Tag Archives: WWII

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.

 

 

Advertisements

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.

D-Day – 73 years ago today

U.S. paratroopers fix static lines for thier before dawn jump over Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

AP File Photo

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.)

Warbirds – P-38 Lightning

To honor the anniversary of the first flight of the P-38 Lightning on January 27, 1939 we present to you some great footage in this new edition of Warbirds. This iconic aircraft emerged from United States Army Air Corps specifications drawn up in 1937. It was designated an “interceptor” to bypass the bureaucratic restriction of less than 500lbs of armament in pursuit aircraft. USAAF ordered an initial 55 aircraft in 1939 with the initial lightnings deployed with the 1st Fighter Group’s 27th Pursuit Squadron in July 1941. The first Lightnings to see service in WWII were unarmed F-4 photo reconnaissance version with the 8th Photographic Squadron in Australia. Armed P-38’s began operating in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in May 1942. At the end of a 1000 mile patrol in August, a pair of Lightnings of the 343rd Fighter Group, 11th Air Force encountered and downed a pair of Japanese H6K “Mavis” flying boats. These were the 1st kills recorded for the aircraft nicknamed by the Japanese “two planes, one pilot”. In the European theater, P-38 Lightnings earned a fearsome reputation among Axis aircrews.  After 26 P-38’s destroyed 31 aircraft near Tunis in April 1943, it earned the nickname “fork-tailed devil” from German aircrews.

Over the course of its operational life, over 10,000 P-38’s were built.  It was the only American aircraft to serve continuously from start to finish of World War II.  Over 100 pilots became aces piloting this plane with several earning the Medal of Honor.  Her most famous mission is considered to be the interception of the transport and escorts of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto; resulting in his death.  Over a dozen working examples of this famous Warbird remain airworthy today and can often be seen at air shows.  If you get the chance to see one in action, you wont be disappointed.

Without further ado, here is some great video.

Lost and Found – January 19th Edition

What to remember about January 19th…

  • 1807  Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee born in Virginia (d. 1870); formerly superintendent of  U.S. Military Academy
  • 1809  American poet and author Edgar Allen Poe is born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1849)
  • 1861  Georgia joins other Southern states in seceding from the Union
  • 1915  German zeppelins bomb Britain; 1st major bombing of civilian targets kill 20 people
  • 1920  Despite President Wilson’s efforts, United States Senate votes against America joining the League of Nations
  • 1978  Last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany rolls off production line; some minor production continues at South American facilities until 2003
  • 1981  Agreement is signed securing release of 52 hostages taken from American Embassy in Teheran, Iran
  • 1983  Klaus Barbie, “butcher of Lyon”and Former Nazi Gestapo chief, is arrested in Bolivia for crimes against humanity
  • 2006  NASA launches New Horizons probe; 1st mission destined to examine Pluto

herbie the love bug volkwagen beetle

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 17th Edition

What to remember about January 17th…

  • 1706  American inventor, statesman, printer, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1790)
  • 1781  Continental Army victory at Battle of Cowpens opens door for reconquest of South Carolina by Patriot forces; Tarleton and his Legion crushed
  • 1865  Pausing in Savannah after city’s capture, rains General Sherman’s Union forces from beginning their assault on the Carolinas
  • 1893  Civil War general and former 19th President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes dies at home from a heart attack (b. 1822)
  • 1893  American sugar planters led by Sanford Dole overthrow Hawaiian monarchy; U.S. Marines arrive to protect American civilians
  • 1944  Operation Panther begins; Allies try to wrest control of Cassino region of Italy from the Germans
  • 1953  Chevrolet unveils the prototype for iconic Corvette
  • 1961  In his farewell address to American people, President Eisenhower warns of the rising “military-industrial complex”
  • 1966  In-flight collision of a B-52 bomber and a KC-135 tanker drops 4 hydrogen bombs on Spain and surrounding ocean waters; last bomb recovered April 7th
  • 1994  At 4:30am the 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake strikes San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles; 54 die and billions in damage reported
  • 1994  Federal sexual harassment lawsuit is filed in Littlerock, Arkansas by Paula Jones accusing President Bill Clinton
  • 1991  Iraq fires 8 Scud missiles at Israel in an unsuccessful attempt to draw them into the Persian Gulf War
  • 1998  On his website The Drudge Report, Matt Drudge breaks the story of alleged affair between President Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky

drudge report scoop on lewinsky

Lost and Found – January 16th Edition

What to remember about January 16th…

  • 1861  Crittenden Compromise amendments to the Constitution are defeated in the U.S. Senate ending last effort to prevent the Civil War
  • 1919  Ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is certified; era of Prohibition begins in the United States
  • 1945  Adolf Hitler moves into bunker for 105 days; Hitler will marry Eva Braun and commit suicide while underground
  • 1970  American inventor and designer Buckminster Fuller is awarded Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects for developing the geodesic dome
  • 1979  Violent demonstrations by Islamic radicals and a possible military mutiny force Shah of Iran flees the country; eventually arrives in America
  • 1991  After U.N. deadline passes, U.S. and coalition forces launch 1st air attacks of the Persian Gulf War; ground offensive will begin February 24th
  • 2003  Space Shuttle Columbia launches on what will be her last voyage; craft will disintegrate on re-entry February 1st
  • UPDATE:2017  Eugene Cernan, US Navy pilot and NASA Astronaut, dies in Houston, TX (b. 1934); he was the last man to have walked on the Moon

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