13 Vichy aircraft: four Dewoitine D.520's, eight Hawk 75A's (export version of the Curtis P-36), and one Douglas DB-7. Lieut.(j.g.) Shields accounted for a D.520, two 75A's (plus one damaged) and the DB- 7 Lieut. August brought down three of the 75A's and the CO, Booth, also scored a 75A. It wasn't all VF-41's way however, of 18 Wildcats engaged, six were lost, mostly to ground fire, including Shields and August. Five pilots were captured and one recovered from off shore.

Near Port Lyautey, VF-9’s skipper, Raby, knocked down a Potez 63. VGF-26 pilots found themselves later that morning also over Port Lyautey, where the ran up against several twin engine bombers and five fighters. They accounted for one D.520 and three Martin 167's with no losses. VGF-27 pilots, unfortunately, intercepted and shot down a RAF Hudson, mistakenly identified as Vichy. Only one member of the four man crew survived.

On 9 November, VF-9 went into action again and claim d five 75A's, including one fro Raby (plus one probable) though French records only recorded four losses, at a cost of one F4F (pilot captured). VF-41 claimed the shoot down an 'intruder' over the invasion beaches as darkness fell, but this may have been a photo-recon Spitfire that turned up missing that night. French and German records did not indicate any aircraft in the area at the time.

10 November found a last contact with VF-29’s Ens. Jacques shooting down what he reported was a Bloch 174, but was later confirmed as a Potez 63, near Safi.

Overall, US F4F losses were fairly heavy, over 20%. There were 11 combat related losses (5 losses in aerial combat) and 14 operational losses. US pilots claimed 22 victories, not including the Hudson and the probable Spitfire. The French reported losing 25 aircraft in combat.

On 4 October 1943, Ranger participated in Operation Leader, a strike on the harbor at Bodø in Norway. During this action VF-4 (Lieut. Comdr. CL Moore, USN), the redesignated VF-41, pilots Lieut. (j.g.)'s Mayhew and Laird together shot down a Ju-88 and Laird followed up with an He-115 on his own. With five later victories over Japanese opponents, Laird was the only confirmed USN ace with German and Japanese Theater victories. This was the last US F4F aerial action in the African-Atlantic-European theaters.

After the F4F came the F6F as the mainstay of USN carrier fighter operations. For the USN F6Fs the only action over Europe transpired during the invasion of southern France in August 1944. USS Tulagi with VOF-1 (Lieut. Comdr. WF Bringle, USN) and USS Kasaan Bay embarking VF-74 (Lieut. Comdr. HB Bass, USN), both squadrons, operating F6F-5s, provided coverage for the landings. VF-74 also operated a 7-plane F6F-3N night fighter detachment from Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. On the day of the invasion, 15 August, VF-74 flew 60 sorties, VOF-1, 40 sorties, all ground support missions.

On the morning of 19 August, the first German aircraft, three He-111's, were spotted by a four-plane division of VOF-1 pilots. The Americans were too short on fuel and could not attack. Two of the Americans were forced to land on HMS Emperor due to their fuel state. Later that day, two He-111's were spotted by another VOF-1 division and were promptly shot down, this occurring near the village of Vienne. Lieut. Poucel and Ens. Wood teamed up to bring down one and Ens. Robinson brought down the second. Soon thereafter, in the same vicinity, a third He-111 was shot down by Ens. Wood. That same morning, a division of VF-74 pilots led by Lieut. Comdr. Bass brought down an Ju-88 and in the afternoon another division attacked a Do-217 with split credits to going to Lieut. (j.g.) Castanedo and Ens. Hullard.

On 21 August, pilots from VOF-1 shot down three Ju-52 transports north of Marseille. Two were credited to Lieut. (j.g.) Olszewski one went to Ens. Yenter. Operating for two weeks in support of the invasion, these two squadrons were credited with destroying 825 trucks and vehicles, damaging 334 more and destroying or otherwise immobilizing 84 locomotives. German aircraft shot down: VOF-1: 6, VF-74: 2.

Although the two navy squadrons lost some 17 aircraft, combined, all were to ground fire or operational accidents. None were shot down by German aircraft. Among the 7 pilots lost (2 from VOF-1 and 5 from VF-74) was the CO of VF-74, Lieut. Comdr. H. Brinkley Bass, awarded 2 Navy Crosses from early actions in the Pacific, killed by antiaircraft fire while strafing near Chamelet on 20 August.

The Royal Navy was to employ the F4F in combat long before the US Navy. FAA Marlets (export F4F's, model G-36A's, originally earmarked for France but transferred to the Royal Navy after the collapse of France) were active almost a year be fore Pearl Harbor. First air-to-air victory was on 25 December 1940 flying out of Hatson, Lieut. Carter and Sub-Lieut. Parke from 804 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. BHM Kendall, RN, commanding) intercepted a Ju-88 over Scapa Flow and shot it down near Loch Skail.

Later land based victories were scored in the Mediterranean Theater. On 28 September 1941, Sub-Lieut. Walsh, 805 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. AF Black, RN), operating out of Sidi Haneish shot down an Italian Fiat G-50. Walsh and Sub-Lieut. Routley claimed a probable victory over a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 on 11 November. By 28 December, 805 was operating out of Tobruk. On that day Sub-Lieut. Griffin attacked four SM.79s that were conducting a torpedo attack. He forced two of them to jettison their payloads and evade, shot down a third and was, in turn, shot down by the gunner of the fourth. 805 Squadron later accounted for a Ju-88 in February 1942 and two more SM.79s in July.

At sea, 802 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. JM Wintour, RN), specialized in FW-200's. Operating off HMS Audacity escorting Convoy OG-74, the first encounter was early on 21 September 1941, when one was brought down under the combined attack of Sub-Lieut.'s Patterson and Fletcher. Later, in the early afternoon, a Ju-88 was driven off with damage. Shortly thereafter another section chased down a radar contact only to find the Lisbon to Azores Boeing 314 Clipper … they let it go. On 8 November, now escorting Convoy OG-76, Lieut. Comdr. Wintour and Sub-Lieut. Hutchinson attacked and shot down another 200, but, in the process, Wintour was killed by return fire. Later that day, Sub-Lieut. Brown shot down a second FW-200 in a head-on pass and Sub-Lieut. Lamb drove off a third.

At sea again with still another convoy, HG-76, 802 was now commanded by Lieut. DCEF Gibson, DSC, RN. On 14 December, Sub-Lieut. Fletcher was shot down and killed strafing surfaced U-131. His action, however, enabled three escorts to close range and take the submarine under fire until her crew was forced to abandon ship. On 19 December, in another head-on pass, Brown brought down his second FW-200, Lieut. Comdr. Sleigh, using Brown’s proven head-on method, shot down another, and Lamb, again, drove off a third with damage. Audacity was torpedoed by U-751 on 21 December and sank with heavy losses, including many pilots.

During the British invasion of Madagascar, Martlets from 881 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. JC Cockburn, RN) off HMS Illustrious accounted for two French Potez 63's (one shared between Lieut. Waller and Sub-Lieut. Bird) and three Morane 406C's (one to Lieut. Tompkins, one shared between Waller and Sub-Lieut. Lyon, and one shared between Waller and Tompkins) between 5 and 7 May 1942 with the loss of one of their own. On 7 August 1942, Sub-Lieuts. Scott and Ballard, from 888 Squadron (Capt. FDG Bird, RM) off HMS Formidable splashed a Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis' flying boat in the Bay of Bengal.

May was also a busy month the Mediterranean. On the 12th, during Operation Pedestal, six Martlets from 806 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. JN Garnett, RN) on HMS Furious were part of a force rounded out with 30 Sea Hurricanes and 18 Fulmars which took on a mixed force of German and Italian attackers, numbering about 100, going after a Malta bound convoy. The Grummans pilots accounted for two SM.79s, one Ju-88 and one Reggianne Re-2000. One Martlet was lost.

In November 1942 came Operation Torch. 888 Squadron and 893 Squadron (Lieut. RG French, RNVR) with a total of 24 F4F's were deployed on Formidable. Illustrious carried 882 Squadron (Lieut. ILF Lowe, DSC, RN) with 18 F4F's.

On 6 November, Lieut. Jeram, 888 Squadron, shot down a Bloch 174. On 9 November, Jeram shared another Ju-88 with Sub-Lieut Astin meanwhile, a division of 882 Squadron brought down a He-111 and drove off, with damage, a Ju-88. With Jeram's victories, 888 Squadron was the only Allied squadron able to claim kills on German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy opponents. Unfortunately, on the 11th, a four-plane division from 893 made the same identification error as did VGF-27 on the 9th and shot down another RAF Hudson that they mis-identified as an Italian SM.84.

In July 1943, 881 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. RA Bird, RN) and 890 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. JW Sleigh, DSC, RN), while operating off Furious, shot down 3 Blohm and Voss BV-138 seaplanes.

