02/28/2006. Remarks by Jack McKillop:
"In early 1942, the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
was producing F4F Wildcats, J2F Ducks and TBF Avengers but the US
Navy needed a new fighter to combat the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M, Navy
Type 0 Carrier Fighter (later given the Allied Code Name 'Zeke'
although it was commonly known as the 'Zero'). General Motors
Corporation (GM) had ceased manufacturing motor vehicles and had
established the Eastern Aircraft Division to manufacture existing
aircraft. Since Grumman did not have the manufacturing capacity to
build the Avenger, Duck, Wildcat and the new aircraft, the Navy
Department ordered Grumman to transfer the production of the Avenger
and Wildcat to GM's Eastern Aircraft and the Duck to Columbia
Aircraft Corporation of Valley Stream, Long Island, New York.
GM's Eastern Aircraft had five plants working on the FM Wildcat and
TBM Avenger, as the GM produced aircraft were designated. The plants
were located in Baltimore, Maryland; Tarrytown, New York; and three
in New Jersey, Bloomfield, Linden and West Trenton. The FMs were
assembled in Linden, New Jersey, from parts made in the other plants.
Deliveries of the 1,150 FM-1s, which were similar to the Grumman
F4F-4 Wildcat, were delivered between August 1942 and September 1943
with 312 going to Britain's Royal Navy as Martlet Mk.Vs. A total of
4,777 FM-2s were delivered between September 1943 and August 1945
with 370 going to the Royal Navy as Wildcat Mk. VIs. In the US Navy,
the FM-2s were assigned to escort aircraft carriers to fly
antisubmarine warfare missions and close air support for troops
during amphibious invasions.
This FM-2 was delivered to the US Navy with BuNo 86819 and Eastern
c/n 5877. It was purchased by Butler Aviation ca. 1957 and converted
into an aerial sprayer. It crashed while spraying in 1958 and the
hulk was sold in 1960. It passed through a number of owners, was
registered N5833 in August 1983 and was acquired by the Confederate
Air Force's Air Group One at Ramona, California in 1986. It was
restored and made its first flight on April 24, 1987. It is currently
registered to the American Airpower Heritage Museum located at the
Commerative Air Force (new name for the Confederate Air Force)
headquarters in Midland, Texas. The aircraft is based at Camarillo
Airport, Camarillo, California.
This aircraft is shown in the markings of Composite Observation
Squadron One (VOC-1) serving in the escort aircraft carrier USS Wake
Island (CVE-65) in June 1945. VOC-1 was equipped with both FM-2s and
TBM-3s to perform its mission of spotting for naval ship gunfire, a
task it performed during the invasions of Luzon in the Philippine
Islands and Okinawa in 1945.
By 2003, this Wildcat had been repainted in the markings of a British
Royal Navy Wildcat although the colors are not correct."