Canadian Warplanes 3: Grumman Hellcat, RN

Grumman Hellcats flown by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy

(IWM Photo, A24533)

Royal Navy Grumman Hellcats flown by Dutch pilots of No. 1840 Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton, Northern Ireland, 23 June 1944.

The British Fleet Air Arm (FAA) received 1,263 F6Fs Hellcats under the Lend-Lease Act.  The fighter was initially known as the Grumman Gannet Mk. I.  The name Hellcat replaced it in early 1943 for the sake of simplicity, the Royal Navy at that time adopting the use of the existing American naval names for all the U.S.-made aircraft supplied to it, with the F6F-3 being designated Hellcat F Mk. I, the F6F-5, the Hellcat F Mk. II  and the F6F-5N, the Hellcat NF Mk. II.  They saw action off Norway, in the Mediterranean, and in the Far East.  Several were fitted with photographic reconnaissance equipment similar to the F6F-5P, receiving the designation Hellcat FR Mk. II.  The Pacific War being primarily a naval war, the FAA Hellcats primarily faced land-based aircraft in the European and Mediterranean theaters, and as a consequence experienced far fewer opportunities for air-to-air combat than their USN/Marines counterparts, nevertheless, they claimed a total of 52 enemy aircraft kills during 18 aerial combats from May 1944 to July 1945.  1844 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), on board HMS Indomitable of the British Pacific Fleet was the highest scoring unit, with 32.5 kills.  FAA Hellcats, as with other Lend-Lease aircraft, were rapidly replaced by British aircraft after the end of the war, with only two of the 12 squadrons equipped with the Hellcat at VJ-Day still retaining Hellcats by the end of 1945.  These two squadrons were disbanded in 1946. (Wikipedia)

(IWM Photo, A 21287)

A Grumman Hellcat landing on HMS Ravager as the batsman makes the all-clear signal.

(IWM Photo, A 21294)

Royal Navy Grumman Hellcats warming up on the flight deck on HMS Ravager.

(IWM Photo, A 27346)

The pilot of a Grumman Hellcat makes an abortive landing aboard HMS Ameer and powers up to fly around and attempt again after his first approach was to high.

(RN Photo)

Grumman Hellcat Mk. I (Serial No. JV102), coded E-B, launched from HMS Emperor, May 1944.

(IWM Photo, A20017)

Grumman Hellcat (Serial No. FN327) at RAF Wittering.

(RN Photo)

Grumman Hellcat flown by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy.

(RN Photo)

Grumman Hellcat Mk. II (Serial No. JZ788), coded C7-J, from No. 808 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, Pacific Theatre, c1945.

(RN Photo)

Royal Navy Grumman Hellcat in flight.

(IWM Photo, A19792)

Royal Navy Grumman Hellcat F.I about to take off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York, October 1943.

(National Library of Australia Photo)

Grumman Hellcat, coded C-7X, Royal Navy, 1943.

(RN Photo)

Grumman Hellcat Mk. I (Serial No. JV105), coded EW, aboard HMS Emperor 1944.

(Greg Goebel Photo)

Chino Warbirds' Grumman F6F-3 painted as a Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk. I, 2007.

(Nimbus227 Photo)

Grumman Hellcat Mk. II on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton.

(Alan Wilson Photo)

Allocated US Navy (BuNo. 79779), c/n A-10924. The Hellcat was originally called the Gannet in Royal Navy service. FAA Museum Yeovilton. C/n A-10924 was built in 1945 as an F6F-5. It was delivered directly to the Royal Navy in July that year as a Hellcat Mk. II. It was stored until June 1946 when it was flown to RNAS Lossiemouth for the Station Flight. It was stored for museum use in 1953 and moved to Yeovilton in 1965. It remains in its postwar colour scheme and is the only complete Hellcat outside of the United States.

(Author's Artwork)

Grumman G50 (F6F-5) Hellcat Mk II, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy, flown by Canadians serving in the British Pacific Fleet against Japan.  Oil on canvas panel, 16 X 20.

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