Early in the Pacific War in WWII the Grumman F4F Wildcat was the best fighter aircraft the U.S. had but was out performed by the Japanese Zero. The Wildcat’s folding wings allowed for a greater number of aircraft that could be carried but added extra weight and reduced the aircraft performance. New features such as self-sealing fuel tanks, heavy armor made up for the Wildcat’s lesser performance. By the end of WWII the F4F had flown approximately 15,500sorties with a kill ratio of 6.9 victories to 1.
Warrant Officer Machinist Donald Runyon became the USN’s highest scoring F4F pilot when he scored eight victories during three sorties in August 1942. On August 7th during the invasion of Guadalcanal Runyon shot down two Val dive bombers and on the 8th a Zero and a Betty bomber. On the 24th during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons he shot down three Vals and a Zero. In 1943 Runyon returned to combat as a commissioned officer flying a Hellcat and scored three more victories with VF-18
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