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Subject Index: Grumman F6F Hellcat

Subject Index: Grumman F6F Hellcat

Subject Index: Grumman F6F Hellcat

Aircraft -Equipment -Service Record -Biographies -Book Reviews -Pictures -Plans

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was the most important carrier borne fighter used by the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. It was responsible for 75% of all victories claimed by Navy and Marine Corps pilots in the Pacific, and was the aircraft that swept the Japanese from the air during 1944.

Aircraft

Grumman F6F Hellcat Prototypes
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
Grumman F6F Hellcat statistics


Equipment


Service Record


Biographies


Book Reviews


Pictures


Plans

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat: Front plan

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat: Side plan

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat: Top plan


Comparative Plans

U.S. Navy Fighter Aircraft of the Second World War: Frontal Plans



File:Grumman F6F Hellcat, Chino, California.jpg

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текущий18:35, 16 октября 20152860 × 2168 (2,87 Мб) Davidboslaugh (обсуждение | вклад) Grumman F6F Hellcat ready to take off from the new Yorktown. The Hellcat was designed specifically to counter the Japanese Zero and eventually achieved a nineteen-to-one kill ratio. Its best advantage was speed. Rate of climb was fairly evenly matched.

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Subject Index: Grumman F6F Hellcat - History

Perhaps the aircraft most associated with the changing tide of the Pacific War, The F6F Hellcat was the key Naval fighter of the last part of the War.

Let’s take a look at a complete game changer.

Grumman had started work on a successor to the Wildcat almost before that type entered service. Contrary to the myth that the Hellcat was designed specifically to counter the Zero, the first contract for the type with the Navy was signed in June of 1941. However, in April of 1942 Grumman did launch a study of combat reports to see if changes needed to be made before the design was locked. The study included a personal interview with Edward O’Hare. A few tweaks were made, the cockpit position was raised and the cowling sloped downwards to improve forward visibility. The XF6F-1 flew in June of that year with the R-2600 engine and an XF6F-2 which was similar except for better turbocharging flew shortly after. But back in April the biggest change decided on was a switch to Pratt & Whitney’s more capable R-2800 engine. This first appeared in the XF6F-3 that flew in July of 1942. Notice this is all a very fast timeline, urgency was high and things were getting done quickly.
The production F6F-3 had only minor changes from the prototype. It first flew in October of 󈧮 and deployed with Air Group 9 to the Essex in February of 1943.

These colors and markings are fascinating to me. This is obviously a very early Hellcat with the aerodynamic fairings on the wing mounted machine guns and forward racked antenna mast. Such early Hellcats were delivered in Blue-Grey over Grey camouflage. When the Navy switched to the tri-color scheme in spring of 󈧯 they allowed the old blue-grey to remain instead of the newer Intermediate Blue. The bottom was just painted white and the uppers got Sea Blue. But the photo below shows something, maybe brushed on, around the rear insignia. My GUESS is that when the Insignia was changed in July and August of the year the painters did some touch up with the newer Intermediate Blue color. Purely a guess, but that’s my interpretation here.

Now’s the time switch the narrative over to James Flatley. At the start of the Pacific War the US Navy was blessed with two particularly notable tacticians John Thach and James Flatley. Thach and Flatley were friends and worked together on tactical challenges. They began work on what Thach called the “Beam Defense Maneuver” before the War, based on rumors from China (via Claire Chennault) that the Japanese had a type that was both faster and more maneuverable than any Allied type. They practiced with one group of planes restricted to 2/3s throttle to see what could be made of it, until Thach came up with the maneuver involving four aircraft protecting each other.
At the Battle of the Coral Sea Flatley was deputy commander of Fighting 5 on the Yorktown and flew in three separate engagements while claiming three kills. After this he returned stateside to take command of Fighting 10 flying Wildcats. The squadron was known as the Grim Reapers, making Flatley “Reaper Leader”. In this role, flying from the Enterprise, he fought at the Battle of Santa Cruz and had the opportunity to personally test the “Beam Defense Maneuver”. Afterwards, he insisted it be called “The Thach Weave” and that’s how been known ever since. He was also credited as an Ace with six kills from this point.
One area of disagreement between Thach and Flatley was their assessment of the Wildcat. Flatley was a big supporter of the type, especially versus the Zero. As he put it, the Wildcat shoots down Zeros and brings its pilots home.
After Santa Cruz, Flatley was promoted to command Air Group 5 which had been assigned to the new Yorktown (CV-10). As such he made the first ever deck landing on that ship (which is now a museum at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina). Later, on August 31 1943, he commanded an airstrike on Marcus Island that was the combat debut of the F6F Hellcat. I believe he was flying this same aircraft, his personal Hellcat, during that entire period. That was the end of his combat flying career, he later held staff and command positions rising to Vice Admiral before his retirement post-War.