September 9th during Operation Avalanche saw 888 off Formidable score again, bringing down a Cantieri Z.506B float-plane. 842 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. LR Tivy, RN), HMS Fencer, scored an FW-200, splashed by Sub-Lieut. Fleishman-Allen, on 1 December to round out 1943.

1944 saw FAA F4F scores at about the same rate. On 12 February Convoy OS-67/KMS-41, protected by 881 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. DRB Cosh, RCNVR) and 896 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. LA Hordern, DSC, RNVR), HMS Pursuer, was attacked by seven He-177s from II.KG-40 carrying the Henshel Hs-293 guided missile. Defending F4Fs shot down an He-177, a snooping FW-200 and drove off the remaining He-177s.

Lieuts. Dimes and Erickson, 811 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. EB Morgan, RANVR), HMS Biter, shot down a Ju-290 on 16 February.

Providing escort for Convoy JW-58 were 819 Squadron (Lieut. OAG Oxley, RN), HMS Activity, and 846 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. RD Head, DSC, RN), HMS Tracker. 819’s Lieut. Large and Sub-Lieut Yeo shared a Ju-88 on 30 March and between 31 March and 4 April the two squadrons together brought down three BV-138's and three FW-200's with no losses.

On 3 April some 40 Martlets from Pursuer and Searcher flew flak suppression for Operation Tungsten, the raid on the Tirpitz. These included: from Pursuer, 881 Squadron and 896 Squadron and from HMS Searcher, 882 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. EA Shaw, RN) and 898 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. GR Henderson, DSC, RNVR).

While escorting Convoy RA-59 from Activity, following vectors for a nearby Swordfish, the team of Lieut. Large and Sub-Lieut. Yeo, 819 Squadron, on 1 May, scored again, bringing down BV-138 that was snooping their convoy.

The Pursuer and Searcher squadrons also supported Operation Anvil/Dragoon in August, but their activities are confined to patrolling, strikes, and air-to-ground support.

In November and December, new FM-2's off HMS Nairana, 835 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. FV Jones RNVR), and HMS Campania, 813 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. SG Cooke, RNVR), were on Arctic convoy escort with Convoy JW-61A. On 3 November, Lieut. Leamon and Sub-Lieut. Buxton brought down a BV-138. A second BV-138 was shot down by 813 Sub-Lieuts. Machin and Davis on the 13th. On the return trip, Sub-Lieut. Gordon, of 835, bagged still another BV-138 on 12 December.

In Arctic convoy escort duty in January and February 1945, flying from Nairana, 835 Squadron, and from HMS Vindex, 813 Squadron, FM-2's accounted at least five more scores and probably nine in total. On the 6th, an 813 section shot down a Ju-88. On the 10th, another 813 section intercepted three more Ju-88's, claiming one probable and two damaged. On the 20th, 835's Sub-Lieut. Gordon struck again, teaming with Sub-Lieut. Blanco for a Ju-88. Another section on the other side of the convoy formation claimed a probable on another Ju-88. At least one German source reports six Ju-88s lost in these attacks. In addition to these, three BV-138 snoopers were splashed in the same period.

On 26 March 1945, in a last action, FM-2's from 882 Squadron Lieut Comdr. GAM Flood, RNVR) off Searcher, escorting a flight of Avengers along the coast of Norway, was attacked by a flight of eight III Gruppe JG 5 Me-109Gs. The Wildcats (now called “Wildcat” instead of “Martlet” as the FAA adopts the USN names for carrier aircraft in January) shot down four of the Me-109Gs at a cost of one Wildcat damaged. A fifth 109 was claimed as damaged. As near as can be determined from available Luftwaffe loss lists, there were three 109’s lost and one other 109 crashed on landing, however the information available does not indicate if the crash was due to pilot error or from battle damage. Available Luftwaffe credit lists show no claims from this action.

The FAA also employed the F6F and the F4U. The only fighter-to-fighter FAA F6F action took place in May 1944. On 8 May, F6F's from the Fleet Air Arm's No. 800 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. SJ Hall, DSC, RN), off HMS Emperor, while escorting a flight of Barracudas was attacked by a mixed group of Me-109's and FW-190's. Two F6F's were lost, one, reportedly, to anti-aircraft fire. The F6F pilots claimed 2 Me-109's and one FW-190. The FW-190 was claimed by Sub-Lieut. Ritchie. Available Luftwaffe loss listings show three Me-109Gs lost in this action. German claims were three F6Fs.

On 14 May, 800 Squadron's leading scorer, Sub-Lieut. Ritchie (now with 4.5 victories) added an He-115 to his tally and the shared another He-115 with the CO of 804 Squadron, Lieut. Comdr. Orr, giving him a total of 6 victories for the war.

Prior to these actions, FAA F6F's were used for anti-aircraft suppression on raids against Tirpitz on 3 April 44 (Operation Tungsten). These included - from Emperor - 800 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. Hall) and 804 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. SG Orr, DSC, RNVR).

FAA F4U's also participated in Operation Tungsten with 1834 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. PN Charlton, DFC, RN) and 1836 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. CC Tomkinson, RNVR) off Victorious, flying high cover for the raid. This was a role the FAA Corsairs of 1841 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. RL Bigg-Wither, DCS & bar, RN) would repeat, flying off Formidable in Operation Mascot on 17 July and with 1841 joined by 1842 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. AMcD Garland, RN) in Operation Goodwood in late August. No contact was made with any German aircraft. Indeed, the FAA F4U's never did tangle with any German aircraft, though not for lack of trying. After the summer of 1944, FAA F4U's were largely operating in the Indian and Pacific Oceans . . . pretty far away from the Germans.

In summary, outside of the Pacific Theater, there were a total of 93 aircraft shot down by F4Fs, or F6Fs flying in either USN or FAA service, versus 8 losses, a ratio of about 11.6 to 1.

In USN service, F4F pilots were credited with bringing down 25 to 5 losses (5 to 1): 12 Curtis 75A's 5 D.520's 3 Martin 167's 2 Potez 63, and 1 each DB-7, Ju-88, and He-115. The USN F6F pilots's were credited with bringing down 8 enemy aircraft, 3 He-111 3 Ju-52 and 1 each Ju-88 and Do-217 with no air combat losses.

In Fleet Air Arm service, F4F and FM pilots were credited with bringing down 55 aircraft to 4 losses (13.8 to 1): 11 Ju-88, 13 BV-138 10 Fw-200 4 SM.79, 4 Me-109G 3 Morane 406C 2 Potez 63 and 1 each G.50, Z.506B, Re.2000, Bloch 174, He-111, He-115, He-177, Ju-290, and Kawanishi H6K. The FAA F6F pilots were credited with bringing down 5 aircraft to 1 loss (5 to 1): 2 He-115 2 Me-109G and 1 FW-190. The F6F loss was in the 8 May 1944 FW-190/Me-109 engagement. FAA F4F/FM's and F6F's, together then, had a score of 62 aircraft shot down with 5 losses (12.4 to 1).

Ask me nice and I'll tell you about USN P-51 and Spitfire squadrons.

Huh? Slow? Not particularly. Weak firepower? Only if you're a 20mm freak, 6 .50 cal are usually quite sufficient against just about anything, especially other fighters. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but I would disagree with your characterization. Further, I think you need to read up abit on performance envelopes of F6Fs vs the A6M series.


World War II Database


ww2dbase The Grumman Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the US Navy at the start of the Pacific War. After the US's entrance into the Pacific War, Wildcat pilots quickly found that their fighters were easily out-maneuvered by their Japanese counterparts, the Zero fighter. However, with heavier armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, and greater firepower, Wildcats held their own. Beginning in early 1943, the new Hellcat fighters began to replace Wildcats. Nevertheless, General Motors picked up the design (and later revised it by adding a more powerful engine) and continued to build Wildcats primarily for escort carriers.

ww2dbase A few Wildcats also served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. These fighters were of early production dates originally ordered by France, but later transferred ownership to Britain after the French surrender.

ww2dbase During the model's lifetime, 7,251 fighters were built.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2006

