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Warbirds In Review 2019 Grumman Hellcat and Bearcat

Grumman’s F6F Hellcat was “just right” for young American naval aviators battling Zeros in the Pacific.  Rarely has there been a combat aircraft so perfect for its time and place as the Hellcat.  The Grumman F6F Hellcat would account for 4,497 of the 6,477 shoot-downs achieved by American carrier pilots during World War II. It proved to be the supreme compromise in aircraft, not being the fastest, the most maneuverable, the most produced, the most heavily armed, or perhaps even the most beautiful it had exactly the right combination of those ingredients. The Collings Foundation’s Hellcat, a rare Navy night fighter, is intertwined with the birth of USN Night Fighter development. The airplane is an F6F-3N, BuNo 41476, and was originally delivered to the U.S. Navy in January of 1944. This F6F had the typical Warbird checkered past being rotated stateside toward the end of the war, serving at Naval Air Station Norfolk before going into storage. Subsequently 41476 was pulled out of storage and restored to flying condition and showcased at air shows while it was still government owned. The F8F Bearcat, sometimes called an engine with a saddle, was designed as a special-purpose airplane, launch, climb like a rocket and intercept incoming Japanese aircraft. Into a typical over-the-deck headwind, a Bearcat had a 200-foot takeoff roll, less than two-thirds of an F6F Hellcat’s. The Bearcat had a rate of climb unequaled until the jet age; it could do nearly 6,400 feet per minute to 10,000 feet. The first F8F air wing arrived in the Pacific theater literally days after the war ended, and the Bearcat was never to see combat in U.S. hands—not even in Korea. Still, it was particularly loved by pilots. Length 60:00.