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US Navy/Marine Corps Pilot question

Discussion in 'Air War in the Pacific' started by Hummel, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Hummel

    Hummel Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Greetings all!
    So, in the European theater, pilots -- well, bomber pilots at least, had to fly a set number of missions to finish a tour. How did it work in the Pacific for carrier pilots? How about pilots of those big ol' flying boats? Were fighter pilots--bomber pilots--torpedo pilots treated differently? Basically, did they have to accumulate a certain number of points or did they have to fly a set number of missions, or did they have to serve a set period of time before they could rotate home?

    Oh, another one -- were there any US Navy combat pilots in the Pacific theater who were in it from December 7, 1941 until August 15, 1945? I mean, in the **** flying with an expectancy of engaging the enemy sort of missions.

    Finally, does anyone know the length of training a US Navy carrier pilot (fighter, dive bomber, and torpedo) had? I imagine the periods of time were different, yes? Was it something like ground school, basic flight, advanced flight, and then training in type?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Likes Received:
    The Old Dominion
    Officers of the regular Navy, after two years of sea duty, could apply for aviation training. Enlisted men of the regular Navy who, in the opinion of their commanding officers had the potential to qualify, could request aviation training and, upon completion, would be designated as Naval Aviation Pilots - by the middle of the war, such enlisted personnel were sometimes rolled into the Aviation Cadet (AvCad) program and commissioned as Ensigns, USNR or USCGR or 2d Lieutenants, USMCR, upon completion of flight training. Civilians could be enrolled through the V-5 program as AvCads and commissioned in Reserves upon completion of flight training. These civilians were the source of the vast, vast, majority of the USN and USMC aviators. The Navy’s pilot training program, as it evolved, was designed to bring in up to 2500 pilot candidates a month, certainly far more than could be drawn from the regular naval establishment. Between 1940 and 1945 a total of 65,478 individuals were designated as Naval Aviators or NAPs. On 1 July 1941 there were 4,617 naval aviators on active duty (3,936 officers & 681 NAPs); on 1 July 1945 there were 60,095 naval aviators on active duty (59,609 officers & 486 NAPs).

    The V-5 program provided for qualified civilians to enlist in the Navy for the purpose of attending flight training. The training of AvCads, as developed in the first year of the war, provided for selected applicants to attend a flight preparatory course for three months at one of 20 colleges across the country. This was an academic program preliminary to actual flight training. Upon completion, another two months was spent learning to fly light aircraft at one of 250 training centers operated by the Civil Aeronautics Authority. Upon completion of this basic course, the AvCad then attended a pre-flight training course that largely consisted of physical and military training lasting about 3 months. This was followed by 2 months at a Naval Air Station or a Naval Air Reserve Base in Primary Flight Training. Collectively these preliminary training steps were referred to as elimination training. Prior to the war, should a student be eliminated he had the choice of continued enlisted service or separation, once the war started, if eliminated one was sent to other enlisted assignments. The Primary Flight Training portion was divided into six stages:

    1. Primary Dual: in company with an instructor, AvCads learned basics of taxiing, take-offs, climbs, turns, spirals, glides, landings, stalls, spins and primary emergency procedures. Upon this first stage, the AvCad performed a solo check flight.
    2. Primary Solo: following a general review dual instruction, the AvCad moved to more advanced tasks and techniques. With both dual and solo demonstration, covered in this phase were steeply banked turns, high altitude slips and spirals, spins, wingovers and reactive emergencies. Instruction included small field landings and slips to a landing, both dual and solo.
    3. Advanced solo: both dual instruction and solo demonstration - loops, split-S, snap roll, pylons and precision landings with slips. Also spin recovery, Immelmann Turn, “falling leaf” and additional field procedures.
    4. Final: both dual and solo demonstration - General review stressing smoothness, reaction to strange field procedures with power, instruction in inverted stalls and spins and progressive spins.
    5. Formation: At this stage the AvCad “flew from the front seat.” Formation flying techniques using three-plane “V” formation, echelon positions, shifts and formation landings in “V”.
    6. Night fling: Dual and solo night flying instruction.
    At each stage the AvCad had to receive a satisfactory check off before proceeding to the next stage.

    While all this was going on, there was also a ground training school which occupied about half of the AvCad’s time, including study of power plants, photography, gunnery, aerology, aircraft structures, navigation and communications.

