Grumman F6F Hellcat

Responsible for the destruction of just under 5,000 Japanese aircraft, Grumman's F6F was started as a replacement for the company's F4F Wildcat well before Pearl Harbor. The Hellcat was clearly a Wildcat descendant, although it was a much more powerful aircraft, with a lowered wing and wing-mounted landing gear.

A definitive powerplant was no specified early on, with four engines being considered:

XF6F-1: R-2600-10. First flown in June 1942.

XF6F-2: R-2600-16

XF6F-3: R-2800-10. First flown July 1942.

XF6F-4: R-2800-27

The XF6F-3 was chosen to be the basis for production Hellcats, the first of these taking to the air in October 1942.

F6F-5: Reinforced tail and a new cowling design.

France's Aeronavale received 139 F6F-5/5Ns from US surplus stocks in 1950-53, with the type seeing combat against the Viet Minh in Indochina. Hellcats remained in French service for some time after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, with the final aircraft not being retired until 1960.

Book Review: Richard S. Dann "Walk Around Number 9: F6F Hellcat"  I've long been a fan of Rich Dann's books on naval aircraft types, and this volume is no exception, mixing coverage of both restored aircraft and vintage Grumman photography. There are numerous useful tidbits, including scrap drawings showing the differences between the early and late bomb racks used on Hellcats, shots showing how the drop tank was fitted, gun and rocket installations, a good image of the F6F-3E's APS-4 radar pod, and much more.

Color profiles include aircraft from VF-5, VF-6, VF-27, VF-83, VMF(N)-533, No.804 Squadron, French Aeronavale, and an Operation Crossroads drone.

Hellcat Bibliography:
"Grumman Hellcat"  Flight November 18, 1943  p.556

Picture: Retrieving sampler boxes from F6F drone after Bikini A-Bomb test  Naval Aviation News  October 1946  p.16
"Carrier photo Recco"  Naval Aviation News  November 1946  Includes several photos of Hellcats.

"Navy uses obsolete F6F drones"  Aviation Week  September 29, 1952  p.17

"This Hellcat had many lives"  Naval Aviation News September 1962  p.27  Retirement of F6F-5K BuNo 77722, the last Hellcat drone.

Sam Whitney  "Jolly Rogers Hellcat"  Scale Modeler  August 1980. diorama using the Hasegawa 1/32 F6F-3 to depict an aircraft of VF-17 aboard USS Hornet.

Ken Brill  "McCampbell's Cat"  Scale Modeler  April 1982  Building the 1/48 scale Monogram kit as Lt. Commander David McCampbell's aircraft. Includes color profiles of an F6F-3 in GSB aboard USS Princeton, F6F-3 of VMF-222, F6F-3 from VF-15.

Photo: F6F-3 BuNo 08825 / N4965V  Warbirds International Jan/Feb 2000 p.54-55

Mike Ashey  "Detailing Minsi II"  FineScale Modeler  February 2005. Building the 1/32 scale Hasegawa F6F.

"That Hellcat Grin"  Review of Eduard's 1/72 scale F6F-3 kit. Military Illustrated Modeller November 2011 p.40-41


Peter M. Bowers WWII Scale Aircraft Drawings   p.64-69  Two pages of F6F general arrangement drawings, plus two pages of plans with cross sections and structural details.

Phil Butler Air Arsenal North America: Aircraft for the Allies 1938-1945 - Purchases and Lend-Lease  p.212-213 Royal Navy Hellcats, including aircraft aboard HMS Ocean, and a 1950s shot.

David Mondey The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II  p.141-145 color profiles include F6F-5s of the Aeronavale and Uruguayan Navy, FAA Hellcat Mk.I, USN Reserve F6F-5; large color 3-view

W. Wayne Patton Aces 3, Squadron/Signal Publications 2004   p.55 color profile of a VF-11 F6F-5 flown by Charles Stimpson.

Al Adcock On Deck: USS Lexington (CV-16)  Squadron/Signal Publications 2002  p.72 color profile of a VF-16 F6F-3

Robert Lawson, Barrett Tillman Carrier Air War in Original WWII Color p.173 color photo of F6F-3K drones destined for use in the Crossroads test at Bikini Atoll

       US Naval Aviation

F-14 Tomcat         F4U Corsair

Grumman Biplane Fighters

Aircraft Walk Arounds and other References

Art Pages
A massive 50cc R/C F6F-5 model - extensive photo coverage of this big Hellcat taking shape
PDF plans and a build log for an RC Hellcat

Build article on the 1/48 Hasegawa Hellcat

F6F-5 Hellcat, from the Naval Historical Center (PDF format)

F6F-5 cockpit photo