10 Jul 1936 The US Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics changed the specification of Grumman's new F4F prototype from a biplane to a monoplane configuration. The aircraft would emerge as the successful Wildcat fighter.
2 Sep 1937 The F4F Wildcat fighter took its first flight.
4 Dec 1940 F4F-3 Wildcat fighters entered service with the US Navy VF-41 received the first of these aircraft.
25 Dec 1940 Two FAA Martlet I fighters of No. 804 Squadron RAF, on patrol over Scapa Flow, Scotland, United Kingdom, intercepted and destroyed a prowling Junkers Ju 88 aircraft, the first victory for a US-built aircraft in British service.
20 Sep 1941 German submarine U-124 sank British ships Baltallinn and Empire Moat of Allied convoy OG-74 500 miles west of Brest, France at 2331 hours 60 survivors were rescued by British rescue ship Walmer Castle. Meanwhile, a Martlet Mk II fighter of No. 802 Squadron from escort carrier HMS Audacity shot down a German Fw 200 C Condor aircraft attempting to shadow OG-74 it was the first kill by a British carrier-based aircraft.
15 Jul 1942 British No. 892 Squadron Fleet Air Arm took delivery of new Martlet IV fighters (a lend-lease version of the American F4F-4 Wildcat fighter). The squadron subsequently embarked of the light escort carriers HMS Archer and HMS Battler.
11 Aug 1942 US Marine Observation Squadron 251 was set up at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides with 16 F4F-3 Wildcat fighters modified for long-range photographic missions.
1 Sep 1942 Having taken over responsibility for building the Wildcat fighter from Grumman's Bethpage factory (which was now going over to building the F6F-3 Hellcat for the US Navy), the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors completed and flew its first FM-1 Wildcat fighter.
26 Oct 1942 US Navy Ensign George L. Wrenn of VF-72 from the USS Hornet engaged Japanese aircraft attacking the US fleet. He shot down five Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers during the sortie. The Hornet was sunk during the battle and Wrenn had to be recovered aboard the USS Enterprise.
12 Nov 1942 US Marine Corps ace Joseph Foss destroyed two Japanese Army G4M medium bombers and a Reisen fighter bringing his tally to 22 enemy aircraft destroyed in aerial combat.

Grumman F4F

Machinery1 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 double-row radial engine rated at 1,200 hp
Armament6x0.5in Browning machine guns, 2x100lb bombs
Span11.60 m
Length8.76 m
Height2.81 m
Wing Area24.20 m²
Weight, Empty2,610 kg
Weight, Maximum3,610 kg
Speed, Maximum515 km/h
Rate of Climb9.90 m/s
Service Ceiling12,000 m
Range, Normal1,240 km

General Motors FM-2

Machinery1 Wright R-1820-56WA rated at 1,350 hp
Span11.60 m
Length8.80 m
Height3.00 m
Wing Area24.10 m²
Weight, Empty2,470 kg
Weight, Loaded3,395 kg
Weight, Maximum3,751 kg
Speed, Maximum534 km/h
Speed, Cruising264 km/h
Service Ceiling10,576 m
Range, Normal1,449 km

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
21 Aug 2007 02:46:21 AM

A few Wildcats also served in the Royal Navys Fleet Air Arm. These fighters were of early production dates originally ordered by France, but later transferred ownership to Britain after the French surrender.

You are of course referring to the Martlet Mk 1. The Royal Navy received 91 of these (81 ex-French order plus 10 built from spare parts). These were followed by Martlet Mk 11s in large numbers (Sufficient to equip ten squadrons) Martlet Mk.III (ninety-five delivered ?) 220 Martlet Mk.IV and 312 Martlet Mk.Vs

2. Hobilar says:
21 Aug 2007 02:48:32 AM

During the models lifetime, 7,251 fighters were built. My information gives a total of 7815 built before VJ Day

3. Alan Chanter says:
30 Oct 2007 03:55:23 PM

The Martlet I gained the distinction of becoming the first U.S. built aircraft in British service to shoot down a German aircraft. This happened on December 25, 1940 when two Martlets Is of No.804 Squadron patrolling Scarpa Flow intercepted and destroyed a Junkers Ju-88.

4. Anonymous says:
28 Mar 2015 05:32:35 AM

F6F 42782 lost 9/30/1944 125 miles se of nantucket
who was the pilot?
http://lostaircraft.com/database.php?lang=en&mode=viewhistory&e=31035&changeset_id=0

5. Anonymous says:
29 Mar 2015 04:29:05 AM

Note: PS to F6F 42782
according to database http://www.chinalakealumni.org/Accidents.htm this aircaft was involved in a accident in June 1944 while part of CASU-6. Prehaps a clue to pilot id in September 1944?

6. David Stubblebine says:
29 Mar 2015 12:32:19 PM

To Anonymous #’s 4 & 5 re: F6F-3 BuNo 42782:
1. You realize you are leaving your messages on the F4F page and not the F6F page?
2. Do you know what the carrier was during the aircraft’s CQL accident?
3. The CASU-6 clue is probably not going to get you close to the pilot’s name. The nature of the damage described in the CASU-6 crash is so extensive that the aircraft most likely went through an aircraft pool before showing up on the opposite coast.

You may get a better response from the regular readers at http://www.warbirdinformationexchange.org/. Your question is the kind of stuff those guys often do pretty well with.

7. Anonymous says:
11 Apr 2015 07:03:48 AM

8. Anonymous says:
8 Jun 2015 04:34:49 AM

Update on F6F 42782
Note on 30 Sept 1944 ditching the pilot is reported to have survived.=-although name is not given!
https://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=10737
At least this part of mystery is solved!!
By the way a picture of the aircraft was shown in a National Geographic article on "Alvin" giving the plane nUmber as well

9. Anonymous says:
4 Jul 2018 10:39:00 AM

F4F-4's 38 ft. wingspan initially considered too big for carrier deck handling and stowage.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2) - History

Apart from 800 & 804 Sqns on HMS Emperor guarding the Western Approaches on D-Day, were any other FAA Hellcat units active? Could these units have been armed with rockets?

804 was absorbed by 800 on the 18/6/44.

The Fleet Air Arm employed the F6F and also the F4U. The only fighter-to-fighter FAA F6F action took place in May 1944. On 8 May, F6F's from the Fleet Air Arm's No. 800 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. SJ Hall, DSC, RN), off HMS Emperor, while escorting a flight of Barracudas was attacked by a mixed group of Me-109's and FW-190's. Two F6F's were lost, one, probably, to anti-aircraft fire (one source indicates that both F6Fs were lost in a mid-air collision, not to any German fire of any kind) the Germans reportedly lost 2 Me-109's and one FW-190. The FW-190 was claimed by Sub-Lieut. Ritchie.

Sub-Lieut. Ritchie had perviously had 3.5 victories when flying a Sea Hurricane.

Six days later on 14 May, 800 Squadron's leading scorer, Sub-Lieut. Ritchie (now with 4.5 victories) added a He-115 to his tally and the shared another He-115 with the CO of 804 Squadron, Lieut. Comdr. Orr, giving him a total of 6 victories for the war.

Prior to these actions, FAA F6F's were used for anti-aircraft suppression on raids against Tirpitz on 3 April 44 (Operation Tungsten). These included - from Emperor - 800 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. Hall) and 804 Squadron (Lieut. Comdr. SG Orr, DSC, RNVR).

The next and last European appearance would accrue 1,500 miles away to south in the Med

I've got no mention of R/P's only that the FAA Hellcats were employed for flak suppression and bombing.

Thanks Andy. But. Hellcats actually were in operational use on D-Day: 'Emperor. joined the CVEs Pursuer and Tracker for the naval part of the D-Day landings in Normandy, Operation Neptune, giving fighter cover over the western approaches to the English Channel from June 5th.'

My interest was prompted by reading that Lt-Cdr Gerald Haynes, RAN, had flown a rocket-armed Hellcat on D-Day (see link below also includes details re his Malta service). Having examined his service file in the interim, I can see that wasn't possible he was in Australia! It was the next month that he embarked for the UK, arriving in September. He instructed at HMS Vulture (St Merryn) 27/10/44-25/11/45. It might have been at Vulture that he flew Hellcats (being both a qualified pilot and observer), as that type is listed as being used there.

The Hellcat could be armed with rockets: 6 x 5 in (127 mm) HVARS or 2 x 113x4 in (298 mm) Tiny Tim unguided rockets

You already may have the following books, from which I took this data:
On Chapter Eleven: D-Day to VE-Day in Europe of the book “Britain’s Fleet Air Arm” by Ron Mackay (Schiffer book) there are only mentions of the activities of 880 Squadron (Seafires III) by Lt. Crosley.

On the excellent book “Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-45”, by Ray Sturtivant (Air Publications) we do have only two recorded losses for D-Day, which are:

SPITFIRE EN831 (Mk.Vb) To RNDA 9.2.44 886 Sqn 3.44 808 Sqn Lee 3.44 D-Day, hit by EA, dived in sea or Le Havre lI.S pilot tried to climb out, Cat Z 6.6.44 (SIt H A Cogill killed)

SEAFIRE L.III
NF533 RY 4.3.44 761 Sqn Henstridge 5.44 (prefix?) 885 Sqn Lee, D-Day invasion, spouing for RN, presumed hit by flak, FL in field S of Hennanville-sur-Mer, Normandy.
Cat Z 6.6.44 (S/L A H Bassett killed)

I tried to find mentions on rockets, but got no joy too. sorry. this is what I found.
Yours,
Adriano

Thanks Adriano. That's a very handy book you have!

Is there any mention of Lt-Cdr Gerald Mellor Haynes?

