BZ's 2009 Chino Grumman

Photo Gallery

Thought I'd group all the Grumman planes together since there were so many different models. In this section are the F3F Flying Barrel, J2F Duck, F4F Wildcat (actually a FM-2), TBF Avenger, F6F Hellcat, F7F Bearcat, and F8F Tigercat. Phew!

A word about photographing warbirds. It's actually much harder than jets. The reason why is because propeller planes look more natural in photographs if their propellers are blurred. In fact, the more blurred the prop, the better! The gold standard of warbird photography is a 'full disc' prop. To get any prop blur, the photograph must be taken at a relatively slow shutter speed. The slower it is, the more prop blur you get. Unfortunately, a slow shutter also means more chances that the entire subject is blurred either due to camera shake, inaccurate panning technique, or if the plane's aspect changing too quickly in relation to the camera.

When done right, the prop plane image looks natural - even though it's a lot more challenging.

So if you ever hear someone say, 'that's a great shot, you can even see the propeller is frozen'...just smile and know that that was far easier to do than taking the same shot where you can't see the propeller!
Taken with a Nikon D200 w/ 70-300mm VR lens, and a D50 w/ 15-108mm VR lens
- Bernard Zee

Here's an unusual silver colored F8F Bearcat. Shutter speed was at 1/80sec.

Here's another Bearcat, but with much more prop blur! Shutter speed was at 1/25sec - much slower than the one above. It needed to be that slow to get a full disc since they're not reving the engines much while taxiing. This slow speed only works when the subject is otherwise almost motionless. Even then, count on a it being a low percentage shot if you have to zoom in a lot.

The show opens with 5 Bearcats doing a flyby.

Some Bearcats on the runway after returning from their flyby.

An unusual sight to see in the air is this J2F Duck. Pretty cool looking plane, though not very fast.
Here's the sound of the Duck's takeoff.

The family lineage of the Hellcat and Wilcat can be seen in this earlier F3F Flying Barrel.
Here's the Barrel's takeoff.

The FM-2 Wilcat had a role till the end of the war. Even though not a good match for the Japanese Zeroes, the Wildcat could take off and land in a very short distance. This allowed them to operate off very small escort carriers, and provide air cover where there otherwise would be none.
Click to hear the Wildcat's wild takeoff sounds!

The Bearcats on the other hand, were deployed late in the war, and did not see any action before the war ended.

A nice formation shot of the Duck and Flying Barrel.
Here are their unusual sounds together.

A F6F Hellcat in British Royal Navy colors, in the process of retracting its landing gear after take off.

The same Hellcat banking during a pass.

The Tigercat came before the Bearcat, but structural issues prevented it from being deployed from carriers. They likewise did not see any action in WWII.

Looks like the entire Grumman WWII fighter lineage in this pass. F8F, F4F (FM-2), F3F, F6F, and F7F (not in that order, of course).

Closer view of the F3F, F6F, and F7F.

The Minsi III from CAF is an F6F Hellcat.

An Avenger Torpedo Bomber taxiing by. It could carry a single Mark 13 torpedo, or up to 2000lbs of bombs in it's bomb bay.

The TBF Avenger was the heaviest single engined aircraft of the war. Responsible for helping sink a host of Japanese shipping including various carriers, and the super battleships Musahi and the Yamato.

The Avengers were one of the most effective sub killers in the Pacific theater, with about 30 submarine kills.

President George H.W. Bush flew an Avenger during the war, and received the Distingushed Flying Cross for his actions.

The F3F was the last American biplane fighter used by the U.S. Navy. It was withdrawn from front line use at the end of 1941 before it could serve in the war.

The F6F is powered by a 2000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800. It became the most successful aircraft in naval history, destroying 5,271 enemy aircraft.

Self sealing fuel tank, cockpit armor, and bullet resistent windshield made the Hellcat one tough opponent!

Before the Hellcat, the Wildcats had to hold the line. Not as fast nor as maneuverable as the Zeroes, the Wildcat had to rely on tactics which maximizes its strength while minimizing its weaknesses to stay in the fight.

The landing gear from the Wilcat is a holdover from the Flying barrel. The similarities can be seen in this and the previous shot.