Commander James Flatley as CAG-5. (photo from Wikipedia)

I love this photo. This may be the dirtiest CAG aircraft I’ve ever seen! On the bottom of the wing, just behind the landing gear, you can see the extra tank rack I didn’t notice until too late. This picture is the motivation for this build. (photo from Carrier at War by Robert Lawson and Barett Tillman)

Traditionally, Air Group Commanders carried number 󈭓” as their side number. The origin of 󈫰” is obscure. But odd considering “Double Naught” (or “Double Nuts”) was radio slang for an Admiral. To avoid irritating higher ups, Flatley used the call sign 󈭓 Sniper”. Today, 00 is the standard marking for an Air Group/Wing Commander.

Back to the Hellcat, the type had a devastating impact on Japanese airpower. It was flown by both Navy and Marine pilots and scored 56% of all Navy/Marine aerial victories in the Second World War. It’s overall kill/loss ratio was 19:1. And unlike the Corsair, it was designed with durability and ease of maintenance in mind (the Grumman “Iron Works” had a reputation to uphold!) such that at any time 90-95% of deployed Hellcats were expected to be operational. These are all unheard of numbers for a combat type.
Although the Navy always favored the Hellcat over the Corsair for its ease of maintenance and good deck manners it did come to share deck space with Corsairs towards the end of the War when higher speed and rate of climb became paramount for battling the Kamikaze.

This is the Hasegawa kit with Superscale Decals. A painless build in every way. Late in the process (during final weathering!) I discovered this particular aircraft had extra fuel tank racks installed under each wing. This was so the Air Group Commander would have extra loiter time for strike coordination. But too late to show it here. Oops.

John Thach’s Wildcat and Jimmy Flatley’s Hellcat

Hellcats shredded Zeros at every opportunity.

Three American fighters powered by the R-2800 engine. Hellcat flanked by P-47 Thunderbolt and F4U Corsair.


File:Grumman F6F Hellcat, Imperial War Museum, Duxford. (11741143516).jpg

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Sommaire

Le 30 juin 1941 , Grumman signa un contrat prévoyant le remplacement du F4F Wildcat par un nouveau chasseur embarqué. Bien que le F4F ait été un chasseur efficace, les dog fights (combats tournoyants) contre des chasseurs japonais, tels que le fameux A6M Zero, plus manœuvrables et possédant une meilleure vitesse ascensionnelle se révélèrent désastreux. Plus robuste et possédant un meilleur armement, la seule alternative du Wildcat était de plonger rapidement pour esquiver les attaques des Zéro japonais et revenir pour attaquer. Cette méthode, dite du Yoyo, consiste en une série de montées et descentes qui permet aux appareils de compenser un faible rayon de virage.

Ces avantages de vitesse de piqué, de capacité à encaisser les coups et de puissance de feu combinés avec d'autres améliorations amenèrent à créer un chasseur surclassant les chasseurs ennemis, le F6F Hellcat. Le prototype du XF6F-1 devait être à l'origine équipé d'un moteur Wright R-2600 Cyclone de 1 700 ch , mais en raison des expériences au combat du F4F contre les Zéro japonais, Grumman décida d'augmenter la puissance du moteur pour lui assurer la domination de l'espace aérien au-dessus du Pacifique. De ce fait, Grumman installa un moteur Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp de 2 000 ch pour augmenter de 25 % les performances initiales.

Le premier prototype (immatriculé 02981) équipé du Wright R-2600 Cyclone vola pour la première fois le 26 juin 1942 , le premier appareil équipé du Pratt & Whitney R-2800, le XF6F-3 (02982), s'envola le 30 juillet de la même année.

Présenté à la même période que les premiers prototypes de Hellcat, le XF6F-2 incorporait un turbocompresseur, mais les gains obtenus n'étaient pas significatifs, et ce n'est que lors de la demande de la Navy pour augmenter la vitesse de pointe que cette version bénéficia du compresseur à double étage du XF6F-3. Toutefois, les versions suivantes F6F-4 et F6F-5 incorporèrent ces équipements dès le développement initial.

