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US carriers in the ETO

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by GunSlinger86, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    Did the US carriers operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean use the same planes as in the Pacific, the Hellcat and Corsair, and did they have success against the Nazi fighters? I know the Hellcat and Corsair tore apart the Japanese planes, and was wondering if they had the same success against the Germans.
     
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    This I keep in a folder entitled “Standard Stock Answers.” Originally penned about ten years ago, I do, on occasion, drag it out when new info comes to light or when I just feel like moving commas around. This is the long version and deals with both the USN and the RN’s use of US built carrier fighters plus a couple of forays by the USN into aircraft they did not normally operate. Here goes . . .

    The names Wildcat, Hellcat and Corsair conjure for most visions of the Pacific Theater, the big carrier battles – Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz, and Philippine Sea; tropical island battles – Guadalcanal and the long march up the Solomons; and desperate battles against the Kamikazes off Okinawa and the coast of Japan. These were the fighter planes of the US Navy and Marine Corps through their battles and campaigns of the Pacific. There is, however, another side to their story. Wildcats, Hellcats, and Corsairs were also in other theaters, Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean and US naval aviators flew other fighters in Europe besides these mainstays.

    Employment of US designed and built carrier fighters by both the Americans and the British in the European and African Theaters pertains to three aircraft types. The navies of both countries fought using the F4F (or, its later variant, the FM-2) and the F6F. The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm employed the F4U in the European waters, but the US Navy did not, sending all their F4U's to the Pacific. There were numerous aerial clashes between the British and American US built carrier fighters and their German, Italian, and Vichy opponents, but very few fighter-to-fighter duels, especially against the Luftwaffe, and none involved the F4U.

    US Navy F4F aerial actions, and where most fighter-to-fighter duels took place, were concentrated in Operation Torch against Vichy aircraft. There were some 109 Wildcats assigned to four carriers: VF-41 (Lieut Comdr CT Booth, USN) and VF-9 (Lieut Comdr JA Raby, USN), USS Ranger; VGF-27 (Lieut Comdr TK Wright, USN), VGF-28 (Lieut Comdr JI Bandy, USN), and a detachment from VGS-30 (Lieut Comdr MP Bagdanovitch, USN), USS Suwannee; VGF-26 (Lieut Comdr WE Ellis, USN), USS Sangamon; and VGF-29 (Lieut Comdr JT Blackburn, USN, later of VF-17 fame), USS Santee. VGS-30 was the training squadron assigned to USS Charger which operated in the Chesapeake Bay. VF-9 was from the forming CVG-9 later to be assigned to USS Essex.

    On 8 November, over Cazes, VF-41 brought down 13 Vichy aircraft: four Dewoitine D.520's, eight Hawk 75A's (export version of the Curtis P-36), and one Douglas DB-7. Lieut (jg) Shields accounted for a D.520, two 75A's (plus one damaged) and the DB- 7; Lieut August brought down three of the 75A's; and the CO, Booth, also scored a 75A. It wasn't all VF-41's way however, of 18 Wildcats engaged six were lost, mostly to ground fire, including Shields and August. Five pilots were captured and one recovered from off shore.

    Near Port Lyautey, VF-9’s skipper, Raby, knocked down a Potez 63. VGF-26 pilots found themselves later that morning also over Port Lyautey, where they ran up against several twin engine bombers and five fighters. They accounted for one D.520 and three Martin 167's with no losses. VGF-27 pilots, unfortunately, intercepted and shot down a RAF Hudson, mistakenly identified as Vichy. Only one member of the four man crew survived.

    On 9 November, VF-9 went into action again and claimed five 75A's, including one fro Raby (plus one probable) though French records only recorded four losses, at a cost of one F4F (pilot captured). VF-41 claimed the shoot down an 'intruder' over the invasion beaches as darkness fell, but this may have been a photo-recon Spitfire that turned up missing that night. French and German records did not indicate any aircraft in the area at the time.

