Grumman F4F Wildcat, General Motors FM-2

In 1936 the US Navy evaluated a number of designs which were competing to be the Navy`s new carrier-based fighter. Grumman built a design which won the contract and eventually became the F4F Wildcat. The prototype first flew on September 2, 1937. The improved version, the F4F was ordered by the Navy in August of 1939.

The subsequent F4F-4, incorporating several improvements including folding wings, six guns and self-sealing fuel tanks, was delivered in November 1941. It was then that the name "Wildcat" was first given to the F4F. As war raged around the world, the Wildcat`s reputation and utilization grew immensely. It flew with the US Navy and US Marines in all of the major Pacific battles, and in North Africa with the Navy.

In mid 1942, Grumman realized that it needed to concentrate on the production of its new F6F Hellcat fighter, and so it contracted with the General Motors Company to build the Wildcat under the designation FM-1. General Motors next developed an improved version, called the FM-2 which was powered by a Wright R-1820 engine with 1,350 horsepower. It featured a taller vertical tail than the FM-1.

Specifications, F4F:

Engines: 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-36, twin wasp, 14-cylinder radial piston engine
Weight, takeoff (lbs): 7,950 
Wing Span (feet): 38`0
Length (feet): 28`9      
Speed (mph): 318          
Ceiling (feet): 39,500
Range (miles): 770
Armament: 6*12.7 mm (0.50) Browning machine guns (FM-2 had four guns), 2*100 lb bombs (FM-2 could carry two 250 lb bombs). 

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