Flight deck crew of USS Yorktown (CV-10) extending the wing of a U.S. Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat "White K" Bu No 41090 (aircraft number 9) from Fighter Squadron VF-1 from Carrier Air Group 1 (CVG-1) in June 1944. This photo was taken during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the largest carrier battle in world history and the glory hour of the Grumman F6F-3 (it should be noted, as well, that the F6F "Hellcat" is the most successful fighter in aviation history when it comes to air-to-air "kills," ultimately amassing a 19 to 1 kill ratio, primarily against the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, or "Zeke"). Notice that the propeller hub on this aircraft is painted pea green which was an unofficial recognition feature found on Yorktown based aircraft throughout much of the war. During this period (June-July 1944), Yorktown took part in the capture of Saipan, 1st Bonin raid, Battle of the Philippine Sea, 2nd & 3rd Bonin raids, capture of Guam, and raids on Palau, Yap, and Ulithi. For additional information, Leroy Grumman got the idea for the folding wing design to fold against the fuselage from an eraser and a paper clip! He took an eraser and used it, as the fuselage of the plane. Then he took two paper clips for the wings and bent out the short end of each of the clips, so that it was perpendicular to the body of the paper clip. He stuck the short ends into the eraser until he found the right angle and position at which the clip, when twisted to the vertical position, would also fold back against the eraser. It worked! all that was necessary now was the engineering to design the folding wing mechanism, make it strong and fail-safe. This principle was used on the F4F Wildcat the F6F Hellcat and the TBF Advenger, and the folding wing design is still used today on carrier-based US Navy aircraft that are built by Grumman.
Ray Wagner collection