By mid 1941 the US Navy was already looking for a replacement for the F4F Wildcat which was its primary carrier based fighter aircraft. They approached the Grumman corporation who had designed and built the Wildcat. Even though the Wildcat had been in production less than 2 years it was already outclassed by other fighter aircraft and a more modern, faster, more agile, carrier based fighter aircraft was needed.
The Navy ordered 2 prototypes for this new fighter on June 30, 1941. The XF6F-1 powered by a Wright R-2600-16 engine producing 1700 HP and the XF6F-2 powered by a Wright 2800-16 fitted with a turbo-supercharger. Immediately after the first test flight of the XF6F1 on June 26, 1942 the R-26 engine was removed and replaced with the Pratt & Whitney 2800-10 Double Wasp engine producing 2,000 horsepower. With this change the XF6F-1 prototype was re-designated as the XF6F-3.
The first production F6F-3 was delivered in October 1942 and Grumman delivered only 12 aircraft in 1942. VF-9 was the 1st fighter squadron to receive F6Fs in January 1943. VF-31 was the second full fighter squadron outfitted with the new F6F-3 fighter aircraft.
The F6F-3 had an operational range of 1,090 miles which could be extended by 500 miles with the addition of a belly mounted 150 gallon drop tank.
Over 12,500 F6F 3 though F6F-5N aircraft were built between 1942 and 1945
See a list of the fuselage numbers and bureau numbers of F6F-3 assigned to VF-31
For more information:
Read the September/October 1988 issue of National Aviation News indepth article on the F6F Hellcat
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