When in September 1945 the Japanese capitulation was signed in Tokyo Bay, the numbers of the American ship-borne fighters had multiplied by more than fifty in the space of four years!
Relegated to their tiny escort carriers, the F4F Wildcats, meanwhile improved and renamed FM-2, are still on the Navy's registers. But the latter nevertheless largely provided for its replacement by two exceptional models, which successively entered active service in 1943: the Vought F4U Corsair and the Grumman F6F Hellcat, robust, powerful and enduring machines. Faster, better armed and much more versatile than the F4F, they posed an insurmountable problem to a Japanese air force already battered at Midway and Guadalcanal by Grumman's modest "barrel".
From the Coral Sea to Mount Suribachi, four years of air combat are traced here through the history of the three main aircraft that equipped American shipborne fighters in the Pacific. Alongside John Thach and Marrion Carl, we will see how the F4F opposed the Japanese surge in 1942-1943, before it was gradually driven back and then definitively stemmed by the combined action of the F4Us and F6Fs piloted by fascinating men such as Gregory “Pappy” Boyington or Dave McCampbell.
Together, these machines formed the "steel blue" cutting edge of a deadly aerial weapon to its adversaries, the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving under the banner of the Rising Sun.