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The F6F Hellcat was best known for its role as a rugged, well designed carrier fighter which was able, after its combat debut in early 1943, to counter the Mitsubishi A6M and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater. Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12,200 being built in just over two years. Hellcats were credited with destroying 5,271 aircraft while in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm This was more than any other Allied naval aircraft, with its closest competitor on the Allied side being the USAAF's P-51 Mustang, which claimed some 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down and a further 4,131 destroyed on the ground during the war in the European Theatre. Postwar, the Hellcat was phased out of front line service, but remained in service as late as 1954 as a night fighter.
November 24th, 2012
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