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Grumman F6F "Hellcat"
US Navy Carrier-borne Fighter
hellcat 1943

Aircraft Type

Carrier-borne fighter of US Navy


Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation


Radial 18-cylinder, air-cooled 2,804 cid


2,000 hp (1,491 kW) at 2,700 rpm


9,238 lb (4,190 kg) empty

Max Speed

380 mph (621 km/h) at 23,400 ft


Single seat (pilot)


The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft conceived to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy (USN) service. The Hellcat was an former rival of the faster Vought F4U Corsair for use as a carrier based fighter. However, the Corsair had significant issues with carrier landing that the Hellcat did not, allowing the Hellcat to steal a march as the Navy's dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position the Hellcat did not relinquish. The Corsair instead was primarily deployed to great effect in land-based use by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Although the F6F resembled the Wildcat, it was a completely new design, powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the same powerplant used for both the Corsair and the United States Army Air Force's (USAAF) Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Some military observers tagged the Hellcat as the "Wildcat's big brother".

The F6F was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in early 1943, to counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater. Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12,200 being built in just over two years.

Hellcats were credited with destroying 5,223 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm This was more than any other Allied naval aircraft. Postwar, the Hellcat was phased out of frontline service, but remained in service as late as 1954 as a night fighter.

The last Hellcat rolled out in November 1945, the total production being 12,275, of which 11,000 had been built in just two years. This high production rate was credited to the sound original design, which required little modification once production was underway.



Specifications F6F-5 Hellcat

Bureau of Aeronautics Navy Department (Rev. 1-1949)

General characteristics
Crew:   One pilot
Length:   33 ft 7 in (10.24 m)
Wingspan:   42 ft 10 in (13.06 m)
Height:   14 ft 5 in (4.394 m)
Tread:   11 ft 0 in (3.353 m)
Wing area:   334 ft² (31 m²)
Empty weight:   9,238 lb (4,190 kg)
Combat weight:   12,740 lb (5,779 kg)
Max. takeoff:   15,300 lb (6,940 kg)
Powerplant:   1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W "Double Wasp" 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) twin-row radial engine with two-stage two-speed supercharger
Propellers:   3-blade Hamilton Standard, dia. 13 ft 1 in (4.0 m)
Top speed:   330 kn (380 mph, 621 km/h)
Stall speed:   73 kn (84 mph, 135 km/h)
Combat radius:   820 nmi (945 mi, 1,520 km)
Rate of climb:   3,500 ft/min (17.8 m/s)
Service ceiling:   37,300 ft (11,370 m)
Time to altitude:   7.7 min to 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
Guns:   Either 6× 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, with 400 rounds per gun, (All F6F-3, and most F6F-5) • or 2 × 0.79 in (20 mm) cannon, with 225 rounds per gun • and 4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns with 400 rounds per gun (F6F-5N only)
Rockets:   6 × 5 in (127 mm) HVARs, or 2 × 11¾ in (298 mm) Tiny Tim unguided rockets 
Bombs or torpedoes:   1 × 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb, or 1 × Mk.13-3 torpedo
Under wing bombs:    (F6F-5 had 2 additional weapons racks either side of fuselage on wing center-section) 2 × 1,000 lb or,
4 × 500 lb, 8 × 250 lb
Aircraft silhouette
Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
Corporate logo
Pratt & Whitney USA

Engine Specifications

Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp "B" Series

General specs    
Type:   18-cylinder air-cooled twin-row supercharged
radial piston engine with water injection
Bore:   5.750 in (146.05 mm)
Stroke:   6.000 in (152.4 mm)
Displacement:   2,804 in³ (46 L)
Diameter:   52.8 in (1,342 mm)
Dry weight:   2,360 lb (1,073 kg)
Valvetrain:   Two overhead valves per cylinder
Supercharger:   Two-stage, two-speed, centrifugal type supercharger
Reduction gear:   2:1
Fuel system:   One Bendix-Stromberg PT-13G6, downdraft, pressure carburetor, 3-venturi
Fuel type:   100/130 octane gasoline
Cooling system:   Air-cooled
Power output:   2,000 hp (1,491 kW) at 2,700 rpm for takeoff, up to 2,250 hp (1,677 kW) "WEP"
Specific power:   0.71 hp/in³ (32.6 kW/L
Compression ratio:   6.65:1
Power/weight ratio:   0.85 hp/lb (1.39 kW/kg)
Pratt & Whitney
R-2800-10W "Double Wasp"

The radial engine was a twin-row, 2,804 cubic inch, 18-cylinder with supercharger. It weighed 2,360 pounds and delivered 2,000 hp at 2,700 rpm for takeoff, and as much as 2,250 hp for combat power.

