AVIATION: The Embattled Farmer

No U.S. Navy planes had prouder records in World War II than those made by Grumman Aircraft—the Wildcat and Hellcat fighters and the Avenger torpedo bomber. After the Battle of Savo Island, James Forrestal, then Under Secretary of the Navy, declared flatly: "Grumman saved Guadalcanal." In the Battle of the Marianas, which pilots called "the turkey shoot," they downed 360 Japanese planes in a single day, the record bag of the war.

Grumman not only turned out rugged planes that, riddled with holes, brought pilots safely home, but it turned them out fast. Its production boss was brusque and burly...

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