    Upon successful completion of his primary training, the AvCad moved on to Intermediate Flight Training. This training was usually conducted at naval air training centers such as NAS Corpus Christi or NAS Pensacola. In his intermediate training the AvCad flew service type aircraft (types in squadron service as opposed to training aircraft). Students were given the opportunity to request the type of aircraft in which they wanted to specialize. These types generalized as carrier (CV), patrol (VPB), utility (VJ/VR) or scout/observation (VO/VCS), although there was no guarantee that one would be assigned as requested.

    Initial intermediate training consisted of a refresh of skills taught in Primary Training in order to indoctrinate the AvCad in the operation of heavier, more powerful aircraft. Instrument training was heavily emphasized with the use of Link trainers and “under-the-hood” flying. The instrument flying program began with basic familiarization with instruments and their part in trimming; straight, smooth flight; climbs, glides, spirals, stalls and spins; intricate patterns; recovery from unusual situations; and rough air procedures. This phase also covered radio ranging, beam navigation, and methods of orientation. The satisfactory check for this phase included demonstration of primary skills, instrument flight and navigation, and instrument guided landing.

    The next phase of intermediate training was Specialized Intermediate Training based on the AvCad’s by now expected community assignment and centered on specific operational types.

    The VPB training was 90 hours and included six elements: seaplane and multi-engine land plane familiarization, instruments, navigation, formation, bombing, gunnery, and night operations familiarization. The VO/VCS training was also 90 hours and included floatplane familiarization in primary and operational types, formation flying, navigation, communications, and gunnery. Emphasis was given to water seamanship, gunnery and dive bombing. VF training was 100 hours and included familiarization, acrobatics, formation tactics, primary and advanced fixed gunnery, combat tactics, glide bombing, navigation, night flying and carrier operations. VSB training was 100 hours including familiarization, gunnery, as well as carrier operations and with the greatest emphasis placed on glide and dive bombing, navigation, scouting, communications and formation tactics. VT training was similar to VSB with the elements of the torpedo attack being the emphasis vice dive bombing.

    Intermediate ground school subjects included engineering and maintenance, navigation, communications, aerology, self-preservation and organization and operations of squadrons.

    At the completion of Intermediate Flight Training the Aviation Cadet was awarded his wings, as assigned a permanent Naval Aviator number and, except for a very small number of NAPs, was commissioned in the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. The next step in Naval Aviator training was assignment to an operational training unit of the Naval Air Operational Training Command, headquartered at NAS Jacksonville and established in April 1942. Prior to the establishment of the NAOTC, advanced training was accomplished, in the case of carrier pilots, at the Advanced Carrier Training Groups located at NAS Norfolk and NAS San Diego, or for the VP community, in Transition Training Squadrons such as located at NAS Banana River and NAS Key West. Follow-on operational training occurred once one reached his assigned squadron. It was during operational training that air crews were established, with enlisted aircrewmen being assigned with pilots in VB, VT, and VPB aircraft types. These personnel assignments generally continued through the OTU period and on into operational squadrons.

    Operational training units were where most of the newly designated aviators received their training associated with his type assignment. Letting the Navy speak for itself, taken whole from the orientation handbook “Introduction to the Naval Air Operational Training Command,” July 1943:

    “Each Operational Training Unit, commonly referred to as ‘OTU’, is organized as nearly as possible along the lines of an operational squadron.

    “In each carrier-type unit there will be approximately 100 of you aviators, with a sufficient number of instructors and service type planes. Patrol squadrons may have as many as 200 trainees. While there is generally but one type unit at each station, some of the larger stations will have two or more units of the same type, or, in some instances, of different types.

    “In charge of each OTU is the Training Officer, a naval aviator of the rank of lieutenant or above. Under him is the ground training officer, flight officer, navigation officer, and officers bearing titles and responsibilities similar to those operating from an advance base or a carrier.

    “The period allowed for Operational Training is eight weeks. The average pilot time during this period will reach about 110-hours in CV and VOS type planes and 150-hours in the multiengine types.

    “Under normal conditions, schedules will be so arranged that pilots undergoing training will not exceed four hours flying time per day. Ground training periods will be limited to about three hours.

    “Fullest emphasis will be placed on training in the use of the primary offensive weapons of each type airplane. Graduate pilots must be able to hit hard with these armaments, which are: VO/VCS Depth Bombs, VF Fixed Guns, VSB Bombs (By diving), VTB Torpedoes, VB2 Bombs and Torpedoes, VPB2 Torpedoes and Bombs.