Both the FCWD part 4 and my notes from the book Seafire the Spitfire that went to sea have 4 Seafire or 3 Seafire and 1 FAA Spitfire lost do to Flak on D-day.
885 Squadron S/Lt A.H Basset and S/lt H.A. Cogshill KIA Lt C.L. Metcalfe WIA
886 Squadron Lt C.L. Metcalfe bailed out unharmed.

Luftwaffe over Norway loss section has JG 5 with 3 109 losses on 8May 1944
and the claims list has JG 5 with 3 Hellcat claims on this date. Uffz Hallstick 2 and Ltn Prenzler 1 both of 10/JG5

On 14 may according to my notes 1/406 lost 2 He-115 shot down and 3 destroyed on the water by 800 Squadron.

Also Oblt Schnieder of 10/JG5 Spitfire claim of 11 Feb 44 was most likely S/LtW.L. Horner in a Seafire IB MB353 HMS Furious off Norway. He was KIA. The other pilots in his flight claimed 1-1-3 but there are no reports of any loss or damage in the Luftwaffe lost list for this day.

In Ray Sturtivant's "Fleet Air Arm at war" chapter on East Indies Fleet 1945, there appear two photos of RN FAA Helcats with rocket projectiles.

On p.113, there is Hellcat JX688 B-8H (896 Sqn HMS Empress) armed with British-style RPs on rails (not the usual USN RPs on zero-length launchers).

On p.114, there is a scene of senior officers visiting 896 Sqn ashore. Aircraft JX690 is coded 2-AB, and has what appears to be 4x RP rails under each wing. The partial view of another Hellcat aircraft on the edge of the photo shows 4x RP rails as well.

The Channel Operations chapter (covering the D-Day landing support ops) has photos of Avengers and Wildcats (no RPs) and lots of Swordfish (with RPs), but no Hellcats. These RN FAA aircraft are shore based. 896 Sqn - equipped with Wildcats at that stage - operated off HMS Pursuer. The 24th Naval Fighter Wing - Seafire IIIs of 887 and 894 Sqns - flew escort missions to fighter-bomber Typhoons, but were shore based.

Sorry, no other mentions of other Hellcat squadrons involved in Normandy in this book, but hope it's of some help.

From Kenneth Poolman’s “Allied Escort Carriers of WW2”:
Hellcats of 804 Sqn were aboard HMS Ameer in December 1944, when it arrived to support British Army operation along the coast of Burma. The D-Day reference for Gerald Haynes may just be a journalist mistaking a general D-Day reference – meaning a beachhead landing day – for the Normandy Overlord landings. On 18th Jan 1945, HMS Ameer’s Hellcats flew top cover for the landings at Kyaukpyu, north Ramree Island – on the central west coast of Burma.

In Operation Dracula (imaginative names!), the amphibious assault on Rangoon – 20 Hellcats of 804 Sqn were embarked on the “assault carrier” HMS Empress, as well as 4 additional 804 Sqn Hellcats on the GP carrier HMS Shah. Hellcats of No3 Naval Fighter Wing were aboard HMS Khedive and Emperor. In my 2nd edition copy of “They Gave Me A Seafire” (poorer paper, so photo is quite grainy) the photo of the Hellcat with RP rails – which a number of sailors are rearming with RPs, the Hellcat has the same markings (white engine nose ring and tip of tail above fin flash) as the photo of HMS Khedive’s Hellcats (without RPs) in Poolman’s book. Campaign markings for the entire fleet? So it’s likely the Hellcats used RPs when flying strikes in these amphibious landing campaigns around Burma in 1944-45. The Hellcats off HMS Empress and Shah flew the last strikes on Car Nicobar as part of Operation Dracular.

Following the sinking of the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro on 16 May 1945, HMS Emperor “…launched four Hellcats with eight 27kg (60 lb) RPs apiece to find Kurishoyo Maru No 2, but she had in fact already berthed at Penang. ….” (This is the only actual reference I managed to find of RN Hellcats operating with RPs.)

Thanks James. And Geoff, thanks for looking into it and providing certain evidence that FAA Hellcats were sometimes armed with rockets on ops.

Just when and where Haynes flew rocket-armed Hellcats will have to remain a mystery at this stage.

Books on the FAA ect The Forgotten Fleet (The BIF and BPF 1944-1945), Carrier Operations in World War 2 Volume 1 (RN carrier ops), Airwar over Burma 1942-1945 (matches or tries to match up FAA claims with Japanese losses).

Other FAA Seafire claims:
10 Nov 1942 off Oran 884 Sqn off the Victorious claimed a Ju 88 damaged there is a still from gun camera footage in the Book "Send Her Victorious" showing smoke coming out of the Starboard engine of this Ju 88. This is not mentioned in Fighters over Tunisia. I think this plane may be from a recon unit or possibly Wekusta 26.

15 Oct 44 near Athens Greece a 809 Sqn Seafire MB150 off the CVE Stalker Lt D. S. Ogle claimed a Ju 88 the Seafire was also fitted with a photo recon camera and there are pictures of the plane going down smoking or in flames. The book Seafire the Spitfire that went to Sea has a still of this. This aircraft could also be from a Recon unit or possibly Wekusta 27 which operated in this area.


HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2) - History

Hellcat Mk.I / Mk.II
Dual Combo

Eduard , 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

FirstLook

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was designed as a stop-gap upgrade of the lightweight F4F Wildcat, almost as an insurance policy in the event that the F4U Corsair, then under development, did not live up to expectations.

Despite the clear family resemblance to the earlier Wildcat, the Hellcat was an all-new aircraft. The resulting naval fighter was stocky in profile, large, powerfully armed and armoured, and heavy. The Hellcat secured its place in history with a remarkable kill ratio of 19:1.

Being without a robust, high performance naval fighter, the British Fleet Air Arm adopted the Hellcat from the end of 1943. In British service, the F6F-3 was the Hellcat Mk.I, and the F6F-5 was the Hellcat Mk.II.

A total of 1,182 Hellcats of all types eventually saw service with the Royal Navy.

Eduard entered the Hellcat market earlier this year with their F6F-3 Hellcat. This new release covers both major British variants - the Hellat Mk.I and Mk.II - in a "Dual Combo" boxing.

Before we examine the entire contents in detail, let's focus on what is different from the initial release.

The most obvious difference is a new sprue with two styles of rockets. These are suitable for the Hellcat Mk.II, and will probably be included in any subsequent F6F-5 release too. Both sets of rockets are moulded complete with their launching stubs, so you will have a complete set of spares when your Hellcat Mk.II is finished.

Next is a new fuselage for the Hellcat Mk.II. Eduard continues their policy of "no inserts, no filling panel lines" here. The Hellcat Mk.II fuselage is correctly moulded without the small windows behind the cockpit. Two styles of engine cowl are supplied for the Hellcat Mk.II.

One complete Hellcat Mk.I fuselage - with the windows - is also supplied, so you can build one Mk.I and one Mk.II from this box.

The wings for the Hellcat Mk.II are subtly different too. Some panels have been deleted below the wings. Don't get these mixed up!

The final difference is the photo-etch. Even more detail has been supplied with this kit. Most of the extra coloured parts go into the cockpit - specifically the side consoles.

Different instrument panels are supplied for the Mk.I and Mk.II, as well as subtle sidewall and switch details.

Six marking options are included on the large decal sheet:

Hellcat Mk.I JV132, Lt. Blythe Ritchie, 800 Sqn FAA, HMS Emperor, May 8, 1944 finished in US equivalents to Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey with Sky lower surfaces.

Hellcat Mk.I JV131, 800 Sqn FAA, HMS Emperor, June, 1944 finished in US equivalents to Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey with Sky lower surfaces, with invasion stripes for operations over Normandy.

Hellcat Mk.I FN430, 1844 Sqn FAA, P/O Hannay, HMS Indomitable, August 24, 1944 finished in US equivalents to Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey with Sky lower surfaces and British Pacific Fleet markings

Hellcat Mk.II JX814, 1844 Sqn FAA, Sub-Lieutenant W.M.C. Foster, HMS Indomitable, Okinawa, April 12, 1945 finished in US equivalents to Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey with Sky lower surfaces and large Pacific Fleet markings

Hellcat Mk.II JZ796, 808 Sqn FAA, Sub-Lieutenant Oscar Lorenzo, HMS Khedive and HMS Trincomalee, Ceylon, 1945 in overall Gloss Sea Blue

Hellcat Mk.II JZ935, 1839 Sqn FAA, HMS Indomitable, Sub-Lieutenant T.B. Speak, April 5th, 1945 in overall Gloss Sea Blue

The decals are opaque, with good colours and perfect register. My experience with Eduard decals has been very positive. They are thin and settle down well into panel lines and contours, responding well to Micro Set and Micro Sol.

As usual, Eduard has supplied self-adhesive die-cut masks for the canopy and wheels.