    10 November found a last contact with VF-29’s Ens Jacques shooting down what he reported was a Bloch 174, but was later confirmed as a Potez 63, near Safi.

    Overall, US F4F losses were fairly heavy, over 20%. There were 11 combat related losses (5 losses in aerial combat) and 14 operational losses. US pilots claimed 22 victories, not including the Hudson and the probable Spitfire. The French reported losing 25 aircraft in combat.

    On 4 October 1943, Ranger participated in Operation Leader, a strike on the harbor at Bodø in Norway. During this action VF-4 (Lieut Comdr CL Moore, USN), the redesignated VF-41, pilots Lieut (jg)'s Mayhew and Laird together shot down a Ju 88 and Laird followed up with an He 115 on his own. With five later victories over Japanese opponents, Laird was the only confirmed USN ace with German and Japanese Theater victories. This was the last US F4F aerial action in the African-Atlantic-European theaters.

    German loss records show both a Ju 88 (#1682, Ltn Hoss, from 1(F)/22) and a He 115 (#1866, Ofw Schultz, from 1/406) as missing. One source indicates that the Ju 88 was indeed lost to VF-4.

    After the F4F came the F6F as the mainstay of USN carrier fighter operations. For the F6F the only action over Europe transpired during, Operation Anvil/Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in August 1944. USS Tulagi with VOF-1 (Lieut Comdr WF Bringle, USN) and USS Kasaan Bay embarking VF-74 (Lieut Comdr HB Bass, USN), both squadrons, operating F6F-5s, provided coverage for the landings. VF-74 also operated a 7-plane F6F-3N night fighter detachment from Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. On the day of the invasion, 15 August, VF-74 flew 60 sorties, VOF-1, 40 sorties, all ground support missions.

    On the morning of 19 August, the first German aircraft, three He 111's, were spotted by a four-plane division of VOF-1 pilots. The Americans were too short on fuel and could not attack. Two of the Americans were forced to land on HMS Emperor due to their fuel state. Later that day, two He 111's were spotted by another VOF-1 division and were promptly shot down, this occurring near the village of Vienne. Lieut Poucel and Ens Wood teamed up to bring down one and Ens Robinson brought down the second. Soon thereafter, in the same vicinity, a third He 111 was shot down by Ens Wood.

    That same morning, a division of VF-74 pilots led by Lieut Comdr Bass brought down an Ju 88 and in the afternoon another division attacked a Do 217 with split credits to going to Lieut (jg) Castanedo and Ens Hullard.

    On 21 August, pilots from VOF-1 shot down three Ju 52 transports north of Marseille. Two were credited to Lieut (jg) Olszewski; one went to Ens Yenter. Operating for two weeks in support of the invasion, these two squadrons were credited with destroying 825 trucks and vehicles, damaging 334 more and destroying or otherwise immobilizing 84 locomotives. German aircraft shot down: VOF-1: 6, VF-74: 2.

    Although the two navy squadrons lost some 17 aircraft, combined, all were to ground fire or operational accidents. None were shot down by German aircraft. Among the 7 pilots lost (2 from VOF-1 and 5 from VF-74) was the CO of VF-74, Lieut Comdr H. Brinkley Bass, awarded 2 Navy Crosses from early Pacific actions, killed by antiaircraft fire while strafing near Chamelet on 20 August.

    On the flip side of USN F4F and F6F actions, two USN squadrons operated distinctly non-carrier fighters in the European and Mediterranean Theaters.

    For the invasion of European coastlines it was presumed by the US Navy that aerial naval gunfire spotters would be of value, but that their standard aircraft, the OS2U and the SOC would be too vulnerable to roving German fighters. To remedy that situation it was decided to train the USN flyers to perform their spotting missions from high performance fighters.

    Four naval aviators from USS Brooklyn’s VCS-8 (Lieut DA Liane, USN) reported to Berteaux, Algeria, on 15 January 1944 to begin transition to the P-40. They were joined about a month later by aviators from USS Philadelphia. Training continued through spring, and in April the entire group transitioned to P-51's.

