In 1936, the prototype XF3F-2 took to the air with a new Wright Cyclone power plant, a top speed of 255 mph and a service ceiling of 33,800 feet. The US Navy ordered 81 Grumman F3F-2 s in 1937. Development problems in the design program for upcoming new monoplane fighters led to an 'extension' of the useful career of the F3F and the production of the F3F-3 version for 1938. Apart from some minor aerodynamic improvements, these machines were practically identical to the F3F-2.
Affectionately nick-named "The Flying Barrel", pilots enjoyed the F3F-2 immensely reporting it as a 'joy to fly' being fast, immensely strong and an agile performer. Snap rolls, tight turns and loops were carried out with ease and the aeroplane could be put down in a perfect three pointer at varying speeds and weight configurations.
Many design features such as the complex action retracting undercarriage and 'tubby' fuselage would find their way into the new breed of ship borne fighters, the legendary F4F Wildcats.
A total of 140 F3Fs were still on squadron strength at the outbreak of hostilities and the rugged little fighters remained in service as combat trainers, until as late as 1943.
The "Flying Barrel" was not to see combat, being superceded by the new generation of monoplane ship-board fighters, the Grumman F4F Wildcat around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1936, a special Grumman F3F-1 was built by the factory for Major Alford “ Al” Williams, head of aviation for Gulf Oil Company and well-known aerobatic display pilot. The aeroplane was flown as a demonstrator for Gulf Oil (and Grumman) and appeared at air-shows and military displays all over the U.S. before WW2.
Called "Gulfhawk II" and powered by a 1000 hp version of the Cyclone, the aeroplane displayed its aerobatic capabilities, speed and strength to great effect. So much so that the airframe was not retired until 1948 when Williams flew it on its final flight to Washington, after which it was to take its rightful place in the now Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Gulfhawk II is included in this package and would make an ideal starter for the Reno Races!
The package includes a variety of colorful liveries from pre-war fighter squadrons
- All new hi-fidelity models with superb detail including modelled rivets and overlapping panels.
- Beautifully crafted exterior and interior models built over contemporary detailed plans and drawings
- Authentic cockpit detail includes many bespoke animations and effects.
- Full PBR materials and textures include realistic "pillowing" of metal surfaces.
- Animated authentic U.S. military pilot figure
- Specially animated, realistic undercarriage operation.
- Choice of electric or cartridge start.
- Highly accurate flight dynamics and perfomance based on real flight tests.
- Specially authored WWise Hi-Fidelity sound package.
- Unique code to "iron" out poor simulator tail-dragger performance.
The package includes a variety of colorful liveries from pre-war fighter squadrons:
- VF-6 BU1033 aboard “WASP”
- VF-6 BU0986 aboard “ENTERPRISE”
- VF-4 BU0810 aboard “LEXINGTON"
- VMF-2 BU0976 aboard “SARATOGA”
- US Navy fighter trainer from 1942
- BU0972 U.S.Army Air Corps
- "GulfHawk II" as flown by "Al" Williams