June 26, 1942

The Grumman XF6F-1 prototype makes its first flight at Bethpage, Long Island, NY. In two years of combat, Naval aviators flying Hellcats (as the type was later officially nicknamed) would account for the destruction of 5,216 Japanese aircraft, while British F6F pilots in the South Pacific added 47 more, and British and American Hellcat pilots downed 13 German aircraft in Europe. Approximately 270 F6Fs were lost in air combat, but with a grand total of 5,216 Axis aircraft destroyed, Hellcat pilots recorded a 19:1 kill ratio. A total of 12,275 Hellcats were built and the type remained in service with several foreign countries until 1961.