    “A certain percentage of those going into naval aviation for flight training are taken into the Marine Corps. Throughout the OTU's, except VO/VCS, Marine aviators will be found. In the Florida area there is no base set aside exclusively for Marine training. However, the facilities at the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, are devoted to that branch of the service.

    “Operational Training Squadron Eight, MCAS, Cherry Point, is comprised of units of PBJ's (B-25's).

    “With respect to the Florida bases, whether fighters, dive bombers, patrol planes or torpedo bombers, all trainees are given the same instruction at the same units, regardless of whether they are Marine or Naval aviators.

    “From one-half to two-thirds of the students in this Command will receive their training in carrier type aircraft. The training program has been designed to give advanced training in all phases of carrier flight operations in service type planes. With your cooperation you will become the best carrier pilots in the world.

    “For obvious reasons, no detailed outline of training will be given here. In this day of rapidly changing tactics and equipment, instructions will change almost weekly, based on lessons learned by our pilots at the fighting fronts. The testing ground of the battle area is a grueling and thorough one. For your benefit, the majority of instructors are brought here direct from the combat zones. From time to time they will be replaced by others who will bring to you the latest word in fighting technique.

    “In general, carrier type instructions will include five major points: (1) The use of your plane's primary weapon, (2) Tactics of your type plane and Formation Flying, (3) Navigation, (4) Science of landing aboard and taking off from a carrier, and, (5) Instrument-flying.

    “The above items are obvious. If you are flying a fighter type plane your primary weapons will be the fixed guns. The dropping of personnel bombs is something many of you may never be called upon to do. Torpedo bombers have the primary mission of pushing through enemy oppositions to loose their "tin fish" at a target. The dropping of bombs is secondary. The free and forward guns are not to be used offensively but strictly as an aid in pressing home the attack, the same as speed or cloud covering. VSB units will learn dive bombing. While you may be called upon some days to strafe an enemy installation or ship, this will not ordinarily be your mission.

    “While emphasis will be placed upon instruction in your plane's primary weapons, you will also be given training leading to a thorough understanding of all other possible types of attacks.

    “During the thick of battle a pilot may be ordered to execute any defensive or offensive maneuver and must be prepared to carry it out with authority.

    “Navigation is of utmost importance. You must be able to make a wide sweep over the water, to locate the enemy, report him, attack him, and return to your home base. In the case of the carrier, this task is increasingly difficult because the base is moving. It is a function to be learned thoroughly enough so you may never depend on "following" another plane in your section. Know where you are every minute of the time. A moment's carelessness may cost your plane, your life, your ship, or, the battle.

    “Formation flying has been proved the best defense against the enemy. This must be practiced until it becomes second nature to you. We are not going into all types of tactics to be used because like any other phase of flying, these may change tomorrow. The important thing is to understand that there is a decided advantage in flying formations as your instructors order. Never become a "straggler". Learn at N.A.O.T.C. the importance of joining-up fast. To wait until the enemy is on your tail may be too late.

    “Instrument flying is becoming more and more important in combat work. No longer is it considered simply a major part of navigation; today it is the key to successful attacks and escapes. Offensive missions are planned to make full use of the element of surprise. Flights take off in total darkness and rendezvous at a point of latitude and longitude prior to going in on their target before daylight. A formation of bombers may fly a hundred miles or more on instruments, coming through the overcast only to release their lethal loads at the enemy and then escaping on instruments.

    “Most important to the individual pilot is instrument flying as a defensive measure. We have learned to "hunt a cloud". Make for the cloud or heavy overcast, flying on instruments for several minutes until the enemy has been shaken or gives up the search. Instrument flying pays dividends. Learn your lesson thoroughly BEFORE you get in a tight spot.

    “By the time you are assigned to carrier duty you must have mastered the technique of taking off from and landing aboard a floating airfield. It takes concentration and plenty of practice. During your training here, experienced landing signal officers will train you on a field marked to resemble the flight deck of a carrier, with the same signals that are used in the fleet. You will have been given thorough training in preparation for your all important 'qualifications'.

    “Following this, advanced training will be obtained at the Carrier Qualification Training Unit. This is located at present at the Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois. The unit, in conjunction with training carriers, will afford the prospective carrier pilot opportunities to take off from and land aboard this type vessel.

