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Here’s How Grumman Built 11,000 Zero-Killing Fighters in Only Two Years

“Grumman at War” Chronicles How They Built the F6F Hellcat

Photo Credit: Airwolfhound

The film “Grumman at War” was produced by Grumman in 1944. The film is “narrated” by a F6F Hellcat fighter. More correctly it’s told in the first person by a F6F Hellcat fighter. Well, yes- it sounds strange but it works really well in this film. It was produced during World War II so it’s a little bit hokey and old-fashioned, but the film delves into how Grumman developed and built the F6F. When the film was released it was accompanied by a book to commemorate Grumman’s 15th anniversary. During the time the film was being made Grumman had already moved production of their F4F Wildcat fighters and TBF Avenger torpedo bombers to General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division so Grumman could concentrate on production of Hellcats.

The first flight of the first production F6F-3 on October 3rd 1942 is dramatized in the film. Directed by Robert Elwyn and produced by Leroy G Philips along with Gordon Cox at the Princeton Film Center, the film stars the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the thousands of Grumman employees who designed, developed, built, and tested the fighter that won the war in the Pacific. Lots of Avgeeks might disagree about that last point, and that’s OK, but it’s difficult to argue with 5,223 Allied victories and 305 aces made in the Hellcat in only two years. Kill ratio numbers vary widely so they’re not an accurate gauge. It’s still a great film. There’s even some bonus footage of the prototype Grumman XF7F-1 Tigercat at the end of it. We’ll do a full history on the F6F some other time so for now, enjoy the film that chronicles the making of one of America’s true success stories of World War II- The Grumman F6F Hellcat.

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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