Armour Collection B11B313 US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lieutenant JG Alexander Vraciu, VF-6, USS Intrepid (CV-11), 1944 (1:48 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity. When the prototype made its first flight, it was realized that a more powerful engine was needed to give the fighter a combat edge. A Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 engine was installed for added power.
The aircraft made its combat debut in August 1943, and from that point on, the question of aerial supremacy in the Pacific was never in doubt. Hellcats served aboard most of the US Navy's fleet carriers, being credited with the destruction of 4,947 aircraft up to V-J Day. The Fleet Air Arm was also a great believer in the Hellcat, procuring almost 1,200 planes between 1943-45. The Hellcat saw only limited service in the post-war years, being replaced by the more powerful F9F Bearcat. Of the nine F6Fs believed to be airworthy today, seven are based in the USA and two are located in the UK.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a F6F Hellcat was flown by US Navy Lieutenant JG Alexander Vraciu, who scored 19 air victories over the Pacific during 1944. Sold Out!
Historical Account: "Mission Beyond Darkness" - Alexander Vraciu (born November 2nd, 1918) was a leading United States Navy fighter ace and Congressional Medal of Honor nominee during World War II.
Vraciu's greatest day in combat occurred during the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" on June 19th. Despite a malfunctioning supercharger, he intercepted a formation of Japanese dive bombers and "splashed" six in a period of eight minutes. When he landed, the Lexington's ordnancemen discovered that he had used a total of only 360 rounds of ammunition, which works out to less than a five-second burst per "kill." The next day, escorting bombers in an attack on the Japanese Mobile Fleet, he downed his 19th victim, making him the #1 Navy Ace by a considerable margin (a position he would hold for four months).
For his actions at the First Battle of the Philippine Sea Vraciu was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. This nomination was approved all the way up the chain of command until reaching the desk of Admiral Murray at Navy Headquarters in Hawaii. Murray downgraded the nomination to a Navy Cross (which was awarded) using incomplete data.