General Motors FM-2 Wildcat

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General Motors FM-2 Wildcat

Naval Fighter

   Hello! I’d like to introduce an FM-2 Wildcat as my other suggestion for War Thunder. I am surprised this aircraft isn’t in the game despite being the most produced Wildcat variant, with 4,437 for the US Navy plus 340 for the Royal Navy. The FM-2s were delivered overseas in the Atlantic and Pacific to serve on escort carriers where the F6F and F4U fighters could not operate. In one case, the FM-2 Wildcats took off from the escort carriers to strafe the approaching Japanese surface fleet, including the Yamato battleship, during the famous Battle off Samar.


Key Characteristics

  • Last and most numerous major production variant based on an XF4F-8 prototype
  • Powered by beefier 1,350 hp Wright R-1820-56
  • Taller tail to manage the torque
  • Four .50 cal heavy machine guns
  • New wing racks for two 250 lb bombs or six HVARs

History

Design and Development

Although Grumman had moved to concentrate on developing and producing the new F6F Hellcat, the US Navy still needed small and nimble fighters to fill their new escort carriers. The US Navy allowed General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division to take over the production of the Wildcats. The first FM-1 was produced and delivered in August 1942; at the same time, General Motors developed a newer and improved version - the FM-2 - based on an XF4F-8 prototype.

The XF4F-8 prototype had its vertical tail enlarged and featured a lightened airframe to optimize the takeoff performance from the escort carriers. It had a more powerful 1,350 hp R-1820-56 Cyclone 9 radial engine with a turbocharger, increased by 150 hp.

The first one of two XF4F-8s made its first flight in November 1942 with a shortened tailfin. It was revealed that the torque of the bigger engine affected handling, so another one was constructed with a taller tailfin. The changes proved satisfactory, and the variant immediately got accepted and became the Eastern Aircraft FM-2 before it was ordered into production in early 1943. The letter M in the aircraft’s designation is the company code for the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors.

Production and USN Service

The FM-2 had different cowling and omitted the belly windows. It had a new straight-up radio mast instead of a forward-canted radio mast as fitted to earlier Wildcat variants; it had a newer oil cooler system and deleted the oil coolers under the wings as fitted to the earlier Wildcat variants. New FM-2s received a production R-1820-56W with a wet injection system to help boost short-term engine output. Later models featured launch stubs for HVARs used in close support and anti-submarine operations. All these new changes made FM-2 the faster and more agile variant than all of the Wildcat variants. It also had a much superior rate of climb and a higher ceiling.

Around the early to middle of 1943, General Motors switched the production of FM-1 to the FM-2. The FM-2 would become the most produced variant of the Wildcat fighter, with 4,127 FM-2s made for the US Navy and 340 made for England.

These FM-2 Wildcats were delivered and assigned to escort carriers in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Their duties were convoy protection, anti-submarine operations, and support in amphibious operations. They also flew out on combat air patrols to protect convoys and warships from anti-shipping or kamikaze aircraft. The FM-2s proved worthy for the USN pilots on the escort carriers since their slower landing speed and maneuverability made them more suitable for landing and takeoff from small deck escort carriers.

During the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944, the FM-2 Wildcats and TBM Avengers were covering the amphibious landings in the Philippines. Soon, they were facing a dangerous Japanese surface fleet accompanied by a Yamato battleship. The escort carriers from Taffys 1, 2, and 3 scrambled the aircraft. These aircraft had no choice but to strafe the warships to dissuade them. The FM-2s were strafing and damaging the bridge of Yamato despite the heavy and thick flak bursts from the anti-air guns. Combined with the fierce resistance of USN destroyers, they inflicted significant damage enough to confuse and dissuade the Japanese, who eventually withdrew from the battle. The surviving aircraft were routed to land at Leyte to rearm and refuel.

The FM-2 Wildcat production ceased in August 1945. By the end of the war, the sum of the FM Wildcat victories was 432; many of the victories were kamikazes. This FM-2 variant earned its informal nickname - Wilder Wildcat. Many of FM-2 Wildcats survived the war and remained airworthy as airshow warbirds.


Specifications

General Motors FM-2 Wildcat (Late Model)

  • General Characteristics

    • Crew: 1 (Pilot)
    • Powerplant: Wright R-1820-56W Cyclone
      → 1,350 hp
    • Length: 28’11" feet and inches
    • Height: 11’4" feet and inches
    • Span: 38 feet
    • Wing Area: 260 ft²
    • Empty Weight: 5,448 lb
    • Gross Weight: 8,217 lb
    • Internal Fuel: 126 US gal
  • Performance

    • Maximum Speed: 332 mph at 28,000 feet
    • Rate of Climb: 3,650 feet per minute
    • Service Ceiling: 34,700 feet
    • Range: 900 miles
  • Armament

    • 4 x .50 cal HMGs (1,800 rounds)
    • 2 x 250 lb bombs
    • 4 x HVARs or 6 x HVARs
    • 2 x 58 gal drop tanks

Cockpit


FM-2 Livery

   The FM-2 has several paint schemes that can be used as new skins.

Atlantic Scheme - Dark Gull Gray over Insignia White


Tricolor Scheme - Semi Gloss Sea Blue, Intermediate Blue and Insignia White


Final Factory Scheme - overall Gloss Sea Blue

GM-FM-2-VC79-USS-Sargent-Bay1945


Trainer Scheme


Photographs




Conclusion | Why it should be in the game

   I made this suggestion because the FM-2 Wildcat is too long overdue as an addition to the game. I bring your attention to this because it deserves its place in War Thunder. The FM-2 is the most produced Wildcat variant with a powerful engine and improved performance; it has access to new ground weaponry. Also, another purpose of this suggestion is to expand more WW2 aircraft content in the game, especially for the US Naval aircraft branch in the tech tree. This FM-2 would make a welcoming addition to the Wildcat family; it could be foldered with the F4F Wildcats or separated between the F4F and F6F lines.


Sources

Primary
  • Pilot’s Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions for Navy Model FM-2 and British Model Wildcat VI Airplanes (15 June 1945)

Secondary

Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestion! 😃

5 Likes

The extra power and bigger tail alongside the armament changes make it more worthy for a place than the FM-1.

Maybe foldered seperately with the F6F leaving the standard F4Fs (and maybe the FM-1) to their own.

2 Likes

Glad to see that

i love these late wildcats, i hope britain gets this one as the Marlet Mk VI

I’d love to see this plane in game, and I don’t think we are the only ones who want it, as it’s been suggested quite a few times in the past. In fact, it seems one of those suggestions was passed to developers for review some 9 years ago

@Nostalgistic Can you fix the photos? All of the photos are broken in this suggestion

Ugh, I hate this broken pictures bug, but I have reuploaded the pictures. Thank you!