When I first read the title of this new book I though to myself: This might be one of many publications about this aircraft that appeared since 1979.
But that would soon turn out to be a big misinterpretation. This new publication out of Zenith Press’ „At war series“ and authored by Cory Graff, Aviaton Historian at the Flying Heritage Collection museum in Everett, Washington is a true must have for all naval aviation fans. The book is structured in the typical and very convenient way.

Grumman Hellcat bookMr. Graff starts off with the early beginnings of the Grumman Company and the story how it was founded. Due to the author’s vivid writing style one might soon think how it would have been to be in Leroy Grumman’s shoes and if you want it or not you think about what would I have done in his situation. The author continues and narrates the whole development phase of the company and the early models and the problems that arose with the competing aircraft companies at the time and the difficulties one had to face to receive the first orders by the navy. Every predecessor and study of the F6F is mentioned with great care so the overeall development until the final F6F is made very clear to the reader.

What I found most amazing in this book is that the production of the Hellcat was given a special focus on in the first chapters. The reader is able to imagine the problems an aircraft producer had to face during World War II with keeping all his factories running and the employees satisfied during the hard times. All chapters are accopanied by rich illustration in form of drawings mainly courtesy of the Cradle of Aviation Museum and tons of color and black/white photos of the aircraft and its predecessors. Every technical issue of the aircraft is covered in great detail and documented with photos.

The operational history of the Hellcat is making up about one half of the book and is adorned with some very interesting interviews and first hand reports by pilots such as the Hellcat „Ace“ Edward „Wendy“ Wendorf. In the later parts of the book Mr.Graff is taking on different variants and special combat versions of the F6F such as the „camera cats“. Specially prepared reconnaissance versions of the Hellcat and reports about some of the most spectacular but tragic crashes on board of the aircraft carriers in the pacific.

In the last chapter of the book the author points out the post war era and the after-development phase towards the F7F Tigercat and the birth of the Blue Angels, the famous special acrobatic unit of the navy. Also very interesting is to read about the use of Hellcats in foreign countries and an interview with Chris Rushing who maintains one of the last flying Hellcats owned by the California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).


This book is highly recommended to all kind of enthusiasts and aviation fans! It is a complete history not only of the F6F but also extends to the company history and afterwar history of this fine airplane. The many color photos make this publication also interesting for modellers despite there are no specific color charts or color profiles embedded.

Format: Softbound
Pages: 160
Length: 8.25 x 10.625
ISBN-13: 9780760333068
Catalog ID: 145461

Kilian Weimann

Sample was kindly provided and with permission by Mr. John Wurm – Marketing Manager Quayside Publishing Group