5 Things You Should Know About The F4F Wildcat

5 Things You Should Know About The F4F Wildcat | World War Wings Videos

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The Grumman F4F Wildcat was an American WWII naval fighter that served in the Pacific and European theaters and was sometimes overlooked. However, its underappreciated design deserves much more credit than it got.

Here are five things that you need to know about the Wildcat: 

1. It started with an ill-fated design that was never built

The ill-fated bi-plane design, the XF4F-1, improved the F3F-1 and was slated to have the more powerful 800 hp Pratt & Whitney engines with a top speed of around 265 mph.

However, the design was short-lived and never built as it lost to the XF-2a-1 which was deemed to be superior. 

2. A better, new prototype, the XF4F-3, was developed 

The wings and fuselage were lengthened, the tail section was redesigned, and its gross weight increased. It was powered by a 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-76 radial engine with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger.

It first flew on February 12, 1939, meeting the Navy’s primary 300 mph maximum speed. As a result, Grumman was awarded the production contract and 54 Wildcats were first delivered in February 1940. 

3. It was well-armored, making it challenging to be shot down

Enemy planes need to put a lot of fire to knock it out. The Wildcat, along with other Grumman planes, earned a reputation to be an extremely sturdy planes.

Grumman was even nicknamed Grumman Iron Works because of the high survivability of the planes they produced. 

4. The Wildcat quickly became the Navy’s rugged, lethal tool in the war

The Wildcat was used in the Pacific during the early years of the war.

Despite the quickness of the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero in the Pacific theater, the Wildcat was able to shoot down an average of seven enemy planes for every one of its losses. 

5. It was the primary fighter used in four of the first five big carrier battles of WWII

It also continued making an impact later in the war by flying from convoy escort carriers, a feat that bigger planes simply can’t do. 

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