Historical Article: When Hellcats Took the Fight to the Luftwaffe

historical-when-hellcats-took-the-fight-to-the-luftwaffeBy Barrett Tillman @ Historynet.com

Four Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats swept in from the sea, hunting enemy aircraft attempting to get out from under the U.S. Navy’s aerial umbrella. Heading inland, the fighter leader spotted two twin-engine bombers bearing enemy markings on their wings. The setup was nearly ideal: The leader and his wingman nosed down, lined up the nearest target in their reflector gunsights and pressed the triggers on their stick grips. Motes of light played over the camouflaged bomber, which absorbed the full impact of 12 .50-caliber machine guns. It gushed smoke, descending rapidly and smashed into the ground.

Another successful shootdown in the Pacific? No, a Heinkel He-111 had just become the first Ger­man victim of Navy Hellcats over Europe.

Read on…