|STANDARD DATA: Seats 1. Gross wt. 5,876. Empty wt. 4,425. Fuel capacity 160. Engine 1,000-hp Wright Cyclone or 1,050-hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp.
PERFORMANCE: (Wright Cyclone) Top mph 325. Cruise mph 285. Landing mph 66. Initial climb rate 3,300. Range 1,150. Ceiling 28,000.
Designed in 1937 by Robert L. Hall, designer of the famous Gee Bee racers of the early 1930s, the Wildcat first entered production in 1941. By 1942, Wildcats equipped all carrier fighter squadrons and remained our sole carrier fighter in action until mid-1943. Of all the U.S. wartime fighters, Wildcats were the slowest, even among the carrier-based varieties, yet they compensated for this defect in part by their good rate of climb and maneuverability. Though inferior to the Mitsubishi Zero in performance, Wildcats managed to score many crucial victories over the Japanese in the Pacific. This was due to good armament, firepower, and outstanding piloting techniques. At first, Wildcats were powered by 1,000-hp Wright Cyclones and 900-hp Twin Wasps. Those craft were designated F4F-4 and F4F-3 respectively. Later, the FM-2 Wildcat standardized the use of the 1,350-hp Cyclone engine. It was the last version to be built.