British Hellcat Results


British Hellcat Results

Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 1:54 am

April 6th, 2012, 2:55 am #1

While reading the "Whats New" article on the F6F in British service yesterday, I wondered how the Hellcat fared against German and Italian competition. How did the vaunted "kill ratio" hold up in Europe?

Joined: March 3rd, 2005, 1:35 pm

April 6th, 2012, 3:40 am #2

Here's a posting to HS PT from a few years back......

Re: hellcat/corsair vs luftwaffe
Sat Aug 28, 2004 02:17

This question gets asked from time to time. Here is a post originally made on the Allied Aircraft forum of the 12 O clock High site several years ago:
Rich Leonard
Tue Jun 27 01:41:58 2000

This is a repost of a response to a similar question from about 7-8 months ago:

Employment of US designed and built carrier fighters by both the Americans and the British concerns three aircraft. Both countries fought using the F4F (and its later variants, the FM-1 and FM-2) and the F6F. The FAA used the F4U in the European/Atlantic theatres (flying them off carriers long before the Americans made a practice of it), but the USN did not, sending all their F4U's to the Pacific. There were numerous aerial clashes between the British and American US built carrier fighters and their German, Italian, and Vichy opponents, but very few fighter-to-fighter duels, especially against the Luftwaffe.

USN F4F aerial actions, and where most fighter-to- fighter duels took place, were concentrated in Operation Torch against Vichy aircraft. There were some 109 Wildcats assigned to four carriers: VF-41 and VF-9, USS RANGER; VGF-27, VGF-28 and VGS-30 (designation was 'Scouting', but they flew F4F's), USS SUWANNEE; VGF-26, USS SANGAMON; and VGF-29, USS SANTEE. On 8 November, over Cazes, VF-41 brought down 10 Vichy aircraft: three Dewoitine D.250's, six Hawk 75A's (export version of the Curtis P-36), and one Douglas DB-7. Lieut.(j.g.) Shields accounted for a D.250, two 75A's (plus one damaged) and the DB-7; Lieut. August brought down three of the 75A's. It wasn't all VF-41's way however, of 18 Wildcats engaged, six were lost, mostly to ground fire, including Shields and August. Five pilots were captured and one recovered from off shore. Near Port Lyautey, VF-9 brought down one Potez 63 and VF-26 accounted for one D.520 and three Martin 167's. On 9 November, VF-9 went into action again and claimed five 75A's, though French records only recorded four losses, at a cost of one F4F (pilot captured). VF-41 claimed the shoot down an 'intruder' over the invasion beaches as darkness fell, but this may have been a photo-recon Spitfire that turned up missing that night. French and German records did not indicate any aircraft in the area at the time. 10 November found a last contact with VF-29 shooting down a Potez 63 near Safi.

On 4 October 1943, RANGER participated in Operation Leader, a strike on the harbor at Bodo in Norway. During this action Lieut. (j.g.)'s Mayhew and Laird together shot down a Ju-88 and Laird followed up with an He-115 on his own. This was the last US F4F aerial action in the
African/Atlantic/European theatres.

After the F4F came the F6F as the mainstay of USN carrier fighter operations, again, the F4U was not used operationally by the US Navy in the Atlantic/European theatres. For the F6F the only action over Europe transpired during the invasion of southern France in August 1944. USS TULAGI with VOF-1 (F6F-5's), USS KASAAN BAY embarking VF-74 (F6F-5's), and a 7 plane night fighter detachment from VF-74 operating F6F-3N's out of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica were the USN fighters involved. On the day of the invasion, 15 August, VF-74 flew 60 sorties, VOF-1, 40 sorties, all ground support missions.

On the morning of 19 August, the first German aircraft were spotted, three He-111's, by VOF-1 pilots. The Americans were bingo on fuel and could not attack. Later that day, two He-111's were spotted by another VOF-1 division and were promptly shot down, this occurring near the village of Vienne. Soon thereafter, in the same vicinity, a third He-111 was shot down by one of the VOF-1 pilots who had also brought down one of the first 2. The same day, pilots from VF-74 brought down an Ju-88 and a Do-217.

On 21 August, pilots from VOF-1 shot down three Ju-52 transports north of Marseille. Operating for two weeks in support of the invasion, these two squadrons were credited with destroying 825 trucks and vehicles, damaging 334 more and destroying or otherwise immobilizing 84 locomotives. German aircraft shot down: VOF-1: 6, VF-74: 2. Although the two squadrons lost some 17 aircraft, combined, all were to ground fire or operational accidents. None were shot down by German aircraft.

