Over at my site, some number of years back I began a series of weekly (sort of) posts that focused on the unheralded, the obscure and sometimes, just the downright ‘what the heck were they thinking of’ aircraft that have found their way into naval aviation. Over time that morphed into a wider look at all aspects of naval aviation and including some of the joint attributes and contributions thereof. I’m bringing that over to the Naval History blog as a semi-regular end of the week series, but beginning with a familiar subject — at least I hope the F6F Hellcat is a familiar subject. If not — then hopefully after today’s article your familiarity will be improved and for those already familiar, it will be enhanced. Next week, we’ll look at one of the more head-scratching offerings from a mainline manufacturer… – SJS
5,156 victories (4797 by carrier-based F6F’s) vs 270 lost in air-to-air combat (19.1:1 kill ratio)
55 per cent of all aircraft destroyed by Navy/Marine aviators for all of WW2
When WW2 began, the US fighter force (land- and sea-based) was woefully inadequate. Slow in speed and maneuvering, out powered in the climb, often times out-gunned and certainly outnumbered, the fighters that oversaw the US entry into the war were relics of an earlier age, even though most were relatively new production. P-40, F2A, F4F – even the vaunted P-38 all suffered various degrees of inadequacy. In the European Theater of Operations (ETO), the P-47 and ultimately the P-51 would rise to the top of the pile, asserting an ironclad air supremacy that knocked the Luftwaffe from its home skies. In the Pacific Theater – it was the Grumman F6F and specifically the F6F-3 and -5 models that gave the fast carrier task force its lethal offensive counter-air punch.