Hellcats!

Today in History, June 26, 1942:

A new Navy fighter, the F6F Hellcat, flies for the first time.

When WWII started, the F4F Wildcat was the primary Navy fighter. Both built by Grumman, the cats served their pilots well.

The Wildcat was too slow and ungainly to compete with the Japanese Zero well, but it held it’s own. It was so well built that it was hard to knock out of the Pacific skies, and it’s weight made it better in a dive.

Grumman took it’s advantages and improved on it with the Hellcat, which was just as tough but faster than the Zero, and armed with 6 .50 cal. machine guns.

The Hellcat and the F4U Corsair would sweep the Pacific of Japanese air power. But the Hellcat would hold the titleā€¦having downed 5,271 enemy aircraft, she holds the title for destroying more enemy aircraft than any other fighter type.

The Legendary Phantom


Today in History, May 27: 1958 – The MacDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II makes it’s first flight. The Phantom had a payload of 18,000 lbs (the WWII B-17 had a payload of 2,000 lbs). The fighter bomber would serve well into the 90’s. Initially, no guns were included, as the .50 caliber was overshot by the Mach 2.2 speed of the Phantom. Once the fighter entered combat, it was soon discovered that the guns were still needed, so a 20mm cannon was added.