F4F Wildcat in action (Aircraft 191)
By Richard S. Dann
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 2004 51 Pages
PDF 19 MB
Aeronautical development was accelerating at an amazing pace by 1935. In the early 1930s, carrier-based (and land-based) military aircraft were built using essentially the same construction techniques used during World War One. By mid-decade, stressed skin monoplanes with phenomenal performance characteristics - including Great Britain's Supermarine Spitfire and Germany's Messerschmitt Bf 109 - were in advanced stages of development.
Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation of Bethpage, Long Island, New York was still a relatively new company in 1935. Leroy Grumman. 'Jake' Swirbul, and William Schwendler founded the company in the midst of the Great Depression in December of 1929. Grumman began its existence by manufacturing aircraft floats for the Vought 03U observation aircraft, and aluminum truck bodies. Expressing a desire to become an airframe manufacturer. Grumman submitted a bid in the US Navy's High-Speed Two-Seat Fighter (HSTSF) competition in early 1930. This competition resulted in a contract for 27 of Grumman's G-5 design, or FF-1. This advanced aircraft and its derivatives introduced Naval Aviation to metal aircraft construction, retractable landing gear, and enclosed cockpits. Following the FF-l's success, Grumman set about designing a follow-on lighter, this time in a single seat configuration. The result was the F2F-1, which became the Navy's premier fighter aircraft during the mid-1930s. By 1935, Grumman was already hard at work designing the F2F-l's eventual successor, the F3F. The F3F was built in three major sub-variants between 1935 and 1938. By 1938, all US Navy (USN) and Marine Corps front-line fighter squadrons were equipped with Grumman's F2F-1 and all F3F variants.