This book examines the role of the Grumman F4F Wildcat, the US Navy's standard carrier fighter at the start of the Pacific War, and its clashes against the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force's Mitsubishi A6M Zero-sen.
The US Navy went to war in December 1941 with the tubby Wildcat, the first of Grumman's famed 'cats', as its principal carrier fighter. Ruggedly built and well armed, the F4F's performance was inferior to the Japanese Zero-sen, yet in the carrier battles of 1942 between the US Navy and the IJN the Wildcat pilots more than held their own against some of the finest naval aviators in the world. Many of the Wildcat pilots that saw action in the South Pacific comprised what respected naval historian John Lundstrom has called the 'First Team' – the small group of highly trained prewar pilots who manned the bulk of the US Navy's carrier fighter squadrons.
Illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, including armament views and ribbon diagrams, the book examines the carrier battles that took place in August and October in the South Pacific around the first American offensive of the war – the amphibious assault on the island of Guadalcanal, and the actions of the Wildcat in combat with IJN carrier aircraft. The key combat actions are described and accompanied with rare and original photographs and diagrams, as are the training and tactics that contributed to the Wildcat's success.