Designed with improved water injection (designated "-W"), it generated an additional 250 hp for about 15 minutes of War Emergency Power, or combat power.

It became the backbone of the American fighter fleet during World War II, powering the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the Vought F4U Corsair and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Production for all series totaled 125,334 engines.

Bendix-Stromberg model PT-13G1
three-venturi, pressure carburetor

Grumman F6F Hellcat
A tribute to those who served, built, and piloted these aircraft
proto 2 Grumman xf6f-4
XF6F-1 prototype 26 Jun 1942 XF6F-4 prototype 1944 ca.
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F6F-3 Hellcat in flight 1942 ca. F6F-3 over California 1943 F6F on deck of USS Yorktown Jun 1944
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F6F-3 and pilot 1943 F6F-3 Hellcats in flight May 1943 Preserved F6F-5 with 1943-era roundel
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Stowed on hangar deck of USS Yorktown 1943 F6F-3 and propeller halo USS Yorktown 1943 Recovering F6F-3s on USS Enterprise 1942
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F6F-5N throttle quadrant F6F-3 instrument panel F6F-3 USS Enterprise Nov 1943
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F6F-3 trying to land 1943 F6F and pilot into the drink 1944 ca. CQTU mishap USS Sable on Lake Michigan 1945
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USS Sable carrier qualifying Lake Michigan 1945 CQTU USS Sable on Lake Michigan 1945 View from deck level 1945
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F6F on elevator of USS Monterey 1944 ca. Gerald R. Ford elevator ball USS Monterey 1944 F6F-5 USS Takanis Bay Jul 1945
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Installing 20,000th prop on Grumman F6F-5 F6F-3N at NAS Jacksonville 1943 Pleased pilots USS Lexington Nov 1943
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F6F-5 pilot escapes safely on wing 1945 F6F-3s USS Saratoga 1944 ca. F6F-3 lost tail USS Yorktown Jun 1944
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F6F-5 prepares to launch USS Monterey 1953 F6F Hellcat engine cowl removed Preserved F6F-5 Hellcat

Variants F6F Hellcat

XF6F Prototypes
XF6F-1 First prototype, powered by a two-stage 1,600 hp (1,500 kW) Wright R-2600-10 Cyclone 14 radial piston engine.
XF6F-2 The first XF6F-1 prototype revised and fitted with a turbocharged Wright R-2600-16 Cyclone radial piston engine. R-2600 replaced by turbo-charged R-2800-21.
XF6F-3 Second prototype fitted with a two-stage supercharged 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp radial piston engine.
XF6F-4 One F6F-3 fitted with a two-speed turbocharged 2,100 hp (1,567 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp radial piston engine.
XF6F-6 Two F6F-5s that were fitted with the 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-18W radial piston engine, and four-bladed propellers.

Series Production

F6F-3 Single-seat fighter, fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by a 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 Double Wasp radial piston engine. (British designations Gannet Mk. I then Hellcat Mk. I)
F6F-3E  Night fighter version, equipped with an AN/APS-4 radar in a fairing on the starboard outer wing.
F6F-3N Another night fighter version, equipped with a newer AN/APS-6 radar in a fairing on the starboard outer wing.
F6F-5 Improved version with redesigned engine cowling, new windscreen structure with integral bulletproof windscreen, new ailerons and strengthened tail surfaces; powered by a 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W (-W denotes Water Injection) radial piston engine. (British Hellcat Mk. II)
F6F-5K A number of F6F-5s and F6F-5Ns were converted into radio-controlled target drones.
F6F-5N Night fighter version, fitted with an AN/APS-6 radar. Some were armed with two 20 mm (0.79 in) AN/M2 cannon in the inner wing bays and four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in the outer. (British Hellcat N.F. Mk II)
F6F-5P Small numbers of F6F-5s were converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft, with the camera equipment being fitted in the rear fuselage.
Hellcat FR Mk II This designation was given to British Hellcats fitted with camera equipment.
FV-1 Proposed designation for Hellcats to be built by Canadian Vickers; cancelled before any built.