    “At present your training carriers are the two former Great Lakes pleasure steamers which have been converted, and are now the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable. From time to time the regular line carriers and converted carriers are used in NAOTC training.

    “Carrier flying is the most demanding of all types. It calls for constant training, perfect understanding of your plane, equipment, and technique. It is the ultimate of offensive warfare.

    “You are carrying the battle into unfamiliar territory and the strongholds of the enemy. The very success or failure of a mission, or of the entire cause, may hinge on a moment's attitude and ability of a single pilot.

    “Graduates of VPB operational training will not be expected to take their places in combat alone without sufficient experience. It is presumed that each pilot will be either a capable first pilot or above average second pilot. Likewise, each air bomber must be a satisfactory bomber and each aircrewman will be fully capable of performing operational duties. To a marked degree, the successful performance of a mission assigned a VPB plane depends greatly upon the teamwork of the crew as a whole.

    “VPB training will follow as closely as possible the procedure that will be carried out in Fleet squadrons with emphasis on each operation in the ratio to its importance in combat. Pilots will be organized into tactical units with an instructor-squadron commander; such organization will be retained throughout operational training.

    “These tactical units will involve no administrative setup nor assignment of material, but are formed simply to thoroughly instruct in the primary mission of VPB type airplanes, strategical scouting. This, in turn, requires that those who man these planes be well versed in full military load take-off characteristics, navigation, instrument flying, scouting and reconnaissance, codes and ciphers, radio, radar operation technique, and familiar with enemy surface ships for recognition purposes.

    “In order to perform successfully the secondary missions of this type plane, which are offensive, the pilots and crewmen must be proficient in anti-submarine scouting and bombing, night torpedo attacks, and free machine gunnery for defense.

    “The patrol plane commander must be thoroughly familiar with the duties of each member of the crew. This does not mean that each pilot should become an outstanding bomber, radio man, tower operator, or gunner, but that his training will be so conducted that he will have a working knowledge of the duties of each.
    “In VPB training the following must be continuously kept in mind:
    “ 1. All navigation flights conducted over water.
    “ 2. Instrument flying including a maximum of cloud flying.
    “ 3. Intensive night flying.
    “ 4. Mandatory instrument flying take-offs and instruction in instrument landings insofar as practicable.
    “ 5. Every flight, other than familiarization, conducted as though an attack by enemy fighter planes is imminent.
    “ 6. All flights shall be multi-purpose.

    “Of utmost importance is the fact that it requires more technique to handle a VPB airplane on the water than it does in the air. For that reason, emphasis will be placed on taxiing, buoy approaches, mooring, anchoring, beach approaches, and getting underway from anchorages and moorings.

    “The training course in a VB2 Unit covers eight weeks during which time the officer under instruction will be qualified as a first pilot in a twin-engined land-plane.

    “The first part of the syllabus is given in SNB's to acquaint the pilot with twin-engine landplanes and to familiarize him with the field and operating area. From the SNB, the pilot advances to the heavier and faster operational types.

    “Ultimately, the VB2 crews will be used in anti-submarine patrols, low altitude bombing and in torpedo attacks. With this as an objective, it is readily understood why pilots in a VB2 Unit must concentrate on navigation, instrument flying, night flying, communications, and the economical use of their planes.

    “The pilot not only must know the capabilities of his plane, but also must thoroughly understand the loading of bombers, the correct setting of bomb loads and the jettisoning of weight when required. This is particularly important when operating from temporary advance bases.

    “Once in an operational squadron the pilot's responsibility is to take his plane and crew hundreds of miles through all kinds of weather, carry out a mission and return them safely. To successfully accomplish this requires constant study, practice, and work.

    “In addition to the three air stations at which VB2 OTU's are now located, there is a large airfield at Boca Chica, (near Key West), from which a VB2 OTU operates at times. New Fleet
    VB2 squadrons may use this field at intervals for shaking down and training after their commissioning as a squadron.

    “In war time, the training at sea of VO/VCS pilots is more limited than for any other type pilot because of the danger of enemy submarines and aircraft on the high seas and the operational loads on cruisers and battleships. It is therefore highly essential that this training simulate as nearly as possible the actual conditions the pilot will encounter when joining his ship or unit.

