Grumman F4F Wildcat Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
Originally conceived of as a biplane, the Grumman F4F Wildcat became a critical component to the early going of World War 2 for the Allies.
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The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the unsung hero of the Allied Pacific Theater campaign in the early years of World War 2. Often overshadowed by the upcoming Grumman F6F Hellcats and Vought F4U Corsair hotrods, the stubby Wildcat with her biplane origins relied as much on the tenacity of her pilots than on the capabilities of this fine machine. For 1936 standards, the Wildcat was a high-performance machine with much to recommend it. The F4F served both the Americans and the British (the latter known as Martlets for a time) during the critical war years, with British Wildcats seeing service up until the end of the war in 1945.
Grumman entered into a 1935 US Navy competition against Brewster to sell the United States Navy its next carrier-born fighter. While Brewster showcased its impressive F2A Buffalo - a speedy, no-frills, single-engine, single-seat monoplane fighter - Grumman set about to impress with its G-16 by-gone biplane design entered into the competition as the XF4F-1. The Brewster F2A Buffalo shined while the USN was less impressed with the Grumman design, eventually earning the Brewster firm the US Navy contract. Some 509 Brewster F2A fighters would be produced.
Despite the US Navy's decision, the G-16 was revised by Grumman into the G-18 design proposal, an aircraft featuring a more conventional monoplane wing arrangement. The US Navy likened the new design - designated as the XF4F-2 - enough to order a flyable prototype. The aircraft achieved first flight in September 1937 and was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 Twin Wasp radial piston engine of 1,050 horsepower. Despite the redesign and more powerful engine, the aircraft still did not match the Brewster Buffalo across the many desired fronts the US Navy was looking for.