The Grumman F4F Wildcat was an American carrier-based fighter that began service with both the U.S. Navy and the Fleet Air Arm in 1940, becoming the primary carrier fighter for the first year and a half of US involvement in World War II's Pacific Theater.
Wildcat in Days of Infamy
When the Empire of Japan invaded the United States territory of Hawaii in 1941, the Wildcat was the most advanced frontline fighter the US Navy had. Although the Wildcat was more heavily armed and armored, and it could out perform the Zero in a dive, it wasn't as maneuverable or as fast as the Japanese fighter. Wildcats were shot down out of the skies in large numbers.
Although tactics were developed to give the Wildcat an edge over the Zero by Lieutenant John Thach, the Wildcat still performed poorly against the Zero. During the first attempt to retake the islands, although these tactics resulted in several Zeros being shot down, Wildcats were still slaughtered by the Japanese fighters.
Wildcat in The War That Came Early
The Wildcat fighter was the US Navy's front line fighter when the Japanese opened the war in the Pacific in 1941. It performed adequately against the Zero, but their pilots got too distracted by the zero to protect their fleets resulting in the sinking of many ships.
By late 1942, the fighters had adopted the "Boom and Zoom" tactic in order to even the odds against the Japanese.