Biplane Fighters in Action
During the 1930s U.S. aircraft carriers operated a variety of fighter and fighter-bomber aircraft produced by Boeing, Curtiss, Grumman, and Vought, while several other aircraft firms produced prototype carrier fighters for Navy evaluation. But by 1939 all six Navy carriers and both Marine Corps fighter squadrons flew Grumman biplane fighters.1 And, of course, with the coming of monoplane fighters, most U.S. carrier decks were soon filled with Grumman F4F Wildcats and then with the supreme World War II naval fighters, Grumman F6F Hellcats.
The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company had started in January 1930, building parts for seaplanes in a garage in Baldwin, Long Island, New York. The firm soon gained a reputation for innovation, especially for its fully retractable landing gear, which provided a significant increase in aircraft performance. The Navy Department asked Grumman if the gear could be provided for the fighter planes being built by other firms.