The Hellcat was built as the successor of the F4F Wildcat. Although both aircraft had a familiar resemblance, the F6F was a completely new design. Some even called it the "Wildcat's big brother". The Grumman F6F Hellcat, and Vought F4U Corsair were the main U.S. Navy fighters during the second half of World War II.
The Wildcat was a great fighter, but past air battles showed that the Japanese A6M Zero was a much better plane. However, it still had a few advantages. The Wildcat could take a lot of punishment, while the A6M flamed almost literary on the slightest damage, and the Wildcat was much faster in a dive. These advantages were "inherited" to the Hellcat, along with a lot other enhancements, combined, Grumman made an aircraft far superior to the Zero. In almost all aspects, the F6F outclassed the unarmoured Japanese fighter.
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats on 1th January, 1943. (Photographer not available. I apologize for any inconvenience.)
The F6F Hellcat first saw action on 1th September, 1943, and it's first real engagement was on November 23rd in the same year, when Hellcats met Japanese aircraft over Tarawa. The result was somewhat miraculous. In total, F6F pilots claimed 30 Zeros shot down with only one lost. This was just the beginning.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was very versatile, being able to carry rockets, bombs, and torpedoes.
- 6x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, 400 rounds/gun, or
- 2x 20mm cannon, 225 rounds/gun, or
- 4x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, 400 rounds/gun.