    On 21 April, the navy flyers were formally attached to the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, flying F-6A's and they began to fly missions as they qualified in type. In July, the VCS-8 pilots received 10 new P-51C's which they flew during the invasion of southern France. VCS-8 pilots were assigned to the “Camel” sector, which stretched roughly from Ponte de la Calle, just to the south of St. Aygulf, thence north and east to a point just east of Les Beaumettes and west of Cagnes-sur-mer on the Baie des Anges. This included the area surrounding Cannes and was in support of operations conducted by the 36th Infantry Division (USA). Each spotting mission consisted of two fighters, one to spot and the other to "weave" astern. The spotter reported the fall of shot and the weaver reported presence of anti-aircraft fire and hostile aircraft. This second pilot was prepared to take over the spotting duty in case the spotter suffered casualty or communication failure. By August 30, with the land operations outside the range of naval gunfire support, the pilots turned their P-51's over to 111 TRS and returned to their ships.

    For naval gunnery spotting for the Normandy invasion, VCS-7 was established on 8 May 1944, made up of 17 VCS and Battleship Observation (VO) pilots from the battleships Nevada, Arkansas, and Texas and the cruisers Quincy, Tuscaloosa, and Augusta. The squadron began training in Spitfire Vb's at Middle Wallop, Hampshire under the direction of Colonel GW Peck of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Ninth Air Force.

    The Navy pilots were trained in defensive fighter tactics, aerobatics, combat formation flying and spotting procedures. Lieut Comdr W Denton, Jr., USN, senior aviator from Quincy, took command on May 28th. The squadron was determined to be fully operational that same day and moved to Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Lee-on-Solent.

    At Lee-on-Solent there were five naval squadrons, four FAA and VCS-7. The four FAA squadrons, Nos. 808 (Lieut Comdr JF Rankin, DSC, RN), 897 (Lieut Comdr WC Simpson, DSC, RN), 885 (Lieut Comdr SL Devonald, RN), and 886 (Lieut Comdr PEI Bailey, RN), were assigned Seafire III's. VCS-7 had Spitfire Vb's. The squadrons’ aircraft were pooled to insure maximum availability. This meant that VCS-7 flew whatever type was available, either Seafire or Spitfire.

    German aerial opposition was rarely encountered. VCS-7 pilots had four recorded encounters with German fighters, and suffered no losses, but neither did they score any victories. Losses to anti-aircraft fire were also small, with only one pilot lost. The VCS-7 after action report records only this one loss as the total for the operational period, but other sources report upwards to seven aircraft lost to enemy fire and one operational loss. It is entirely probably that both are correct except that the VCS-7 reports only the pilot loss not the loss of aircraft not resulting in a personnel loss. VCS-7 flew approximately 200 combat sorties between 6 and 25 June. On 26 June, as the fighting had moved beyond the range of naval gunfire, the squadron was disestablished and the pilots returned to their ships.

    The Royal Navy was to employ F4F types in combat long before the US Navy. The first FAA Martlet I’s (export F4F's, model G-36A's, originally earmarked for France but transferred to the Royal Navy after the collapse of France) were active almost a year before Pearl Harbor. First air-to-air victory was on 25 December 1940; flying out of Hatson, Lieut Carter and Sub-Lieut Parke from 804 Squadron (Lieut Comdr BHM Kendall, RN, commanding) intercepted a Ju 88 over Scapa Flow and shot it up enough to force a crash landing near Loch Skail. This event is sometimes cited as the first instance of an US built aircraft downing an enemy plane in the Second World War, that would not be so. It was the first instance of an US built fighter aircraft downing an enemy plane in the war. The first aircraft downed by an US built aircraft in the war was a Dornier Do18 seaplane from 2/Küstenfliegergruppe 506 forced down with engine damage, and subsequently shot up until it sank, by a couple of cooperating Hudsons of the RAF’s 224 Squadron 8 October 1939.