À l'instar du Wildcat, le Hellcat fut conçu pour faciliter sa production et pour résister à un maximum de dégâts. Ainsi, une « armure » blindée de près de 96 kg protège le poste de pilotage et les organes de commande, avec une verrière pare-balles, un réservoir d'huile blindé et des réservoirs de carburant auto-obturants, etc [ 5 ] . L'as des as de l'US Navy, le capitaine David McCampbell, totalisera ses 34 victoires sur Hellcat. Il décrivit le F6F comme étant « … un remarquable avion de chasse. Il obtenait de bons résultats, était facile à piloter et une excellente plateforme de tir. Mais ce dont je me souviens le plus, c'est qu'il était robuste et facile à entretenir » [ 6 ] .

Les premiers appareils de production, désignés F6F-3, volèrent le 3 octobre 1942 et furent fournis en capacité opérationnelle suffisante en février 1943 pour équiper la VF-9 basée sur le porte-avions USS Essex (CV-9) [ 5 ] .

Deux variantes de chasseurs nocturnes basés sur le F6F-3 furent développées. Le F6F-3E, converti à partir de la cellule du F6F-3, était équipé d'un radar AN/APS-4. La version suivante F6F-3N, qui vit le jour en juillet 1943 , était équipée d'un radar AN/APS-6. C'est à partir de novembre 1943 que les chasseurs de nuit Hellcat connurent leur baptême du feu [ 7 ] . L'ajout du radar AN/APS-6 sur un F6F-5 entraîna le développement de la version de chasse nocturne F6F-5N, et une petite partie de F6F-5 standard furent aussi équipés d'un matériel photo pour assurer des missions de reconnaissance, version qui sera désignée F6F-5P [ 8 ] .

Contrairement au Wildcat dont le train d'atterrissage étroit se rétractait dans le fuselage par une action manuelle du pilote, le Hellcat possédait un train d'atterrissage hydraulique plus large qui venait se loger dans les ailes, exactement comme sur le Chance Vought F4U Corsair [ 9 ] . L'implantation des ailes était basse au lieu d'être médiane et les ailes étaient repliables comme sur les dernières versions du Wildcat, ce qui rendait le Hellcat plus compact sur le pont d'envol [ 10 ] .

La dernière et plus répandue des variantes fut le F6F-5, qui bénéficiait d'un grand nombre d'améliorations dont un moteur plus puissant R-2800-10W, un capot moteur plus aérodynamique, la suppression des fenêtres situées en arrière de la verrière, une verrière blindée améliorant la vision [ 9 ] , [ 13 ] . Une autre amélioration majeure du F6F-5 était la possibilité d'augmenter la puissance de feu en passant de l'armement standard de six mitrailleuses de 0.50 à un ensemble composé de deux canons Hispano-Suiza HS-404 de 20 mm (calibre 0.79) (225 coups par arme) montés de pair avec deux mitrailleuses de 12,7 mm (calibre 0.50) approvisionnées à 400 coups par arme. Cette configuration ne fut cependant utilisée que sur la variante de chasse nocturne F6F-5N [ 14 ] .

Deux F6F-5 furent équipés d'un moteur en étoile de 18 cylindres Pratt & Whitney R-2800-18W avec turbocompresseur à double étage, développant 2 100 ch , qui était utilisé sur le F4U-4 Corsair. Cette nouvelle variante de Hellcat, facilement identifiable par son hélice quadripale, fut désignée XF6F-6. Cet appareil fut aussi la variante de production Hellcat la plus rapide avec une vitesse de pointe de 671 km/h [ 9 ] . Cependant, la fin de la guerre fut déclarée avant que cette version puisse entrer en production de masse [ 15 ] .

Le dernier Hellcat sortit des chaînes de montage en novembre 1945 , la production totale fut de 12 275 dont 11 000 en à peine deux ans [ 16 ] . Cette impressionnante production de masse fut permise grâce à la conception originale du F6F, qui ne nécessitait que peu de modifications sur la chaîne de montage.


