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martlet AL246 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum

Grumman Martlet AL246

At the start of the Second World War the British Navy was desperately in need of a powerful single seat monoplane fighter. The new American made Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighter fitted this requirement.

Initially named the Martlet by the Royal Navy they were re-named Wildcats in 1944 to align with combined US and British operations.

1,123 Fleet Air Arm Martlets operated in all theatres of war including Norway, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Far East.

However, Martlets distinguished themselves in the Battle of Atlantic and on Arctic Convoys providing effective fighter support from escort carriers and working effectively with Fairey Swordfish in the hunt for German U Boats.

In October 1940 two Martlets of 804 Naval Air Squadron, based on Orkney, forced down a German Junkers 88A that was attempting to bomb the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.  This was the first victory credited to an American Built fighter in British service.

The Museums aircraft

Grumman Martlet l, AL246, is the only surviving  F4F-4 (G-36A.)  

Originally ordered by the French Navy, these aircraft were diverted to Britain with the fall of France in May 1940. AL246 spent most of its service life in Scotland at Donibristle and Machrihanish. From 1944 it was used as an instructional airframe at Loughborough Aeronautical College and transferred to Yeovilton in the late 1950s.

Aircraft Name

In English heraldry a Martlet is a stylised bird with small or ineffective legs similar to a House Marten or Swallow. The Martlet aircraft is renowned for having a small and precarious undercarriage that could make take off and landings difficult. Intentionally or not, there is clearly a link between the heraldic bird and the Martlet aircraft.

Read more about the history and project of the Grumman Martlet AL246 here

Technical Details

Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation.


Span: 38ft                           

Length: 28ft 9ins

Height: 9ft 2.5ins

Weight (loaded): 7,002lb

Engine: Wright R-1820 G205A Cyclone

Max Speed: 328 at 21,000ft

Armament: Four half inch wing mounted machine guns


Other exhibits in this hall

  • de Havilland Vampire T22 de Havilland Vampire T22
  • Focke Achgelis FA330A-1 (100545) Focke Achgelis FA330A-1 (100545)
  • Fairey Fulmar (N1854) Fairey Fulmar (N1854)
  • Fairey Swordfish II (HS618) Fairey Swordfish II (HS618)
  • Westland Dragonfly HR5 (WN493) Westland Dragonfly HR5 (WN493)
  • Hawker Sea Fury FB11 (WJ231) Hawker Sea Fury FB11 (WJ231)
  • LIM2 (MIG 15 copy) (01420/G-BMZF) LIM2 (MIG 15 copy) (01420/G-BMZF)
  • de Havilland Sea Vampire de Havilland Sea Vampire

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