The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Navy. Via Wikipedia
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
|Dimensions||42’10” x 33’7”
13.06m by 10.24m by 3.99m
|Folded wingspan||16'2" (4.93m)|
|Wing area||334 square feet
31 square meters
|Maximum speed||376 mph (605 km/h) at 17,300 feet (5300 meters)
335 mph (539 km/h) at sea level
|Rate of climb||54 feet per second
16.5 meters per second
|Service ceiling||37,500 feet
|Power plant||One 2000 hp (1491 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial engine driving a 13'1" (3.99 m) Hamilton Standard Hydromatic three bladed propeller|
|Armament||6 Browning M2 0.50 machine guns (400 rounds per gun) in outer wings|
|Range||1080 miles at 200
mph on internal fuel
1740 km at 322 km/h on internal fuel
|Fuel||250 gallons internal plus
150 gallons in centerline drop tank
946 liters plus 568 liters in centerline drop tank
|Production||At Grumman Aircraft Engineering
Corporation, Bethpage, New York.
6681 F6F-5 (from 1944-4)
All production types:
1942-9 to 1942-12: 10
The F6F-5 had Mark 57-1 racks for two 1000 lb
(450kg) bombs or two 100 or 150 gallon (379 or 568 liter) drop tanks. Later production also had pylons for 6 5" rockets. The power plant on the -5 was the R-2800-10W with water injection power boost to 2250 hp (1680 kW). A few –5s replaced
two of the 0.50 machine guns with 20mm
cannon (200 rounds per gun).
The F6F-5P was a photoreconnaissance version that retained its armament.
The F6F Hellcat was the replacement
for the Wildcat
as the principal carrier-borne
the U.S. Navy.
It was a war-winning
aircraft, being largely responsible for sweeping the Zero
from the Pacific skies. Indeed, its design was refined on the
test flights of a Zero that was recovered intact near Dutch
Harbor in June 1942, when the Hellcat was in the prototype stage.
Design work began in June 1941 and was rushed to
completion, the prototype making its first flight on 26 June 1942. The
original concept was of a "super Wildcat" updated with a much more
powerful engine but otherwise modified as little as possible. However,
this required larger wings and fuselage and a different propeller to
take full advantage of the increased engine power, and the design team
soon realized (and persuaded the Navy) that a completely new design was
required. The Double Cyclone on the
prototype was replaced with the Double Wasp within a month and the
first production aircraft were completed in October 1942. Deliveries
began in January 1943 and the Hellcat saw its first combat in August
1943. By then the aircraft had already equipped fifteen squadrons.
The Hellcat was superior to
the Zero in every
respect save low-speed maneuverability, which its designers had
the least important performance characteristic of a modern
was much more rugged, being even more heavily armored than the
Wildcat, and it carried almost twice as many rounds per machine gun as
It was not as fast as the best U.S. land-based planes, but had a better
rate and maneuverability. It had replaced the Wildcat on American fleet and light carriers by mid-1944.
Early models suffered a high rate of tire failure during carrier
landings, either due to poor quality tires or tired pilots who landed too
violently, but the bugs were worked out and about 75% of air-to-air
combat kills by U.S. Navy pilots in the
Pacific War were scored from Hellcats.
The Hellcat's armament was six 0.50 Browning machine guns with an ample loadout of 400 rounds per gun (compared with just 240 rounds per gun for the 6-gun versions of the Wildcat.) There was a selector switch for each pair of guns, which were aimed using a Mark 8 reflector gunsight, and there was a port for a gun camera in the inner left wing. However, the gun camera was often omitted, because it was subject to such severe vibration that the footage was often nearly useless. Some commanders also fered that cameras encouraged pilots to do dangerous things, such as chasing a crashing enemy aircraft to film its demise rather than keeping up their situational awareness.
Pilots admired the Hellcat's sensible instrument layout and good
visibility, the latter aided by the high position of the pilot's seat
and a rearview mirror in the upper canopy. They also appreciated the
armor protection, which included two sets of plates in back of the
pilot, another set of plates under the nose protecting the oil system,
heavy bullet-resistant glass in the canopy, and the huge Double Wasp
engine itself. Smaller plates of armor behind the instrument panel
covered the gap between the top of the engine and the bullet-resistant
canopy. The aircraft retained fabric-covered control surfaces, which
saved weight and which were thought to be less affected by battle
damage, since bullets and shrapnel passed through leaving only small
The ability of the F6F-5 Hellcat to operate as a fighter-bomber was important during the final months of the war, when the kamikaze threat became serious enough that most of the aircraft complement of American carriers had to be devoted to fighters. The aircraft could carry two 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs or a pair of drop tanks. Later production F4F-5s also had pylons for six 5" HVAR rockets. In the final months of the war, the Hellcat sometimes carried a pair of "Tiny Tim" antishipping missiles, though these were more often used against hardened ground targets than the few surviving Japanese ships. There were even experiments with carrying a single centerline torpedo.
The F6F-5P was a photoreconnaissance version of the Hellcat that
retained its full armament and could blend in with conventional
Hellcats on a strike mission. However, it suffered noticeably in
performance from the heavy camera mounted behind the pilot. The camera
was aimed by the pilot putting the aft wingtip of his left wing on the
point he wished to photograph, and the pilot activated the shutter with
a cockpit control.
About 1200 Hellcats were supplied as Lend-Lease to the British, who operated the
F6F-3 as the Hellcat I and the F6F-5 as the Hellcat II.
Rickard (2007; accessed 2011-4-30)
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