On 30th June, 1941, the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation signed a contract with United States Air Force to produce a new carrier based fighter. The Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 flew for the first time on 30th June, 1941 but was not delivered to the USAF until October 1942.
The Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 had a maximum speed of 376 mph (628 km) and had a range of 1,090 miles (1,750 km). It was 33 ft 7 in (10.24 m) long with a wingspan of 42 ft 10 in (13.06 m). The aircraft was armed with 6 machine-guns. In January 1943, they were assigned to the aircraft carriers, Essex, Yorktown and Independence.
In 1944 the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation replaced the Grumman Hellcat F6F-3 with the Grumman Hellcat FF6-5. The engine of the new aircraft was improved and additional armour was installed behind the pilot. It could also carry 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs. In the final stages of the war the Hellcat showed itself to be clearly superior to Japanese Air Force's main fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M.