Pat Donahue wrote to ask me how the aileron control mechanism spanned the large gap created when the wing was folded alongside the fuselage. He had looked at the wing-fold area of the F6F at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola without being able to determine how it was done.
Uhh - that's a good question. As it turns out, Grumman created three different ways to do it, although the original one, on the F4F Wildcat, appears to be the only one that was used on more than one Grumman design. (Click on the images for a bigger picture.)
In other words, the ailerons are disconnected at the fold joint when the wings fold down and aft. When the wing is in the flight position, the two bellcranks have come together as a unit so the push/pull tube in the wing stub is pushing and pulling on the push/pull tube in the outer wing panel.
This would seem 1) difficult to rig without loss motion or overload of the bellcranks in compression and 2) to require some means of restraining the ailerons when the wings were folded. Perhaps in recognition of these drawbacks, Grumman used a different concept on each of its next two designs.
The TBF took me a while to figure out, although the mechanism is hidden in plain sight, right where Pat thought it should be, at the wing panel pivot axis.
The Grumman Archives came to my rescue with a maintenance manual. The TBF aileron control system changed from a push-pull mechanism to a cable system in vicinity of the fold joint. Two pairs of pulleys located at the pivot axis were used to transfer the motion across the fold joint This illustration depicts the pulleys on the right wing when the wings are spread:
The two concepts that did not break the connection between control stick and the ailerons when the wings were folded would appear to be more desirable, particularly the approach used on the F6F, but Grumman and/or the Navy thought otherwise for some reason. Grumman reverted to the original concept used on the F4F for its subsequent designs incorporating the sto-wing: the AF Guardian, WF (E-1) Tracer, and E-2 Hawkeye.