Hellcat file photo [95]

F6F Hellcat

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerGrumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
Primary RoleFighter
Maiden Flight26 June 1942


ww2dbaseThe F6F Hellcat design started development as a upgraded version of the F4F Wildcat design, but by the time a final design was completed it had became a completely different breed altogether, not even sharing any parts with her predecessor. F6F Hellcat fighters were designed to be produced efficiently, and additional features such as heavy armor and self-sealing fuel tanks were installed to provide additional safety to the pilots. The first of these carrier fighters took flight on 26 Jun 1942 and the first combat-ready squadron was deployed aboard USS Essex in Mar 1943. They first saw action against the Japanese six months later when F6F Hellcat fighters of USS Independence attacked and shot down a Japanese seaplane. On 23 Nov 1943, F6F Hellcat fighters engaged Japanese Zero fighters over Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands and scored 30 kills at the loss of only one. Repeated overwhelming victories hinted that the United States had finally produced a fighter design that not only matched but exceeded that capabilities of the feared Zero. By the end of the war, they participated in nearly every engagement in the Pacific since their introduction in 1943 and achieved a kill:loss ratio of 19:1.

ww2dbaseUS Navy Ensign George Orner, a F6F Hellcat fighter pilot aboard USS Franklin, recalled his liking for his fighter.

The Hellcat was a terrific airplane and very effective fighter. It was positively a piece of cake to fly; just a dream.... The difference between the F4F [Wildcat] and the F6F was night and day. We had more range, more speed, more power... more everything.

ww2dbaseUS Navy Ensign Byron Robinson, an aircraft maintenance officer also of USS Franklin, also shared similar fond memories of F6F Hellcat fighters. "I dearly loved the F6F", he said, "I could keep almost ninety percent of those aircraft in the air. It was very simple airplane to maintain because there was little [in the] way of a hydraulic system." The simplicity in design was a reflection of Roy Grumman's motto "build it strong, keep it simple, and make it work."

ww2dbase1,264 F6F Hellcat fighters were also sent to the British Fleet Air Arm under the Lend-Lease Act. The British initially called them Gannet fighters, but by early 1944 the designation of Hellcat was unified across Allied command. Under British command, the F6F Hellcat fighters saw action off Norway, in the Mediterranean, and in the Indian Ocean. The British F6F Hellcat fighters did not achieve as great a kill:loss ratio as their American cousins, but they were still considered great carrier fighters by British pilots.

ww2dbaseIn addition to the F6F Hellcat standard fighter variants, a night fighter variant and a photo reconnaissance variant were also produced. The 12,272th and last F6F Hellcat fighter was completed in Nov 1945. The stunningly high number of aircraft built was also attributed to the purposeful simplicity in the design.

ww2dbaseSources: Inferno, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Oct 2007

F6F Hellcat Timeline

26 Jun 1942 The Grumman XF6F-3 Hellcat prototype made its maiden flight. It went on to be, arguably, the most significant Allied carrier fighter of the war.
31 Aug 1943 The first combat mission of the US Navy's latest fighter aircraft occurred when F6F-3 Hellcat fighters of VF-5 operating from the carrier USS Yorktown (Essex-class) assisted in an attack on Japanese installations on Marcus Island. This was a mere eighteen months after the prototype's first flight. Altogether some 2,545 examples of the F6F-3 aircraft were delivered during 1943.
5 Oct 1943 Ensign Robert W. Duncan of US Navy Squadron VF-5 became the first F6F Hellcat fighter pilot to shoot down two Japanese Zero fighters in a single engagement.
15 Aug 1944 Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, began. On the same day, Saint-Tropez, Var, France was captured by the 15th Infantry Regiment of 3rd US Infantry Division. This also marked the first operational use of the F6F Hellcat fighter by the US Navy in the European Theater flying from carriers USS Tulagi and USS Kasaan Bay.
19 Aug 1944 F6F-5 Hellcat fighters flying from USS Tulagi became the first US Navy Hellcats to score aerial victories in the European Theater when fighters from Squadron VOF-1 shot down three Heinkel He-111 medium bombers south of Lyon in southern France.


MachineryPratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial engine rated at 2,000hp
Armament6x0.5in Browning M2 machine guns, optional six rockets under wings, optional 2,000lb of bombs
Span13.06 m
Length10.24 m
Height3.99 m
Wing Area31.00 m²
Weight, Empty4,101 kg
Weight, Loaded5,528 kg
Weight, Maximum6,000 kg
Speed, Maximum605 km/h
Speed, Cruising270 km/h
Rate of Climb17.80 m/s
Service Ceiling11,430 m
Range, Normal1,755 km

MachineryOne Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp 18cyl air-cooled radial piston engine with two-speed two-stage supercharge and water injection, rated at 2,200hp
Armament6x12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns or 2x20mm AN/M2 cannon, 4x12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns, optional 6x127mm HVAR or 2x298mm Tiny Tim rockets, optional 910kg bomb or 1x Mk.13-3 torpedo on centerline rack, optional smaller bombs under wing
Span13.06 m
Length10.24 m
Height3.99 m
Wing Area31.00 m²
Weight, Empty4,190 kg
Weight, Loaded5,714 kg
Weight, Maximum6,992 kg
Speed, Maximum629 km/h
Rate of Climb13.00 m/s
Service Ceiling11,370 m
Range, Normal1,521 km
Range, Maximum2,460 km


British Royal Navy Hellcat fighter, circa 1943F6F Hellcat fighters going through launch procedures aboard the carrier Saratoga, off Gilbert Islands, early 1943.F6F-3 Hellcat fighters on the flight deck of Saratoga as a TBM Avenger approached to land, circa 1943-44F6F-3 Hellcat of Navy Fighting Squadron 33 after dropping into a bomb crater at the Barakoma airstrip, Vella Lavella, Solomons, late 1943. Fighting 33 was one of the few land based fighter squadrons, a role later taken up by Marine squadrons.
See all 202 photographs of F6F Hellcat Fighter


Typhoon Connie damage carrier USS Bennington (0:00-1:38) and aircraft launching over the stern from typhoon damaged USS Hornet (Essex-class; 1:38-3:17), 6 Jun 1945.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
28 Oct 2007 01:09:57 AM

In total 1,177 Hellcats reached the Royal Navy. These were 252 F6F-3s(known as Hellcat Mk.1) 849 F6F-5s and 76 F6F-5Ns (known as Hellcat Mk.11). Some of the latter were modified by Blackburn Aircraft and a limited air-to-ground capability, whilst others had cameras fitted for the photo-reconnaissance role.
2. Dan Phantom says:
22 May 2009 04:46:33 PM

at least to me, it seems like as the war progressed, the Germans had the best tanks, the British had the best tank destroyers, and we had the best planes.

Course, the Soviets and the Japanese held those titles in the early days of the war.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
22 Jul 2010 11:05:05 AM

Information about Hellcat file photo:

Fine wartime photo of a F6F-3 as it appeared in 1943. Grumman buit 12,000 Hellcats between 1942 to 1945.

"The Zero Killer"

The US Navy used the Leader and Wingman team a pair of Hellcats would use this tactic in
fighting the Zero.
By 1944 the Zero was obsolete, but in the
hands of a skilled and veteran pilot it was
still a dangerous fighter.
The replacement pilots were undertrained and
were no match against the highly trained

The Hellcat was armed w/ six fifty caliber
machine guns, and a two second burst from
those six .50's fired 130 rounds,the lightly
built japanese aircraft could not absorb that
The Hellcat was also a nightfighter armed
w/ six fifty caliber machine guns, or four
20mm cannons and carried onboard radar it
was in service by 1944 and over 200 were

During the Pacific War, the Hellcat ran up
a 19 to 1 kill ratio destroying 5,000 enemy
To keep up demands for pilots, the US Navy
was training 10,000 pilots a year, and Japan could never keep up with training replacement

After World War II the Navy continued to use
the Hellcat for training however, it was phased out of service and served with Naval
reserve units into the 1950's

Japan could never hope to win against the
industrial might of the United States.
In 1943 the Japanese produced 7.8 million tons of military equipment.
The United States produced 90 million tons
of military equipment. One complete escort
carrier was built every 70 days!

