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FM-1 Wildcat

First Flight

June 28, 1941


Main Display Hangar

Dimensions & Capacity

Crew: 1 Pilot
Length: 28 ft 9 in (8.76 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m)
Height: 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Empty Weight: 4,907 lb (2,226 kg)
Max Take Off Weight: 7,423 lb (3,367 kg)


Speed: 331 mph (533 km/h, 288 kn)
Service Ceiling: 39,500 ft (12,000 m)
Range: 845 mi (1,360 km, 734 nmi)


Static Aircraft


Guns: 4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) AN/M2 Browning machine guns with 450 rounds per gun
External Stores: 2 × 100 lb (45.4 kg) bombs and/or 2 × 58 US gal (48 imp gal; 220 l) drop tanks

Loan Status

This aircraft is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum on behalf of the Navy History and Heritage Command

The Grumman Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service in 1940 with the United States Navy, and the British Royal Navy which it was known as the Martlet. First used by the British in the North Atlantic, the Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the United States Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the Second World War. The disappointing Brewster Buffalo was withdrawn in favor of the Wildcat and replaced as aircraft became available. With a top speed of 318 mph (512 km/h), the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster 331 mph (533 km/h), more maneuverable at lower speed range and longer-ranged Mitsubishi A6M Zero. However, the F4F’s ruggedness is superior to the maneuverable in the high-speed range and dive, coupled with tactics such as the Thach Weave and high-side guns pass maneuvers using altitude advantage, resulting in a claimed air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.

Lessons learned from the Wildcat were later applied to the faster F6F Hellcat. While the Wildcat had better range and maneuverability at low speed, the Hellcat could rely on superior power and high-speed performance to outperform the Zero. The Wildcat continued to be built throughout the remainder of the war to serve on escort carriers, where larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

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