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What is an F4F Wildcat?

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Quick Answer

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was a fighter aircraft designed to be launched from an aircraft carrier. It was primarily used by British and American forces during World War II.

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The Grumman FF Biplane went into development in the 1930s but did not evolve into the F4F and go on active duty until 1940. The plane entered service with both the British and American forces that year, with the British naming it the Martlet.

The British were the first to use the F4F against German forces during World War II. The Martlet scored its first aerial victory on Christmas Day in 1940 for British forces. It entered regular service at sea for the British in 1941 and remained on active duty until 1945.

The American Navy primarily used the Wildcat in the Pacific theater against Japanese forces during World War II. It was generally seen as inferior to the Mitsubishi Zeros the Japanese used in combat but held its own fairly well due to a greater ability to absorb gunfire.

When Grumman stopped producing the Wildcat in 1943, production shifted to General Motors, who manufactured the FM-1 and FM-2, similar models with slight upgrades. A total of 7,860 Wildcats were built.

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