The only WW2 aircraft in the collection. It was based at Long Kesh with 882 Sqn when it had an engine fire on Christmas Eve 1944 when en route to Lough Neagh for some dive bombing practice. It was ditched in Portmore Lough by the 19-year-old pilot, Peter Lock (left), who is now 85 years old; Harry McKillop (centre) and Raymond Burrows Hon. Treasurer (right) pictured at a recent event at our hangar.
It was recovered from the lough in 1983/84 with the help of Ulster Sub Aqua Club, Heyn Group, Belfast and Army Air Corps as well as other organizations and individuals. Being restored to static display condition. Was a very good naval fighter aircraft which could give a good account of itself, even against Spitfires. Royal Navy had 15 squadrons of Wildcats in total.
The Grumman F4F Wildcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service with both the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy in 1940. Although first used in combat by the British in Europe, the Wildcat was the only United States Navy or Marine fighter in World War II 1941–42 in the Pacific Theater besides the brief appearance of the F2A Buffalo. With a top speed of 318 mph, the Wildcat was outperformed by the more nimble 331 mph Mitsubishi Zero, but its ruggedness and tactics such as the Thach Weave resulted in a air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.