Why did the US Navy Blue Angels start with Hellcats?

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by gjs238, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Instead of the Corsair?
     
  2. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I hope this doesn't sound too biased, but the 'Cat is the machine, that's why! :)
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    My guess would be availability and it was an easier aircraft to fly.
     
  4. Token

    Token Active Member

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    They only flew the F6F for one year, then transitioned to the F8F.

    Although the F4U turned out to be an outstanding aircraft the F6F seems to have been a preferred aircraft by a lot of the pilots of the day. Most of the ones I have talked to that flew both said the F6F was more predictable, stable, and docile, but still capable of excellent performance. And the F6F certainly accumulated more flight hours and kills than the F4U. With all of that said I can see that if the pilots who formed the first flight of three were given their choice of aircraft they may have gone with the F6F, especially if they knew it was short term, and they would shift to something higher performance in the near future.

    T!
     
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  5. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I admit this is only a guess but on a practical level the better visibility from the cockpit may well have been a factor. When undertaking close formation aerobatics the ability to see what is going on around you is all important. With its significant blind spot under the nose and the position of the cockpit towards the rear of the wing, visibility would almost certainly be less in the Corsair.
    With its cockpit more or less in the middle of the wing and the sloping nose the Hellcat would have better all round vision.
     
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  6. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Good point, Glider. This is just based on hearsay from the former Navy and Marine fighter pilots in my Dad's club, but I think the F6F was a better "fly," too, particularly in tight formation. That's not to say the F4U, even as "recessed" from the nose as that cockpit was, wasn't a crack acrobat. It was responsive, and could keep up with anything, from the stories I heard. This was known from just the drilling. When the pilots were off, they were encouraged to check-out in their aircraft, to remain sharp. While it may not have been an official policy, they pushed those aircraft to the limits in those drills. They knew what they could do better than anybody.

    As an aside, in a story I related earlier in another thread, an F4U in Kaneohe made an emergency landing at the Navy base, there, with telephone wires wrapped around a wing, and the Hawaiian police hot on his tail. The daredevil pilot tried to go under telephone pole wires up on one of the mountain roads. Almost made it. :)
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind that the F6F was also at the end of it's service by war's end, being replaced by the F8F, so in a sense, it was "expendable".

    Even though the F6F served with the Blue Angels less than 6 months, it still would have been far easier to convince the "Brass" to commit an end of service aircraft to the new program than it would a new type.

    Once the Blue Angels proved themselves, the F8F would not have been such a hard sell for the Navy to commit them to the program.
     
  8. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    They called the F8F, the "F6F Part II," or something like that, because of the resemblance. The fact was, it was a seedier, lighter aircraft. Not needing to take the punishment the F6F could, I could see it as a better fit in the circus.
     
  9. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    Sat in the cockpit of a Corsair once. On the ground, in a hangar, downright claustrophobic. The idea of taxiing and taking off in that beast, never mind low altitude formation acrobatics, was terrifying, the visibility was so limited. Local airport manager in my childhood days had been a production test pilot for Chance Vought in War ll, and he said it was a clunky handler on the ground but a great flier. He also said control harmony deteriorated at less than combat speeds, making carrier landings challenging. (As if the lousy forward visibility wasn't enough challenge!) That's why they gave the first ones to the Marines for island ops. But they sure could carry a load. And catch a Zero. And make it home even with pieces missing. The Hellcat was the Navy's Mustang; the Corsair was itsitsp Thunderbolt.
     
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  10. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Ah gosh, but can you strike that last sentence. Many F6s came back looking like Hell. They could take it, too. In fact, they could take more punishment than the F8, I'll say. Can we call the F8 the P-51? I'm just not comfortable with that on the F6. And that P-51 isn't coming back home after getting hit like some of the F6s did.
     
  11. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    I agree the F6F was a tough bird, but so was the P-51 if you didn't hit the coolant system. I don't see either of them as being in the Corsair/Thunderbolt class when it comes to battle damage. The F8F doesn't count; it was of the post-war generation. But what do we know? We weren't there so all we have is opinions based on what we've read, the photos we've seen, the statistics we've studied, and the stories we've heard from those who WERE there. IMHO a battle-damaged F6F that's pushed over the side due to uneconomical repair, or comes apart in the arresting gear (as they occasionally did) is not the equivalent of an equally damaged Corsair or Thunderbolt that gets patched up and returned to combat. IAC, let's hear it for MR. PRATT and MR. WHITNEY! R2800 - My nomination for THE engine of the war.
     
  12. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    A strong contender for sure. But I think Mr. Merlin might have something to say about that. Not to mention Heir Daimler-Benz
     
  13. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    Bring 'em on!
    Herr Daimler: Inventive fellow, but he lost the war.
    Mr. Merlin: Sweet-sounding, powerful, and elegant, but fragile!

    R2800 would never win a singing contest against a Rolls or a Daimler, but she'd get you home shot to pieces, which is better than the others would do.
     
  14. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    That double-wasp saw a lot of combat, for a reason! I can't opine on the others, I don't know enough to.
     
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