Grumman F6F Hellcat
The Hellcat was, far and away, the Navy's most
successful fighter of the war, accounting for over 6,000 air-to-air kills.
The Hellcat replaced the F4F Wildcat during the last three years of the war as the main fighter for the U.S. Navy.
It was rugged and dependable, and had the performance to match or beat the Japanese
fighters that it fought.
It was far superior
to the leading Japanese combat planes, including the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Although the Hellcat was less agile than the Zero, it was far tougher
and better armed. Not only were Hellcats more powerful, they were far more numerous.
F6F earned their place in aviation lore during the "Marianas Turkey Shoot", and during the Battle
of the Philippine Sea the last great aircraft carrier encounter of the war.
During 1943, a total of 2,545 F6F-3s were delivered. Of these, 252
went to Britain's Fleet Air Arm. The British called the plane Hellcat Mk. I and
put it into service in July. Before production switched over to F6F-5s, in April,
1944, a total of 4,403 F6F-3s were built. Of these, 223 aircraft were equipped
for night fighting. These planes were known as F6F-3E and F6F-3N and carried radar
equipment in a fairing under the starboard wing.