Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

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Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat (Early Model)
Naval Fighter

   Hello, I’d like to suggest an F6F-3 Hellcat for the US aviation tech tree and place it in a folder with the F6F-5. It is the first production variant of the F6F family and has extensive service in the US Navy. Despite being overshadowed by its successor - the F6F-5, I believe this F6F-3 is overdue and belongs in the game. I will explain the differences between -3 and -5 below.


Design and development

Since 1938, Grumman had been working on a new fighter after the F4F Wildcat. Satisfied with the design proposal, the US Navy rewarded a contract to Grumman to develop the XF6F-1 prototype on June 30, 1941. This XF6F-1 was fitted with a Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine of 1,700 hp.

War over the Pacific has revealed the US Navy’s need for a powerful fighter to counter Japan’s air superiority - mainly due to A6M Zero fighters - and replace their Grumman F4F Wildcats. Although the A6M Zeroes are more maneuverable and possess a better rate of climb than Grumman F4F Wildcats, the Wildcats did have some advantages over the Zeroes with their superior armor, heavy armament, and dive rate. Using these advantages as lessons, Grumman retained these features to develop the next XF6F-3 prototype fitted with the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp.

The Cyclone-powered XF6F-1 with serial # 02981 concluded its first test flight on June 26, 1942; One month later, the Double Wasp-equipped XF6F-3 with serial # 02982 made its first test flight on July 30, 1942. The USN was satisfied with the results of test flights and immediately gave Grumman a contract to initiate a large-scale production for the F6F-3 Hellcat.

Entry of USN Service - 1942-1943

The first production F6F-3 made its first flight on October 3, 1942. The first batch of fresh F6F-3s was delivered to VF-9 on USS Essex (CV-9) in February 1943. The USN enjoyed the flight qualities of the F6F-3 compared with the Vought F4U-1 Corsair since the F6F-3 was more successful at carrier landings and tough enough to withstand rigorous carrier operations. The USN transferred the Corsairs to the USMC stationed in the South Pacific after being unsatisfied with the Corsairs in carrier landing trials.

The F6F-3s had their first combat in a raid against the Japanese bases on Marcus Island on August 31, 1943, from Yorktown (CV-10). They destroyed eight twin-engine bombers on the ground with only two losses to anti-aircraft fire and one loss to engine trouble. Then, on September 1, 1943, a Hellcat, operating from USS Independence (CVL-22), managed to score its first aerial kill, claiming a Kawanishi H8K ‘Emily’ flying boat over Howland and Bakers Islands.

Another large-scale carrier operation began in October 1943 with a strike against a Japanese base on Wake Island. Four carriers launched squadrons of Hellcats and bombers on October 5 at early dawn. When they were within 50 miles away, they got detected by Japanese radar on the island, and the Zeroes scrambled and were en-routed to intercept them. The aftermath of raids showed that the F6F-3 Hellcats destroyed 22 of 34 Zeroes from the island, with only 12 American planes lost - 6 to the Zeroes and 6 to AA gunfire.

In early November, the USN launched a strike on a large Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain. F6F-3s and F4U Corsairs engaged in day-long fights with numerous Zeroes. Again, the Hellcats overmatched the Zeroes and claimed nearly 50 kills alongside the Corsairs for a few Allied losses. Other squadrons of F6F-3 Hellcats saw significant action over Tarawa, participating in dogfights and ground attacks to support amphibious landings. In one of the raids, the F6F-3s achieved a significant aerial victory against the Japanese aircraft over Tarawa; they engaged in a dogfight with Zeroes and claimed 30 kills with one loss of F6F-3.

The F6F-3 Hellcats proved superior to their Japanese opponent in almost all performance categories, including at high altitudes. Only the Zeroes could out-turn the Hellcats at slower speeds, retaining that advantage throughout the war; however, this advantage got nullified as pilots of the Hellcats were avoiding Zeroes in turn fighting and using their high-speed performance to engage them at favorable conditions. The lightly armored Zeroes were also no match for the Hellcats’ six .50 cal guns.

Further Operations - 1944-45

The F6F-3 Hellcats were involved in almost all engagements with the Japanese aircraft from these years onward. The F6F-3s were the primary fighters during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where they shot down many Japanese aircraft. That aerial part of the battle was nicknamed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. The Hellcat became the ace-maker aircraft in the US military inventory with 306 Hellcat aces, a spectacular record.

F6F-3s served and received a minor modification throughout the war and its end; however, in the middle of 1944, Grumman introduced the F6F-5 into the service. The F6F-5’s important feature was its versatility; it could carry rockets and more bombs. This was emphasized because the F6F-5’s versatility reduced the number of bombers on the carriers. In exchange, these Hellcats could carry out a variety of missions.

Grumman built a total of 4,402 F6F-3s and completed its production in April 1944, and then Grumman switched its production to the F6F-5, eventually producing up to 12,275 as a total (the last F6F-5 was built in November 1945).

The Hellcats claimed the aerial victories of 5,203 Japanese aircraft in the Pacific and 13 German aircraft in Europe for a loss of only 270 F6Fs. Hence, this is a kill-loss ratio of 19 to 1. The Hellcats were excellent escort fighters for the carrier-based strike aircraft. Only 42 carrier-based bombers or torpedo aircraft are known to have been lost to the Japanese aircraft in the air, with the Hellcats in service from 1943 to 1945.

