There was a small crank on the left side of the cockpit, on or near the floor. It required something like 20 turns on a VERY stiff crank to get them up. I assume it was some sort of ratchet mechanism, but if you released it at the wrong time, it could catch your hand and break fingers!
You could always tell when the pilot was cranking up the gear -- the plane's nose would bob up and down (wonder why they just didn't press the G key?).
Of course they would also be flying formation at the time. Those guys had some amazing skills!
The F6F had hydraulic landing gear and a lot more power -- when F4F pilots got those planes in 1943 they thought they were in heaven!"
MiGMan thanks Chino
Back to 1942: Pacific Air War (1994).