American Combat Planes of the 20th Century is an incredible reference for anyone who is interested in any American Combat Plane History.   There are 758 pages and 1700 b/w photos in this substantial labor of love by Ray Wagner, who has been passionately researching and writing about aircraft for over 50 years.   Whether you are already familiar with his past works, or just discovering this accomplished author for the first time... This is the book that you've been waiting for!

If you'd like to see the book's   Table of Contents ... Click here.   You can also browse the entire   Index Section   to get an idea of the extensive amount of information that is covered within this book.

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A- 1 Eaton     A- 4 Skyhawk     A- 6 & A- 7     Air Weapons     AV- 8 to A- 10     A- 20 Havoc     A- 22 Martin Maryland     A- 23 Martin Baltimore     A- 24 Douglas     A- 26 Douglas Invader     Attack Planes     B- 2A, F-111, F-117 Stealth    B- 17 Flying Fortress     B- 24 Liberator     B- 25 North American     B- 26 Marauder     B- 29 Superfortress     B- 32 Dominator     B- 35 Flying Wing     B- 36     B- 47 Stratojet     B- 50 Boeing     B- 52 Stratofortress     B- 57 Canberra     B- 58 Hustler     Biplanes     Biplanes, Army Pursuits     Bombers, B- 70 to Stealth     Bombers, First Big     Curtiss Falcon     CO- 1     DH- 4 De Havilland     F3D- Douglas Skyknight    F3H- McDonnell Demon    F4D- 1 Skyray    F4F Grumman Wildcats    F- 4U Corsair    F6F Grumman    F7F Grumman    F7U Vought    F9F G. Cougar    F9F G. Panther    F- 16 Fighting Falcon    F- 84     F- 86 Sabre    F- 89 to F-94    F- 100 to F-108    First Fighters    Flying Boats    GAX    Iraq to Afghanistan    Martin Bombers    Missile Era Fighters    Navy Fighers    Navy Flying Boats    O- 2 Douglas     P- 35 Seversky     P- 36 to 42 Curtiss     P- 38 Lightning    P- 39 Airacobra    P- 40 Line    P- 47 Thunderbolt    P- 51 Mustang Fighter    P- 61 Black Widow    P- 63 Kingcobra    P- 79 to P-81    P- 82 Twin Mustang    SB2C Helldiver    TBF-TBM Avenger    Thomas-Morse    Torpedo Planes    V- 11 Vultee    XB -28    XP -48 / 77   

F6F Grumman

Page 1

Since the Corsair was not accepted for carrier operations earlier in the war, it is fortunate that another type more suitable for flight deck work was available. The Grumman Hellcat also had a 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp and six wing guns, but sacrificed speed for better maneuverability, climb, and pilot visibility.


A mockup of Grumman ‘s Design 50 was inspected by the Navy on January 12, 1941, and an enlarged development with 1,700 hp Wright R-2600-16 Cyclones was specified for two XF6F-1 prototypes ordered June 30, 1941, and for the F6F-1 production contract made January 7, 1942. This contract originally called for 434 aircraft, plus a lend-lease allotment for Britain, establishing a completely standardized Hellcat for both navies. GRUMMAN XF6F-3

An XF6F-2 version with a turbosupercharged XR-2600-10 was projected by April 29, but Grumman was also studying the 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp for an XF6F-3 model given priority and chosen for the second prototype.

By June 3, 1942, the Navy decided that all production Hellcats would have Double Wasp, so the XF6F-1 flown June 26 by Robert Hall was the only Cyclone-powered Hellcat completed, and had a Curtiss propeller in a large spinner, bulky landing gear, and no guns. The XF6F-3 was flown July 30 with a 2,000 hp R-2800-10.

The first prototype was also fitted with an R-2800-10 in September, while the second became the XF6F-4 flown October 3 with a single-stage R-2800-27 rated at 1,600 hp at 13,500 feet, and in April 1943 tested a wing with four 20-mm guns. A turbosupercharged XF6F-2 finally appeared in January 1944 with an XR-2800-16 Wasp, but was no longer desired. GRUMMAN F6F-3

Meanwhile, the expedited production contract hadbeen changed to the F6F-3 model, the first flying October 3 with an R-2800-10, three-bladed Hamilton propeller without spinner, a simplified landing gear, and six guns. Ten F6F-3s were delivered by 1942’s end, and production accelerated rapidly, the 2,545 Hellcats delivered in 1943 being enough to equip every fighter squadron on the fast carriers. There was little change in the basic configuration, although the R-2800-l0W with water injection for emergency power was introduced in January 1944. GRUMMAN Hellcat I

To keep wing loading low, the Hellcat had the largest wing area of any U.S. single-engine service fighter. The wheels folded backward flat into the wings, which folded backward aboard ship. Seating the pilot high on top of the fuel tanks gave him fine visibility. A downward angle given the engine thrust line enhanced his view, and keeping the tail down in relation to the thrust line made climb the aircraft’s natural tendency.

Installations on the F6F-3 included six .50-caliber guns with 2,400 rounds in the wings, 212 pounds of armor, and the self-sealing fuel tanks standard on wartime Navy types. An 150-gallon drop tank was added in August 1943. In September 1943, acceptances began on F6F-3N night fighters with Sperry APS-6 radar on the starboard wing, while the F6F-3E was delivered in January 1944 with the lighter Westinghouse APS-4 radar below the wing. A total of 4,156 F6F-3, 229 F6F-3N, and 18 F6F-3E Hellcats were completed by April 20, 1944.


First flown April 4, 1944, the F6F-5 had a modified cowl and windshield, armor increased to 232 pounds, could substitute 20-mm guns for the two inner wing weapons, and fittings for six rockets under the wings or two 1,000-pound bombs under the fuselage were provided. Contracts for 6,436 F6F-5s and 1,432 F6F-5Ns were completed, bringing Hellcat totals to 12,275 when deliveries ended November 21, 1945. Two XF6F-6s with the 2,100-hp R-2800-18W and four-bladed propeller were first flown July 6, 1944, but this advanced power plant was reserved for the F4U-4. GRUMMAN F6F-3N

Hellcats joined the Navy at the same time as the new carriers begun in 1941; the Essex, name-ship of the class, got the first F6F-3 squadron in January 1943. The new ship and fighter went into action together, along with its sister ship, the new Yorktown, and the Independence, first of the new light carriers, with an attack on Marcus Island August 31, 1943. This was only 14 months after the prototype’s first flight. (Corresponding time on the Corsair was over 32 months.)

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