Subject Index: Grumman F6F Hellcat - History

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                                            Ken Neubeck
                                            Available Now

                                            The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, commonly nicknamed the "Warthog" due to its unusual and ungainly appearance.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 186 color and b/w photos | 128 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356704 | Binding: hard cover

                                            F6F Hellcat: Grumman's Ace Maker in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            The Grumman F6F Hellcat formed the backbone of America's carrier-based fighter force as the Allies pressed the war toward.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 210 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356711 | Binding: hard cover

                                            Messerschmitt Bf 110: The Luftwaffe's Fighter-Destroyer in World War II

                                            The concept of a twin-engine fighter that could accompany bomber formations and effectively drive off defending fighters was.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 200 b/w and color photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356728 | Binding: hard cover

                                            P-47 Thunderbolt: Republic's Mighty "Jug" in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            Among the iconic aircraft of World War II, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt not only was physically the biggest single-engine.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 146 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356735 | Binding: hard cover

                                            P-51 Mustang, Vol.1: North American's Mk. I, A, B, and C Models in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            The North American P-51 Mustang remains one of the most famous and recognizable aircraft in the world to this day. Nimble.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 133 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356742 | Binding: hard cover

                                            B-26 Marauder: Martin's Medium Bomber in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            Even today the Martin B-26 Marauder continues to look sleek and streamlined. Although receiving less wartime publicity than.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 179 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356643 | Binding: hard cover

                                            AD and A-1 Skyraider: Douglas&rsquos "Spad" in Korea and Vietnam

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            Design work on the Skyraider began at the behest of the US Navy late in WWII. Production began in 1946, and the type made.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 189 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361326 | Binding: hard cover

                                            B-17 Flying Fortress, Vol. 2: Boeing&rsquos B-17E through B-17H in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the most iconic aircraft in aviation history. Through a broad range of photos.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 211 color and b/w photos | 128 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361296 | Binding: hard cover

                                            B-58 Hustler: Convair's Cold War Mach 2 Bomber

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            The Convair B-58 Hustler, with its distinctive delta wing shape, would become the world&rsquos first supersonic bomber, and.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 192 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361319 | Binding: hard cover

                                            F-111 Aardvark: General Dynamics&rsquo Variable-Swept-Wing Attack Aircraft

                                            John Gourley
                                            Available Now

                                            The General Dynamics F-111 was one of aviation history&rsquos most promising planes when it came out in the early 1960s.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 267 color and b/w photos | 128 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361289 | Binding: hard cover

                                            F-14 Tomcat: Grumman's "Top Gun" from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf

                                            David F. Brown
                                            Available Now

                                            It has been said that "bombers make history fighters make movies." In the case of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, both are true.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 231 color and b/w photos | 128 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356629 | Binding: hard cover

                                            P-38 Lightning Vol.1: Lockheed's XP-38 to P-38H in World War II

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            This first of two volumes presents the P-38 story by focusing on the early models of this historic fighter—XP-38 through.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 152 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356599 | Binding: hard cover

                                            The Blue Angels: The US Navy's Flight Demonstration Team, 1946 to the Present

                                            Ken Neubeck
                                            Available Now

                                            Since 1946, the world-famous US Navy Blue Angels flying-demonstration team has performed in airshows in the United States.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | Over 200 color and b/w photos | 144 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356582 | Binding: hard cover

                                            USS New Jersey (BB-62): From World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Museum Ship

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available Now

                                            Preserved today as a museum in her namesake state, the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) saw combat during WWII and the.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 235 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356636 | Binding: hard cover

                                            A-20 Havoc: Douglas's Attack Bomber / Night Fighter in WWII

                                            David Doyle
                                            Available June 2021

                                            The A-20 Havoc, known to the British as the Boston, was built by Douglas and Boeing during WWII and arguably became the most.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 174 color and b/w images | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361739 | Binding: hard cover

                                            C-141 Starlifter: Lockheed&rsquos Cold War Strategic Airlifter

                                            John Gourley
                                            Available June 2021

                                            The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter was a new-build design by Lockheed and proved adaptable to many roles, from carrying outsized.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 277 color and b/w photos | 128 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361722 | Binding: hard cover

                                            Spad Fighters: The Spad A.2 to XVI in World War I

                                            Mark C. Wilkins
                                            Available Now

                                            This book presents the evolution of one of the most famous French-made fighter aircraft of WWI—the fast, rugged Spad. From.

                                            Size: 9" x 9" | 147 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764356650 | Binding: hard cover

                                            The Luger P.08 Vol. 2: Third Reich and Post-WWII Models

                                            Luc Guillou & Georges Machtelinkx
                                            Available July 2021

                                            The second of two volumes on the legendary P.08 Luger (Pistole Parabellum), this illustrated book presents the design.

