|This page is about the naval fighter F6F-5N (France). For other versions, see F6F (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The ▄F6F-5N is a rank IV French naval fighter with a battle rating of 5.0 (AB), 4.3 (RB), and 4.7 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.73 "Vive la France".
The ▄F6F-5N (N stands for Night fighter variant) is the French variant of the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The French Navy bought 124 F6F-5s and fifteen F6F-5Ns between 1950-1953.
This F6F is distinctly capable thanks to the combination of cannons, heavy machine guns, and the addition of a search radar while keeping the ability to provide ground and sea support with highly menacing payloads. It can defend itself admirably against no matter what; in skilful hands of course. An efficient jack-of-all-trades!
The main drawback of this fighter is the powerful but often overloaded engine. This means that after all the weight added with the twin 20 mm cannons, radar, and payload, the plane becomes much slower compared to the previous F6F-5 in French service. This may be an indication to avoid engaging in air supremacy battles with other more dedicated air superiority fighters. Instead, these variants excel at ground strike and interception, leaving the pure fighter role to other more fast and agile fighters.
Once spaded, the ▄F6F-5N feels similar to the ▄F6F-5, but all of the main flight characteristics are slightly reduced, such as the top speed, rate of climb, and turn rate. When equipping payloads is a good idea to avoid extended combat, this is due to the fact the plane gets even slower and less manoeuvrable. French pilots should consider learning (MEC) manual engine controls to boost the flight performance. Its details are explained below!
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 5,730 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 432||< 420||< 420||> 420|
Survivability and armour
- 38 mm Bulletproof glass in front of pilot.
- 6.35 mm Steel plates behind pilot.
- 3 mm Steel plates on fuselage top in front of cockpit.
- 3 mm Steel plate on top front of oil cooling system.
- 3 mm Steel plates on bottom of engine.
The ▄F6F-5N is a considerably robust and armoured aircraft, a usual trait of American-made fighters. This armour will enable pilots to survive several hits if they end up tailed by some more agile enemy aircraft; like the Japanese Ki-61-II or the Bf 109 G-2/trop. Nonetheless, avoid being targeted and attacked!
The F6F-5N can take a lot of hits and the armour will be there to provide an important defence to the pilot against 7.62 mm up to some long-range 20 mm HE shells. But the airframe and the wide wing spars will start to weaken after heavy enemy damage, thus also compromising the flight performance and ultimately leading to the breakdown of the aircraft itself.
French pilots can take advantage of the adequate armoured glass, the armour around the nose, and the engine for head-on attacks or low bombing runs. To increase survivability, pilots should attempt to engage the more agile enemies frontally. There is the majority of the armour, along with all the heavy machine guns and powerful cannons. Contrary to holding from behind, where the average top speed and turn rate won't provide the F6F-5N with any major advantage.
Modifications and economy
A slow F6F is a certainly doomed F6F. Attempt to go for some flight performance modules and then some weaponry modules. This will help to keep research while not suffering from a below-average aircraft. The additional payload can bring more research points, depending on the pilot's favourite role and gamemode with the aircraft.
In the offensive department, the ▄F6F-5N is devastating!
There are a plethora of choices on armaments that truly bring a lot of power to the French pilots. The 20 mm cannons and 12.7 mm machine guns are capable of devastating, if not destroying, light and medium tanks, even from the sides. This is accompanying the already lethal available explosive payloads.
The F6F-5N (France) is armed with:
- 2 x 20 mm AN/M2 cannons, wing-mounted (231 rpg = 462 total)
- 4 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, wing-mounted (400 rpg = 1,600 total)
The familiar American M2 Browning provides quick-firing, adequate damage, and high penetration capacities. Not many aircraft can withstand a prolonged burst from these machine guns. However, they lack the fast, decisive punch of a large-calibre cannon. This could lead to the F6F-5N often staying in combat more than it should; something detrimental to its survival.
- The Ground targets belt is notably good to bypass the enemy's armour plates and also good for head-ons attacks. Works for some medium tanks, armoured cars and light tanks. (Side or top armour)
- The Tracers belt is handy to burst your enemies into flames. Mainly, the light and nimble planes with poor durability.
