Faced with a severe
shortage of fighter aircraft in 1942, the USAAF was dragged kicking and
screaming into purchasing naval fighters. The Grumman F6F series was selected as
a major type to be introduced, sharing the same basic engine type with the
Republic P-47. Designated P-65, it was dubbed "ThunderCat" almost
immediately, a combination of the cat names Grumman planes had adopted and the
Thunderbolt name from the P-47. Serving primarily in the Mediterranean and
European theatres of operation, it was also supplied as a lend-lease aircraft to
the USSR and served with the RAF in Burma. It was often based alongside P-47
squadrons in Britain. Here we see "Eileen" from the 82nd Fighter
Squadron, 78th Fighter Group based at Duxford in 1944.
images below to see larger images
You know, sometimes things
just pop out of nowhere in my head, and this is one of those occasions. It
started with me wondering why the USN was slow to adopt the bubble canopy
in WWII (Bearcats and Skyraiders were the first operational planes to
sport them, too late to see combat) and next thing I knew, I was doing up
a Hellcat in P-47 markings. I used the Otaki/Airfix Hellcat, with the
bubble canopy, 4 bladed prop, and various goodies from the Academy P-47
kit (Which also supplied the decals) Yes, I know the "real"
Eileen was painted in RAF Dark Green, but I wanted this plane to look as
much like a P-47 as possible, so I figured it was painted OD over grey at
Grumman. It confused some customers at my local hobby shop, who were sure
they knew every plane flown by the USAAF in WWII.....