Tag Archives: Navy

Warbirds – F6F Hellcat

June 26th, 1942 marks the first flight of Grumman’s F6F Hellcat.  Designed as the replacement for the F4F Wildcat, the Hellcat became the U.S. Navy’s premier carrier-based fighter aircraft.

Though Grumman was already working on the design to replace the Wildcat, the contract for the first prototypes wasn’t signed until June of 1941.  Using the design of the F4F as their starting point, the entire aircraft was re-engineered with one thing in mind – defeating the Japanese Zero.  Improve mechanical systems, a 25% more powerful engine, an armored cockpit with better visibility, more potent weaponry, and later even radar were added to this new Warbird.  Night-fighting capability and even a 2000 pound bomb payload capacity would enhance later versions of the F6F.

The Hellcat’s first saw enemy action on September 1st, 1943 when a pair from the USS Independence downed a Japanese “flying boat”.  Operational tempos increased rapidly for the Hellcats.  Engagements at Tarawa, Rabaul, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea saw kill counts soar.  With over 65,000 sorties flown by Hellcats during the war, F6Fs were responsible for over 5,000 downed enemy aircraft.  With only 270 Hellcats lost, they were responsible for over 50% of all U.S. aerial victories – an almost 19:1 kill-to-loss ratio.  Allied versions of the F6F build on this legacy.  Overall, 29 Navy, 2 Marine Corps aces, and one Medal of Honor recipient flew the F6F Hellcat.

The John Wayne film Flying Leathernecks (1951) features quite a bit of combat footage of the Hellcat in action even though F4U Corsairs were supposed to be the stars.  Spoilers like to point out that much of the footage is post-WWII and some even Korean War vintage.  Korea war the last theater of war in which U.S. F6Fs would see combat.

 

 

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D-day Photo Montage

Just a few quick photos of the preparations for, execution of, and aftermath of the D-Day invasion (Operation Overlord) June 6, 1944.  Thank you for your sacrifice.

Warbirds – F4U Corsair

Considered by many to be the best carrier based fighter-bomber of World War II, today we honor the May 29, 1940  first flight of the F4U Corsair on Warbirds.

Despite early issues with getting Corsair squadrons qualified for carrier landings, the Marine Corps had no reservations about using her as a land-based fighter beginning in 1942.  The navy restricted the planes from carrier landings until early 1944.  Despite the Corsair’s superior performance in almost all categories, veteran Navy pilots preferred the F-6 Hellcat as it was easier to land having less tendency to bounce.  Many naval aviators disparagingly called the F4U “hog”, hognose”, or even “bent-wing widow maker”.

The F-4 Corsair’s combat debut in 1943  was as part of the fiasco near Kahili known as the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”.  4 P-38s, 2 P-40s, 2 B-24s, and 2 F4Us were lost with no more than 4 Zeros downed.  Despite this rocky first encounter, Marine pilots soon learned to take advantage of the Corsair’s superior capabilities and six .50 caliber machineguns versus Japanese fighters.  These ground based squadrons would operate in some of the Pacific theater’s hottest zones like Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Philippines, Marshall Islands, Palaus, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

The F4U has had a star-studded cast of pilots.  Charles Lindbergh served as a test pilot and evaluator while Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams was a flight instructor for the F4U at Pensacola.  Among Marine Corps Corsair pilots there were 15 confirmed aces and 4 Medal of Honor recipients.  The first Corsair Ace was Second Lieutenant Kenneth A. Walsh while the most famous was probably Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington f the Blacksheep Squadron (VMF-214).

Having seen service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal New Zealand Airforce, and the U.K. Royal Navy Fleet Arm, the end of WWII did not spell the end of the Corsair’s career.  The F4U would serve with Argentinian, El Salvadoran, French, and Honduran militaries.  Combat roles would include the First Indochina War, the Suez Crisis, the Algerian War, and War of Tunisian Independence.  But, the Corsair would truly shine as close support aircraft and night fighter during the Korean War.  Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the U.S. Navy’s 1st African-American naval aviator, flew Corsairs on combat missions from the USS Leyte (CV-32). He was shot down on December 4, 1950 and became the first U.S. Navy officer killed during the Korean War.

F4U Corsairs feature prominently in media.  John Wayne starred in a film about Marine Corps aviators called Flying Leathernecks.  The made for television movie and follow-up series Baa Baa Black Sheep fictionally portrays the actions of Greg “Pappy” Boyington and the Black Sheep Squadron (VMF-214)

You can view a very thorough history of the Vought F4U Corsair on YouTube in this 5-part series.

(If you have suggestions of other aircraft to cover in upcoming Warbirds posts, please put them in the comments.  Thanks.)

Lost and Found – January 21st Edition

What to remember about January 21st…

  • 1738  American patriot, Revolutionary War hero, and founder of Vermont, Ethan Allen is born in Litchfield, Connecticut (d. 1789)
  • 1855  (21st or 23rd) American firearms designer and inventor John Moses Browning is born in Ogden, Utah (d. 1926); known as father of modern firearms
  • 1861  Jefferson Davis delivers farewell speech and then resigns from the senate; will become president of the Confederate States of America
  • 1924  Architect of the Bolshevik Revolution and 1st leader of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin dies (b. 1870); replaced by Joseph Stalin
  • 1950  Former State Department official and Soviet spy Algier Hiss is convicted of perjury
  • 1954  USS Nautilus is launched; worlds 1st operational nuclear powered submarine
  • 1968  Initial engagements of the 66-day long Battle for Khe Sanh
  • 1976  Concorde SST aircraft carries its 1st commercial passengers with simultaneous departures from London and Paris
  • 1977  President Carter unconditionally pardons thousands who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War
  • 1985  Ronald Reagan inaugurated to second term as president; ceremony delayed as the 20th fell on a Sunday
  • 2003  U.S. Census bureau announces that Hispanic population outnumbers African-American population in U.S. for the 1st time
  • 2010  Supreme Court rules in Citizens United v. FEC that portions of McCain-Feingold Act are unconstitutional; 1st Amendment prohibits limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions

From beginning in this humble shop in the old West, J.M. Browning went on to bring the world such important weapons as the M1911 pistol, the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Hi-Power pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the Browning Auto-5, and the Ithaca Model 37 semi-automatic shotgun.