                                            Size: 9" x 12" | 340 color and b/w photos | 80 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361883 | Binding: hard cover

                                            The M1 Carbine: Variants, Markings, Ammunition, Accessories

                                            Roger Out
                                            Available July 2021

                                            The M1 carbine is a .30-caliber, semiautomatic rifle that first appeared in 1942 as a standard firearm for the US military.

                                            Size: 9" x 12" | 300 color and b/w photos | 80 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361890 | Binding: hard cover

                                            The 4th Waffen-SS Panzergrenadier Division "Polizei": An Illustrated History

                                            Massimiliano Afiero
                                            Available July 2021

                                            The Polizei division first took shape in 1939, drawing manpower from the civilian police. In February 1942, the unit was.

                                            Size: 9" x 12" | 700 b/w photos and maps | 240 pp
                                            ISBN13: 9780764361708 | Binding: hard cover


                                            Reviews

                                            Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.

                                            Overview

                                            • Free masking foil and decal sheets for modellersLists of scores, pilot reports and portraits, colour profile artworks and maps

                                            Highly illustrated combat history of the Hellcat. The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft developed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy service. Although the F6F bore a family resemblance to the Wildcat, it was a completely new design powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800. Some tagged it as the "Wildcat's big brother". The Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were the primary USN fighters during the second half of World War II.

                                            The Hellcat was the first US Navy fighter for which the design took into account lessons from combat with the Japanese Zero, making it perfect for combat in the Pacific. The Hellcat became the most successful aircraft in naval history, destroying 5,271 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. This book details the legendary aircraft.

                                            Content includes: A squadron like many others Finale on the left flank Home Islands British postscript In Japan's night sky.

                                            Supported by numerous photos, line drawings and free masking foil.

                                            About the Series
                                            Air Battles is a series of books focusing on World War II air battles of specific aircraft and units. Each volume contains information on the planes involved, lists of scores, pilot reports and portraits, colour profile artwork and maps.

                                            For the naval aviator, there is never a dull moment, especially in time of war so this book is bound to be a good read
                                            Model Aviation World


                                            Alex Vraciu, ‘Indestructible’ Ace of World War II, Dies at 96

                                            Alex Vraciu, who was just 25 when he reigned as the Navy’s top World War II fighter ace after downing 19 Japanese aircraft and destroying 21 more on the ground in only eight months in 1944, died on Jan. 29 in West Sacramento, Calif. He was 96.

                                            His son Robert confirmed the death, at a group home where his father lived.

                                            Mr. Vraciu (which rhymes with cashew) accomplished his most spectacular feat in the South Pacific when he shot down six dive bombers within eight minutes in what became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” in the Philippine Sea. He called it “a once-in-a-lifetime fighter pilot’s dream.”

                                            Two of the aircraft carriers he flew from were torpedoed, twice he parachuted to safety, and twice more he was forced to ditch his Grumman F6F Hellcat — brushes with death that earned him the nicknames Grumman’s Best Customer and The Indestructible.

                                            He was nominated for the Medal of Honor and received the service’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross. And although he ranked as the Navy’s top ace for four months, he ended the war in fourth place. When he died, he was the nation’s ranking living World War II ace, according to the American Fighter Aces Association.

                                            He was born on Nov. 2, 1918, in East Chicago, Ind., the son of Romanian immigrants. His father, Alexander, was a police officer his mother, the former Marie Tincu, was a homemaker. Shortly after graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., already armed with a civilian pilot’s license, he enlisted in a Navy flight training program six months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

                                            “He could feel the wind of war and wanted to get out in front of it,” Robert Vraciu said in an interview.

                                            Mr. Vraciu entered combat in 1943 as part of Fighting Squadron 6, serving as wingman for Lt. Cmdr. Butch O’Hare, the Navy’s first combat pilot ace and its first aviator to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II.

                                            Mr. Vraciu achieved his pace-setting six kills under harrowing conditions on June 19, 1944, as Japanese planes attacked a task force of American carriers and battleships. His plane’s folding wings were mistakenly unlocked, and a malfunctioning engine was spewing oil on his windshield and preventing him from climbing above 20,000 feet. Still, he downed the dive bombers firing only 360 of the 2,400 bullets in his arsenal.

