I always wondered why the US Navy held onto the Boeing F4B for as long as they did, retiring the last birds from combat service in 1941.
My grandfather who was a Navy pilot in the late 1930's often referred to the Boeing fighters as little gnats. He always told me, when I asked him about the F4B, that it was a little killer. It would get on you and you couldn't shake the damn thing unless you had a way to extend out of the fight.
My grandfather did his advanced training in preparation for fleet service in a F4B-4, and then when he went to the fleet he was lucky enough to get into a Grumman F3F-3. He told me stories of how the little Boeing would constantly out perform anything in a dog fight. F3F and F2A pilots would find themselves getting into trouble. Unfortunately the little agile Boeing just didn't have the speed to keep up the fight with the Buffalo, Wildcat or the F3F in straight runs, but if they turned into a knife fight, then those little gnats would just get you. Your only hope was to use your speed and leave the engagement area. Therefor you become a soft kill, meaning you were driven out of the area, and not able to do what ever job you had been assigned.
But all that said, my grandfather pointed out to me, that it gave him and his "buddies" a decided advantage once they were fighting the Japanese. They knew how to handle agile enemies. The Fleet exercises paid off....
He pointed out to me the simple fact. that he and the guys who had that training and that flew against the Japanese lived to tale the stories of those early days of World War II, and those pilots that were rushed into the fleet in 1942, very few of those initial arrivals made it into 1943. He believed he owed his life to learning how to deal with those "damn little gnats" back int eh late 1930's fleet exercises.
God I miss my Grandfather.