Allied Buddies: Two Hellcats From Across The Ocean
The Grumman Hellcat came as a successor to the Wildcat, a better, improved fighter plane that could withstand more damage due to better armor, wider landing gear that helped with carrier landings and wings that were mounted lower. Ordered by the Navy, the model first flew on June 26, 1942. The Navy’s need for a competitive fighter plane led to the Hellcat entering mass production soon after.
- Sitting a crew of one, a wingspan of 42 feet and a maximum weight of a little over 15 thousand pounds, the Hellcat was fitted with a Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp radial engine, the strongest for its time.
- The Hellcat was able to reach a speed of 380 mph and climb up to 37,000 feet. It was armed with six .50 caliber Browning machine guns or two 20 mm cannons.
- It was able to carry 4,000 pounds of bombs and unguided rockets.
Both the US and the UK made use of the Grumman Hellcat during the Second World War. The improved landing gear and fuselage design placed the Hellcat ahead of the Corsair as far as carrier fighters were concerned. Many of these warbirds were turned into nighttime fighters by the US Navy.