                                            “I looked ahead,” he recalled in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “There was nothing but Hellcats in the sky. I looked back. Up above were curving vapor trails. And down on the sea, in a pattern 35 miles long, was a series of flaming dots where oil slicks were burning.”

                                            Interviewed for the University of North Texas Oral History Project, he recounted his sixth kill that day:

                                            “Number six blew up with a tremendous explosion right in front of my face. I must have hit his bomb, I guess. I have seen planes blow up before, but never like this! I yanked the stick up sharply to avoid the scattered pieces and flying hot stuff, then radioed, ‘Splash No. 6!’ ”

                                            “In my satisfaction with the day’s events,” he continued, “I felt that I had contributed my personal payback to the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.”

                                            He scored his 19th kill the next day while escorting bombers attacking the Japanese fleet.

                                            When he returned stateside that August, thousands of well-wishers, including the governor of Indiana, turned out for a parade in his hometown. It was there that he met Kathryn Horn, whom he would marry that year. She died in 2003. Besides his son Robert, he is survived by another son, Marc three daughters, Marilyn Finley, Linda Patton and Carol Teague 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

                                            By November 1944, Mr. Vraciu had talked his way back into combat, still motivated by the Pearl Harbor attack, by Commander O’Hare’s death in combat and by his uncle’s promise of a $100 bounty for every enemy plane he downed. (He told The Gary Post-Tribune in 2010, however, that “I didn’t fight a war for medals, and I didn’t fight it for money.”)

                                            The next month, he parachuted to safety after being shot down over the Philippines and was rescued by local guerrillas.

                                            “They asked me two questions,” he said. “They wanted to know if movie star Madeleine Carroll was married the second time and whether Deanna Durbin had any children yet.” After dodging Japanese patrols for five weeks, they encountered advancing American forces.

                                            After the war, Mr. Vraciu worked for the Navy as a test pilot and commanded a fighter squadron. He retired in 1964 with the rank of commander and joined Wells Fargo Bank as a trust officer.

                                            He appeared in a History Channel documentary and was the subject of a biography, “Fighter Pilot.” But he recalled for the oral history project that in the Navy he had never flaunted his credentials as an ace, a term usually defined as a pilot with five or more kills.

                                            “We didn’t say, ‘Ah, I’m going to be an ace!’ Nor did many people say, ‘Congratulations, Ace.’ More probably, they’d kid you. You’d say: ‘How do you spell ace? With an s or a c?’ ”

                                            Robert Vraciu recalled that although his father had been modest, he could also be unforgiving. When he was in his 80s, the fighter pilots association decided to invite a delegation of World War II Japanese aces to its annual convention.

                                            “That didn’t sit well with him,” Robert Vraciu said. “I don’t think he was comfortable doing that. He lost a lot of friends. He had a long memory.”


                                            Wings of Gold: U.S. Navy Carrier Fighter Aircraft 1941-1945

                                            F4F-4 Wildcat of VF-41 in 1942

                                            In 1941 with war raging inEuropeand the Japanese continuing their war in China and occupied French Indo-China theUnited States rushed to build up its Naval Air Arm and the Arm Air Corps. New models of aircraft of all types were being rushed into production to replace aircraft already known to be obsolescent. The Navy brought aircraft already accepted into full production even as it planned more advanced models. The events in Europe and Asia demonstrated that new fighter designs were needed quickly.

                                            As 1940 dawned the standard fighter aircraft found on U.S. Navy carriers were the F2-A Brewster Buffalo, the Grumman F-3F biplane. In February 1940 the Navy accepted its first F4F-3 Wildcat which in an earlier for had been rejected in favor of the Brewster Buffalo. The new Grumman fighter was powered by a 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76 double row radial engine, mounted 4 .50 cal. Machine guns and was heavily armored. It had a maximum speed of 331 mph range of 845 miles and ceiling of 39500 feet. This would serve it and its pilots well as they aircraft was incredibly tough, often amazing experienced Japanese pilots in their A6M2 Zeros in their ability to suffer heavy damage and remain in the air. The plucky Wildcat would become the main line of defense in the Pacific against the advancing Japanese Imperial Navy in the months following Pearl Harbor.

