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The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a rugged, dependable fighter which made a major contribution to the war in the Pacific. In the naval war against Japan US Navy and Marine corps Hellcat pilots claimed 5156 enemy aircraft destroyed, nearly three quarters of all naval air victories. Rapidly developed as a successor to the earlier Wildcat, the prototype first flew in June 1942. The first production F6F-3 flew in October 1942 and deliveries began in January 1943. The Hellcats finest hour came in June 1944 during the Battle of the Phillipines sea. The Royal Navy received 252 Hellcat I's and 930 Hellcat II's of which 175 were converted to NFII's for use as night fighters. After the second world war some Hellcats remained in second line service as late as 1961.