|STANDARD DATA: Seats 1. Gross wt. 12,500. Empty wt. 9,153. Engine 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 400. Initial climb rate 3,000. Range 1,800. Ceiling 37,800.
The Hellcat single-seat shipboard fighter is easily recognizable by its landing gear that retracts into the center section as opposed to the Wildcat with gear that retracts into the fuselage just forward of the wings. It also differs from the later Bearcats in that it lacks the Bearcat’s 360-degree vision canopy. The prototype of the Hellcat first flew in 1942. The shipboard fighter saw its first action in an attack on Marcus Island in 1943. Later Hellcats differ from their predecessors by having a redesigned engine cowling, improved windshield and tail surfaces, additional armor, and a waxed glossy skin. Bulletproof fuel tanks were housed in the wings, and an auxiliary drop tank could be added. Armament included six .50-caliber machine guns in the wings.