One of the best single-seater carrier-based fighters of World War II was the Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat. The Hellcat owes its existence to the long string of failures experienced by the F4U Corsair. The Corsair was meant to replace the F4F Wildcat, but the prototype was full of flaws, as were the first production models. So, it was decided that a modification of the F4F Wildcat would be designed to satisfy the needs of the U.S. Navy until the arrival of the Corsair. Thankfully, things did not go according to plan. The "temporary substitute" performed amazingly well against the A6M Zero and garnered too much praise to be cast aside. Production of the F6F continued well after the Corsair arrived and continued after the war. The F6F would still be active during many conflicts to come.
The F6F-3 was known for its superb speed and above-average maneuverability, and, according to official statistics, Hellcats destroyed 5,156 enemy planes, 75% of all kills scored by the USA's naval air force in World War II.
Production of the F6F continued until 1949, and 12,275 F6Fs (including 4,402 F6F-3s) were produced. The F6F was the most widely-used American carrier fighter in World War II.