War Paints: Grumman F6F Hellcat

U.S. Navy

The Hellcat has worn all three war-time colour schemes of the US Navy.

1) Early 1943

Only the first F6F-3 delivered ever wore the early war US Navy colours (Non-Specular Blue Gray over Light gray) that are well known on the F6F's predecessor, the F4F-4 Wildcat.

Early F6F-3 (15 kb)
F6F-3 of Cdr James H. Flatey, CVAG-5, USS Yorktown, 6 May 1943

2) Summer 1943 - Summer 1944

The colour scheme that became standard for the F6F-3 was the three-color scheme of late 1943 / early 1944: Dark Blue upper surfaces, Medium Blue sides and White undersurfaces. Note also the new white bands on either side of the white star, with a Dark Blue surround.
The very first F6F-5s delivered also wore these colours.

F6F-3 (17 kb)
F6F-3 of Lt(jg) Robert W. Duncan, VF-5, USS Yorktown, late February 1944

2) Summer 1944 and later

The "Overall Glossy Sea Blue" colour scheme became standard for the US Navy soon after the first F6F-5 were delivered; so all F6F-5s but the very first were painted this way.
Note the differences between the F6F-3 and F6F-5: the cowling bulge over the exhaust has disappeared (it was also the case on late-production F6F-3s), and the side windows behind the pilot headrest was deleted too.

F6F-5 (15 kb)
F6F-5 of Lt Hamilton McWhorter III, VF-12, USS Randolph, January 1945

At the end of the war, white paintings on the tail were used to identify the carrier on which the plane was based.
Here are some examples; see the above picture for the USS Randolph.

tail (3 kb) tail (3 kb) tail (3 kb) tail (3 kb)
USS Bunker Hill USS Yorktown USS Hornet USS Independence

The "Catmouth"

The F6F-3s of US Navy squadron VF-27, on the USS Princeton, wore a "Catmouth" painting over the cowling; they also painted it later on their "Overall Glossy Sea Blue" F6F-5s
Catmouth (3 kb)

Royal Navy : Fleet Air Arm

The Hellcat (or Gannet or as it was first called in the Royal Navy) wore standard colours for FAA fighters: Dark Sea Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey.

Gannet / Hellcat MK.I (15 kb)
Hellcat Mk.I of Lt Cdr Stanley G. Orr, No 804 Sqn, HMS Emperor, 14 May 1944


Picture sources

I strongly recommended these books for the aircraft enthousiast. The couple of pics I've scanned from each is only a tiny part of their content; if you like my pages, you'll love these books.
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