The Royal Navy was to employ the F4F in combat long before the US Navy. FAA Marlets (export F4F's, model G-36A's, originally earmarked for France but transferred to the Royal Navy after the collapse of France) were active almost a year before Pearl Harbor. First air-to-air victory was on 25 December 1940, a Ju-88 over Scapa Flow, by Lieut. Carter and Sub-Lieut. Parke from 804 Squadron. Later victories (in real' F4F's, not G-36A's) were scored in the Mediterranean Theatre. 28 September 1941, Sub-Lieut. Walsh, 805 Squadron, shot down an Italian Fiat G-50. On 28 December 1941, Sub-Lieut. Griffin, 805 Squadron, attacked four Savoia-Marchetti SM-79's that were conducting a torpedo attack. He forced two of them to jettison their payloads and evade, shot down a third and was, in turn, shot down by the gunner of the fourth. 805 squadron later accounted for a Ju-88 in February 1942 and two more SM-79's in July. 802 Squadron specialized in FW-200's. Operating off of HMS AUDACITY, the first encounter was on 21 September 1941, when one was brought down under the combined attack of Sub-Lieut.'s Patterson and Fletcher. On November Lieut. Cdr. Wintour and Sub-Lieut. Hutchinson attacked and shot down a Kondor, but, in the process, Wintour was killed by return fire. Later that day, Sub-Lieut. Brown shot down a second FW-200 and Sub-Lieut. Lamb drove off a third.

On 14 December, Sub-Lieut. Fletcher was shot down and killed strafing surfaced U-131. His action, however enabled three escorts to close range and take the submarine under fire until her crew was forced to abandon ship. On 19 December, Brown brought down his second FW-200, Lieut. Cdr. Sleigh shot down another, and Lamb drove off a second with damage.

During the British invasion of Madagascar, F4F's from 881 Squadron off the HMS ILLUSTRIOUS accounted for two French Potez 63's and three Morane 406C's between 5 and 7 May 1942 with the loss of one of their own.

On 7 August 1942, Sub-Lieut.'s Scott and Ballard, from 888 Squadron off HMS FORMIDABLE brought down an Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis' flying boat in the Bay of Bengal.

That same month, on the 12th, back in the Mediterranean, six F4F's from 806 squadron on HMS FURIOUS were part of a force rounded out with 30 Sea Hurricanes and 18 Fulmars which took on a mixed force of German and Italian attackers, numbering about 100, going after a Malta bound convoy. The Grummans accounted for two SM-79's, one Ju-88 and one Reggianne 2000. One F4F was lost.

In November 1942 came Operation Torch. 888 and 893 Squadrons with a total of 24 F4F's were on FORMIDABLE. ILLUSTRIOUS carried 882 Squadron with 18 F4F's. On 6 November, Lieut. Jeram, 888 Squadron, shot down a Bloch 174. On 9 November, Jeram accounted for another Ju-88; meanwhile, a division of 882 Squadron brought down a He-111 and drove off, with damage, a Ju-88.

In July 1943, 881 and 890 Squadrons, while operating off FURIOUS, shot down 3 Blohm and Voss BV-138 seaplanes. 9 September saw 888 off FORMIDABLE score again, bringing down a Cant Z.506B floatplane. 842 Squadron, HMS FENCER, scored an FW-200 on 1 December to round out 1943.

1944 saw F4F scores at about the same rate. On 12 February, 881 and 896 Squadrons, HMS PURSUER, shot down an FW-200 and a He-177. 16 February, 811 Squadron, HMS BITER, brought down a Ju-290. With Convoy JW58, 819 Squadron, HMS ACTIVITY, and 846 Squadron, HMS TRACKER, on 31 March, together brought down three BV-138's and three FW-200's with no losses.

On 3 April some 40 Wildcats from PURSUER and SEARCHER flew flak suppression for Operation Tungsten, the raid on the TIRPITZ. In November and December, new FM-2's off HMS NAIRANA and HMS COMPANIA, on Arctic convoy escort shot down three BV-138's.

In Arctic convoy escort duty in January and February 1945, flying from TRACKER, NAIRANA, and HMS VINDEX, FM-2's accounted for three more BV-138's. On 26 March 1945, in a last action, FM-2's from 882 Squadron off the SEARCHER shot down four Me-109G's at a cost of one Wildcat damaged.

The FAA 888 Squadron was the only Allied squadron able to claim kills on German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy opponents.

