Skip to content. As a public health precaution, both of our locations, along with all Smithsonian museums, are temporarily closed. See our message to visitors. Heavy armor plate, reinforced empennage, RW engine, spring tabs on the ailerons increased maneuverabilitycould carry rockets as well as bombs. This Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 can travel on a flatbed trailer with minimum disassembly. The Hellcat was originally conceived as an advanced version of the U.
The Wildcat's intended replacement, the Vought F4U Corsair see NASM collectionfirst flown inwas showing great promise, but development was slowed by problems, including the crash of the prototype. After repair, it was assigned to VF where it was used in a training role until February 21, After numerous transfers was converted to an F6F-3K target drone with the installation of sophisticated radio-control equipment.
It was painted red with a pink tail that carried the number Its mission was to be used in Operation Crossroads - the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. It flew on June 24,with a pilot, on a practice flight and was launched, unmanned, soon after the first bomb test.
F6F-5 Hellcat Composite Photo Walk Around
Instrumentation on board and photographic plates taped to the control stick obtained data on radioactivity. Three more manned flights preceded the final unmanned flight on July 25,which evaluated the first underwater explosion. Records indicate that exposure of this aircraft to the radioactive cloud was minimal and residual radiation is negligible.
It was assigned to the National Air Museum on November 3,and remained at Norfolk until October 4,when it was moved by barge to Washington and placed in storage. A superficial restoration was performed at the museum, but because of the harsh environment and its poor condition the Hellcat was returned to NASM on March 16, Init was sent to Grumman Aerospace where a team of volunteers completely restored the aircraft.
19 Facts About the Grumman F6F Hellcat with Photos
Init was shipped back to the Paul E. As a precaution against possible delays in the Corsair reaching the fleet, in Junethe Navy asked Grumman to develop an improved version of the Wildcat. It had been designed in the s and its performance was not up to the standard of the newer fighters.
Clearly the most pressing need in the Wildcat was a larger engine to boost performance. A bigger powerplant, however, would require the use of a larger propeller, which in turn necessitated a taller landing gear for increased ground clearance. More power also called for more wing area, and an increase in the area of the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces.
The wing would also need to be lowered from the Wildcat's mid-fuselage position to accommodate the newer hydraulically-operated landing gear, which would replace its predecessor's obsolete manual system.
The F6F Hellcat still bore a family resemblance, however, to its predecessor and there was little that was revolutionary in its design. Simplicity was a hallmark of Grumman aircraft. Known components were used, and ease of manufacture was always a priority. Grumman chief engineer William Schwendler was an advocate of building components to twice the strength required in specifications. This practice would make the F6F a tough, uncomplicated, easy-to-manufacture aircraft.
The Hellcat was legendary for its ruggedness and it was even jokingly rumored to be made of steel.It served during the midth century in the United States Navythe United States Marine Corpsand the air forces of other nations. It was Grumman Aircraft's last piston engined fighter aircraft. Modified versions of the Bearcat have broken speed records for piston-engined aircraft. Today, the Bearcat is popular among warbird owners and air racers. At the meeting, Lieutenant Commander Jimmie Thach emphasized one of the most important requirements in a good fighter plane was "climb rate".
Climb performance is strongly related to the power-to-weight ratioand is maximized by wrapping the smallest and lightest possible airframe around the most powerful available engine.
Another goal was that the G Grumman's design designation for the aircraft should be able to operate from escort carrierswhich were then limited to the obsolescent F4F Wildcat as the Grumman F6F Hellcat was too large and heavy. A small, lightweight aircraft would make this possible.
After intensively analyzing carrier warfare in the Pacific Theater of Operations for a year and a half, Grumman began development of the G Bearcat in late There is considerable debate among sources [ by whom? It is known that test pilots from Grumman examined and flew a captured Fw in England in earlyand the G has a number of design notes in common with the Fw that the Hellcat did not, especially in the cowling and landing gear arrangements.
