Grumman F6F-3/5 Hellcat (Aircam Aviation 19)
By Richard M. Hill
Publisher: Osprey 1971 51 Pages
PDF 15 MB
On 30th June 1941, the Navy had contracted with Grumman for two experimental models of a carrier-based fighter to be designated the XF6F-1. However, design changes, including several as a direct result of conferences with combat-experienced Navy pilots, resulted in the XF6F-1 becoming little more than a "paper aircraft" which was all but discarded before it got off the ground. The first prototype, flown on 26th June 1942 with the R-2600-8 engine, was later modified to the one-of-a-kind F6F-4 configuration. The second prototype, with the more powerful R-2800-10 engine, was completed as the XF6F-3. The first production model F6F-3 was completed on 4th October 1942, and made its first flight in November. On 16th January 1943, VF-9 became the first operational squadron to receive the new Hellcat. The Navy pilots now had a carrier-based fighter "tailor made" to their own requirements, and designed to combat a specific enemy on its own terms. The efficacy of the Hellcat's design is evident from its extremely successful combat record and the fact that only two major versions (the F6F-3 and F6F-5) were produced.
In external details, late model F6F-3s differed very little from the early F6F-5s; the only visible changes were the redesigned windshield, a moveable trim tab on the rieht aileron, and the camouflage.