Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation Wildcat FM-2
Year of Manufacture 1944
Powered by one Wright Cyclone R-1820-56 engine
Colour scheme. 846 Sqn, Royal Navy
In 1942, automobile manufacturer General Motors converted several of its east coast factories to aircraft production under the name Eastern Aircraft Division. Eastern received contracts to build F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighters and TBF-1 "Avenger" torpedo planes, allowing Grumman to gradually reconcentrate its energies on the new, urgently-needed F6F "Hellcat" fighter. The GM F4F-4s, redesignated FM-1s, had only four .50 calibre machine guns, but were otherwise little changed from the original model. Well over a thousand FM-1 fighters were delivered in 1942-43, including some three hundred for the British Royal Navy. Meanwhile, Grumman had prototyped a new "Wildcat" under the designation XF4F-8, which was to be produced by Eastern Aircraft as the FM-2. With lightened structure and a more powerful Wright R-1820 radial engine, the FM-2 was notably quicker, faster climbing, longer ranged and more manoeuvrable than its predecessor. To help control the increased power, the new plane had a distinctive, taller vertical tail. All-in-all, it was a great improvement, and more than four thousand FM-2s were built in 1943-45.
Images credit: The Fighter Collection