However, no definitive evidence has been presented that these tests had a direct input to the G design. The R was the most powerful American engine available at that time, so it would be retained for the G This meant that improved performance would have to come from a lighter airframe.
To meet this goal, the Bearcat's fuselage was about 5 feet 1. This allowed the use of a bubble canopythe first to be fitted to a US Navy fighter.
The vertical stabilizer was the same height as the Hellcat's, but increased aspect ratio, giving it a thinner look. The wingspan was 7 feet less than the Hellcat's. Structurally the fuselage used flush riveting as well as spot welding, with a heavy gauge W aluminum alloy skin suitable for carrier landings.
Keeping the prop clear of the deck required long landing gear, which, combined with the shortened fuselage, gave the Bearcat a significant "nose-up" profile on land. The hydraulically operated undercarriage used an articulated trunnion which extended the length of the oleo legs when lowered; as the undercarriage retracted the legs were shortened, enabling them to fit into a wheel well which was entirely in the wing.However, the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landing that the Hellcat did not, allowing the Hellcat to steal a march as the Navy's dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position the Hellcat did not relinquish.
The Corsair instead was primarily deployed to great effect in land-based use by the U. Marine Corps. Some military observers tagged the Hellcat as the "Wildcat's big brother". The F6F was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in earlyto counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater. Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12, being built in just over two years.
Hellcats were credited with destroying 5, aircraft while in service with the U. Navy, U.
Postwar, the Hellcat was phased out of frontline service, but remained in service as late as as a night fighter. The last Hellcat rolled out in Novemberthe total production being 12, of which 11, had been built in just two years. This high production rate was credited to the sound original design, which required little modification once production was underway. Specifications F6F-5 Hellcat. Engine Specifications. Top of Page. Aircraft Type. Carrier-borne fighter of US Navy.
Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. Radial cylinder, air-cooled 2, cid. Max Speed. Single seat pilot. Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation Corporate logo. Two-stage, two-speed, centrifugal type supercharger. The radial engine was a twin-row, 2, cubic inch, cylinder with supercharger. It weighed 2, pounds and delivered 2, hp at 2, rpm for takeoff, and as much as 2, hp for combat power. Designed with improved water injection designated "-W"it generated an additional hp for about 15 minutes of War Emergency Power, or combat power.
Production for all series totaledengines. Bendix-Stromberg model PTG1 three-venturi, pressure carburetor. A tribute to those who served, built, and piloted these aircraft.Grumman 'Iron Works' Hellcat
Variants F6F Hellcat. First prototype, powered by a two-stage 1, hp 1, kW Wright R Cyclone 14 radial piston engine. R replaced by turbo-charged RThe F6F made its combat debut in Septemberand was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter, which was able to outperform the A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific theater.
A total of 12, were built in just over two years. Hellcats were credited with destroying a total of 5, enemy aircraft while in service with the U.
Navy, U. Grumman had been working on a successor to the F4F Wildcat since and the contract for the prototype XF6F-1 was signed on 30 June Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics BuAer and experienced F4F pilots,  to develop the new fighter in such a way that it could counter the Zero's strengths and help gain air command in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
Jackson [Note 4] directed Grumman's designers to mount the cockpit higher in the fuselage. The F6F series was designed to take damage and get the pilot safely back to base. The F6F-5 featured several improvements, including a more powerful RW engine employing a water-injection system and housed in a slightly more streamlined engine cowling, spring-loaded control tabs on the aileronsand an improved, clear-view windscreen, with a flat armored-glass front panel replacing the F6F-3's curved plexiglass panel and internal armor glass screen.
A few standard F6F-5s were also fitted with camera equipment for reconnaissance duties as the F6F-5P. This version never entered production and was converted to an F6F-3 production aircraft. The last Hellcat rolled out in Novemberthe total production being 12, of which 11, had been built in just two years.
