The F4F came to life as Grumman design G-18. It was Grumman's first monoplane and became an outstanding Navy fighter in the first years of WWII. Actually, the first F4F prototype ( XF4F-1) was still a biplane until the Navy ordered a monoplane, the XF4F-2. This monoplane first flew on 2 September 1937 and it didn't meet the Navy's requirements. It was developed further, equipped with a new engine and a larger wing and redesignated XF4F-3 (Grumman design G-36). Now it met the Navy's requirements with a top speed of 333.5 mph. A total of 380 F4F-3s were built plus 81 G-36As for France ("Martlet I") which were transferred to Britain in June 1940.
Grumman developed the F4F-3 further and the result was the G-36B which became the F4F-4. In the following years, some 1,169 F4F-4s were produced by Grumman. Additionally, Grumman built an unarmed long-range reconnaissance version of hte Wildcat, the F4F-7 with a range of more than 3,500 miles.
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