Grumman F4F Wildcat – US Navy fighter of World War II. In the UK known as Martlet or Wildcat. Later versions produced by GM called General Motors FM Wildcat.
The first plane of this type, designed as the successor also produced in plants Grumman F3F was to be just like his predecessor biplane. When, however, the US Navy ordered a prototype aircraft competition (jednopłatowy Brewster Buffalo XF2A-1), the company decided to change the concept of the plane on monoplane. The new prototype – XF4F-2, for the first time took off September 2, 1937. The airplane has a retractable front landing gear and 14-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 Twin Wasp (1050 hp) driving a three-bladed propeller with variable pitch. It was armed with two machine guns Browning cal. 7.62 mm in the motor housing and 2 MG 12.7 mm built one in each wing. During the tests, due overheating engine, the aircraft was seriously damaged during an emergency landing, which was one of the reasons why the order by the Navy competitive Brewster F2A Buffalo. Command of the Navy, it was not fully convinced of the plane Buffalo, therefore, decided to order the plants Grumman another prototype fighter, designated XF4F-3. Shattered prototype completely rebuilt and after many changes was an airplane named XF4F-3.
In XF4F-3 installed engine Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-76 Twin Wasp with (1217 hp) fitted with a two stage compressor also slightly changed the structure of the wings and fuselage. The performance of the new prototype had a good impression on the headquarters of the US Navy and in August 1939, it ordered 78 copies of the serial F4F-3. In 1941 a plane for the first time officially called the Wildcat.
Serial Wildcats were armed with four 12.7 mm machine guns (two in each wing). The later ones were added self-sealing fuel tanks and bullet-proof shield canopy. Used initially R-1830-76 engine was replaced after less unreliable R-1830-86. The airplane has two windows in the floor of the cockpit, which took improve downward visibility. Retractable front landing gear was operated manually by the pilot. US Navy bought a total of 285 aircraft F4F-3.
Due to problems with the engine, Pratt & Whitney R-1830-76, the management company Grumman decided to “just in case” to build two prototypes XF4F-5 with motor Wright Cyclone R-1820-40. Driven by similar premises US Navy ordered prototype XF4F-6 equipped with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90 Twin Wasp with a two-speed compressor. Despite less power at high altitudes, the US Navy ordered 95 fighters XF4F-6 marking them F4F-3A.
In March of 1940. Grumman received an order for installation in the recent serial F4F-3 folding wings, allowing load on an aircraft carrier more planes. As the wings folded up not fit into the hangars US aircraft developed an innovative method for submitting wings to the rear. New fighters, equipped with new wings, thicker armor, an additional 2 machine guns in the wings, and likely to transmit under each wing 220-liter additional fuel tank had designation F4F-4. US Navy received 1169 F4F-4.
Due to the high demand for fighters, it was decided to start production at General Motors. There manufactured FM-1 were identical to F4F-4, but planes was arming wth 4 x 12,7 mm.
The last and produced the largest number of aircraft was a variant FM-2, built in 1943 on the basis of a prototype XF4F-8. From its predecessors, this model differed new engine (the Wright R-1820-56W). Increased engine power maintained the good performance of the airplane towards increasing due to the extra weight of the armor and installations. Manufactured 4407 fighters of this type for the US Navy. Last 1400 copies equipped with a stub pylons for 6 unguided rocket HVAR, allowing effectively attack ground targets and submarines.
Some F4F-3 and F4F-4 adapted for reconnaissance missions – changing designations on F4F-3P and F4F-4P. Manufactured also 21 reconnaissance F4F-7 without weapons. In total factory left 8061 Wildcats, of which 450 passed the UK (reached 435). Production Wildcats ended in May 1945.
British Versions – Martlets:
• Martlet Mk I (AL236-AL262, BJ507-BJ527, BJ554-BJ570, BT447-BT456) – 85 aircraft for France (81 delivered). After fall of France in 1940, transferred to the Royal Navy. They were F4F-3 fitted with engines Wright R-1820-G205 Cyclone (1000 hp).
• Martlet Mk II (AM954-AM999, AJ100-AJ153)- 100 F4F-3 with an engine Pratt & Whitney S3C4-G Twin Wasp and folding wings.
• Martlet Mk III (I) (AM954-AM963 ) – 10 machines identical to the Mark II, but did not have folding wings.
• Martlet Mk III (II) (Bu No. 3875-3904, FAA: AX725-AX747,753,754,761,824-829,HK841-842) – 30 F4F-3A destined for Greece, but after the capitulation of Greece transferred to the FAA.
• Martlet Mk IV (FN100-FN319) – 220 F4F-4 with an engine Wright Cyclone R-1820-40B.
• Martlet (Wildcat) Mk V (JV325-JV636) – 312 identical machines with FM-1.
• Wildcat Mark VI (JV637-JV924, JW785-JW836, JZ860-JZ889) – 370 FM-2.
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- Mark Glidden: Modelling the F4F Wildcat, Osprey Modelling 39, 2007
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- Grumman F4F, F6F, F8F – Famous Airplanes of the World 35 (japanese)
- Pilot’s Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions Navy Model FM-2 British Model Wildcat VI Airplanes
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- Ray Merriam: World War II Album Volume 13: Grumman F4F Wildcat
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- John M. Elliott: The Official Monogram U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Vol 2: 1940-1949
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