    “VO/VCS training is organized into tactical units of four planes each with each unit supervised by a fleet-experienced pilot known as the "Senior Aviator”. In this manner, the atmosphere of a ship-based unit can be created for the student throughout training.

    “Every flight, especially during the latter part of training, will be a multi-purpose flight and will simulate a typical flight under combat conditions. This includes combat loading, rendezvousing, scouting, navigation, observation, spotting of gunfire, bombing, machine-gunning, communications, recognition of ships, estimation of ships course and speed, codes and ciphers, reading of signal hoists and blinker, catapulting, and recovery.

    “During the latter part of the training program pilots will go through actual exercises of being catapulted and recovered. This instruction and experience will be given with vessels used for that purpose as well as special shore equipment.

    “VO/VCS pilots are more nearly a part of a ship's crew than any other pilot; they are more concerned with ship's organization, routine, equipment, and operations. Therefore, by means of lectures, movies, mock-ups, pictures and finally by a day or two aboard a seaplane tender, they will become familiar with this sea life they are going to live, from deck to catapult, from catapult to "Cast" recovery.

    “No training, air or ground, is conducted which does not satisfactorily answer the question: ‘Will the student need this in the Fleet, or is it just a training operation; does it simulate an actuality that will later be encountered?’”

    Completion of OTU was followed by assignment to an active squadron or back into the training command as an instructor.

    The answer to defining combat tours is “it depends”. As much as possible, the Navy and Marines preferred to keep personnel together in their organizations rather than the individual missions accounting found amongst the USAAF.

    Generally one finds that, for example, a carrier air group works up at one or more shore installations with a targeted ready date firmly fixed on the horizon. Once the air group is ready for deployment, and presuming the availability of a flight deck, it heads off to combat aboard a carrier. It would remain in the combat theater until its scheduled replacement air group was ready and at that point it would go ashore for reforming. Replacement pilots and crews joining over the course of a deployment might, or might not, go ashore with the rotation; most did although there are certainly cases of individuals being transferred to the incoming air group or to another in-theater air group altogether. As a general rule, however, at least in the carrier end of the business, air groups and their squadrons went out together and came back together.

    Once back ashore following a deployment there was usually a period of leave with the squadrons in a caretaker status until reformed. During that period as many as 60% of a squadron’s pilots and crews or more might be transferred to another squadron or activity. It was in these periods that one sees pilots moving back to the training commands as instructors or for additional training, or for the more senior types, as commanders and execs of still new squadrons being formed.

    Were individuals transferred in an out of squadrons in action? Certainly, but as a rule, the Navy and Marines tended to keep their units together, into combat, through a combat tour, and back to a reforming, either stateside or somewhere in the rear areas, before wholesale transfers were made.

    The same pattern was largely true in the VP/VPB and VJ/VR communities. Though a few squadrons served on the east coast, then to Great Britain and/or North Africa, and then, as conditions changed, to air stations in California, probably the winner for squadron movement was VB/VPB-111:
    30 July 1943 to 1 October 1943 - established and stationed NAS Norfolk
    1 October 1943 to 4 November 1943 - stationed NAF St. Eval, Cornwall
    4 November 1943 to 2 March 1944 - stationed NAF Port Lyautey, Fr Morocco
    2 March 1944 to 14 July 1944 - stationed NAF St. Eval, Cornwall
    14 July 1944 to 20 August 1944 - stationed NAS Quonset Point
    20 August 1944 to 24 September 1944 - stationed NAAS Camp Kearney
    5 October 1944 to 29 November 1944 - stationed NAS Kaneohe Bay
    29 November 1944 to 15 January 1945 - stationed NAB Tinian, Marianas
    15 January 1945 to 6 February 1945 - stationed NAB Morotai, NEI
    6 February 1945 to 11 April 1945 - stationed at Tacloban, Leyte, PI
    11 April 1945 to 3 September 1945 - stationed at Puerto Princessa, Palawan Is, PI

    The US practice of moving folks from combat zones to training or other activities is well describe in the literature and can be illustrated. Picking some folks at random, take as examples, depending on one’s orientation some well known or, perhaps, less well known, and their wartime assignments:

    Louis L Bangs:
    August to September 1940 - AvCad, NRAB Kansas City elimination training
    October to November 1940 - AvCad, NRAB Kansas City solo flight training
    January to August 1941 - AvCad, NAS Pensacola
    August 1941 to February 1942 - ENS, Instructor Primary Flight Training NAS Pensacola
    February to December 1942 - LTJG, Instructor, Primary Instructors School NAS Pensacola
    December to April 1942 - LT, Chief Flight Instructor - Instructors School NAS Pensacola
    April 1943 - LT, Student Instrument Refresher Course
    May to July 1943 - LT, VF Instructor NAS Pensacola
    August 1943 to July 1944 - LT, VB-10 (Flight Officer) USS Enterprise
    August 1944 - Leave
    September 1944 to June 1945 - LT & LCDR, VB-98 (Exec) NAS Los Alamitos
    June 1945 to September 1946 - LCDR, VB-80 (CO) USS Boxer
    Louis Bangs retired as a Captain in the 1962.

    Howard J Boydstun:
    October 1940 to May 1941 - Seaman, USS New York
    June 1941 to September 1941 Midshipman, V-7 program Northwestern University
    September 1941 ENS - resigned commission to enter V-5 program
    September 1941 to November 1941 - S1c, elimination training NAAS Opa Locka (Boydstun was able to skip some of the non-flying portions of elimination training based upon prior service)
    December 1941 to April 1942 - AvCad, NAS Pensacola
    May 1942 to June 1942 - AvCad & ENS, VF Training NAS Miami
    July 1942 to October 1942 - ENS, ACTG NAS San Diego
    November 1942 to May 1943 - ENS, VF-10 USS Enterprise
    June 1943 Leave
    July 1943 to December 1944 LTJG & LT, VF-8 NAF Pungo, USS Intrepid, USS Bunker Hill
    December 1944 Leave
    January 1945 to February 1945 - LT, Student, Primary Flight Instructors School NAS New Orleans
    March 1945 to August 1945 - LT, Primary Flight Instructor NAS Dallas
    September 1945 to March 1948 - LT & LCDR, staff AirPriTrng/NavAirResTrng command
    Howie Boydstun retired a Captain in 1972. (Apropos of nothing else, in 1961 CDR Howie Boydstun was exec of USS Ranger (CVA-61) when my father was captain of same.)

    John Herschel Glenn Jr
    August 1942 to November 1942 - AvCad, Primary Flt Trng NAS Olathe
    November 1942 to March 1943 - AvCad, Intermediate Flt Trng NAS Corpus Christi
    March 1943 to June 1943 - 2LT, Operational Flt Trng NAS Corpus Christi
    June 1943 to October 1943 - 2LT, VMJ-353 NAS North Island
    October 1943 to November 1944 - 1LT, VMO-155 MCAS El Centro, MCAS Ewa, NAS Midway
    November 1944 to January 1945 - 1LT, VMO-155 Enegbi, Eniwetok
    January 1945 to February 1945 - 1LT, VMF-155 (was VMO-155) Enegbi, Eniwetok
    February 1945 to July 1945 - 1LT, 9th MAW MCAS Cherry Point
    July 1945 to September 1945 - CPT, NATC NAS Patuxent
    John Glenn retired a Colonel in 1965.

    Richard Emerson Harmer
    December 1941 to August 1942 - LTJG, VF-5 USS Wasp
    August 1942 to October 1942 - LT, VF-5 (XO) USS Saratoga
    October 1942 to March 1943 - LT, Project AFFIRM NAS Quonset Point
    March 1943 to December 1943 - LT, VF(N)-75 (XO) NAS Quonset Point
    December 1943 to February 1944 - LCDR, VF(N)-101 (CO) NAS Barbers Point
    February 1944 to September 1944 - LCDR, VF(N)-101 (CO) USS Enterprise
    September 1944 to September 1945 - LCDR, NAS Vero Beach (Chf TrngO - VF(N))
    Chick Harmer retired a Captain in 1961

    William Clay Hartung
    December 1941 to February 1943 - S1c, NOB Pearl Harbor Base Force
    February 1943 to January 1944 - AvCad, Flt Trng NAS Corpus Christi
    January 1944 to April 1944 - ENS, Opnl Trng NAS Vero Beach
    April 1944 to May 1944 - ENS, VF-100 NAS Barbers Point
    May 1944 to August 1944 - ENS, VF-25 USS Cowpens
    August 1944 to January 1945 - LTJG, VF-51 USS San Jacinto
    January 1945 to September 1945 - LTJG, VF-51 NAS San Diego
    Bill Hartung retired a Captain in 1974.