    Later land based victories were scored in the Mediterranean Theater. On 28 September 1941, Sub-Lieut Walsh, 805 Squadron (Lieut Comdr AF Black, RN) operating out of Sidi Haneish shot down an Italian Fiat G-50. Walsh and Sub-Lieut Routley claimed a probable victory over a Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 on 11 November. By 28 December, 805 was operating out of Tobruk. On that day Sub-Lieut Griffin attacked four SM.79’s that were conducting a torpedo attack. He forced two of them to jettison their payloads and evade, shot down a third and was, in turn, shot down by the gunner of the fourth. 805 Squadron later accounted for a Ju 88 in February 1942 and two more SM.79s in July.

    At sea, 802 Squadron (Lieut Comdr JM Wintour, RN), specialized in FW 200's. Operating off HMS Audacity escorting Convoy OG-74 from Liverpool to Gilbratar, the first encounter was early on 21 September 1941, when one was brought down under the combined attack of Sub-Lieut's Patterson and Fletcher. Later, in the early afternoon, a Ju 88 was driven off with damage. Shortly thereafter another section chased down a radar contact only to find the Lisbon to Azores Boeing 314 Clipper … they let it go. This was the interception where Sub-Lieut Brown was photographed by the Clipper’s pilot flying in formation with his section, with his Martlet inverted. On 8 November, now escorting Convoy OG-76 to Gibraltar from Milford Haven, Lieut Comdr Wintour and Sub-Lieut Hutchinson attacked and shot down another 200, but, in the process, Wintour was killed by return fire. Later that day, Brown shot down a second FW 200 in a head-on pass and Sub-Lieut Lamb drove off a third.

    At sea again with still another convoy, HG-76 back to Liverpool from Gibraltar, 802 was now commanded by Lieut DCEF Gibson, DSC, RN. On 14 December, Sub-Lieut Fletcher was shot down and killed strafing surfaced U-131. His action, however, enabled three escorts to close range and take the submarine under fire until her crew was forced to abandon ship. On 19 December, in another head-on pass, Brown brought down his second FW 200, Lieut Comdr Sleigh, using Brown’s proven head-on method, shot down another, and Lamb, again, drove off a third with damage. Audacity was torpedoed by U-751 on 21 December and sank with heavy losses, including many pilots.

    During the British invasion of Madagascar, Martlets from 881 Squadron (Lieut Comdr JC Cockburn, RN) off HMS Illustrious accounted for two French Potez 63's (one shared between Lieut Waller and Lieut Bird) and three Morane Saulnier 406C's (one to Lieut Tompkins, one shared between Waller and Sub-Lieut Lyon, and one shared between Waller and Tompkins) between 5 and 7 May 1942 with the loss of one of their own. The actual strength of Vichy air forces on the island, though, were meager; their combat aircraft strength consisted of but 17 MS 406s, of which only 11 were operational, and 6 Potez 63’s, with only 4 operational. Illustrious and HMS Indomitable, together, mustered totals of 20 Martlets, 13 Fulmars, 20 Swordfish, 6 Sea Hurricanes and 24 Albacore, so things were a bit lopsided.

    On 7 August 1942, in a side-show effort to distract Japanese attentions from Guadalcanal in the Solomons, HMS Formidable allowed herself to be spotted by Japanese patrol reconnaissance in the Bay of Bengal. In the process, Sub-Lieuts Scott and Ballard, from 888 Squadron (Capt FDG Bird, RM) splashed a Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis' flying boat flying boat piloted by Lt (jg) Yokoyama Tetsuo.

    May was also a busy month the Mediterranean. On the 12th, during Operation Pedestal, six Martlets from 806 Squadron (Lieut Comdr JN Garnett, RN) on HMS Furious were part of a force rounded out with 30 Sea Hurricanes and 18 Fulmars which took on a mixed force of German and Italian attackers, numbering about 100, going after a Malta bound convoy. The Grummans pilots accounted for two SM.79s, one Ju 88 and one Reggianne Re.2000. One Martlet was lost.