Now that we have covered the main differences, let's recap with details of the entire package:

Eduard's 1/48 scale Hellcat Mk.I / Mk.II Dual Combo comprises 240 olive coloured injection moulded plastic parts 34 clear parts 2 x nickel plated photo etched frets 2 x coloured photo etched frets masking sheet for canopy and wheels and a large decal sheet covering six markings options.

Surface texture on Eduard's latest releases has been superb, and these Hellcats enhance that already impressive reputation. In addition to crisp, finely recessed panel lines and selected rows of rivets, the Hellcat fuselage employs a subtle lapped panel effect. This really works well. The fabric ribs on the control surfaces are also very convincing.

Details are equally good. The cockpit is supplemented with the usual compliment of colour photo-etched parts including a layered instrument panel, switch panel and harness straps. For those who prefer to paint their cockpit, an alternative (and very nicely detailed) injection moulded instrument panel is also supplied.

Each engine is a simple assembly with only five plastic parts, but detail is barely compromised. Pushrods are moulded in place, a photo-etched ignition harness is included, plus several colour photo-etched parts for the crank case.

The undercarriage legs and wheel wells are suitably busy. The wheels are supplied with separate hubs and tyres. These appear to be the plain narrow style fitted to the prototypes and the earliest production models, and should be appropriate for the earliest Hellcats. If you are building a later Hellcat Mk.I or any Mk.II, there are after market Hellcat wheels readily available from Ultracast and True Details.

The main gear legs are the appropriate height for an unloaded aircraft. If your model is loaded with bombs and rockets, you might like to shorten the legs by a few millimetres.

The delicate antenna post on the fin is a separate part that may be installed following construction and painting. This is a thoughtful touch that will avoid the almost inevitable damage to a post moulded in place on the top of the fin.

The canopy parts are crystal clear and thin. Separate parts are supplied to permit the sliding canopy to be displayed open or closed.

Control surfaces are all supplied separately. These are tabbed to assist precise alignment in the neutral position. It appears that the ailerons and elevators may easily be repositioned after slicing the tabs off.

The cowl is broken down into three pieces, and four different cowl styles are offered.

Conclusion

Eduard's 1/48 scale Hellcat is beautifully detailed, features excellent surface texture and offers plenty of useful options to the modeller.

Whereas Eduard's last two new-tool offerings, the Fw 190 and Bf 110 families, have been challenging to build in some respects, this new Hellcat is noticeably more straightforward. Eduard has responded to comments about kit complexity with a model that is quite simply broken down without compromising detail in important areas such as the engine face, cockpit and undercarriage. Building the Eduard Hellcat should present no hurdles to the average modeller.

With even more detail than their debut F6F-3 release, plus more options with the new rocket sprue, and a price tag only $15.00 higher than the original single kit, this dual-Hellcat boxing represents great value too!


Task Force 88 and Operation DRAGOON

At Malta KHEDIVE joined Carrier Force TF88 for Operation DRAGOON, the invasion of Southern France. The Carrier Force comprised of the seven carriers of Rear Admiral Troubridge’s Escort Carrier Squadron and two U.S. CVEs, divided into two Task Groups TG 88.1 cruisers ROYALIST (Rear Admiral Troubridge, CTF 88 and CTG 88.1) and COLOMBO, CVEs ATTACKER (879 squadron with 28 Seafire), EMPEROR (800 squadron with 23 Hellcat), KHEDIVE (899 squadron with - 26 Seafire), PURSUER (881 squadron with 24 Wildcat), SEARCHER (882 squadron with 28 Wildcat), destroyers TYRIAN, TEAZER, TROUBRIDGE (Screen Commander), and US destroyers JEFFERS, H.P. JONES, MARSH, NIRLACK and MURPHY. TG 88.2 comprised of the CVEs USS TULAGI (Rear Admiral Durgin USN, CTG 88.2, VOF-1 - 24 Hellcat), USS KAZAN BAY (VF-74 - 24 Hellcat), HUNTER (807 squadron with 24 Seafire) and STALKER (809 squadron with 23 Seafire).

KHEDIVE flew her squadron ashore to R.N. Air Section Hal far on the 27th to continue training she also disembarked several Wildcats and Hellcats that had been transported as spare aircraft to R.N. Air Section Ta Kali. Before the squadron flew ashore Sub-Lt V.S. Lowden RNVR had a barrier crash in NF555 after missing all the arrestor wires.

TG88.1 sailed for tactical exercises off Malta on August 1st, putting to sea at 0730, 899 was re-embarked with a strength of 24 pilots and 26 aircraft. At 1940 ships of the Task Group conducted a barrage fire exercise. The force continued to exercise off Malta until the 11th. Task Force 88 sailed from Malta at 1745 on Saturday August 12th.

The invasion of Southern France Operation DRAGOON commenced in the early hours of August 15th, TF 88 flying operations commenced at 06:10, the last aircraft landed on at 20:35. Only daylight flying operations were carried out. The assault area, centred on St Tropez, extended some 30 miles along the Cote d'Azur. It was divided into four sectors, code named (from east to west) Camel, Delta, Alpha and Sitka. The assault troops were formed of three American divisions of the VI Corps, reinforced by the French 1st Armoured Division. The 3rd Infantry Division landed on the left at Alpha Beach (Cavalaire-sur-Mer), the 45th Infantry Division landed in the centre at Delta Beach (Saint-Tropez), and the 36th Infantry Division landed on the right at Camel Beach (Saint-Raphaël). A fourth Force, the First Special Service Force, a joint U.S.-Canadian special forces unit was landed on the offshore islands Operation Sitka to neutralise the Hyères Islands, (Porquerolles, Port-Cros, Bagaud, and Levant). By the end of the first day, 60,150 troops and 6,737 vehicles had been put ashore, including the first French armoured contingent.

On ‘D’ Day 899 flew 8 force cover sorties and 24 armed as fighter/bombers (F/B) with 500lb bomb loads ranged inland attacking coastal Defence Batteries and bombing roads between Guers and Le Muey. On D+1 they flew 6 Force cover and 6 beach cover sorties with 16 F/B sorties inland attacking motor transport and railway tracks west of Brignoles, and scored one hit on Coastal Battery K.26. Sub-Lt E.A.Gentry RNVR was forced to bale out over the sea during a F/B sortie after being hit by flak, he was safely rescued by RAMALIES. On the third day of operations (D+2) they flew 4 Force cover and 6 beach cover sorties with 8 F/B aircraft attacked a fort on Port Cros Island scored four hits and destroyed two huts. Sub-Lt D.A. Carey RCNVR was killed during a low level attack on MT, his aircraft NF661 was seen to fly into a hill at Fuveaux.

D+3 was a slightly less intense flying program with 6 Force cover sorties and 8 F/B sorties which attacked motor transport destroying 3 vehicles and damaged 8 more. The next day, D+4, the squadron flew 6 Force cover and 16 F/B sorties resulting in the destruction of 4 cars, and 1 lorry and badly damaged 3 tanks and 3 Lorries carrying 20 infantry. Two Hellcats from EMPEROR were landed on and later launched to return to their parent ship.

Temporary transfer to TG 88.2. The two Task Groups operated together for the first five days of the operation, TG 88.1 withdrew late on the 19th (D+4) and took passage overnight to Maddalena, Sardinia, to refuel and rearm but KHEDIVE was transferred to TG 88.2 to bolster the smaller force. On D+5 KHEDIVE’s aircraft took over the Force cover for TG 88.2 launching 20 sorties, in addition 16 F/B sorties were launched but with limited success, only one ‘F’ boat and one vehicle were damaged. One Wildcat from PURSUER’s 881 squadron landed on and a pilot from that squadron was transferred to KEHIVE from PURSUER by the USS HENDERSON. At 2200 KHEDIVE escorted by TYRIAN detached from TG 88.2 and proceeded to Maddalena. KHEDIVE and TYRIAN arrived at Maddalena at 1110 on the morning of the 21st (D+6) and stored ship. After disembarking two damaged Seafires and one 881 Squadron Wildcat pilot for passage to the advance base at Casabianda aerodrome, Corsica where reserve aircraft were available.

Re-joining TG 88.1 The ship weighed anchor at 1800 to return to the operational area, re-joining TG 88.1 at 0800 on D+7. Flying commenced at 1240 and, although 24 F/B sorties were flown targets were hard to find and was mainly restricted to road and rail strikes near Avignon. At 1945 Commander Lewin (British Naval Air Liaison Officer) landed on in a Wildcat and transferred to ROYALIST for a conference, he returned at 1715 and flew off at 1730. Sub-Lt G. Steven RNZNVR had to bale out on returning to the ship from his sortie, his parachute caught on the airframe and tore badly, and he fell into the sea trailing half a chute but was picked up safely by TYRIAN. There was one deck crash, Lt R.B. Haworth made a heavy landing in NN338 and his port oleo collapsed.