In this variant, the F6F-5N also receives two new powerful 20 mm AN/M2 cannons.
The 20 mm AN/M2 cannons will dramatically increase the firepower and lethality of the F6F. Their penetration and decent fire rate enable pilots to utilize them proactively during air combats. The good ammo count also extends their time on combat if the pilot has trigger discipline. The penetration of these cannons allows the F6F-5N to perform in a strike fighter role against soft-skinned ground vehicles. Various tanks on rank IV don't have enough top-turret protection for stopping this cannon.
The F6F-5N (France) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 6 x HVAR rockets
- 2 x Tiny Tim rockets
- 2 x 1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs (2,000 lb total)
- 2 x 1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs + 6 x HVAR rockets (2,000 lb total)
- 1 x 1,927 lb Mk.13-1 Case torpedo
Usage in battles
Once a good understanding of the abilities and inabilities of the ▄F6F-5N is gained, players can use this plane on all game modes without major trouble.
As an aircraft with a decent variety of abilities (a Jack-of-all-trades), it can be played defensively and offensively depending on the enemies. If the enemy plane is more agile but slower than the F6F, pilots can initiate combat with a "Boom & Zoom" strategy in mind. If the enemy is faster but less agile, smart turn-fighting can be executed. If the enemy owns agility and speed, the best is to avoid it or head-on with him once for all.
The principle of playing with the ▄F6F-5N is to keep your speed, always. The plane is quite big and heavy on its own. When the payload is added, it becomes even more cumbersome. The main tactics that suit the F6F are the tactical advantage of altitude and speed to leave the enemy plane behind once attacked from above. The ▄F6F-5N can meet opponents way faster than him; some planes reaching up to 700 km/h while the F6F stays around the 629 km/h at level flight.
It is here when the Manual Engine Controls provide the pilot with a meaningful increase in performance. That leads to utilizing the altitude to survive, as this plane is heavy and won't perform excellently on low-level dogfights with tight turns. The way of the F6F is to go low, do the work then climb back to the safer territory; achievable because of the powerful supercharged engine.
|Remember; having a higher altitude grants an insuperable tactical advantage!|
The F6F is a well-fitted strike/night fighter. Nonetheless, the rather small battlefields on tank battles can become a big safety concern. If situational awareness is lost, pilots are likely to be engaged by surprise. To avoid this, French pilots should consider the following roles:
There will usually be some enemy air force incoming to the combat zone; fighters, strike fighters, or even bombers. With an anticipated climb and the highly useful radar, the F5F-5N can take the control of the battle. Avoid any additional payload because now the relevant job is to defend ground forces and pester enemy aviation. Once in the air, check the immediate surroundings (check six first) also with the help of the radar, then proceed to gain altitude. This altitude is key to counter any faster or more agile enemy arriving to combat.
Once a target has been spotted, pilots must remember this might not be the only enemy plane arriving. Planning must be made to perform dive attacks against them and retreat again to altitude. The Hellcat loves these dives, so pilots can confidently approach to their preys, let the guns roar, then leave.
The Hellcat can't be shot down if it can't be seen. Consider using a combination of machine guns' stealth belt to range and lead the shots. Once the stealth fire reaches the target (hit marks), rapidly fire the cannons. This is useful because it helps to engage a plane without the noticeable tracers and generally provides a fast elimination because of the powerful cannons. Oftentimes, the enemy will react too late. A recommended convergence for this role is 600-300 m. This is of course, always to pilot's discretion.
A more closer-to-action role; it will use the payloads available to annihilate enemy armoured forces. This role is very dependent on allied aerial superiority, so pay attention to the air before spawning heavily loaded.
The Hellcat will be in great danger during these attacks. It will fly below the coming enemy aircrafts, so time is key. Drop the bombs first since they are the heaviest yet deadliest ordnance. Then resort to your rockets, heavy machine-guns and cannons if necessary. The combination of 2 x 1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs + 6 x HVAR rockets proves to be more than suitable for the task. Pilots can also go for the Tiny Tim rockets when powerful and directed firepower is needed. Pilots can freely choose individual payloads situationally and performance-wise.
