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F6F Hellcat
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F6F Hellcat

Grumman F6F Hellcat
Role Carrier fighter
Crew One
First Flight 26 June 1942
Entered Service 1943
Manufacturer Grumman
Length 33 ft 7 in 10.24 m
Wingspan 42 ft 10 in 13.06 m
Height 13 ft 1 in 3.99 m
Wing area 334 ft² 102 m²
Empty 9,238 lb 4,190 kg
Loaded 12,598 lb 5,714 kg
Maximum takeoff 15,415 lb 6,990 kg
Engines Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp
Power 2,000 hp 1,492 kW
Maximum speed 380 mph 612 km/h
Combat range 945 miles 1,521 km
Ferry range 1,530 miles 2,462 km
Service ceiling 37,300 ft 11,369 m
Rate of climb ft/min m/min
Wing loading lb/ft² kg/m²
Power/Mass hp/lb kW/kg
Guns 6 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machineguns
Bombs 3 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
Rockets Tiny Tim unguided rockets

The Grumman F6F Hellcat started development as an improved F4F Wildcat, but turned into a completely new design sharing a family resemblance to the Wildcat but with practically no shared parts. The Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were the primary United States Navy carrier fighters in the second half of World War II. The Hellcat was withdrawn from service shortly after the war's end.

Table of contents
1 Development
2 Construction
3 Action


Originally to be given the Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine of 1,700 hp (1,268 kW), the Hellcat was given the Pratt & Whitney; R-2800 Double Wasp; 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) after British combat experience with the Wildcat indicated better performance was necessary.

The first, Cyclone-equipped prototype flew on 26 June 1942, and the first Double Wasp-equipped aircraft on 30 July 1942. The first production aircraft off the line flew on 3 October 1942; the type reached operational readiness with VF-9 on USS Essex in March 1943.


Like the Wildcat, the Hellcat was a tough, straightforward aircraft, designed to be easy to manufacture and able to take severe damage and return safely to the carrier. 212 lb (96 kg) of cockpit armor was fitted to aid survival, as well as a bullet-proof windshield and armor around the engine oil tank and oil cooler.

The family resemblance to the earlier aircraft was strong, but the Hellcat wasn't just a bigger, heavier, faster Wildcat. Instead of the Wildcat's narrow-track undercarriage retracting into the fuselage by hand, the Hellcat had hydraulically-actuated undercarriage legs set wider and retracting backward into the wings. The wing was low-mounted instead of mid-mounted.

Armament consisted of the same six 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machineguns as later Grumman-built Wildcats; later aircraft gained three hardpoints to carry 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs.


The Hellcat first saw action against the Japanese on 1 September 1943 when fighters off the USS Independence (CVL-22) shot down a snooping seaplane. Soon after, on 23 November, Hellcats engaged Japanese aircraft over Tarawa shooting down a claimed 30 Mitsubishi Zeros for the loss of one F6F.

Hellcats were involved in practically all engagements with Japanese air power from that point onward. They were the major type of USN fighter involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea where so many Japanese aircraft were shot down that the USN aircrews nicknamed the battle The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

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Designation Series F3F - F4F - F5F - F6F - F7F - F8F - F9F
Related Lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft - List of aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm
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