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Grumman F6F Hellcat

United States (1943)
Picture of Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
Picture of Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft Picture of Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
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The classic Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter was known to make an Ace out of the many pilots who flew it during World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/19/2018. 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).

The F6F first flew as the XF6F-1 prototype I June of 1942. The further-developed XF6F-3 prototype was selected to be the initial production model and featured the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp two-stage turbocharged engine. The initial production model became the F6F-3 and was available en force by January of 1944. Shortly thereafter, production was switched to the refined F6F-5 model with the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W ("W" indicating "water-injection") radial piston engine and other aerodynamic and structural refinements along with provisions for underwing munitions.


Picture of the Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
Picture of the Grumman F6F Hellcat Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft


The Hellcat appeared operationally for the first time in August of 1943 with the Second World War in full swing. She proved her worth, taking part in some of the greatest airborne confrontations in the Pacific - from the Caroline Islands to the Battle of the Philippines (June 19-20, 1944) and beyond. The British received their 252 Hellcat F6F-3 and F6F-5 models under Lend-Lease. No fewer than 75 percent of all enemy aircraft in the entire conflict were at the hands of Hellcat pilots, credited with some 5,156 total kills in the war for a mind-boggling kill ratio of 19:1. 307 Hellcat pilots were made aces thanks to the fine machine. The aircraft were duly noted for their role in supporting Task Force 58 to which some 400 Japanese aircraft were destroyed in a single week.

The F6F series soldiered on in the post-war world, being fielded by French, Argentine and Uruguayan forces. The French used them in anger in their Indo-China conflict while the series as a whole would be used up until the early 1960's. The last use of F6F's for the Americans came in the Korean War when six remotely-controlled Hellcats were used as giant aerial bombs on targets in North Korea.

The appearance of the F6F most assuredly changed the tide of the war in the Pacific in favor of the Americans - and the rest of the free world for that matter. The system was noted for its toughness and responsiveness and the kill tally reflected the benefits of the platform. In the end, the F6F lived up to the name of legendary warbird and became one of the single most important reasons that the war in the Pacific turned out the way it did.




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 80 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (380mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
12272
12272


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1943
Type: Carrierborne Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Grumman Corporation - USA
Production: 12,272
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Argentina; France; United Kingdom; South Vietnam; Uruguay; United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.79 ft


Meters
10.3 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
42.65 ft


Meters
13 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.99 ft


Meters
3.96 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
9,059 lb


Kilograms
4,109 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
12,597 lb


Kilograms
5,714 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp air-cooled radial engine developing 2,000 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
380 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
611 kph


Knots
330 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
944 mi


Kilometers
1,520 km


Nautical Miles
821 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
37,300 ft


Meters
11,369 m


Miles
7.06 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
3,410 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
1,039 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (4):

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

ALTERNATIVE (F6F-5N):
2 x 20mm cannons WITH 4 x .50 caliber machine guns.

OPTIONAL:
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.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• YF6F - Prototype Designation
• YF6F-1 - First prototype to fly
• YF6F-2
• 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.