Losses and Aviation Safety

Check out this dramatic photo of an F6F smashing into 6 other parked Hellcats with pilots aboard

A Hellcat smashes into 6 other F6F parked forward on Cowpens’ flight deck as crewmen duck and run for cover. Note that there are pilots in the parked Hellcats.

Taken in January 1945 aboard USS Cowpens escort carrier, the photo in this post is one of the most incredible pictures taken during World War 2 by a US Navy Combat Photographer. A Hellcat smashes into 6 other F6F parked forward on Cowpens’ flight deck as crewmen duck and run for cover (on the left). The camera captured all the debris in mid-air. Note that there are pilots in the parked Hellcats.

Seconds after the crash, men rushed up to the wrecked Hellcats to help the pilots.

Adhering to Grumman’s design philosophy to produce an aircraft in which a pilot could become proficient in a short period of time, and that was easy to operate from a carrier yet could outperform the enemy, the Hellcat was loved by its pilots. Hellcat pilots achieved an amazing 19:1 kill ratio, downing 5,156 enemy aircraft in just two years, accounting for 75 percent of the Navy’s aerial victories during the war. Late in the war the Navy conducted evaluations of Allied and captured Axis fighters. The Hellcat ranked at the top in most categories, making it one of the best fighters in the war. In just 30 months, 12,275 Hellcats were produced by Grumman at its Bethpage Plant Number 3, much of the factory still being constructed as some of the first F6Fs were being built inside.

Photo credit: Photo: US Navy via NavSource.org 

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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