Quick Facts

Grumman F6F Hellcat 

Just Right: The Goldilocks Fighter 


Part of the Air Zoo Collection 

Located in the Flight Innovation Center, East Wing

The Grumman Aircraft Corporation designed the Hellcat for carrier-based operations. When designing the Hellcat, Grumman responded to veteran F4F Wildcat pilots’ who demanded pursuit plane improvements. As a result, the U.S. Navy received a formidable fighter. The aircraft flew for the first time in 1942. The U.S. Navy’s Fighter Squadron 9 (VF-9) received the first production planes delivered to the USS Essex in 1943 and saw action later that year. By 1944, the Hellcat had become the mainstay of U.S. carrier aviation. Together with the Corsair, these two fighters became known as the “Terrible Twins.” 

The Air Zoo’s Hellcat 

When the museum received the Hellcat in the spring of 1979, it needed some attention. As the Air Zoo’s second, full-scale, restoration project, the Hellcat allowed the restoration team to hone their talents and techniques to perfection. Once finished the aircraft won EAA Grand Champion Warbird of 1981 and was requested for fly-ins and airshows across the country. As part of the Flight of the Grumman Cats, this is one of the planes that gave the museum its nickname 





Fun Facts

Battle of the Philippine Sea 

On June 19 and 20, 1944 the Japanese were in position to take back the Mariana Islands. Going up against U.S. Task Force 58, the Japanese were greatly outnumbered. Task Force 58 had 15 carriers; the Japanese force had nine. The Japanese sent 750 aircraft to knock out the American force. To counter, the US launched 956 aircraft—including many Hellcats— and over 500 Japanese aircraft were destroyed in two days.  

Japanese war industry never recovered from the losses, turning to last-ditch efforts in the remaining months of war. Nicknamed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, the Battle of the Philippine Sea resulted in success for the US and great losses for the Japanese.