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Scale Pilot Figure DrawingsAircraft PhotosCarrier Ship Pencil Drawing

An F4F-3 Wildcat with the oversize star insignia and the rudder stripes that were used early in 1942 for positive identification. The fuselage legend 41-F-8 identifies Airplane No. 8 of the first (of two) fighter squadrons aboard Ranger (CV-4), identified by the figure "4." At that time, carrier-based squadrons used the hull number of their parent carrier.

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FROM 1934, when Boeing delivered its last F4B-4, until 1939, the Grumman Aircraft Company of Bethpage, Long Island, NY, was the sole supplier of single-seat fighters to the U.S. Navy. In 1936, Grumman designed its Model 16, a biplane fighter that was designated "XF4F-1." Before it was built, however, the Navy ordered a new monoplane fighter, the XF2A-1,from Brewster. Realizing that the era of the biplane fighter was ending, Grumman got Navy authorization to discontinue the XF4F-1 and redesign it as a monoplane, designated "XF4F-2," Grumman Model 18. It flew on September 2, 1937.

The XF4F-2 was powered with a 1,050hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 engine and had two .50-caliber guns mounted in the nose. It lost to the XF2A-1 in the initial Navy fly-off competition, returned to the factory and was extensively rebuilt as the XF3F-3, Grumman Model 36. Grumman won an order for an eventual 285 F4F-3s and 95

A Grumman F4F-3 ready for delivery to Squadron MF-41 aboard the carrier U. S. S. Ranger in December 1940. It was silver, with chrome-yellow wing tops and the green tail that was on all Ranger aircraft. The star insignia on the nose identifies the plane as one that was used in the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Neutrality Patrol in 1940-41.

F4F-3AS named "Wildcat," which started the famous line of Grumman Navy fighters with various "Cat" names that continues today.

PRODUCTION GRUMMAN WILDCATS—The production F4F-3s differed from the prototype in that they had a 1,200hp R-1830-76 or -86 engine and four .50-caliber guns in the fixed wings instead of two in the nose. One plane was tested as the

An F4F-3 Wildcat with the oversize star insignia and the rudder stripes that were used early in 1942 for positive identification. The fuselage legend 41-F-8 identifies Airplane No. 8 of the first (of two) fighter squadrons aboard Ranger (CV-4), identified by the figure "4." At that time, carrier-based squadrons used the hull number of their parent carrier.

F4F-3S seaplane on twin floats, but it wasn't produced. The F4F-3As had a 1,200hp R-1830-90 engine with single-stage superchargers instead of the two-stage models of the F4F-3. Deliveries of the F4F-3 began in August 1940 and didn't end until May 1943, five months after the last F4F-4 was delivered.

Grumman's major production model was the F4F-4, which differed from the -3 in that it had manually folded wings and six wing guns. Grumman built 1,168 F4F-4s and 220 F4F-4Bs that went to the RAF. as "Wildcat IV." The first F4F-4 flew on November 7,1941; the last was delivered on December 31,1942.

Grumman built experimental variants of the Wildcat through XF8F-8, but they didn't build any production versions.

GENERAL MOTORS WILDCATS—When Grumman couldn't keep up with the demand for Wildcats, the Navy asked General Motors to become a second source. Parts were built in three GM plants in New Jersey and were brought together for final assembly at GM's Eastern Aircraft Division in Linden, NJ. The 1,060 FM-1s differed from the F4F-4 mainly in that they had only four wing guns but carried more ammunition. The 4,777 FM-2s were production versions of Grumman's XF4F-8, a lighter version of the Wildcat intended for operations from small escort carriers. This model had only four guns and was powered by the 1,350hp Wright R-1820-56 single-row engine. The most notable feature of the XF4F-8 and the FM-2 was the higher vertical tail. Late FM-2s could

Ship DrawingEastern Aircraft Division Linden

for "open." Its armament was a pair of French Darne 7.5mm guns in the nose and two to four others in the wings. The first of 91 G-36As flew on May 10,1940, the day Hitler invaded France, so the planes were taken over by Britain. Early in 1941, the Navy released 30 F4F-3As to Greece.

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engines. The first 10 had fixed wings and four guns; the rest had folding wings and six guns.

Britain decided to go along with the Navy name for the Lend-Lease Wildcats that they received. The 30 F4F-3As destined for Greece were therefore designated "Wildcat III,"

war, including the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Their main service was in the North Atlantic, operating from small escort carriers, where they were highly successful in destroying German aircraft that were shadowing and attacking the Allied convoys.

Initial U.S. Navy and Marine

The British Martlet I was one of the 91 Grumman G-36As built for France that couldn 7 be delivered. This model had two nose guns and two to four wing guns, and Wright Cyclone engines instead of the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp of the equivalent F4F-3.

carry up to six 5-inch rockets under the wings. Production of the FM-2 continued until August 1945.

EXPORTED WILDCATS AND MARTLETS—Late in 1939, the Navy authorized the sale of the Grumman Model G-36A (export equivalents of the F4F-3) to France. These differed from the Navy models in that they used the 1,200hp commercial Wright Cyclone G-205A (R-1820) engine, French instrumentation, and the unique French reverse-throttle system in which the throttle was pulled back (rather than pushed forward)

These were sent by ship in March, but Greece fell to Hitler while they were at sea, and they were diverted to England.

BRITISH MARTLETS AND WILDCATS—In addition to the aircraft that it ordered from the U.S., Britain acquired many planes that had been ordered by other countries but couldn't be delivered. The 91 Martlet Is, so named before the Navy named the Wildcat, were French G-36As modified to use British equipment. The 100 Martlet lis were ordered by the R.A.F. as equivalents to the F4F-3A, but with civil Pratt & Whitney S3C-4G Twin Wasp using the Navy name, but continuing to use the Martlet numbers. The 220 Wildcat IVs were Lend-Lease F4B-4Bs ("B" for Britain), the 312 Wildcat Vs were FM-1s and the 370 Wildcat Vis were FM-2s.

WILDCATS IN ACTION— The first combat by Wildcats (actually Martlets) was in October 1940. One of the ex-French G-36As of the Fleet Air Arm based in the Orkney Islands shot down a Junkers Ju 88 for the first victory by an American fighter in British service. Martlets and Wildcats saw extensive service from British carriers throughout the

Corps wartime experience with Wildcats was disastrous. Many were destroyed on the ground during the attacks on Wake Island and Hawaii, and the surviving F4F-3s on Wake Island were soon overwhelmed by superior Japanese forces. The Wildcat was no match for the Japanese Zero, but it could absorb punishment better. By the time the U.S. went on the offensive in August 1942, the Navy had developed Wildcat tactics specifically for use against the Zero, and the victory record became impressive. Of 11 Marine Corps pilots who won the Medal of Honor during the war, six flew Wildcats.

As the Wildcats were replaced on the large carriers by Hellcats, they were reassigned to the smaller escort carriers and saw extensive service in support of the U.S. invasions

Below: General Motors Wildcats. At left, an FM-1, similar to Grumman 's F4F-4. At right, an FM-2 in British markings as "Wildcat VI." Note the increased height of the vertical tail on this Cyclone-powered plane.

of Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. Carrier-based Wildcats supported the U.S. invasion of North Africa in November 1942, and, accompanied by British Martlets, shot down many defending Vichy French aircraft, including American-built Curtiss 75

fighters.

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