Key Differences (F6F-3 vs F6F-5)

  • Engine cowling
    → F6F-3 (Early Model) has bulges and extra cowling flaps on the bottom of the engine section; F6F-5 (Late Model) omits these.

  • Windscreen
    → The -3 (Early Model) has an armored glass frame inside its outer windscreen; the -5 (Late Model) incorporates bulletproof glass directly into the windscreen.

  • Instrument panel
    → Both have different instrument panels; the -5 has a reflector panel for better illumination during night flying and incorporated some minor changes as noted in the handbook.

  • Visibility window
    → The -3 (Early Model) has a rear vision window behind its cockpit; the -5 (Late Model) deletes its rear vision window.

  • Armament
    → The -3 (Early Model) can be armed with 2 x 500 lb or 1000 lb bombs but is not rocket capable; -5 has much more ground weaponry and is rocket capable.

  • Water injection
    → The -3 has a standard 2,000 hp R2800-10 engine; The -5 incorporates the water injection in its 2,200 hp R2800-10W engine, slightly boosting up more horsepower.

  • Aileron
    → The -3 has a servo tab on the left aileron and a fixed tab on the right; the -5 has a servo tab and fixed tab on each aileron.


Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

  • General Characteristics

    • Crew: 1 (Pilot)
    • Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-10
      → 2,000 hp under standard combat power
    • Length: 33’7" feet and inches
    • Height: 14’5" feet and inches
    • Span: 42’10" feet and inches
    • Wing Area: 334 ft²
    • Empty Weight: 9,042 lb
    • Loaded Weight: 11,381 lb
    • Gross Weight: 15,412 lb
    • Internal Fuel: 250 US gal
  • Performance

    • Maximum Speed: 376 mph at 23,400 feet
    • Rate of Climb: 3,240 feet per minute
    • Service Ceiling: 37,300 feet
    • Range: 1,090 miles
  • Armament

    • 6 x .50 cal HMGs (2,400 rounds)
    • 2 x 500 lb bombs
    • 2 x 1000 lb bombs


F6F-3 Livery

   The F6F-3 Hellcat has a nice amount of fine paint schemes that can be added to the game as unlockable skins.

Two-Tone Color Scheme

Blue Gray over Light Gray


Tricolor Scheme

Sea Blue, Intermediate Blue, and White






Conclusion | Why it should be in the game

   My purpose for this suggestion is to expand more WW2 aircraft content for War Thunder. This F6F-3 Hellcat would make a welcoming addition to the Hellcat family; it could go to the tech tree foldered with the F6F-5 Hellcat. The F6F-3 Hellcat has minor differences in its appearance and has some fine paint schemes as potential unlockable skins. It does have provisions to carry bombs in limited amounts.



  • Pilot’s Handbook for Navy Models F6F-3, F6F-3N, F6F-5, F6F-5N Airplanes (1 May 1946)


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


IIRC this is already in the files, and has been for many years, its just never been added as the -5 was added instead.

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I think you are correct, but wasn’t the old F6F-3 just an F6F-5 the whole time, with the incorrect name? I believed it was due to the translation error, so they later realized and updated its name and model.

Like this ^ the old model indicates it is clearly an -5, not -3 although it uses -3 paint scheme.



Now we have four of them in game. Are you sure peple needs 5-th?

3.0 Hellcat 😂

Honestly it baffles me that the F6f-5 is 3.3

+1 In folder with 2 F4F Wildcat (F4F-3 & F4F-4) and F6F-5 Hellcat

Hope britain gets this as a Hellcat Mk1 as TT vehicle

If not, it could be an event or premium aircraft. There were fewer Hellcat Mk1s than Hellcat Mk2s in the service; 252 Mk1s were supplied to the Royal Navy, and 930 Mk2s were supplied to the Royal Navy. I probably would make a separate suggestion for the UK aviation tech tree.

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Agree, The first production of F6F3 made it first flight on 1942.10.And euiped squadron VF9 on 1943.1,US Navy USE F6F3 participate in many famous battle like attack trucker/rabaul/mariana.Till later 1944,many f6f3 still on board.I think F6F3 for US Navy on pactific is more important than F6F5,add F6F3 in game is a very good idea.Br 2.7-3.0 is fine.

And if u want i can give u some documents and pictures of F6F3

More documents and pictures u can find on wwiiaircraftperformance

The MKII is already a GE premium, so seeing this one as TT would be fitting for me

The UK’s hellcat mkII is F6F5 no F6F3 on warthunder

As far as I know, we had F6F-3 back then but, replaced to F6F-5 when they gets remodeled because it was almost identical.

It was not unusual because Bf 110 C-7 was also a Bf 110 C-4 before getting new models.

However, you can see F6F-3s which got remodeled from Asset Viewer.

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That’s almost 2016,nearly 8 years ago,and at that moment,The true performance of “F6F3” isnt restored,more like a a F6F5 but named F6F3.And from the point of view of the abundance of propeller fighters,there are 4 F4U1 in warthunder,F4U1A,F4U1A(Marine),F4U1C,F4U1D,why not add a early model F6F?