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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
The Hellcat was considerably faster than the Mitsubishi Zero in level flight and on average at all altitudes. The F6F could match or slightly exceed the Zeke's rate of climb at above 10,000 feet and was superior in most categories at higher altitudes. It had twice the power and weight, and could out-dive the Zeke. However, the Zero had better turning, especially below 230 mph, but the Hellcat could match it above that.
The Hellcat did more than fight other aircraft. It played a very important roll as a ground attack aircraft as well. In both strafing runs and dive bombing, the cats performed admirably.
The F6F Hellcat shot down 4,947 enemy aircraft out of 6,477 downed by the Navy in the South Pacific. This is equal to 76 percent of all naval air victories in that theater.
Although it was in combat for only two years, the Hellcat accounted for 5,155 destroyed Japanese planes with the loss of only 170 cats.
Did You Know?
- Post-war, Hellcats were converted to drones.
- On its first appearance on October 12, 1943, Hellcats shot down 21 Japanese with a loss of two cats.