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Grumman F4F "Wildcat"

Designed in 1936, the Grumman F4F "Wildcat" was the Navy's first production mono-wing aircraft carrier based fighter. Originally designated as the G-18, the mono-wing manually folding wing design was eyed with skepticism over the Bi-wing aircraft which dominated the naval carrier squadrons at that time. However, its 1,050 hp engine, heavy metal frame with flush full metal cover proved to be only marginally faster than the Brewster competitor during evaluation. Later a 1,200 hp engine improved the "Wildcat" performance providing it a 335 mph maximum air speed. Ironically, Grumman did not build many of the 7,800 "Wildcat's" constructed prior to the end of the war. It was the Eastern Division of General Motors that did beginning production in August of 1939.

Armed with (6) .50 caliber machine guns, (2) 100 lb bombs with a range of 770 miles, the "Wildcat" was flown extensively by the Navy and Marine pilots during the early battles of Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, Coral Sea and Guadalcanal. Although, not as agile as the Japanese "Zero" the Grumman "Wildcat" had continued success with winning battles mainly due to the courage and cunning of American pilots adapting hit and run or other tactical maneuvers to take on superior numbers. History documents the many aerial exploits of pilots who became "Aces" while encountering enemy aircraft while flying the "Wildcat." Further exploits of pilots include Captain Robert McElrod, Major John L Smith and Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare all earning the Medal of Honor flying the F4F "Wildcat" in battle.


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Christy Butler **** www.shoeboxphotos.net **** **** butts@bcn.net