    In November 1942 came Operation Torch. 888 Squadron and 893 Squadron (Lieut RG French, RNVR) with a total of 24 F4F's were deployed on Formidable. Illustrious carried 882 Squadron (Lieut ILF Lowe, DSC, RN) with 18 F4F's.

    On 6 November, Lieut Jeram, 888 Squadron, shot down a Bloch 174. On 9 November, Jeram shared another Ju 88 with Sub-Lieut Astin; meanwhile, a division of 882 Squadron brought down a He 111 and drove off, with damage, a Ju 88. With Jeram's victories, 888 Squadron was the only Allied squadron able to claim kills on German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy opponents.

    Unfortunately, on the 11th, a four-plane division from 893 made the same identification error as did VGF-27 on the 9th and shot down another RAF Hudson that they mis-identified as an Italian SM.84.

    In July 1943, 881 Squadron (Lieut Comdr RA Bird, RN) and 890 Squadron (Lieut Comdr JW Sleigh, DSC, RN), while operating off Furious, shot down 3 Blohm and Voss BV 138 seaplanes. Available loss records show two BV-138 as probably falling prey to the Martlets, #310028 (Obltn Schumacher) on 8 July and #310098 (Uffz Feddersen) on 28 July, both from 2/406.

    September 9th during Operation Avalanche saw 888 off Formidable score again, bringing down a Cantieri Z.506B float-plane. 842 Squadron (Lieut Comdr LR Tivy, RN), HMS Fencer, scored an FW 200, splashed by Sub-Lieut Fleishman-Allen, on 1 December to round out 1943.

    1944 saw FAA F4F scores at about the same rate. On 12 February Convoy OS-67/KMS-41, out of Belfast to Gibraltar, protected by 881 Squadron (Lieut Comdr DRB Cosh, RCNVR) and 896 Squadron (Lieut Comdr LA Hordern, DSC, RNVR), HMS Pursuer, was attacked by seven He 177s from II.KG 40 carrying the Henshel Hs-293 guided missile. Defending F4Fs shot down a He 177, a snooping FW 200, and drove off the remaining He 177s. Credits went to Sub-Lieut Turner, the FW 200, and Sub-Lieut Brander, the He 177.

    Lieuts Dimes and Erickson, 811 Squadron (Lieut Comdr EB Morgan, RANVR), HMS Biter, shot down a Ju 290 on 16 February.

    Providing escort for Convoy JW-58 on the Murmansk Run were 819 Squadron (Lieut OAG Oxley, RN), HMS Activity, and 846 Squadron (Lieut Comdr RD Head, DSC, RN), HMS Tracker. 819’s Lieut Large and Sub-Lieut Yeo shared a Ju 88 on 30 March and between 31 March and 4 April the two squadrons together brought down one BV 138, one Ju 88 and three FW 200's with no losses. German records record a Ju 88D-1, #430563 (no crew noted) from 1 (F)/22 as lost in this area on 30 March and three FW 200C’s from 3/KG 40 on 31 March, #62 (Obltn Klomp), #220 (Ofw Weyer), #224 (Uffz Göbel). The corresponding BV 138 loss, on 1 April was #311043 of 1 (S)/130 (Obltn Kannengiesser). A Ju 88 from 1 (F)/124 was reported lost on 2 April.

    On 3 April some 40 Martlets from Pursuer and Searcher flew flak suppression for Operation Tungsten, the raid on the Tirpitz. These included: from Pursuer, 881 Squadron and 896 Squadron and from HMS Searcher, 882 Squadron (Lieut Comdr EA Shaw, RN) and 898 Squadron (Lieut Comdr GR Henderson, DSC, RNVR).