The U. Navy much preferred the more docile flight qualities of the F6F compared with the Vought F4U Corsairdespite the superior speed of the Corsair. This preference was especially noted during carrier landings, a critical success requirement for the Navy, in which the Corsair was fundamentally flawed in comparison. The Corsair was thus released by the Navy to the Marine Corps, which without the need to worry about carrier landings, used the Corsair to immense effect in land-based sorties.
When trials were flown against a captured A6M5 model Zero, they showed that the Hellcat was faster at all altitudes. The trials report concluded:. Do not dogfight with a Zero Do not try to follow a loop or half-roll with a pull-through. When attacking, use your superior power and high speed performance to engage at the most favorable moment.
To evade a Zero 52 on your tail, roll and dive away into a high speed turn. Hellcats were the major U. Navy fighter type involved in the Battle of the Philippine Seawhere so many Japanese aircraft were shot down that Navy aircrews nicknamed the battle the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". Navy in the Pacific. A formidable opponent for the Hellcat was the Kawanishi N1Kbut it was produced too late and in insufficient numbers to affect the outcome of the war.
Even so, the aircraft performed well against the best Japanese opponents with a claimed kill ratio against the A6M Zero, 9. He once described the F6F as " It performed well, was easy to fly, and was a stable gun platform, but what I really remember most was that it was rugged and easy to maintain. During the course of World War II, 2, F6F Hellcats were lost to all causes — in aerial combat, to antiaircraft ground and shipboard fire, and due to operational causes. Of the total figure, 1, were destroyed in training and ferry operations, normally outside of the combat zones.
The name Hellcat replaced it in early for the sake of simplicity, the Royal Navy at that time adopting the use of the existing American naval names for all the U. FAA Hellcats, as with other Lend-Lease aircraft, were rapidly replaced by British aircraft after the end of the war, with only two of the 12 squadrons equipped with the Hellcat at VJ-Day still retaining Hellcats by the end of After the war, the Hellcat was succeeded by the F8F Bearcatwhich was smaller, more powerful powered by uprated Double Wasp radials and more maneuverable, but entered service too late to see combat in World War II.Outperforming the famous Japanese A6M Zero, the F6F accounted for 5, enemy aircraft destroyed, 75 percent of the Navy's air-to-air victories.
One month later, the XF6F-3 made its first flight, and a contract for large scale production immediately followed. The first production F6F-3 flew in Octoberwith first deliveries to Fighting Squadron VF 9 in earlya mere 18 months from prototype to operational employment.
Bythe Hellcat had become the Navy's standard carrier-based fighter. Duringthe F6F-5 became operational, incorporating a number of improvements refined cowling, and improved windshield and adding provision for carriage of a 2, lb. The Royal Navy procured 1, F6F-3 and -5 aircraft as well.
Adhering to Grumman's design philosophy to produce an aircraft in which a pilot could become proficient in a short period of time, and that was easy to operate from a carrier yet could outperform the enemy, the Hellcat was loved by its pilots. Hellcat pilots achieved an amazing kill ratio, downing 5, enemy aircraft in just two years, accounting for 75 percent of the Navy's aerial victories during the war. Late in the war the Navy conducted evaluations of Allied and captured Axis fighters.
The Hellcat ranked at the top in most categories, making it one of the best fighters in the war, an amazing accomplishment considering the very short design-to-production period. In just 30 months, 12, Hellcats were produced by Grumman at its Bethpage Plant Number 3, much of the factory still being constructed as some of the first F6Fs were being built inside.
F6F-3 Hellcat. We're running a one question survey this month to decide what digital content you'd like to see on our website. Please vote and help spread the word.Grumman had been working on a successor to the F4F Wildcat since and the contract for the prototype XF6F-1 was signed on 30 June The aircraft was designed to use the Wright R Twin Cyclone two-row, cylinder radial engine of 1, hp 1, kW driving a three-bladed Curtiss Electric propeller.
