In 1942, a prized Japanese A6M Zero warplane fell into American hands. The secrets it yielded allowed U.S. navy pilots to come up with new combat tactics that proved decisive in the Pacific War.
The F6F Hellcat was built for one reason: to take on the striking force of Japan's Imperial Navy and its premier dogfighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. This is the inside story of how the U.S. Navy, bruised and battered in the Pacific, tasked the engineers at Grumman's to upgrade their current fighters into faster, more agile, and unshakeable warplanes. Witness its creation and impact in the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, which helped turn the tide of war in the Allies' favor.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel on air.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.