    Arthur Ray Hawkins
    May 1942 to January 1943 - AvCad, Flt Trng NAS Dallas
    January 1943 to April 1943 - ENS, Opnl Trng NAS Miami
    April 1943 to April 1943 - ENS, Car Qual USS Charger
    April 1943 to September 1943 - ENS, VF-31 NAS Atlantic City
    September 1943 to December 1944 - ENS & LTJG, VF-31 USS Cabot
    December 1944 to July 1945 - LTJG, VF-31 NAAS Hollister
    July 1945 to September 1945 - LTJG, VF-31 USS Belleau Wood
    Ray “Hawk” Hawkins retired a Captain in 1973.

    Maxwell Franklin Leslie
    May 1940 to December 1941 - LT & LCDR, VB-3 (XO) NAS San Diego
    December 1941 to February 1942 - LCDR, VB-3 (XO) USS Saratoga
    February 1942 to April 1942 - LCDR, VB-3 (CO) NAS Kaneohe Bay
    April 1942 to June 1942 - LCDR, VB-3 (CO) USS Enterprise
    June 1942 to June 1942 - LCDR, VB-3 (CO) USS Yorktown
    June 1942 to November 1942 - CDR, CEAG USS Enterprise
    November 1942 to January 1943 - CDR, NAS Jacksonville staff
    January 1943 to March 1943 - CDR, NAS Daytona Beach (CO)
    March 1943 to November 1943 - CDR, Naval Air Gunners School (CO) NAS Hollywood
    November 1943 to April 1944 - CDR, Student Army-Navy Staff College
    April 1944 to June 1944 - CDR, Instructor, Command & General Staff School
    June 1944 to August 1944 - CAPT, ComAirForWestCarolines staff (OpnsO)
    August 1944 to December 1944 - CAPT, 2 MAW staff (OpnsO) NOB Espiritu Santo
    December 1944 to August 1945 - CAPT, ComPhibForPac (OIC Air Support Control)
    August 1945 to September 1945 - CAPT, ComPhibForPac (CO Air Support Control 8)
    Max Leslie was advanced to Rear Admiral upon his retirement in 1956.

    Stanley J Vejtasa
    June 1938 to July 1939 - AvCad & ENS, Flight Training NAS Pensacola
    August 1939 to May 1942 - ENS & LTJG, VS-5 USS Yorktown
    May 1942 to July 1943 - LTJG & LT, VF-10 NAS San Diego, USS Enterprise
    August 1943 to April 1945 - LT & LCDR, VF-97 (XO & CO) NAS Atlantic City
    May 1945 to October 1945 - LCDR, CAG-44 NAS Lewiston
    Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa retired a Captain in 1970.

    Only a very few of the personal recountings I have seen even mention the months spent in each of the various phases of the training pipeline separately; most, if there’s any mention at all, lump the time together into an amorphous description of “flight training” which encompasses the gamut of elimination, primary, intermediate and operational training in terms of time spent with, perhaps, a separation between AvCad training and commissioned training.

    I cannot think of, nor can I find in my listing of some 19,800 plus naval aviators, any single naval aviator in any of the operational communities who flew in action from the very beginning of the war to the very end. Certainly there were those who were on active flying duty on 7 December 1941 who were in operational squadrons at the end of the war and some of those squadrons were in combat. One that immediately comes to mind is Cleo Dobson. As a Lieutenant (jg) in Enterprise’s VS-6, he was shot down over Pearl Harbor by Japanese fighters on 7 December. He went on to serve in combat in the early carrier raids of 1942 and by the time of the Battle of Midway he was serving as an LSO, still aboard Enterprise. From there he went to training duties at VTB-OTU-2 at NAS Jacksonville. He moved on to become exec of VF-86 and then, in January 1945, when the preceding VF-86 CO took over the newly formed VBF-86, Dobson became the squadron’s second skipper. As a Lieutenant Commander and CO of VF-86 he deployed aboard USS Wasp and by the end of the war was flying combat missions over the Japanese home islands.

    Richard Crommelin was a Lieutenant (jg) in VF-42 off USS Yorktown (CV-5) on 7 December 1941 thru the ship’s loss at the Battle of Midway. He was killed in a mid-air collision off the coast of Hokkaido on 15 July 1945 while a Lieutenant Commander and CO of VF-88 off USS Yorktown (CV-10). His exec, Lieutenant John Adams, moved up to CO VF-88 for the month that remained before the bitter end. Adams had been an Ensign in the first Yorktown's VF-42 during the time Crommelin’s tour (and, not to mention, my father’s wingman at Midway where most of the VF-42 pilots were TAD to VF-3 and made up most of the squadron’s combat flyers).