    Off Activity while escorting Convoy RA-59 on a return run to Loch Ewe from Murmansk, following vectors for a nearby Swordfish, the team of Lieut Large and Sub-Lieut Yeo, 819 Squadron, on 1 May, scored again, bringing down BV 138 that was snooping their convoy.

    The Pursuer and Searcher squadrons also supported Operation Anvil/Dragoon in August, but their activities are confined to patrolling, strikes, and air-to-ground support.

    In November and December, new Wildcats (Grummans of the F4F family were by now called “Wildcat” instead of “Martlet” as the FAA had adopted the USN names for carrier aircraft) off HMS Nairana, 835 Squadron (Lieut Comdr FV Jones RNVR), and HMS Campania, 813 Squadron (Lieut Comdr SG Cooke, RNVR), were on Arctic convoy escort with Convoy JW-61A. On 3 November, Lieut Leamon and Sub-Lieut Buxton brought down a BV 138. A second BV 138 was shot down by 813 Sub-Lieuts Machin and Davis on the 13th. On the return trip, Sub-Lieut Gordon, of 835, bagged still another BV 138 on 12 December.

    In Arctic convoy escort duty in January and February 1945, flying from Nairana with Convoy JW-64, 835 Squadron, and from HMS Vindex, 813 Squadron, FM-2's accounted at least five more scores and probably nine in total. On the 4th, an 813 section shot down a Ju 88 from KG 26. On the 10th, another 813 section intercepted three more Ju 88's, claiming one probable and two damaged. KG26 reported a number of Ju 88 losses on the 10th: # 0801600 (Ltn Hübner), #0550965 (Uffz Blum), #0301449 (Oblt Rögner), and #0886752 (Ltn Schlögel) were lost to convoy AA fire and #0885565 (Ltn Burtscher) damaged. Two other Ju 88s #0300069 (Oblt Breu) and #0884626 (Uffz Eigendorf) were lost to defending fighters. On the 20th, 835's Sub-Lieut Gordon struck again, teaming with Sub-Lieut Blanco for a Ju 88. Another section on the other side of the convoy formation claimed a probable on another Ju 88. Luftwaffe losses reported in the area on the 20th included one Ju 188D-2 from 1(F)/120, # 230423 (Ofw Conradi) and 2 Ju 88A-17 from II/KG 26, #142060 (Fw Löckher) and #800631 (Uffz Allhoff).

    On 26 March 1945, in a last action near Trondheim, during Operation Prefix, Wildcat VI's from 882 Squadron (Acting Lieut Comdr RA Bird RN) off Searcher, escorting a flight of HMS Queen’s 853 Squadron (Lieut Comdr JM Glaser, RN) Avengers along the coast, were jumped by a flight of eight III Gruppe JG 5 Me 109Gs. The Wildcats pilots claimed three of the Me 109Gs shot down and two damaged at a cost of one Wildcat damaged. Bird, who had previously shared in two victories with 881 Squadron (as noted above, ½ credit for a Potez 63 on 6 May 42 near Diego Suarez operating off Illustrious and ½ credit for a BV 138 on 8 July 1943 while operating off Furious), was credited with one 109 shot down and one damaged. This brought Bird’s wartime total to 2 victory credits and 2 for credits for damaged aircraft. Also credited individually for downing a 109 in this action was Sub-Lieut AF Womack. Sub-Lieut’s JAP Harrison and RF Moore split an additional credit for one more 109 plus and Harrison claimed an additional damaged. Credits appear to match losses in this action. As near as can be determined from available Luftwaffe loss lists, there were indeed three 109’s lost: #412398 (Fw Jaeger), #782139 (Uffz Rösch), and #782270 (Fw Dreisbach). Rösch and Dreisbach were rescued; Jaeger, who had survived an earlier crash on 16 February, was killed when his plane went down. One other 109 crashed, (pilot unknown) on landing, however the information available does not indicate if the crash was due to pilot error or from battle damage; damage to this plane was evaluated as 25%. Available Luftwaffe credits lists show no claims from this action.

