F4F Wildcat

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Grumman F4F Wildcat
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F4F_Wildcat.jpg
F4F Wildcat


Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat of VF-41, circa early 1942.
Description
RoleCarrier fighter
CrewOne
First FlightSeptember 2, 1937
Entered Service1940
ManufacturerGrumman
Dimensions
Length28 ft 9 in8.8 m
Wingspan38 ft 0 in11.6 m
Height9 ft 2.5 in2.8 m
Wing area260 ft²24.2 m²
Weights
Empty5,760 lb2,610 kg
Loadedlbkg
Maximum takeoff7,950 lb3,610 kg
Powerplant
EnginePratt & Whitney R-1830-86 double-row radial
Power1,200 hp895 kW
Performance
Maximum speed320 mph515 km/h
Combat range770 miles1,240 km
Ferry rangemileskm
Service ceiling39,500 ft12,000 m
Rate of climb1,950 ft/min594 m/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Power/Masshp/lbkW/kg
Armament
Guns6 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns
BombsTwo 100 lb (45 kg) bombs

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

The Wildcat was outperformed by the Mitsubishi Zero (its major opponent in the Pacific war) but held its own by out-surviving it (the Grumman airframe could take much more damage than its lightweight, unarmored Japanese rival) and out-gunning it.

The original Grumman F4F-1 design was a biplane, which when proving inferior to rival designs was recast as the monoplane F4F-2. This was still not competitive with the Brewster F2A Buffalo which won initial US Navy orders, but when the F4F was fitted with a more powerful engine, the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp, it showed its true merits and became the F4F-3. US Navy orders followed as did some (with Wright Cyclone engines) from France; these ended up with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm after the fall of France. In British service initially these were known as the Martlet I, but later this name was discontinued and the US name of "Wildcat" used.

A new version, the F4F-4, entered service in 1942 with six guns and folding wings, allowing more to be crammed on a carrier; this was the definitive version and the one that saw the most combat service in the early war years including the Battle of Midway.

Grumman production ceased in early 1943 to make way for the newer F6F Hellcat, but General Motors continued producing them for both US Navy and Fleet Air Arm use, as larger fighters such as the Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were too large for use on escort carriers. At first they produced the identical FM-1 model but then switched to the improved FM-2 (based on Grumman's F4F-8 prototype) with a more powerful engine and a taller tail to cope with the torque. In all, 7,251 Wildcats were built.

Related content
Related Development
Similar Aircraft Mitsubishi Zero
Designation Series FF - F2F - F3F - F4F - F5F - F6F - F7F - F8F - F9F - F10F - F11F - F12F
Related Lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft - List of aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm


Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

de:Grumman F4F

fr:Grumman F4F Wildcat ja:F4Fワイルドキャット (戦闘機) pl:Grumman F4F Wildcat

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