On the final day of operations, August 23rd, 29 F/B sorties were flown but again targets were elusive. 899 had flown 201 sorties over nine days with the loss of 4 aircraft. two pilots were killed, 1aircraft was damaged by enemy fire there were 17 serviceable aircraft available at dawn on D +8. There was no aerial combat, no enemy aircraft were encountered, but 54,503 rounds and 141 500lb bomb loads were expended against ground targets. TG 88.1 withdrew at 2025 on the 23rd and took passage overnight to Maddalena the ships of TG 88.1 were released from DRAGOON operation on Sunday August 27th.

KHEDIVE left Maddalena to proceed to Alexandria on the 28th, arriving there on September 2nd, disembarking a detachment of 6 aircraft to RNAS Dekheila on arrival, re-embarking them on the 6th.


Grumman Hellcat history

After early US Navy experience in the Pacific in the early months of WWII, and after consultation with Allied air forces in the European theater, Grumman began to develop a successor to their Wildcat fighter, to be called the Hellcat. Major design changes from the Wildcat included a low-mounted wing, wider landing gear which retracted into the wings, more powerful engine, improved cockpit armor plating, and increased ammunition capacity. Built specifically to counter the Japanese Zero, the Hellcat filled the bill, and earned the nickname “ace maker.” The Hellcat proved to be the most successful aircraft in naval history, destroying 5,171 aircraft in service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (5,163 in the Pacific and eight more during the invasion of Southern France), plus 52 with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm during World War II.

Design and Development

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. Most of these were the requirements of the Us Navy pilot’s whose opinion was of great influence for Grumman design team.

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, on 30 July 1942 Bob Hall flew the new configuration. He had to land the machine on a Long Island farm field on 17 August due to an engine failure, but the development effort continued with little disruption, though was Hall replaced as the test pilot. Despite a crash of the XF6F-3 in August, the Navy placed an order. Neither prototype was armed. The only major problem encountered during the test flights was tail flutter, which was fixed by reinforcing the rear fuselage.

In October just five month after the first flight of the prototype the first F6F-3 took to the air and by January 16 1943 Grumman started delivering Hellcats to the Navy. Early F6F-3 were powered by the Pratt and Whitney R-2800-10 while the later models were equipped with more powerful P&W R-2800-10w. It had a 2,000 HP rating and could, when in emergency, go up to 2,200 HP via a water injection method that provided some extra cooling to the engine.150 gallons drop tank could be fitted on centerline.

Grumman F6F-3 Specifications

Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney 2800-10 radial engine with a two-stage mechanical supercharger, rated at 2.000 hp
Dimensions & weight: Wingspan: 42 ft 10 in (13.06 m) Length: 33 ft 7 in(10.24 m) Wing area: 334 ft²(31 m²) Loaded weight: 11.381 lb(5,162 kg)
Performance: Maximum speed 376 mph (603 km/h) Stalling speed:76 mph(122 km/h) Takeoff roll: 780 ft(238m) Service Ceiling 38.400 ft(11.705m)
Armament: 6× 0.50 in M2 Browning machine guns with 400 rounds/gun

The night version of the Hellcat was introduced in carrier combat late in November 1943.Some 200 F6F-3N and 18 F6F-3E were produced. Both models had a radar antenna on the starboard wing. F6F-3E was a night-fighter variant with AN/APS-4 (ASH) radar attached on a pod under the wing. F6F-3N was the full-spec night-fighter variant, with AN/APS-6 radar in a faired wing-mounted radome. As a result this model had a cut top speed for a 20 mph. Both night version had their transmit and receive equipment fitted in a fuselage and the radar screen centered in the instrument panel. An F6F-3 experimentally received a turbocharged R-2800-21 engine and given the unused designation of XF6F-2. This machine featured a deeper fuselage to accommodate the turbocharger system, and a four-bladed propeller with root cuffs was fitted. Initial flight was on 7 January 1944. The original XF6F-1 prototype was reengined with an R-2800-27 engine featuring a single-stage, two-speed supercharger. It was designated the XF6F-4 and performed its initial flight on 2 October 1942, but this variant did not enter production. It was restored to F6F-3 configuration and put into service.

The second major production variant of the Hellcat was the F6F-5, which performed its maiden flight on 4 April 1944 and entered production at the end of the month. The F6F-5 was an incremental improvement on the F6F-3. 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. 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 High Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR). Night fighter versions F6F-5E were equipped with AN/APS-4 radar installation and F6F-5N were equipped with AN/APS-6 radar. Night fighters were powerful opponents armed with two 20mm cannons and four wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns. These night fighters were operated successfully by both USMC and US Navy from land bases and carriers.

F6F-5P was a standard F6F-5 modified to carry an aerial camera installed just aft the pilot in a lower left fuselage. F6F-5P was capable to participate in a strike as well as recording the results. This recce fighters had significant success in shooting down enemy planes.

Grumman F6F-5 Specifications

Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney 2800-10W two-row radial engine with a with a two-speed two-stage supercharger, rated at 2.000 hp
Dimensions & weight:Wingspan: 42 ft 10 in(13.06 m) Length: 33 ft 7 in(10.24 m) Wing area: 334 ft²(31 m²) Loaded weight: 12.598 lb(5,714 kg)
Performance: Maximum speed 380 mph(610 km/h)Stalling speed: 84 mph(135 km/h) Takeoff roll: 799 ft(244m) Service Ceiling 37.300 ft(11.370m) Armament: 6× 0.50 in M2 Browning machine guns with 400 rounds/gun or 2× 20 mm cannon, 225 rounds/gun and 4× 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns 400 rounds/gun
Rockets:6× 5 in (127 mm) HVARs or 2× 11¾ in (298 mm) Tiny Tim unguided rockets
Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
Torpedoes: 1× 2,000 lb (910 kg) bomb or1× Mk.13-3 torpedo under the centerline Underwing bombs: 1× 1,000 lb (450 kg) or 2× 250 lb (110 kg) or 6× 100 lb (45 kg)

Two XF6F-6 prototypes were built as follow-on to the XF6F-2 experiment, fitted with the P&W R-2800-18W, featuring a two-stage two-speed supercharger and water injection, driving a four-bladed. Maiden flight of the first prototype was on 6 July 1944. Performance was excellent, the Navy wanted to put this variant into production, but the orders were cancelled after the end of the war in the Pacific in August 1945.

A small number of Hellcats were converted in Drone F6F-3K by installing radio control equipment and were used during A bomb testing in Bikini islands to fly through a radio active cloud and later in Korea as flying bomb guided on enemy bridges at the North. These were after the war used as Flying target.

Total of 12.274 Hellcats were build.

Combat history

Hellcat came into the service for US just at the right moment, after recovering from initial shock of Pearl Harbor and heavy defeats in Java, Philippines, Malaysia and Island chains in the Pacific .


By the time the fourth ship of the class was being laid down, the Royal Navy changed course: It still wanted heavily protected carriers, but it also wanted bigger air groups. Indomitable was to be the test-bed.

HMS Indomitable was the fourth ship of the Illustrious class to be laid down. But, shortly after work began in 1937, the doubts that had been afflicting the Admiralty about the size of the type’s air group finally spurred action.

A new requirement was issued: The ideal aircraft complement would now be 48.

Work on Indomitable had been delayed an estimated eight months due to delays in the production of armour plate in Czechoslovakia.

Britain’s own armour manufacturers, seriously depleted after the 1920s economic crisis, were simply unable to meet demand as the nation expanded production in preparation for war.

This delay provided an opportunity for the requirement which would produce Implacable and Indefatigable to be applied to one of the existing build orders.

The sting was in the tail of the requirement: This must be achieved on the same displacement.

Naval architects were put on the job. Their answer was the obvious one: An extra hangar deck could be inserted – if the top weight of armour could be counterbalanced. This could be achieved through substantially reducing the thickness of the armour plate on the hangar sides.

This was accepted and new drawings hurriedly produced for the shipyard.

The design, if something of a compromise, would produce what would become Britain’s most flexible and “useful” fleet carrier of the war.

Henry "Hank" Adlam: The Disastrous Fall and `Triumphant Rise of the Fleet Air Arm

However, there were certain disadvantages in their design and one of these, except for the larger ship Indomitable, was the very poor accommodation for junior aircrews. Another, and some would say one of greater significance, was the unnecessary provision of two 4.5 inch guns at each end of the flight deck. Each of these guns took a large amount of area below deck, which would have been better used as hangar space. These guns made an almighty loud cracking noise and this author has to confess being frightened out of his skin when one went off close to his aircraft while waiting with engine running to take off. These four naval guns on the Fleet Carriers were merely a silly waste of space which could have been made available for more aircraft, because aircraft provide the best defence against air or surface attack. And anyway, the battleships and cruisers were there to provide that type of defence fire, if needed. Other more minor disadvantages in these Fleet Carriers were lack of cool air conditioning for the tropics and insufficient fuel tankage for long-distance steaming. Both of these latter disadvantages stemmed from designing the ships for European waters only.