    The FAA also employed the F6F and the F4U. The only fighter-to-fighter FAA F6F action took place in May 1944. On 8 May, F6F's from the Fleet Air Arm's No. 800 Squadron (Lieut Comdr SJ Hall, DSC, RN), off HMS Emperor, while escorting a flight of Barracudas was attacked by a mixed group of Me 109's and FW 190's. Two F6F's were lost, one, probably, to anti-aircraft fire (one source indicates that both F6Fs were lost in a mid-air collision, not to any German fire of any kind); the Germans lost 2 Me 109's and one FW 190. The FW 190 was claimed by Sub-Lieut Ritchie. Luftwaffe losses in the area for this date were noted as three 109G’s, #14697 (Ofw Otto) and #10347 (Uffz Brettin) both from 10/JG5, and another from 8/JG5 #unknown piloted by Fw Berger; there no record of an FW 190 loss. On the Luftwaffe side, Uffz Hallstick claimed two F6Fs and Ltn Prenzler claimed one.

    On 14 May, 800 Squadron's leading scorer, Sub-Lieut Ritchie (now with 4.5 victories) added an He 115 to his tally and the shared another He 115 with the CO of 804 Squadron, Lieut Comdr Orr, giving him a total of 6 victories for the war. Interestingly enough, for this date, the Luftwaffe losses noted as specifically to F6Fs numbered five, all He 115 from 1/406; these were #2738 (Obltn Gramberg), #1879 (Obltn Zimmermann, #2085 (Fw Jänisch), #1867 (Ltn Carstens), and #2721 (Obltn Ladewig).

    Prior to these actions, FAA F6F's were used for anti-aircraft suppression on raids against Tirpitz on 3 April 44 (Operation Tungsten). These included - from Emperor - 800 Squadron (Lieut Comdr Hall) and 804 Squadron (Lieut Comdr SG Orr, DSC, RNVR).

    FAA F4U's also participated in Operation Tungsten with 1834 Squadron (Lieut Comdr PN Charlton, DFC, RN) and 1836 Squadron (Lieut Comdr CC Tomkinson, RNVR) off Victorious, flying high cover for the raid. This was a role the FAA Corsairs of 1841 Squadron (Lieut Comdr RL Bigg-Wither, DCS & bar, RN) would repeat, flying off Formidable in Operation Mascot on 17 July and with 1841 joined by 1842 Squadron (Lieut Comdr AMcD Garland, RN) in Operation Goodwood in late August. No contact was made with any German aircraft.

    One outcome of the Mascot operation was the loss of an F4U to capture by the Germans. Flying as an escort for a Barracuda piloted by Lieut Comdr RS Baker-Falkner, DSO, DSC, RN, (Wing Leader for No. 8 TBR), an F4U piloted by Lieut HS Mattholie made a crash landing near Bodø and was captured intact. Mattholie spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III. Baker-Falkner and his crewmen, Lieut GN Micklem, and L/A AM Kimberley, 827 Squadron, were lost in this incident.

    Indeed, the FAA F4U's never did tangle with any German aircraft, though not for lack of trying. After the summer of 1944, FAA F4U's were largely operating in the Indian and Pacific Oceans . . . pretty far away from the Germans.

    In summary, outside of the Pacific Theater, there were a total of 92 aircraft shot down by F4Fs, or F6Fs flying in either USN or FAA service, versus 8 losses, a ratio of about 11.5 to 1.

    In USN service, F4F pilots were credited with bringing down 25 to 5 losses (5 to 1): 12 Curtis 75A's; 5 D.520's; 3 Martin 167's; 2 Potez 63, and 1 each DB-7, Ju 88, and He 115. The USN F6F pilots were credited with bringing down 8 enemy aircraft, 3 He 111; 3 Ju 52; and 1 each Ju 88 and Do 217 with no air combat losses.

