Grumman F4F Wildcat
When first flown on 2 September 1937, the Grumman XF4F-2 single-seat naval fighter prototype proved to be only 16 km/h (10 mph) faster than the Brewster F2A-1, and only when a twostage supercharged XR-1830-76 was fitted was the true potential of the design recognized, and a speed of 537 km/h (333.5 mph) was recorded during US Navy trials with the XF4F-3. Some 54 production F4F-3 fighters were ordered in August 1939, 22 of which had been delivered by the end of 1940. These aircraft (Grumman's first monoplanes for the US Navy and later named Wildcat) served with VF-4 and VF-7, and were followed by 95 F4F-3A aircraft with single-stage supercharged R-1830-90 engines, The Wildcat was ordered by France in 1939 but the entire batch of 81 aircraft was transferred to the UK, with whose Royal Navy they served as the Martlet, being first flown in combat during 1940. US Navy and US Marine Corps F4Fs were heavily engaged during the early months of the war with the Japanese, numerous aircraft being destroyed on the ground, but also scoring a number of outstanding victories.
The F4F-4, with manually folding wings (of which 1,169 were produced), was delivered during 1942, and an unarmed long-range reconnaissance version of this, the F4F-7, had a range of over 5633km (3,500 miles), The F4F-4 was also built by General Motors as the FM-1, and a more powerful version, the FM-2, for operation from escort carriers. FM-Is and 2s were supplied to the UK as the Wildcat Mk V and Wildcat Mk VI (the name Martlet having been dropped). F4F-4s were heavily committed in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Total production of the Wildcat (excluding prototypes) was 7,885, including 5,237 FM-Is and FM-2s by General Motors, and 1,100 for the UK.
Specification Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat
Type: single-seat shipboard fighter
Powerplant: one 894.8-kW ( 1,200-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 radial piston engine
Performance: maximum speed 512 km/h (318 mph) at 5913 m (19,400 ft);
initial climb rate 594 m (1,950 ft) per minute; service ceiling 10638 m (34,900 ft); range 1239 km (770 miles)
Weights: empty 2624 kg (5,785 lb); aximum take-off 3607 kg (7,952 lb)
Dimensions: span 11.58 m (38 ft 0 in); ength 8.76 m (28 ft 9 in); height 3.61 m (11 ft 10 in); wing area 24.15 m2 (260.0 sq ft)
Armament: six forward-firing 12.7-mm 0.5-in) machine guns;
FM-2 had four guns and provision to carry two 113-kg (250-lb) bombs or six 127-mm (5-m) rockets