"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
        Grumman at War
Above:  The actual "first F6F ever made", the XF6F-1, was powered by an R2600-16 Wright engine and fitted with a Curtiss electric propellor.

Background:  A production F6F-3, ready for it's test flight at the factory in the summer of 1943.

Below: The man himself, Leroy Grumman.
Below:  Factory tours by veterans of combat in the PTO became a regular occurance to help boost moral and spur the worker's production. Note the censors objection to showing some of the aircraft's details.
Below:  For the model builders and aircraft camouflage enthusiasts, some images from the paint shop show us how the Hellcat's primed surfaces were cleaned, then spray painted and the national insignia applied. 
Above and below:  The change in camouflage to overall glossy sea blue for the F6F-5 necessitated a change in the method of applying the national insignia to the Hellcat as well. The masking needed on the F6F-3 (above), with it's three color paint scheme, was simplified on the F6F-5 (below) by first spraying a large white background, then masking off just the star and bars before the final glossy sea blue finish was applied. 
Above:  Another view of the Hellcat in our background photo, this time in higher resolution.

Below:  Additional F6F-3 color images, but from approximately the same time period, with the red surround to the national insignia. Subtle differences in the demarcation of the camouflage colors can be seen (particularly around the engine cowling here) due to the method used to apply the colors, which was free-hand with a spray gun.




Above: Neat rows of new F6F-5s await their pick-up from the factory by Navy ferry pilots.

Below:  The 10,000th Hellcat, parked near the berm seen on the left of the photo above, was delivered to VBF-87, aboard USS Ticonderoga, in May, 1945, with the appropriate ceremony. From left to right are:  LCDR Charles Ingalls; Grumman tech rep Ralph Clark; CDR Porter Maxwell, the CO of VBF-87; and CDR Everett L. Phadres, CAG-87. 
Below:  LT Robert Taylor, USNR, also of Hollywood fame, was a navy flight instructor. Despite his repeated efforts to join a combat unit, the navy preferred to keep him relatively safe and potentially out of enemy hands at home. Taylor was the narrator of the 1944 film "The Fighting Lady" and starred in several navy training films in addition to his regular duties as an instructor. Seen here with Mr. Grumman and Leon Swirbul, he is on a promotional visit to the factory.
Above: Out on the flight line, the engine is run up and minor adjustments made. The large number on the engine cowling was the last three digits of the aircraft's Bureau Number (BuNo). It was Grumman's practice to apply these numbers at the factory to help locate individual aircraft more easily on their crowded flight line. In most cases, they were removed when the plane was assigned to an operational unit, although examples will be seen where it was not removed, or where some traces still remained.

Below: Back to the hanger and the ship gets cleaned and waxed. The glossy sea blue finish adopted by the Navy was more weather-resistant than the previous matt finish, which suffered with time in the harsh weather conditions of the Pacific Ocean area. It was found that waxing the already smooth surface of the glossy paint finish increased the speed of the aircraft by a few knots as well.