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Grumman FM-2 Wildcat
The Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of World War II. Although the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster and more nimble Mitsubishi Zero, its ruggedness and tactics resulted in an air combat victory-to-loss ratio of 6:9:1 for the entire war.
Because of the Wildcat's heavy armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, its frame could survive far more damage that its lightweight, unarmored Japanese rival. Many U.S. Navy fighter pilots were saved by the Wildcat's ZB homing device, which allowed them to find their carriers in poor visibility, provided they could get within the 30-mile range of the homing beacon.
Did You Know?
- Navy Lt. "Butch" O'Hare, after whom Chicago's O'Hare Airport is named, destroyed five Mitsubishi bombers in a single mission while flying an F4F.