By 1944 the US Navy had more aircraft,pilots
and carriers,than the Japanese could scrape
together. The Japanese were short of planes,
pilots and the carriers.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Jul 2010 01:07:15 PM

The Grumman F6F Hellcat destroyed Japanese
airpower, both the Navy and Marine fighter
squadrons shot down 5,200 Japanese aircraft.
306 fighter pilots became aces flying the Hellcat.

Did you know...

Its a myth that the Hellcat was designed to
combat the Zero in fact,the Navy and Grumman
new nothing about the Zero,when the Hellcat was on the drawing boards in 1941.
The prototype didn't fly until after the
Battle of Midway, June 1942. The Navy and
Grumman did receive information about the
Zero found in the Aleutians and added this into its flight testing program.

The Hellcat was armed with six fifty caliber
machine guns, same as the F4F Wildcat, but had more range,was faster was able to carry bombs and rockets for close air support.

New Navy pilots with 300 hours flying time
found the Hellcat easy to fly. The fighter was also used as a nightfighter and photo- recon aircraft. 12,000 Hellcats were buit from one factory, the Grumman Iron Works at
Long Island.
After World War II, the Navy continued to use
the Hellcat However, it was phased out of
front line service, and passed on to Naval
reserve squadrons where it served until the
early 1950's.

Many F6F Hellcats survive today in museums
or in private aircraft collections, many have
been restored to flying condition.
The F6F Hellcat was also used by the French,
and British.
In British service the Hellcat proved to be
a match for the Bf 109 and Fw 190.
Uruguay used the Hellcat until the 1960's it
was the last Military operator.

The F6F Hellcat ended its service life, as a
5. Armand says:
16 Aug 2012 04:47:55 PM

After WW2 many F6F's were donated to towns for use as a memorial. Our local airport had one until the airport manager dug a hole and buried it. I believe it is still there.
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
12 May 2013 09:54:14 AM


After WWII F6F Hellcats served for a few years with carrier groups. Later they were passed on to Naval Reserve Units, others were kept in storage or issued to operational training units, used as instructional airframes or converted into target drones. Survivors were passed on to friendly countries in South America.
The last US Navy Hellcat flown by a military pilot was in 1961 and retired from active service
others were still used as target drones.
Today surviving F6F Hellcats are in museums or in private collections.
7. David Etchell says:
21 Jan 2014 02:57:29 PM

Hi I was wondering if Armand could contact me
8. Paige Griffin says:
19 Nov 2016 12:03:01 AM

equinetwo@icloud.com and memory of my father Captain Frank W Stone World War II hellcat pilot!
9. eme baker says:
10 Oct 2020 01:58:20 PM

I have a picture on the battle field of a hellcat I think with tail number 226124 and the planes name is Dry Run Id like to sent it to the proper museum ,can anyone help me thanks
10. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
11 Oct 2020 11:01:48 AM

eme baker (above):
The tail number you provided is too long to be a Navy BuNo from a Hellcat but Army Air Force tail number 226124 is from a P-47 Thunderbolt named ‘Dry Run’ so this is almost certainly the plane in your photo (the Hellcat and the Thunderbolt had a roughly similar appearance). The answer to your question about where to donate the photo is a little hard to pin down. Any air museum local to you may be a good place to start. If they don’t want it themselves, they may be better able to direct you.

P-47 42-26124 ‘Dry Run’ is a fairly well-known aircraft and images of it abound on the internet and in various books. The aircraft bore side markings of C4-Z and flew with the 388th Fighter Squadron, 365th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force from Azeville Field in France. The plane was lost 18 Jul 1944 near Vire, France in Normandy in a massive dogfight between at least 15 German Me-109s, 4 US P-51 Mustangs, and at least 4 US P-47 Thunderbolts (including Dry Run). Dry Run’s pilot, 2Lt James L Dyar, was killed.
11. Anonymous says:
1 Nov 2022 08:41:16 AM

I think the figures for the -3 and -5 are reversed. The -5 had the 2200 hp P&W.

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» Carrier Aircraft Specifications

F6F Hellcat Fighter Photo Gallery
British Royal Navy Hellcat fighter, circa 1943
See all 202 photographs of F6F Hellcat Fighter

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