Traces of World War 2 FAA - losses on HMS Hermes 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

HMS Hermes was the first purpose built aircraft carrier in the world. The design was based on that of a cruiser and the ship was intended for a similar scouting role. She was built by Armstrong Whitworth, laid down 15 January 1918 and launched 11 September 1919. She was subsequently commissioned in July 1923.

HMS Hermes was in use as an accommodation ship for officers under training in 1938 and brought forward for service in 1939. At the commencement of war in September 1939, the British Home Fleet deployed aircraft carriers to seek out and destroy German submarines: HMS Ark Royal off the northwestern approaches to the British Isles, HMS Courageous and HMS Hermes off the southwestern approaches. Courageous was sunk on 17 September 1939 by a torpedo and Hermes returned to port. She maintained her brief service in Home waters for a while after the loss of both Courageous and Glorious.

HMS Hermes was then transferred to the Indian Ocean.

January 1940: Deployed in support of military operations in East Africa. Aircraft made attacks on shipping and shore targets.

February - April 1940: Continued trade defence and interception duties in Indian Ocean.

31 May 1940: Deployed with HM Cruiser Cumberland to cover passage of Convoy US3 taking ANZAC troops to UK.

June 1940: Transferred to Atlantic for convoy defence and interception duties.

8 - 12 June 1940: Joined escort for US3 until relieved by HM Aircraft Carrier Argus.

23 June 1940: Joined HM Cruiser Dorsetshire in surveillance of Vichy warships at Dakar.

Her only fleet operation was on 8 July 1940, when her Swordfish aircraft attacked the Vichy French battleship Richelieu at Dakar and scored one torpedo hit.

Two FAA Squadrons were embarked on HMS Hermes:
710 Squadron (detachment), May 1940 Walrus I
814 Squadron, Sept 1939-Feb 1942, Swordfish II

After a distinguished wartime career she was sunk 9 April 1942.

Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed those with fatal losses are.

Type: Swordfish Mk II
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: ?
Lost: 16/05/1940
Leading Airman Sidney G. Bax, RN C/SSX. 15409, H.M.S. Hermes, [814 Sqdn?], age 24, 16/05/1940, missing
Lieutenant (A) Edward A. Liversidge, RN, H.M.S. Hermes [814 Sqdn.], age unknown, 16/05/1940, missing [according to Naval History killed in air crash, 14/05/1940]
Commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.

Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008
Norman Franks, Air Battle Dunkirk
Ross McNeill 'Royal Air Force Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War' (Midland Counties)


The Grumman F6F Hellcat

* Months before the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, the Grumman company began formal development of a bigger and better successor to the company's excellent F4F Wildcat fighter. The result, the "F6F Hellcat", proved to be everything expected of it, being powerful, rugged, easy to build and fly, and a major player in the defeat of Japan. This document provides a short history of the Hellcat.

* The Grumman F6F Hellcat began life as a concept for an improved F4F Wildcat fighter, with studies beginning in early 1938, and gradually evolving by early 1940 into a concept with the company designation "G-50". By that time it no longer looked like a modified Wildcat, basically having become a "clean sheet" design based on the Wildcat but with little or no parts commonality.

After performing wind-tunnel tests on a 16th-scale model, the US Navy ordered two G-50 prototypes on 30 June 1941. The first prototype, the "XF6F-1", was to be powered by a Wright R-2600-10 Cyclone air-cooled, two-row, 14-cylinder radial engine with 1,268 kW (1,700 horsepower), and the second, the "XF6F-2", was to be fitted with a turbocharged R-2600-16 Cyclone.

Feedback from the British, then flying the Wildcat against the Nazis, and from the US Navy suggested that a more powerful engine was required. The design team, led by Dick Hutton and under the overall direction of vice-president of engineering Bill Schwendler, settled on the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) R-2800 Double Wasp, an air-cooled, two-row, 18-cylinder radial engine in the 1,500 kW (2,000 horsepower) class. The R-2800 was to power both the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the Vought F4U Corsair, but both of these machines had been delayed, and so Grumman was able to get their hands on R-2800 engines.

The initial XF6F-1 "Hellcat" prototype flew on 26 June 1942 with the Cyclone engine, and test pilot Bob Hall at the controls. However, the second prototype was actually completed as the "XF6F-3", with the bigger R-2800-10 engine. Hall performed the first flight of the XF6F-3 on 30 July 1942. He had to land the machine on a Long Island farm field on 17 August due to an engine failure, but the development effort continued with little disruption, though Seldon Converse presently replaced Hall as the test pilot.

Neither prototype was armed. The only major problem encountered during the test flights was tail flutter, which was fixed by reinforcing the rear fuselage. This was fortunate, since the XF6F-3 had already been ordered into production as the "F6F-3" on 23 May 1942, even before the first flight of the XF6F-1.

Production began at a new Grumman plant in Bethpage, New York, with the fighter going down the assembly line before the buildings were completed. The first production F6F-3 performed its initial flight on 3 October 1942, and service deliveries of the type began in early 1943.

Following carrier trials, in March 1943 the type reached operational status with Navy fighter squadron VF-9 on the carrier USS ESSEX, with the aircraft painted Navy blue topside and white on the bottom, the standard color scheme for the fighter through the war. Within nine months of the first flight of the production machine, 15 squadrons were equipped with the type. The Hellcat was primarily a Navy machine, the Marines generally preferring the more formidable but demanding F4U Corsair.

* The Hellcat clearly showed influence from the Wildcat. Like the Wildcat, the Hellcat was not elegant, but it was clean, straightforward, and built rugged, confirming Grumman's reputation with pilots as the "Iron Works". The Grumman motto was: "Make it strong, make it work, make it simple." Engineers were encouraged to overdesign the machines, ensuring they exceeded Navy requirements by what was called a "Schwendler factor". The cockpit was designed to be the last thing to fail to help make sure pilots got back home safe.

The Hellcat's angular lines were intended to help make it easy to manufacture. It was a barrel-shaped fighter of mostly metal construction with a flush-riveted skin, though the ailerons were fabric covered. The aircraft was fitted with a roomy cockpit that provided the pilot with an excellent forward view if a poor rear view, and with a "razorback" canopy that slid backwards to open. The straight-edged, square-tipped wings were manually folded up and back along the sides of the fuselage in good Grumman fashion. According to Grumman legend, the concept had been dreamed up by Leroy Grumman using a paperclip and a pink gum eraser.

There were significant differences from the Wildcat as well:

Armament consisted of six 12.7 millimeter (0.50 caliber) Browning machine guns, three mounted in each outboard section of the wing with 400 rounds per gun, instead of the four-gun armament of the Wildcat.

The big Double Wasp engine drove a three-bladed, constant-speed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller with a diameter of 3.99 meters (13 feet 1 inch), though the XF6F-3 had used a Curtis Electric propeller. The XF6F-3 had also featured a large prop spinner that was deleted in production. The engine was set three degrees below the center axis of the aircraft, giving the machine a tail-down attitude in flight. The Hellcat used a "stinger" type arresting hook, like that of the Wildcat, that discreetly retracted straight back into the extreme tail.

* The Hellcat went into combat in the early fall of 1943, with its first major action in a raid against Rabaul harbor on New Britain on 5 November 1943. From that time on, it was a major player in the Pacific naval campaigns. On 23 November 1943, US Navy F3F-3s tangled with Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters over Tarawa, with LT-JG Ralph Hanks shooting down five in five minutes and becoming an "instant ace". The next day the Yanks and Japanese mixed it up again. The final score of the two days of fighting was one Hellcat lost and 30 claimed kills on Zeroes.

The Hellcat no doubt came as a nasty surprise to Japanese pilots, since it looked enough like a Wildcat to be confused for one at a distance, but was a substantially more dangerous adversary, every bit as tough as the Wildcat but faster and more heavily armed. It was still no match for the Zero in terms of agility and couldn't outclimb the "Zeke", but the Hellcat could almost always escape by going into a dive. Any competent Hellcat pilot who understood his machine's advantages and the Zeke's weaknesses had the upper hand.

A total of 4,402 F6F-3s were built up to the spring of 1944. (Some sources give different numbers, and such variations are discussed in the production summary at the end of this document.) Very late production F6F-3s featured the R-2800-10W engine with water-methanol boost that could provide 10% more power for short periods of time. The water tank was fitted behind the cockpit and filled from the spine.

There were a number of F6F-3 subvariants:

An F6F-3 was experimentally reengined with a turbocharged R-2800-21 engine and given the unused designation of "XF6F-2". This machine featured a deeper fuselage to accommodate the turbocharger system, and a four-bladed propeller with root cuffs was fitted. Initial flight was on 7 January 1944.

