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  • Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft

    The classic Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter was known to make an Ace out of the many pilots who flew it during World War 2.

     Updated: 6/19/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The F6F Hellcat was the successor to - and a logical evolution of - the capable F4F Wildcat series of carrier-borne aircraft fielded by the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater of World War 2. In the conflict, the Hellcat served under the banners of the USN, United States Marine Corp and Britain's Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. The system featured a powerful Pratt & Whitney brand engine, multiple heavy caliber machine guns and the ability to carry conventional bombs and air-to-surface rockets all the while operating from the mobile flattops of the aircraft carriers. The aircraft was known to make aces of most pilots who flew her and total topped 12,275 examples of various models, 11,000 of those appearing in a short 24 months of production.

    Design of the F6F followed closely the lines of the F4F. Where the F4F was originally intended as a biplane design - and therefore developed the stout look to the fuselage - the F6F was entirely a monoplane fighter from the start. The cockpit was situated just above the low-mounted large wings (as opposed to the mid-mounted ones found on the F4F) and forward in the design, though just aft of the engine placement, and offered up adequate visibility through a framed canopy. Power came from the mighty Pratt & Whitney R-2800 series radial piston engine delivering some 2,000 horsepower and providing speeds in excess of 375 miles per hour. The engine cowling dominated the front of the design while a conventional single-vertical tail surface rounded out the empennage. Landing gear were unique in that they retracted in a backwards fashion.

    As with the F4F before it, the F6F featured 6 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine guns in pairs of threes to a wing with 400 rounds to a gun. Additional and optional armament came in the form of air-to-surface explosive rockets (a strike role which the Hellcat excelled at) and conventional drop bombs as needed. A fuel tank could be carried in the centerline fuselage position for improved range. The flexibility and firepower inherent in the system provided a one-two punch when paired with the equally devastating Vought F4F Corsair fighters. The success of the F6F was noted and a nightfighting variant appeared with radar by 1944 and identified by the use of "N" in their designations (as in F6F-3N).

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    Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: Carrier-Borne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Grumman Corporation - USA
    Production Total: 12,272

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 33.79 feet (10.3 meters)
    Width: 42.65 feet (13.00 meters)
    Height: 12.99 feet (3.96 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 9,059 lb (4,109 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 12,597 lb (5,714 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp air-cooled radial engine developing 2,000 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 380 mph (611 kph; 330 knots)
    Maximum Range: 944 miles (1,520 km)
    Service Ceiling: 37,300 feet (11,369 meters; 7.06 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 3,410 feet-per-minute (1,039 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    STANDARD (F6F-3, F6F-5):
    6 x 0.50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine guns in wings.

    2 x 20mm cannons WITH 4 x .50 caliber machine guns.

    2 x 11.75 (298mm) "Tiny Tim" unguided rockets underwing.
    6 x 5-inch (127mm) HVAR unguided rockets underwing.
    8 x 250lb drop bombs (F6F-5)
    4 x 500lb drop bombs (F6F-5)
    2 x 1,000lb drop bombs (F6F-5)
    1 x 2,000lb drop bomb
    1 x Mk 13-3 series torpedo underfuselage centerline.

    Up to 4,150lbs of externally-held drop ordnance.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Argentina; France; United Kingdom; South Vietnam; Uruguay; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    YF6F - Prototype Designation

    YF6F-1 - First prototype to fly


    YF6F-3 - Third Developmental Prototype and selected as base production model.

    F6F-3 - Official production designation based on YF6F-3 variant.

    Gannet Mk 1 - Early British designation for F6F-3 (later redesignated as Hellcat Mk 1).

    F6F-3E - Special radar equipment installed.

    F6F-3N - Dedicated Nightfighter Variant

    F6F-5 (Hellcat Mk III) - Refined airframe; Radial engine with water injection system for power-assisted takeoffs and combat.

    F6F-5K - Explosive-laden remotely piloted attack drones used in the Korea War.

    F6F-5N (Hellcat NF.Mk II) - Nightfighter variant.

    F6F-5P - Photographic Reconnaissance Variant

    Hellcat Mk II - British Designation for F6F-5.

    Hellcat NF.Mk II - British Designation for F6F-5N nightfighter.