Aviation of World War II

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FM-1/2 "Wildcat"

Shipborne Fighter

General Motors

FM-1/2 Wildcat

The FM Wildcat, an improved version built by General Motors, remained in service throughout the remainder of the war on escort carriers, where larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

Grumman's Wildcat production ceased in early 1943 to make way for the newer F6F Hellcat, but General Motors continued producing Wildcats for both US Navy and Fleet Air Arm use. From 1943 onward, Wildcats were primarily assigned to escort carriers ("jeep carriers") as larger fighters such as the Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were needed aboard fleet carriers, and the Wildcat's slower landing speed made it more suitable for shorter flight decks. At first, GM produced the FM-1 (identical to the F4F-4, but with four guns). Production later switched to the improved FM-2 (based on Grumman's XF4F-8 prototype) optimized for small-carrier operations, with a more powerful engine, and a taller tail to cope with the torque. In all, 7,860 Wildcats were built.

The British received 300 Eastern Aircraft FM-1s as the Martlet V in 1942/43 and 340 FM-2s as the Wildcat VI. In total nearly 1,200 Wildcats would serve with the FAA. By January 1944, the Martlet name was dropped and the type was identified as "Wildcat."

FM-2 Specification
Crew 1
Wing span, m 11.6 (38 ft 0 in)
Wing area, 24.2 m² (260 ft²)
Length 8.8 m (28 ft 9 in)
Height 3.48 m (11 ft 5 in)
PE Wright R-1820-56 Cyclone double-row radial engine 1,350 hp (1000 kW)
Empty weight 2,516 kg (5,550 lb)
Loaded weight 3,732 kg (8,230 lb)
Maximum speed 535 km/h (330 mph)
Service ceiling, m 10,583 m (34,700 ft)
Range 1,255 km (780 mi)
Range with fuel tanks 2,175 km (1,350 mi)
4 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in):
6 × NVAR or bomb load (external): 1020kg (2250 lb)

Photo Description
Drawing FM-2

Drawing FM-2

The FM-2 during flight test.

The FM-2 during flight test.


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "American Warplanes of World War II" /under cor. David Donald/
  • "Shipborne Fighters of World War II" /Ivan Kudishin/
  • 'Flight Deck, US Navy Carrier Operations 1940-1945', by Al Adcock, A Squadron/Signal Publications/