    Not all early war aviators were in flying billets at the end. When the Japanese threw in the towel, Captain John S Thach - as in “Thach Weave” - a new Lieutenant Commander running VF-3 in December 1941, was now a Captain, off the coast of Japan aboard USS Shangri-La, the operations officer for the 2nd Fast Carrier Task Force (TF-38), working for Vice Admiral John McCain. His assistants were a couple of lieutenant commanders with whom he had served earlier in the war, Noel A M Gayler - who had been in Thach’s VF-3 at the start of the war before being sent over to VF-2 as XO just before Coral Sea in May 1942 - and William N Leonard - who was the senior of Yorktown’s resident VF-42 pilots assigned to VF-3 for the Battle of Midway deployment and also a veteran of action in the north Solomons in VF-11. Wartime assignments for these three gents went something like:

    John S Thach -
    December 1940 to June 1942 - LT & LCDR VF-3 (CO) NAS San Diego, USS Saratoga, USS Lexington NAS Kaneohe, & USS Yorktown
    July 1942 - Leave and TAD at BuAer
    August 1942 to February 1943 - LCDR, NAOTC (GO) NAS Jacksonville
    February 1943 to July 1944 - LCDR & CDR, NAOTC (Chief of Trng) NAS Jacksonville
    August 1944 to September 1945 - CDR & CAPT, 2FastCarTaskFor/TF38 (OpnsO)
    John S “Jimmie” Thach retired an Admiral in 1967.

    Noel A M Gayler
    December 1941 to May 1942 - LTJG & LT, VF-3 USS Saratoga & USS Lexington
    May 1942 to June 1942 - LT, VF-2 (XO) USS Lexington and NAS Alameda
    July 1942 to July 1944 - LT & LCDR, Flight Test NATC (VF Project Officer) NAS Anacostia & NAS Patuxent
    July 1944 to August 1944 - LCDR, VF-12 (CO) NAS Astoria
    August 1944 to May 1945 - LCDR, Flight Test NATC NAS Patuxent
    May 1945 to September 1945 - LCDR, 2FastCarTaskFor/TF38 (AOpnsO) USS Shangri-La
    Noel Gayler retired an Admiral in 1987.

    William N Leonard
    December 1941 to May 1942 - LTJG, VF-42 NAS Norfolk & USS Yorktown
    May 1942 to May 1942 - LTJG, TAD VF-3 (FO) USS Yorktown
    June 1942 to June 1942 - LTJG, TAD VF-3 (XO) USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise & USS Hornet
    June 1942 to July 1942 - LT, VF-42 (FO) MCAS Ewa
    July 1942 to July 1942 - LT, Leave
    July 1942 to April 1943 - LT, VF-11 (FO) NAS San Diego, NAS Maui & Espiritu Santo
    April 1943 to July 1943 - LT, VF-11 (FO) MCAB Guadalcanal
    August 1943 to August 1943 - LT, VF-11 (XO) NAS San Diego
    August 1943 to October 1944 - LT & LCDR, ComFAirWest staff (Dir VF Trng) NAS San Diego
    November 1944 to September 1945 - LCDR, 2FastCarTaskFor/TF38 (AOpnsO) USS Wasp, USS Hancock & USS Shangri-La
    Bill Leonard retired a Rear Admiral in 1971.

    Wartime assignments for these three gents, and as exampled farther above, were fairly typical.

    Probably far, far, more than you wanted to know.

    lwd, USMCPrice, Slipdigit and 2 others like this.
  3. Hummel

    Hummel Member

    Jun 9, 2008
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    Rich, all I can say is thank you. That was an amazing answer, and, while it was "far, far, more" than I was expecting, it certainly wasn't more than I wanted. My dad was in B-17s in the 8th Air Force in the war, first as a navigator, then, after additional training and a stint as a navigation trainer, a co-pilot. He made it through the war without a scratch (for which I am profoundly grateful), and I was wondering what the situation was for USN/USMC aviators during the war. Thank you again for the amazing, awesome, and extensive answer.
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    May 21, 2007
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    Good post, Rich.

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