Lost and Found – January 18th Edition

What to remember about January 18th…

  • 1776  Council of Safety in Savannah, Georgia issues arrest warrant for royal governor James Wright; Patriots place him under house arrest
  • 1778  English explorer Captain James Cook is 1st European to discover Hawaiian Islands; landfall is in 2 days
  • 1803  President Jefferson sends secret message to Congress requesting $2500 to fund exploratory mission of Lewis and Clark
  • 1862  Former 10th President and Confederate congressman-elect from Virginia John Tyler dies (b. 1790)
  • 1911  Pilot Eugee B. Ely is 1st to land an aircraft on a ship when he flew onto the deck of USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Harbor
  • 1944  Soviet forces liberate Leningrad (modern Day St. Petersburg) from nearly three-year Nazi siege
  • 1964  Plans are unveiled for the World Trade Center to be built in New York City
  • 1990  Mayor of Washington, D.C. Marion Barry arrested for drug possession in FBI sting; after completing prison term, Barry returns to politics
  • 1993  Martin Luther King holiday is celebrated in all 50 states for the 1st time

world trade center concept plan drawing

Lost and Found – January 15th Edition

What to remember about January 15th…

  • 1777  New Connecticut (Vermont) declares independence from Britain and the colony of New York
  • 1815  USS President is captured by British squadron during War of 1812
  • 1919  Storage tank holding 2.5 million gallons of boiling molasses ruptures in Boston killing 21 and injuring scores with 8-foot high molten wave
  • 1929  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 1968)
  • 1943  Dedication of the United States Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia; building popularly called “the Pentagon”
  • 1947  “Black Dahlia” investigation  begins with discovery of body of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles, California; mystery remains unsolved today
  • 1951  Ilse Koch known as “Witch of Buchenwald”, wife of commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp is sentenced to life in prison
  • 1973  President Nixon suspends offensive military action in Vietnam to give peace process a better chance of success
  • 2009  Commercial airline pilot Captain “Sully” Sullenberger performs his Miracle on the Hudson; lands powerless Airbus 320 safely on the water; walks the flooding aircraft twice to ensure all 150 passengers escape safely

Lost and Found – January 14th Edition

What to remember about January 14th…

  • 1639  Fundamental Orders are adopted in Connecticut; 1st written constitution in the colonies
  • 1741  American General turned traitor Benedict Arnold is born in Norwich, Connecticut (d. 1801)
  • 1784  War for Independence ends officially as Continental Congress ratifies second Treaty of Paris; Britain acknowledges colonies now as United States; known in U.S. as Ratification Day
  • 1875  Nobel Prize-winning physician, theologian, and musician Dr. Albert Schweitzer is born (d. 1965)
  • 1942  President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, persons from Axis nations of Italy, Germany and Japan required to register with Department of Justice; opened door to full-scale internment
  • 1950  1st flight of the Soviet Union’s MiG-17 jet fighter
  • 1963  George Wallace is inaugurated as Democrat governor of Alabama; ran on platform of  “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”
  • 1969  Accidental explosion aboard the USS Enterprise kills 27 and injures over 300; serious safety flaws revealed aboard the 1st nuclear aircraft carrier
  • 2005  World Health Organization reports that worldwide polio cases have doubled since Islamic boycott on vaccines began; Muslims claim an American plot
  • 2008  Bobby Jindal is sworn in as the 56th Governor of Louisiana; 1st Indian-American governor elected in the U.S.

USS Enterprise fire 14 January 1969

F-35 Lightning II Update

Found a cool video catching up on some of the latter developments with the F-35 Lightning II.  Cool stuff.

And first video of the F-35 at Yuma.

And a few pictures to go with it.

f-35b flight line

f-35 takeoff

F-35 flyover

f-35 preps for takeoff

F-35 Joint-Strike-Fighter demonstration team

Thanksgiving For The Troops – Part 2 (Repost)

Earlier I did a brief post on thanking our veterans this season.  I thought I’d continue the theme today with our serving soldiers.

Lost and Found – October 25th Edition

What to remember about October 25th…

  • 1415  On St. Crispin’s Day, small force led by Henry V defeats numerically superior French army at Battle of Agincourt in Hundred Years’ War; English longbows prove highly effective
  • 1764  Future President John Adams and Abigail Smith marry in Massachusetts
  • 1774  Continental Congress petitions king of England to address the Intolerable Acts
  • 1854  Confusion leads to Charge of the Light Brigade during Crimean War; inspires Tennyson’s famous poem
  • 1861  Keel is lain for the 1st Union ironclad USS Monitor
  • 1962  U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson presents photographic evidence to U.N. of Soviet missile bases in Cuba
  • 1971  United Nations votes to admit Peoples Republic of China and expel Republic of China (Taiwan)
  • 1983  President Reagan orders Marines to invade island of Grenada to protect American students and tourists; now celebrated as Thanksgiving Day
  • 1994  Susan Smith reports her car was hijacked with her 2 children in the back; this lie is to cover her murder of the kids