Grumman F6F-7 “One Hell of a Cat”
F6F-7 Super Hellcat
Soon after the first appearance of Japanese Kamikaze in October 1944, it became obvious for the US Navy that they were in need of high performance “Interceptor” to counter this new and deadly threat.
Work on the F8F-1 Bearcat was already well underway but as usual there was the concern what if this new breed would not live up to its expectations? Since Vought/Good Year was working on a high performance version of the famed and proven Corsair, it was all too logical that Grumman thought about such a way to find a solution for the US Navy’s problem as well.
As a result the F6F-7 was born. By using the already well tried design of the venerable Hellcat and simply improving this aircraft by using a more powerful engine and some simple but effective changes, Grumman created a highly competitive opponent which should be able to handle anything the Japanese might come up with during the next month. Unfortunately for this new Hellcat, the Bearcat not only lived up to its expectations, but the war ended, even before this beefed up version could proof its own against the empire.
Among the changes in this Super Hellcat was a more powerful P&W R2800-57C engine driving a four- bladed Hamilton Standard propeller, a cut down turtle deck and a full blown canopy which greatly enhanced the visibility and replacing the six .50 cal machine guns by four 20mm Oerlikon’s with 270 rounds per gun. To counter the increased torque of the engine, the rudder was heightened by some 5 inch. During test flights an impressive top speed of over 440 mph was reported. Only one prototype was build and tested. Reportedly the aircraft was also used as a chase aircraft during the first jet experiments because it was one of the few aircraft which could stay with those early jets at high speed. Its ultimate fate is unknown, most likely it was converted back to F6F-5 standard or scrapped.
After I heard about this story I could not resist and build a model of this rare bird.I used the Hasegawa kit and a canopy from a Bearcat. The markings are hypothetical since I could not find any useable picture.
6 additional images. Click to enlarge.