-The F4F Wildcat-
The Wildcat was the first primary shipboard fighter of the US Navy at the start of the Pacific
War. The Wildcat compared to fighters of the imperial Japenese was maybe less of a fighter
than the Wildcat , but it had its own advantages. It was rugged and reliable, could withstand
a great deal of battle damage, and its gun platform of 4 .5 inch Browning machine-guns was
very stable. Also the Wildcat's armor was more superior and it had self sealing fuel tanks.
During the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, the Wildcat demonstrated that it could fight
the Zero on roughly equal terms, even when the Zero was flown by the elite pilots of the
Japanese carrier striking force. During the Guadalcanal campaign the Wildcat quickly
established a exceptional reputation for superiority. F4Fs inflicted heavy losses on Japanese
aircraft during the carrier battles of Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz. At Guadalcanal itself,
operating from Henderson Field, Marine Corps F4Fs took a huge toll of enemy aircraft flying
from their bastion of Rabaul. The Wildcats also played a huge part in giving close air support
to the US ground forces on the island.
When the F4F's successor the F6F Hellcat was introduced it immediately started to replace
the Wildcat aboard the Pacific Fleet's fast carriers, but the older F4F was in some ways more
suitable for operation from the escort carriers than was the heavier and higher-performance
F6F. The Wildcat continued to operate from escort carriers until the end of the war, and gave
The F4F Wildcat Stats
Type: Single-seat ship board fighter
Length: 28' 9"
Height: 11' 11"
Weight empty: 4.649 lbs.
Engine: One 1,200 hp Wright R-1830-86 radial.
Armament: Six 0.5-inch Browning machine-guns in outer wings; 2 x 250 lb bombs on
Maximum speed: 318 mph
Initial Climb: 1,900 ft. per minute
Service Ceiling: Approximately 35,000 ft.