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United States' Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter

Photos

Grumman F4F Wildcat on a carrier off of Casablanca on the USS Ranger:
United States' Grumman F4F Wildcat on a carrier off of Casablanca
United States Army in World War II, Pictorial Record, The War Against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas, 1951, pg 22
Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal on March 22, 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal on March 22, 1943
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Grumman F4F-3A Wildcat, Lt. Commander Thach and Lt. O'Hare, April 1942:
United States' Grumman F4F-3A Wildcat, Lt. Commander Thach and Lt. O'Hare, April 1942
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Squadron 41, early 1942:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Squadron 41, early 1942

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, float:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, float

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, US Navy training unit, 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, US Navy training unit, 1943
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, USS Enterprise, VF-6, testing machine guns, April 1942:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, USS Enterprise, VF-6, testing MGs, April 1942

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, USS Suwanee, late 1942 or early 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, USS Suwanee, late 1942 or early 1943

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, VF-11, Sundowners, 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, VF-11, Sundowners, 1943
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, mid 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, mid 1943

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Naval Air Station Anacostia:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Naval Air Station Anacostia
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, February 1942:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, February 1942

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Marine Corps, Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, February 1943:
United States' Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, Marine Corps, Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, February 1943
Grumman Martlet fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet fighter

Grumman Martlet fighter on the HMS Indomitable:
United States' Grumman Martlet fighter on the HMS <em>Indomitable</em>
Grumman Martlet fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet fighter
Grumman Martlet fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet fighter
Grumman Martlet fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet fighter
Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter

Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter
Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter

Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter in 1941:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter in 1941
Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter

Grumman Martlet Mk I (F4F-3A) fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I (F4F-3A) fighter
Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I fighter

Grumman Martlet Mk I (F4F-3A) fighter at Prestwick:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk I (F4F-3A) fighter at Prestwick
Grumman Martlet Mk II fighter in June 1941:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk II fighter in June 1941

Grumman Martlet Mk III fighter (F4F-3A):
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk III fighter (F4F-3A)
Grumman Martlet Mk III fighter:
United States' Grumman Martlet Mk III fighter
Grumman Wildcat Mk IV fighter:
United States' Grumman Wildcat Mk IV fighter
Grumman Wildcat Mk V fighter:
United States' Grumman Wildcat Mk V fighter
Grumman Wildcat Mk VI / FM-2 fighter:
United States' Grumman Wildcat Mk VI / FM-2 fighter
Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter:
United States' Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter

Design

Originally Grumman designed the F3F, a biplane, that was to be used in case the monoplane F2 Buffalo failed.4

The US Navy chose the Buffalo over the Wildcat in June 1938.1,4 However, the Wildcat was still considered a good plane and another prototype was ordered in September 1938.4 This resulted in the XF4F-3 prototype.4 By December 1941 the decision was reversed to use the Wildcat over the Buffalo.1

Cockpit

Visibility wasn't very good and was cramped.1

Engine

Initially the two-stage blower caused problems and was later replaced by a one-stage blower.1

Undercarriage

The wheels retracted half way to fit against the fuselage.1

Prototype

Was first flown on September 2, 1937 by Robert L. Hall.1,2,3,4

The second prototype, XF4F-3, was well liked and 54 were ordered.4

The first F4F-3 flew in February 1940.3 The first F4F-4 flew on April 14, 1941.4

The FM-1 first flew in August 1942.3 The FM-2 flew in November 1942.3

Production

In August 1939 44 were ordered.2 22 of these were delivered by the end of 1940.2

Production of the F4F moved from Grumman to General Motors in 1942.3 It was decided to continue production of the FM-2 concurrently with the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsairs as the FM-2s were more suitable for escort carrier operations.6

  • Grumman F4F-3: 2853
  • Martlet I: 1003
  • Martlet II: 903
  • Grumman F4F-3A / Martlet III: 953
  • Grumman F4F-4: 1,1683, 1,1692
  • Grumman F4F-7: 213
  • Grumman Wildcat IV: 2203
  • FM-1 / Wildcat V: 1,0603, 1,1276, 1,4624
  • FM-2 / Wildcat VI: 4,7773,4,6
  • Total: 7,8083, 7,8251, 7,8852, ~8,0004
    • Grumman: 1,9881
    • General Motors FMs: 5,2372, 5,8371, 5,9046
      • Manufacturing location: Detroit, Michigan6

Variants

  • Grumman XF4F-2: The first prototype to be flown.2 Had Twin Wasp engine (1,050 HP).3
  • Grumman XF4F-3: Had the two stage supercharged XR-1830-76 installed and could go 333.5 mph / 537 kph.2 Appeared in February 1939 / February 12, 1939.3,4 Had changes to wings and tail.3
  • Grumman F4F:
  • Grumman F4F-3:
  • Grumman F4F-3A: Had R-1830-90 installed.2
  • Grumman F4F-4: Main production model.4 Wings could be manually folded.3,4
  • Grumman F4F-7: Long range reconnaissance developed but was replaced by F6F.1,2,3 Its range was 3,500 miles / 5,633 km.2
  • FM-1 / Wildcat Mk V: Produced by General Motors.2,6 License built F4F-4.6 Had a taller tail fin.2 Had a Wright R-1820 engine.2
  • FM-2 / Wildcat Mk VI: Produced by General Motors.2,6 Based on the XF4F-8.6 Had a taller tail fin.2,6 Had a Wright R-1820 engine.2,6 Had four 12.7 mm machine guns and could carry two 250 lb / 113 kg bombs or six 5" / 127 mm rockets.2 Intended for use on escort carriers.2 Deliveries began in September 1943 and ended in August 1945.6