                                            The early F4F-3s were superseded by the F4F-4 model which incorporated folding wings, additional armor and an extra two machine guns. This decreased its maximum speed to 320 mph, rate of climb and ceiling but nonetheless the aircraft gave a good account of itself in Navy and Marine Corps service. F4F-3’s and F4F-4s served in the British Royal Navy where it was called the Martlet until the end of the war. When Grumman closed out F4F production in 1943 to concentrate on its replacement the F6F Hellcat production was continued by General Motors and Eastern Aircraft as the FM1 and FM2 Wildcat. The FM1 was identical to the F4F-4 but armament was reduced to 4 machine guns and bomb racks for two 250 lb bombs or depth charges were added. The FM2 was based on an updated version of the F4F and had a more powerful engine as well as a higher tail assembly to account for the increased torque of the engine. These aircraft served aboard the tiny Escort Carriers and performed valiantly, especially in the Battle off Samar during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. A total of 7860 Wildcats of all varieties were built. They accounted for 1327 enemy aircraft shot down with the loss of only 191 Wildcats.

                                            Aces Capt Joe Foss USMC and CAPT David McConnell USN both Medal of Honor Winners and CDR Jimmy Thatch (below)

                                            The top aces who flew the Wildcat were all Marines, CAPT Joe Foss (26 victories) MAJ John Lucian Smith (19 victories) and MAJ Marion Carl (16 victories in the F4F and 2 in the F4U Corsair). Foss and Smith both won the Medal of Honor. Foss would go on to become Governor of South Dakota and the first Commissioner of the American Football League in 1959. Smith retired as a Colonel in 1960 and Carl as a Major General. Other distinguished F4F aces included LT Butch O’Hare, the first U.S. Navy ace and Medal of Honor winner and LCDR Jimmy Thatch who developed the highly successful “Thatch Weave” which enabled the U.S.pilots whose machines were slower and less maneuverable than the speedy and nimble Zeros to achieve good success against their Japanese foe. Thatch retired as an Admiral in 1967. O’Hare rose to become commander of the Enterprise Air Group and was killed in action in November 1943. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is named for this brave aviator.

                                            F6F Hellcat

                                            The Grumman F6F Hellcat took over front line fighter duties on the Fleet Carriers from the Wildcat in early 1943 and established itself as the dominant fighter in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Although it had a resemblance to the F4F the F6F was a totally new design built on combat experience against the Japanese. The aircraft was built around the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine which produced 2000 hp. The Hellcat mounted six .50 caliber machine guns and had a rate of climb of 3500 feet per minute and a 37300 ft operational ceiling.

                                            Faster than the Zero and other Japanese fighters and piloted by more experienced pilots the Hellcats took a brutal toll of Japanese aircraft. They accounted for more Japanese aircraft kills than any other with 5163 confirmed kills with a loss of 270 aircraft an overall 19:1 kill ratio. They were piloted by 305 Navy and Marine Corps aces including Meal of Honor winner Captain David McConnell the Navy’s Ace of Aces, and highest surviving United States ace of the war that scored all 34 of his victories in the Hellcat. The greatest achievement of the Hellcats were when they swept the rebuilt Japanese Naval Air Arm from the skies in the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. By November 1945 12275 Hellcats had been built with 1263 going to the British Royal Navy. After the war the Hellcat was replaced by the F8F Bearcat as the primary fighter and served in a night fighter and trainer role until the 1950s. The French Navy used the Hellcat in to provide heroic close air support to beleaguered French Soldiers in Indochina.

                                            USMC F4U-4 Corsair providing close air support

                                            Flying alongside the F6F was the Vaught F4U Corsair. The Corsair first flew in 1940 and the Navy was slow to adopt it due to difficulties in carrier operations and negative reviews of Navy pilots. However Marine Corps aviators flying the Corsair had great success and legendary aviators like MAJ Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and VMF-214 the Black Sheep. The Navy would adopt the aircraft later in the war as the Corsair’s carrier operation deficiencies were remedied, but its real success was a land based aircraft operated by the Marines. Likewise the first squadrons to operate the aircraft successfully from carriers were the Marine Corps VMF-124 and VMF-213.

                                            The Corsair mounted the same Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine as the F6F but had a highly streamlined gull wing design as well as a turbo-charger which allowed it a top speed of 425 mph. Later models such as the F4U-4 had a top speed of 445 mph. The F4F was armed with six .50 cal machine guns as well as rockets and a bomb load of 2000 pounds and the F4U-4 could carry 4000 pounds of ordnance.


                                            Watch the video: The Underdog Of American Aviation l Grumman Tiger (January 2022).

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