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The Grumman F6F Hellcat was the most important Naval aircraft in WWII. Without it the Pacific war would have had a very protracted conclusion. The F6F was built to Roy Grumman's simple design philosophy "Grumman will only build an easily produced, maintained and reliable combat aircraft that can be readily mastered by a 200-hour, war-time pilot trained to fly from a carrier, engage in successful combat, sustain combat damage, return to the carrier, and land his aircraft after dark so that he can be available for combat again the next day." Because the F6F was all that, it earned Grumman the nick name "The Ironworks." Grumman built 12,275 Hellcats during WWII in its successful effort of clearing the skys of the Japanese. The XF6F was first flown on 8 August 1942 and the production version, the F6F-3 flew on 3 October 1942. The F6F-3 first entered squadron service with VF-9 on 16 January 1943 and drew its first blood over Marcus Island on 31 August 1943. The Hellcat shot down 5,156 enemy aircraft, for a kill-to-loss ratio of 19-to-1, while producing 307 aces. This was the aircraft of the largest one-day air battle of all time, the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" where more than 540 Hellcats fought 440 Japanese naval aircraft backed by up to 600 Japanese Army aircraft. Result was 354 enemy aircraft kills were claimed by the Hellcats while only 16 F6Fs were lost to Japanese aircraft. The Hellcat would see combat as photo birds (F6F-3P/5Ps) and night fighters (F6F-3E/3N/5E/5Ns) too as well as the improved F6F-5 fighter.
The book covers the F6Fs development, testing, and production written by Grumman's test pilot "Corky" Meyer. This is followed by technical details and a running combat narrative. The Marines, British, French, and European action is covered as well as training command during and after WWII and sections on post war, reserve, drones, and Hellcat prey.
Grumman F6F Hellcat