Once the ordnance has been dropped, pilots are highly advised to return to base for rearming. Staying around patrolling the air is not the duty; this is because the Hellcat will often meet a lot of powerful enemies that outmatch it on speed and turn-time. Only those highly skilled and confident pilots can attempt to stay around dogfighting their way out.
Equipping ground target belt on both the cannons and machine-guns allows the Hellcat to destroy even more armour, resembling a true attack aircraft. A recommended convergence to attack with the mounted guns is 600-800m because it provides sufficient distance to fire safely.
Here the hellcat will only feel more powerful and faster but beware, the enemy planes too. The flight characteristics are well suited for smart dogfights and baiting. Firing with the guns become even more precise and lethal. Quite a lot of entertainment.
During air battles, the F6F can produce havoc on ground strike modes with the constant reload of bombs and rockets. They are useful to interdict enemy forces advancing to airfields. Use your superior payloads to destroy them with ease while your team fights for the airfield. Oppositely, the Hellcat can be played without bombs and really high in the sky. Baiting enemies into a vertical stall then diving for them.
Hellcats are useful because they can easily destroy pillboxes and heavy tanks on ground strike/frontline mode, make those a priority target to help the team.
The F6F-5N is equipped with an AN/APS-6 search and tracking radar. The radar is mounted in a pod under the right wing tip.
During the night, the radar becomes an invaluable tool to seek out and destroy enemy aircraft. It is best to position the aircraft where targets can be detected from the side or rear aspect which allows the F6F-5N to follow them and shoot them down. Take note of the limited range of the radar and that targets may only be visible up to a few kilometers away. A helpful range setting for the radar is the 9.25 km (5.75 mi) scan distance, as further options can make it difficult to properly find and chase down targets. When moving in closer, switching to the 1.85 km (1.15 mi) scan distance can make it easier to stay on a target from behind as well as transition to the radar track mode.
|AN/APS-6 - Target Detection Radar|
| 60,000 m
|AN/APS-6 - Target Tracking Radar|
|1,000 m||150 m||±15°||±15°|
Manual Engine Control
|Not controllable|| Controllable
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
It is highly rewarding to learn and constantly apply MEC during Simulator and Realistic battles. The main instruments beneficial for the F6F are: propeller pitch, radiators, and superchargers.
- The propeller pitch will enable the F6F to reach higher top speeds. This is vital during pursuits or diving away; something in which the F6F is great at. They also provide increased thrust/lift and less speed when needed; for example during vertical slow speed dogfights
- The radiators lets the F6F cool down the engine and components during hot weather maps. While if closed, they reduce aerodynamic drag and increase the top speed. Watch out, prolonged closing of the radiators leads to overheating and ultimately, to engine damage.
- Superchargers are an important piece of the MEC (even more for American planes), they will let the F6F reach superior high altitudes with a decent amount of speed even when fully loaded. They should only be used while climbing not during low altitude flights. Stage 1 is activated by default, stage 2 should be activated around 3-4 km of altitude. Stage 3 should be activated above 5-6 km of altitude. The hotter the temperature, the sooner this should be activated. If cold, it should be activated later at these altitudes. Pilots should maintain their eyes out to confirm their input affects performance positively and not negatively.
Once in combat, some pilots can choose whether to keep controlling everything manually and multitask, or they can set things back to automatic mode. Having manual control of the engine while on battle allows controlling the plane for the exact needs and desired pilot's tactics. While on auto mode, the pilot can focus efficiently only on the work outside the cabin without additional workload.
Pros and cons
- Lethal firepower thanks to 20 mm cannons; 5.0 kg/s fire burst mass
- High ammo count on both cannon and machine guns
- High durability and efficient armour protection for the engine and the pilot
- Multipurpose fighter (HVARs, 1k lb bombs, Tiny Tim, torpedo and radar)
- Has both search and tracking radar
- Competent high-altitude performance (3 Stage supercharger)
- Slightly worse fighter's flight characteristics than F6F-5 while at a higher battle rating
- All manoeuvrability is drastically decreased by payloads
- Turn rate is significantly higher than enemies it faces
- Hopelessly outmatched on speed by enemy planes on the same BR, as the Bf 109 (Family)
- Stiff roll rate at higher speed
After the end of World war II, it was evident French Navy and Air Force needed more fighters and technologies. It was here when the French Aéronavale and L'Armée de l'air (Air Force) procured the F6F-5 and F6F-5N with the MAP (Military Assistance Program).
