FM-2 Wildcat FM-2 Wildcat Sponsor Group
|Manufacturer||General Motors / Eastern Aircraft|
N5833 was produced in Mid August 1945 by General Motors under contract as Grumman Eastern Aircraft Division as a FM-2, BuNu 86819. After flight test it was immediately put into surplus and then sold. It operated for a number of years (late 50's to mid 60's) as an aerial bug sprayer out of Pennsylvania and the pacific northwest. It passed through a few more owners before being purchased by Bob and Claire Reiss of San Diego, CA around mid 1980's. They then donated the Wildcat to the CAF. It wore the paint of VOC-1, Commander Bush Bringle. During restoration in 2003 it was painted as a Martlet VI to commemorate RAF Squadron 835 on the aircraft carrier HMS Nairana. Aug 2019 it was again repainted, now with a more traditional Navy tri color scheme typical of FM-2's leaving the factory in 1944. Currently the Wildcat is wearing squadron markings of VC-27, The Saints, who operated off the USS Savo Island. VC-27, a composite squadron of TBM torpedo bombers and FM-2 fighters, fought from the Battle of Peleliu, through the battle of the Philippines as Taffy 2 to the invasion of Lingayan Gulf (Sep 1944 to Jan 1945). VC-27 downed 61.5 enemy aircraft producing the top Wildcat ace of all escort carriers, Lt Ralph Elliot Jr, while also destroying numerous warships and surface targets.
The FM-2 differed from the F4F as it was lighter, faster, had improved climb rate, longer range and was more maneuverable with the more powerful Wright R-1820 (1350HP) engine. Armed with 4 .50 Cal Browning machine guns. Max speed of 332 MPH and service ceiling of 35,000ft. Typical range of 900 miles. The Wildcat was the only Navy fighter to serve throughout the entire war from Pearl Harbor to VJ day. More Wildcat pilots were awarded the Medal of Honor than any other fighter including Joe Foss and Marion Carl. British and French pilots operated the Wildcat prior to the US Navy and acquired its first combat victory on 12/25/1940 on a JU-88.
N5833 is based in Upland Ca, but is typically on display at the CAF Airbase Arizona Museum, Mesa, during the winter months.