The original XF6F-1 prototype was reengined with an R-2800-27 engine featuring a single-stage, two-speed supercharger. It was designated the "XF6F-4" and performed its initial flight on 2 October 1942, but this variant did not enter production. It was restored to F6F-3 configuration and put into service.

* The second (and last) major production variant of the Hellcat was the "F6F-5", which performed its first flight on 4 April 1944 and entered production at the end of the month. The F6F-5 was an incremental improvement on the F6F-3, standardizing improvements introduced during F6F-3 production and adding a few new ones. The two variants were difficult to tell apart. The F6F-5 featured:

The weapons pylons were also fitted to some late-production F6F-3s. Some late-production F6F-5s had gun armament of four 12.7 millimeter Browning machine guns and two 20 millimeter Hispano Mark II cannon, with the long-barreled cannon mounted in the inboard position and supplied with 200 rounds of ammunition each. The F6F-5 went into service just as the Hellcat accomplished its greatest feat of arms: the Marianas Turkey Shoot. On 19 June 1944, US Navy fighters protecting the US invasion of the Marianas island chain were challenged by swarms of Imperial Japanese Navy Zeroes. The Americans claimed 350 kills to a loss of 30 of their own aircraft. It was all but the end of Imperial Japanese Navy air power, now suppressed by what the US Navy called the "Big Blue Blanket" of naval air power.

The last of 7,870 F6F-5s was rolled out in November 1945. As with the F6F-3, production included a night-fighter variant, the "F6F-5N" with AN/APS-6 radar, making up 1,435 of the total. Some F6F-5s were also converted to a photo-reconnaissance variant, the "F6F-5P".

The US Navy and Marine Corps claimed 5,154 kills in the Hellcat during World War II, giving it a kill ratio of 19:1. This may have been an exaggeration, but even discounting it by half, it was an impressive achievement.

The Navy's top-scoring ace, CDR David McCampbell, scored 34 aerial victories in the F6F, as well as 20 kills against aircraft on the ground. Other high-scoring US Navy aces included LT Cecil Harris, with 24 kills in aerial combat LT Eugene Valencia, with 23 LT Cecil Harris, with 22 LT Alexander Vraciu, with 19 LT Cornelius Nooy, with 19 and LT Patrick Fleming, with 18.

* Two "XF6F-6" prototypes were built as a follow-on to the XF6F-2 experiment, fitted with the P&W R-2800-18W, featuring a two-stage two-speed supercharger and water injection, driving a four-bladed Initial flight of the first prototype was on 6 July 1944. Performance was excellent, the Navy wanted to put this variant into production, but the orders were cancelled after the end of the war in the Pacific in August 1945.

There were a number of unbuilt Hellcat derivatives. Wind tunnel tests were performed in 1942 on a model of a Hellcat with floats, but the idea unsurprisingly turned out to impractical. The "G54" was to have a low-drag laminar-flow wing. The "G59" was to be fitted with a 28-cylinder P&W R-4360 Wasp Major engine with a two-speed supercharger, while the "G60" was the same engine fit, but with a two-stage supercharger. The "G61" was a "hybrid" fighter, with a turbojet engine in the tail along with the piston engine in the nose. The "G69" was a dedicated attack variant.

* The Hellcat was quickly phased out of first-line service after the war, initially being replaced by the Grumman F8F Bearcat and then by jet fighters. Hellcats lingered on in reserve service for a few years. A number of Hellcats were converted into "F6F-5K" target drones and "F6F-5D" drone directors. Apparently, the first Hellcats to carry drop tanks had also been given the "F6F-5D" designation, but it didn't stick. A handful of explosive-laden Hellcat drones were used for "bridge-busting" during the Korean War. Apparently some Hellcats were also used as target tugs.

* The Hellcat was also heavily used by the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA). A total of 252 F6F-3s were supplied beginning in March 1943. The FAA had originally wanted to call it the "Gannet F.I (Fighter Mark I)", but by this time they were realizing that changing the names of Yank aircraft in their service caused more confusion than it was worth, and so the aircraft was simply called the "Hellcat F.I".

Two squadrons were built up in 1943, being dispatched on the HMS EMPEROR for convoy duty late in the year, where they saw no real combat. When the EMPEROR returned to Britain in early 1944, the ship was sent north in March as part of OPERATION TUNGSTEN, the attack on the German battleship TIRPITZ in its protected Norwegian fjord. The Hellcats fought in wintry weather, taking on German Bf-109Gs and FW-190As, and claiming three kills for the loss of one of their own.

The Hellcat Is did not participate in the Normandy invasion in June 1944, but the EMPEROR did participate in the invasion of southern France in August. US Navy Hellcats also fought in that operation, flying from the "jeep" carriers KASAAN BAY and TULAGI. The Hellcats performed strikes and shot down a handful of German aircraft.

By this time, the FAA was receiving the F6F-5, with deliveries running to a total of 930. Most were "Hellcat F.II" fighters, with some unknown number fitted with four extended launch rails under each wing, for a total of eight, to carry British 27.2 kilogram ("60 pounder") unguided rockets.

About 70 of the Hellcat IIs were 70 F6F-5N night fighters, these being given the British designation of "Hellcat NF.II". Blackburn Aircraft also converted a number of fighters to a photo-reconnaissance standard, with three cameras in the rear fuselage. These machines were given the designation "Hellcat PR.II (Photo-Reconnaissance Mark II)" if they were unarmed and "Hellcat FR.II (Fighter-Reconnaissance Mark II)" if they retained their guns.

The FAA Hellcat IIs saw service against the Japanese beginning in August 1944, in particular operating around Malaya and the East Indies. Most of the FAA Hellcats were out of service by the end of 1945, some squadrons being immediately disbanded with the end of the war. Some Hellcat NF.IIs and PR.IIs remained in service into 1946, and a few Hellcats were retained as hacks or other second-line purposes into the early 1950s.

* Hand-me-down Hellcats were also used by Argentina, France, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The French Aeronavale, or naval air arm, received about 120 Hellcats, many of which were used in the French war in Indochina in the early 1950s. Uruguay's Hellcats were the last in formal military service, being finally phased out in 1961.

* Although the Hellcat was built in surprisingly few variants for such an important aircraft, a production summary still does come in handy to keep things straight. Unfortunately, cited production quantities tend to vary from source to source, sometimes wildly, and this table has to be regarded as no more than a "best guess". * There is something of a traditional rivalry between the Hellcat and the Navy's other major fighter of the late-war period, the Vought F4U Corsair. Both aircraft have their partisans and maintain their favorite's superiority over the other.

Actually, even when the Hellcat was being produced, nobody claimed the Hellcat could outfly the Corsair. The two aircraft were built to somewhat different specifications. The Corsair was designed to provide maximum performance at the expense of handling and cost, while the Hellcat was designed to provide good performance, with handling, cost, and manufacturability being important factors.

The Corsair was an extremely impressive aircraft, but nobody claimed it was undemanding to fly, and for the cost of two Corsairs the Navy could buy three Hellcats and get them quickly. The Hellcat was much easier to fly, which was far from a trivial consideration when the US was turning out pilots on an assembly line and throwing them into combat, and its availability rate and survivability were outstanding.

In sum, it appears that that the Corsair had the edge in sheer capability while the Hellcat had the edge in simple utility. Given that the Hellcat fought in greater numbers, there is no doubt it carried the greater weight in winning the war in the Pacific, with over two-thirds of all the kills claimed by Navy and Marine pilots against the Japanese.

I also suspect that the Corsair's performance edge was not absolute. I am not a pilot, but it seems clear to me that an aircraft is a bit like a piano, in that they are both demanding to use and their performance in practice is very dependent on the skill of the person in the driver's seat. I would bet that the single largest factor in a contest between Corsair and Hellcat would be pilot skill.

* There is a long-standing story going around that the Hellcat benefited from lessons learned by the capture and evaluation of a Mitsubishi Zero, but this is sort of a half-truth. The US didn't begin evaluation of a captured Zero until September 1942, and the Hellcat had been ordered into production even before the flight of the first prototype in June 1941, and well before Pearl Harbor. It is possible that some minor tweaks were incorporated into the F6F-5 as the result of the evaluation. It is certainly true that the knowledge of the Zero's weaknesses uncovered by the evaluation was beyond value to US Navy and Marine fighter pilots.

Oddly, despite the Hellcat's importance, it is surprisingly difficult to find detailed information on it, at least in comparison to something like a P-51 Mustang or P-38 Lightning. Partly it seems to be the fact that there were only two main production models, along with reconnaissance and night-fighter subvariants of each, and the two models are hard to tell apart. Another part was that its first-line service history was short, if intensive, with the fighter going into combat only in the last half of 1943, and seeing little real service after World War II.


Watch the video: Naval Legends British Fleet Air Arms Warplanes Part 2 (August 2022).