They were requested to the Indochina military theatre in 1949. Contrary to other high-performance fighters such as the Spitfires or P-47 Thunderbolt, their naval capacities (carrier-based operations) of quick take-off made them suitable for the short landing strips of the Asian environment. France was in need of planes with the ability to disrupt communist guerrillas and insurgency; which were awakening in the region since the end of the World War II.
A French colonel recollects:
Second in command of the 1/5 "Vendée" fighter group, present in Indochina from 1949 to 1950, I was called to participate, in the spring of 1950, in a commission convened by the CATAC Tonkin and chaired by its chief, Colonel M Entrée. This meeting was attended by members of a combined US Navy and Air Force mission, responsible for investigating the choice of combat aircraft these armies planned to supply to the French Air Force in the Far East. (…) When questioned as an expert in "fighters", I proposed that the navy fighters be chosen, mainly for their take-off and landing characteristics, which in my opinion should be considered essential, the other characteristics - armament, autonomy, Air-cooled motor are also favourable for this choice. After the US mission had raised the possible offer of Hellcat and/or Bearcat, this perspective was unanimously accepted by the commission, particularly in view of the Spitfire experience."
The F6F-5N later began to operate from the aircraft carriers Dixmude, Arromanches and La Fayette. There, naval pilots were able to drill and gain experience while the carriers sailed back and forth to receive new deliveries of Hellcats and new planes in the United States. Hellcats which were later delivered to Saigon on October 28, 1950. During this time, carrier-borne Hellcats were also operated from coastal bases or often guided by radar, because the dense fog and low clouds caused poor visibility.
A French captain recollects:
"Around December 1950, we were told outright that we were going to change equipment and be equipped with F6F5 Hellcat. It is true that our Spits were increasingly nearing exhaustion and that their availability was collapsing. So we detached 2 lieutenants from the Hyères naval sailors who used this type of plane and a month later they returned to Saigon (...) this Hellcat was a peaceful machine, a little clumsy in appearance, practically devoid of defects, solid, heavily armed and equipped in addition to the famous P and W R2800, an engine which gave the impression, once started, that it was a diesel that nothing seemed to be able to stop."
Once in service during the First Indochina War, they were liked by the French pilots on both the Air Force and the Navy, who praised the highly powerful and life-saving engine's WEP (War Emergency Power), which was extremely useful during the takeoffs, bombing sorties and low-level flying over the highly irregular mountainous geography. Firepower and vertical stability were also appreciated, both on carrier duties and land-based sorties.
They performed audacious napalm bombings and CAS (Close Air Support) over curtains of anti-aircraft Soviet guns manned by the Việt Minh. Pilots often recalled; "Minh Flak, was better than the nazi flak of World War II", "It was as dense as anything allied pilots encountered over the Rhine on World War II". This flak fire caused numerous losses and damage; 48 aircraft lost and another 167 damaged. Notable losses for the quantity comparable of the available planes.
Nonetheless after servicing during this relatively short time, the Hellcats F6F-5 and F6F-5N in French service accomplished more than 2,000 support sorties. Assisting remarkably up to the definitive battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, providing vital support-fire to the French ground troops encircled by the Việt Minh.
They served along with the more modern F8F Bearcats that later replaced them.
Shared operational history during First Indochina War
Similar variants of this aircraft
- Official data sheet - more details about the performance
- Jean-Pierre De Cock y Mister Kit , F6F Hellcat , Atlas,1981, p. 34.
- Histoires de transformation des pilotes en Indochine, Le Piège, no 168, mars 2002, p. 39
- Le choix du Bearcat, Le Piège, no 152, mars 1998, p. 39
- Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Volume II: 1946-2006, Norman Polmar,2007
- http://archives.ecpad.fr/une-mission-du-groupe-davions-de-chasse-hellcat-f6f5-normandie-niemen-en-mars-1951/ / French goverment's gallery of the Hellcat
|Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation|
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