    In Fleet Air Arm service, Martlet/Wildcat pilots were credited with bringing down 54 aircraft to 4 losses (13.5 to 1): 11 Ju 88, 13 BV 138 ; 10 FW 200; 4 SM.79, 3 Me 109G; 3 Morane 406C; 2 Potez 63; and 1 each G.50, Z.506B, Re.2000, Bloch 174, He 111, He 115, He 177, Ju 290, and H6K. The FAA Hellcat pilots were credited with bringing down 5 aircraft to 1 loss (5 to 1): 2 He 115; 2 Me 109G; and 1 FW 190. The sole F6F loss was in the 8 May 1944 FW 190/Me 109 engagement. FAA F4F/FM's and F6F's, together then, had a score of 62 aircraft shot down with 5 losses (12.4 to 1)
     
    DT1991, USS Washington, A-58 and 5 others like this.
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Always a good read.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, I keep hoping that Leonard will publish. But, I will content myself with reading his posts.

    Informative as always. Thanks for posting.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I've always found it interesting that RN and USN Bogue and Casablanca class CVEs operated F6Fs for Operation Dragoon, while in the Pacific those classes only operated F4F/FMs (and TBF/TBMs of course). In the Pacific Fleet, the higher performance fighters, F6F and F4U, were reserved for the Sangamon and Commencement Bay class CVEs.
     
  6. ResearcherAtLarge

    ResearcherAtLarge Member

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    I'm not sure how well known this is, but this seems like a decent thread to pop it in. The F4U was not restricted to land bases in US Navy service because of any unsuitability for use on carriers. It was done strictly to simplify supply chains. There were simply more Hellcat squadrons in the pipeline for carriers at the time the decision was made than there were Corsairs and it made sense to make it so they were only requesting parts and spares for one fighter. So, the Fleet Air Arm's use of the Corsair was not some cast-off that they were forced to make work because the Americans didn't want it. I highly recommend Dana Bell's two recent books on the F4U. Both volumes cover the FAA aircraft.
     
  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    sounds logical....I've always heard opposite....there weren't as many carriers out when the F4U went to the Pacific, as there were in 1944...so only so many aircraft/squadrons could be assigned to carriers....? I thought the F4U was in service before the F6F?? when you say 'pipeline', what do you mean, specifically? thanks all replies
    that's a big nose for the F4U...I can see problems taxiing on a small flight deck...appears F6F ''sight'' picture much better....F6F cockpit appears much higher also...I guess the 4 pilots just got used to it and got around no problem
     

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  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    did the gull wing layout effect firstimers?? did they train on 'standard' landing gear planes, then go to the F4U with a lower set up and more angled?? appears angle and height from cockpit to wheels in landing is very different for the 4 and 6
    left pic F4U right pics F6F
     

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  9. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The gull wing design came about to allow the rear folding landing gear to be short enough to fit in the wing planform that had been chosen for the design. The F6F also has a rear folding gear, but the wing chord is longer at the fuselage so a longer gear strut would fold into the wing.

    The F4U doesn't sit more nose high than the F6F, but the cockpit is much farther aft which affects over-the-nose visibility in the landing stance. The cockpit was moved 30-something inches backward from its original location to allow a fuselage internal fuel tank to sit over the center of gravity. The F6F cockpit is farther forward and sits high with a sloped nose which allows better visibility.

    'Researcher' is correct about the logistics aspect of the F4U being designated for land operations. VF-17 had fully carrier qualified when they were told to go ashore. Engineering officer Butch Davenport working with Vought reps had basically solved the F4U's carrier landing issues prior to that decision.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    VF-17 was originally part of Air Group 17 on CV-17, USS Bunker Hill, before being assigned to land-based operation in the Solomons. They had a brief reunion when Bunker Hill was part of a task force attacking Rabaul. While the carrier planes were off attacking, VF-17 flew CAP over the force, landing when needed for fuel or ammo.
     

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