Usage

Early Delivery

The first 22 were delivered to the VF-4 and VF-7.2

United States

The first used of the F4F Wildcat by the United States Navy was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked.4 The Navy had 183 F4F-3s and the Marine Corps had 65 F4F-3As.4

The first US Navy ace was Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, who shot down five Japanese bombers in five minutes.1

With a score of 19 Japanese warplanes shot down, Major John L. Smith was the top Wildcat ace.1

France

The French ordered 81 Wildcats in 1939.2 These were later transferred to the Royal Navy and called the Martlet.2

United Kingdom

Was initially named the Martlet4 but was later changed to the Wildcat in early 1944.1,3 There were 81 Wildcats that went into service with the Royal Navy in the summer of 1940.4

Orders of F4Fs by France and Greece were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm.1,3 These were received in July 1940.3

The Wildcat was the first American fighter in British service to shoot down an enemy plane, a Ju 88 over Scapa Flow in December 1940.3,4

The Fleet Air Arm received 312 FM-1s6 and around 700 FM-2s.4

Royal Canadian Air Force

The RCAF also used the F4F Wildcats.1

Escort Carrier Duty

As the F4F Wildcats became obsolete during the last two years of World War II, they were still used on Escort Carriers as they had a small size with the folded wings.2

FM-2s were usually paired with TBMs on anti-submarine patrols.6

Specifications

  Grumman F4F Wildcat
Type Carrier based fighter3
Crew 13
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 38'3
11.58 m3
Length 28' 9"3
8.76 m3
Height 11' 10"3
3.61 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat
Type Fighter4,5
Crew 14
Engine (Type) 1: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76/86 Twin Wasp3
1: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76 Twin Wasp4
1: Wright Cyclone5
Cylinders Radial5, Radial 143,4
Cooling Air4,5
HP 1,2003,4
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 38'4,5
Length 28' 9"4, 28' 10"5
Height 9'5, 11' 10"4
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 5,875 lb5, 7,000 lb4
Performance  
Speed 350 mph5
Speed @ 21,300' 331 mph4
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling 37,500'4
Range 845 miles4
Armament 4: MG4,5
Wings 4: 0.5" MG3
Bombs 200 lb4
  Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat
Type Carrier based fighter1,2, Fighter4
Crew 11,2,4
Engine (Type) Wright R-1830-36 Cyclone piston1, Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 Twin Wasp4
OR Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 piston2
Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76/86 Twin Wasp3
Cylinders Radial1,2, Radial 143,4
Cooling Air4
HP 1,2001,2,3,4
Propeller blades 31
Dimensions  
Span 38'1,2,4
11.58 m2, 11.6 m1
Length 28'1, 28' 9"2,4
8.5 m1, 8.76 m2
Height 11' 10"2,4, 12'1
3.6 m1,2
Wing area 260 ft2 1,2
24.15 m2 1,2
Weight  
Empty 5,746 lb1, 5,895 lb3
2,612 kg1, 2,674 kg3
Loaded 7,406 lb4, 7,935 lb1
3,607 kg1
Performance  
Speed 317 mph1
512 kph1
Speed at sea level 274 mph3
441 kph3
Speed @ 18,800' /
5,730 m
320 mph3
515 kph3
Speed @ 19,400' /
5,915 m
318 mph2,4
512 kph2
Cruising speed 154 mph1, 155 mph3
249 kph1,3
Climb 1,950'/minute2,3
594 m/minute2,3
Service ceiling 34,900'2,3,4, 39,400'1
10,064 m2, 10,637 m3, 12,010 m1
Range 768 miles1, 770 miles2,3,4
1,239 km1,3, 1,240 km2
Armament 6: MG4
Wings 6: 12.7 mm Browning air cooled MGs1
6: 0.5" MG3
Rounds 240 per MG1
Forward firing 6: 12.7 mm MGs2
Bombs 2: 100 lb1
200 lb4
2: 250 lb3
2: 45 kg1
2: 113 kg3
  Grumman FM-1 Wildcat
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76/86 Twin Wasp3
Cylinders Radial 143
Cooling  
HP 1,2003
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Wings 6: 0.5" MG3
Bombs 2: 250 lb3
2: 113 kg3
  Grumman FM-2 Wildcat
Type Fighter bomber6
Crew 16
Engine (Type) Wright R-1820-56 Cyclone3,6
Cylinders Radial 93,6
Cooling  
HP 1,3506
Propeller blades 3 constant speed6
Dimensions  
Span 38'6
Length 28' 11"6
Height  
Wing area 260 ft2 6
Weight  
Empty 5,448 lb6, 5,542 lb3
2,514 kg3
Loaded 8,221 lb3, 8,271 lb6
3,729 kg3
Performance  
Speed @ 28,800' 332 mph6
Cruising speed 164 mph6
Climb  
Service ceiling 34,700'6
Range - loaded 900 miles6
Range - max 1,310 miles6
Armament  
Wings 4: .50 cal MG6
6: 0.5" MG3
Bombs 500 lb6
2: 250 lb3
2: 113 kg3
OR  
Rockets 6: HVAR6

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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