The FAA also employed the F6F and the F4U. The only fighter to fighter FAA F6F action I can find took place in May 1944. On 8 May, F6F's from the Fleet Air Arm's No. 800 Squadron, off HMS EMPEROR, while escorting a flight of Barracudas was attacked by a mixed group of Me-109's and FW-190's. Two F6F's were lost; the Germans lost 2 Me-109's and one FW-190.

On 14 May, the 800 Squadron's leading scorer, Lieut. Ritchie (4.5 victories) added an He-115 to his tally and the shared another He-115 with the CO of 804 Squadron, Lieut. Comdr. Orr. Prior to these actions, FAA F6F's were used for anti-aircraft suppression on raids against the TIRPITZ on 3 April 44 (Operation Tungsten).

FAA F4U's also participated in Operation Tungsten, flying high cover for the raid. No contact was made with any German aircraft. Indeed, FAA F4U's never did tangle with any German aircraft, though not for lack of trying. After the summer of 1944, FAA F4U's were largely operating in the Indian and Pacific Oceans ... pretty far away from the Germans.

In summary, I count a total of 84 aircraft shot down by these types, flying in either USN or FAA service, versus 8 losses, about 10.5 to 1.

In USN service, F4F's brought down 23 to 1 loss: 10 Curtis 75A's; 4 D.250's; 3 Martin 167's; 2 Potez 63's and 1 each DB-7, Ju-88, and He-115, plus 1 unknown. The one F4F air combat loss was to a Curtis 75A.

The USN F6F's brought down 8 aircraft, 3 He-111; 3 Ju-52; and 1 each Ju-88 and Do-217 with no air combat losses.

Overall, USN F4F's and F6F's had a combined ratio of 31 to 1 against combined German and Vichy aircraft. The ratios for German and Vichy separately were 10 to 0 and 20 to 1, respectively.

In RN FAA service, F4F's and FM's brought down 49 aircraft to 5 losses (9.8 to 1): 12 BV-138; 10 Fw-200; 5 SM-79; 4 each Ju-88 and Me-109G; 3 Morane 406C; 2 Potez 63; and 1 each G-50, Z- 506B, R-2000, Bloch 174, He-111, He-115, He-177, Ju-290, and Kawanishi H6K. Losses were 1 each to an SM-79, an R-2000, a 406C, an Fw-200 and an Me-109G.

The FAA F6F's brought down 5 aircraft to 2 losses (2.5 to 1): 2 He-115; 2 Me-109G; and 1 Fw-190. Both losses were in the same action where the 2 Me-109G's and the Fw-190 were shot down.

FAA F4F/FM's and F6F's had a score of 54 aircraft shot down with 7 losses, a combined ratio of 7.6 to 1 against combined German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy aircraft. The ratios for German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy separately were, respectively, 9.75 to 1, 3.5 to 1, 1 to 0, and 6 to1.

Combined, the USN and FAA squadrons involved brought down a total of 84 German, Italian, or Vichy aircraft for only 8 losses, a ratio of 10.5 to 1. In fighter to fighter air combat the squadrons scored 25 victories to 6 losses or 4.1 to 1. By opponent nationality, fighter to fighter air combat results were, against German - 7 victories to 3 losses (2.3 to 1), Italy - 2 victories to 1 loss, and Vichy - 18 victories to 2 losses (9 to 1).

The numbers pretty much speak for themselves. One often hears voiced the opinion, "Oh, I feel that the Germans fighters (or the Italians, or the Vichy French, pick one) would have no problem against F4F/FM's or F6F's." The numbers, however, indicate that the exact opposite was true. In no case were these aircraft dominated by their adversaries. When you do the research, you quickly find that the accounts show clearly that they bested their adversaries in every encounter. My position would be that well handled F4F's, FM's, and F6F's could more than take care of themselves. (About what I would have expected. )>

Repost ends


One minor correction
July 6 2006 at 11:13 AM Graham Boak (Login agboak)
HyperScale Forums from IP address

The 12th August 1942 combat was during Operation Pedestal. "A" Flight of 806 Sq was on HMS Indomitable, not HMS Furious. (Furious was not involved in the convoy battles, but took the opportunity to deliver Spitfires to Malta.)


Joined: September 14th, 2006, 3:38 am

April 6th, 2012, 7:43 am #3

Good stuff, thanks for sharing. n/t

Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 1:54 am

April 7th, 2012, 2:45 am #4

While reading the "Whats New" article on the F6F in British service yesterday, I wondered how the Hellcat fared against German and Italian competition. How did the vaunted "kill ratio" hold up in Europe?
Thanks for the response NT