Vraciu's 'Hellcat' returns home.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Airframes, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat once flown by Commander Alexander Vraciu, left Duxford, UK, on February 6th, bound for a new owner in the USA, according to a snippet in the April issue of 'Fly Past' magazine.
    This is the actual aircraft in which the US Navy ace scored nine of his nineteen victories in WW2, and has been with The Fighter Collection, at Duxford, since 1990. Sadly Commander Vraciu, DFC, AM, passed away on January 29th this year, aged 96.
    Having seen this aircraft in the 'Vraciu colours' many times over the last 24+ years, I hadn't realised, until now, that it was the actual aircraft flown by the ace, assuming it was just a representative colour scheme.
    Although the Hellcat will be missed on the UK air show circuit, I personally feel that it's only right and fitting that it should find a new owner where it belongs, at 'home' in the USA.
     

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  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  3. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Lost a Hellcat, gained a 109.
     
  4. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it should have a home close to where its ace lived, and certainly in the USA.
     
  5. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Don't disagree...but more people would probably see it at Duxford. Just the nature of the geography on the western side of t'Pond.
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    True, as it displays (or did) not only at DX, but also at other events in the UK and northern Europe. But I suppose it's a bit like the U.S. having, say, Bader's Hurricane, or Johnson's Spitfire (not that they still exist, of course) - doesn't seem quite right somehow.
    I wonder if this means we can have our tea back ....................
     
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  7. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    The natural response will be "You can have all the tea from the bottom of Boston harbor"....shouldn't open yourself up like that! :)
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    As long as they send the sugar and milk with it - and crumpets, got to have crumpets with the tea !
     
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  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Can't beat a bit o' crumpet. Fancy some tiffin'? :)
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Jolly good idea, old chap. One lump or two ?
     
  11. Bad-Karma

    Bad-Karma Member

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    Where in the US is it being sent to? Hopefully the east coast! I wanna see this baby!
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The magazine article didn't mention where it was going. A 'top of the head' guess might be to Jerry Yagin perhaps ?
    But don't quote me on that - it's purely a guess I made - it could be going elsewhere !
     
  13. Totalize

    Totalize Well-Known Member

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    I agree, she should be "at home" in the U.S.

    Interesting to see this a/c has the stamped wheels.
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I don't know enough about the Hellcat series to say whether the wheels are original, or replacements. I think I might have the BU Number somewhere - not sure though - but it was built in 1944 apparently.
    Here's a couple of pics taken in May 2011, when being prepared for the first air show of the season.
     

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  15. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Never new the original was still around, thanks for the update and info Terry.
     
  16. Peettriple

    Peettriple New Member

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    Hello, I'm a big fan of Vracius Hellcat (and of course of Mr. Vraciu himself). Please correct me if I am wrong, but the Hellcat with the number 19 was an F6F-5. Before that he flew an F6F-3 with the number 9, as far as I remember. The F6F-3 has those additional windows behind the pilots seat which the F5 do not have.
     
  17. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Never knew that. Awesome.
     
  18. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    RE: F6F-5 (from Wikipedia)
    Bold by me re: small windows behind the main canopy

    The F6F-5 featured several improvements including a more powerful R-2800-10W engine employing a water-injection system and housed in a slightly more streamlined engine cowling, spring-loaded control tabs on the ailerons, and an improved, clear view windscreen, with a flat armored-glass front panel replacing the F6F-3's curved plexiglass panel and internal armor glass screen.[11][19] In addition, the rear fuselage and tail units were strengthened, and, apart from some early production aircraft, the majority of the F6F-5's built were painted in an overall gloss sea blue finish.[27] After the first few F6F-5s were built, the small windows behind the main canopy were deleted.[28] The F6F-5N night fighter variant was fitted with an AN/APS-6 radar in a fairing on the outer-starboard wing. A small number of standard F6F-5s were also fitted with camera equipment for reconnaissance duties as the F6F-5P.[29] While all F6F-5s were capable of carrying an armament mix of one 20 mm (.79 in) M2 cannon in each of the inboard gun bays (220 rounds per gun), along with two pairs of .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns (each with 400 rounds per gun), this configuration was only used on later F6F-5N night fighters.[30] The F6F-5 was the most common F6F variant, with 7,870 being built.[19]
     
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