The wing was mounted lower on the fuselage and was able to be hydraulically or manually folded, with each panel outboard of the undercarriage bay folding backwards from pivoting on a specially oriented, Grumman-patented diagonal axis pivoting system much like the earlier F4F, with a folded stowage position parallel to the fuselage with the leading edges pointing down. The F6F Hellcat made its first combat flights on August 31st, Examples in service with the Marines and the Fleet Air Arm downed another 1, enemy planes.
Overall, the Hellcat ran up a to-1 victory ratio. The aircraft performed well against the best Japanese opponents with a claimed kill ratio against the A6M, 9.
The F6F became the prime ace-maker aircraft in the American inventory, with Hellcat aces. In the ground attack role, Hellcats dropped 6, tons 5, tonnes of bombs. The name Hellcat replaced it in early for the sake of simplicity, the Royal Navy at that time adopting the use of the existing American naval names for all the U. FAA Hellcats, as with other Lend-Lease aircraft, were rapidly replaced by British aircraft after the end of the war, with only two of the 12 squadrons equipped with the Hellcat at VJ-Day still retaining Hellcats by the end of and were finally were disbanded in The Uruguayan Navy also used them until the early s.
The F6F was best known for its role as a rugged, well designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in earlyto counter the A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater.
Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12, being built in just over two years. During the course of World War II, 2, F6F Hellcats were lost to all causes; in aerial combat, lost to anti-aircraft ground and ship-board fire, and were lost to operational causes. Of the total figure 1, were destroyed in training and ferry operations, normally outside of the combat zones.
Postwar, the Hellcat was succeeded by the F8F Bearcat, which was smaller, more powerful powered by uprated Double Wasp radials and more maneuverable, but entered service too late to see combat in World War II.
The Hellcat was used for second-line USN duties, including training.
Grumman F8F Bearcat
Development Grumman had been working on a successor to the F4F Wildcat since and the contract for the prototype XF6F-1 was signed on 30 June Back to Top Synopsis The F6F was best known for its role as a rugged, well designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in earlyto counter the A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater.
Back to Top. Grumman F6F ' Hellcat'.By Stephen ShermanApr. Updated January 23, T he highly successful follow-on to the Wildcat. Built specifically to counter the Japanese Zero, the Hellcat filled the bill, and earned the nickname "ace maker.
In the critical years andthe Hellcat ruled the skies of the Western Pacific. Eugene Valenciaone of the Navy's top aces, quipped. 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. The wings extended over square feet; the average was less than sq. The wings folded back and pivoted ingeniously, so that they folded up next to and alongside the fuselage.
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, Powered by a Wright Cyclone R engine 1, horsepowerthe aircraft didn't have the needed performance.
A month later, Bob Hall flew the new configuration. Grumman had to build a new facility, Plant Number 3, to produce the Hellcat. Obtaining the structural steel for the buildings was a challenge, met in part by the purchase of scrap from the Second Avenue El. Even before Plant Number 3 was finished, Hellcats began rolling off the production lines.
Grumman's Hellcat output picked up quickly: 12 planes in the last quarter ofin the first quarter ofand then in the month of April, Eventually they would be churning out per month. The company built over 12, in three years. During "The War," Grumman was an outstanding example of American productivity, employing 20, workers, few of whom had ever worked in the aircraft industry before; many of them were women.
Bethpage was a happy place; there were no strikes, work stoppages, nor unions. Grumman took care of its employees with daycare centers for working mothers, social events for all, Christmas turkeys, and the famous "Green Car Service" to help employees with dead batteries and other minor problems. Especially with the delays in the F4U program, the US Navy needed a superior carrier-based fighter in The Hellcat filled the bill.
At altitudes in excess of 10, feet, it had a comparable rate of climb. At all altitudes, due to its heavier weight and greater power, it could out-dive the A6M. This was generally true of American fighters; in a tough spot, the pilots could nose over, firewall the throttle, and zoom down.
The 'dash Five' closely resembled the 'dash Three. Both versions had gallons capacity in internal tanks and a gallon belly drop-tank.