The only advantage the Wildcat had over the Zero, was that it was faster in a dive, can take a lot more punishment (due to better armor and protection), and had better guns. With its 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine, the Wilcat can reach speeds of 331 mph.

Most importantly though, was that their slow takeoff and landing speeds allowed them to operate from tiny escort carriers. This proved important in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when the main U.S. carrier and surface task force left the scene chasing decoy Japanese carriers. With the Fleet carriers and fast battleships gone, the Japanese planned on sending in their own battleships and cruisers to annhialate the defenseless transport and supply vessels.

The only thing holding back the superior Japanese surface fleet was the gallant actions of the handful of Wildcats operating from little 'jeep' carriers. Their ferocious attacks led the Japanese to believe that their decoy efforts failed, and that the main U.S. fleet was still in the area! When all seemed lost, and the Japanese about to break through to the unarmed U.S. transports, they reconsidered their actions and turned tail.

On the other side, the U.S. carriers and fast battlehips had to give up the chase of the Japanese carriers to return and defend the invasion fleet - once they found out they had been snookered, and also due to some misunderstood garbled communications. The Battle of Leyte Gulf makes for some pretty interesting reading, of missed opportunities on both sides.

From 1943 onward, the Hellcat began dominating the Pacific skies. The F6F accounted for 3/4ths of all aeriel victories in the Pacific.By the end of the war, there were 305 Hellcat aces!

The Avenger incorporated a unique wing folding mechanism, which allowed for maximum space efficiency for carrier operations.

The FM-2 differs from the original F4F by having a more powerful engine and taller tail to handle the increased torque.

The family resemblance between the Hellcat and Wilcat can be seen in this shot compared to the one above. Though they look similar, they are very different planes.

Wait a minute, this is not a Grumman... it's a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber. Oh well.

The F8F Bearcat took the Hellcat's engine, and put it in the smallest, lightest airframe package. The result is a fast, nimble aircraft with awesome speed and climb abilities.

Here are some more shots of the Hellcat in British Navy colors.

By the way, trying to shoot at slow shutter speeds at fast moving planes, with a long zoom (300mm, with a 1.5x crop), is a recipe for lots and lots of lousy shots. I think my low end shutter limit is 1/160sec. Any slower and the percentage of keepers starts to approach zero! This is part of the reason I ended up with so many thousands of shots. It's not exactly spray and pray - just giving myself the best possible chance of getting a keeper!

Here one can see just how big that single engined Avenger is.

Here's the torpedo bomber coming in for a landing.

Modified Bearcats can be seen in the Reno air races in the unlimited class. They and the Sea Furies seem to dominate the event - though a super modified Mustang has been known to win now and again.

Here's the silver colored Bearcat on takeoff. Gotta pan accurately!

Shot of the crowd line, and the planes on the hot ramp facing them.

How about that full disc! :-)

The other Hellcat passing through.

With the wings folded back, the Avenger doesn't take up nearly as much space.

A Tigercat getting ready to fly.

The two Hellcats taking off in formation. How 'bot that full disc!! I wouldn't normally shoot something like this at 1/60sec, so I'm sure it was unintentional! :-)

Here's the Tigercat taking to the air.

Followed by the Avenger.

The planes in front of the crowd tend to block the take off and landings at the worst moments. But it sometimes work out nice - like in this shot of the Avenger take off, with a P-40 in the foreground.

A pair of Bearcats make a fast pass.

An Avenger lumbers by at a more lesuirely pace.

This Avenger was immaculate looking close up. Lots of wax, I think.

There's a rear gunner position, but I don't know how effective of a deterent that one gun will be!

What it really needs is a fighter escort, like this Hellcat!

One Tigercat in the air is nice, but 2 in close formation? Sweet!

More Hellcat close flying.

One way to tell the difference between take offs and landing is the position of the wing flaps. This Avenger is landing.

The 3 most powerful Grumman piston engined fighters in formation.

Yes, it can be a bit difficult to track the planes for landings... Gotta look at the silver lining though. Makes it a unique shot right?

A Hellcat on takeoff with a Tigercat in the foreground.

A most dynamic shot of a Hellcat. Not really something the enemy bomber wants to see!

BZ Chino 2009 Gallery Index