A Corsair from VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” noses over after encountering the barrier aboard the USS Bunker Hill CV-17 in early 1943. The deck planking shows evidence of earlier repairs, suggesting this is not the only such incident to have occurred.
A hard landing aboard HMS Smiter has mangled the landing gear leg of this Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair II. The wear pattern on the forward portion of the wing at the root is caused by mechanics servicing the engine and was commonly seen on Corsairs. (Imperial War Museum)
The end of the road for this F4U-4 of VA-74, which is missing the outboard section of its port wing. The carrier is the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) in 1949.
The Landing Signals Officer looks on as this F4U-4 of VMF-322 goes over the side of the USS Sicily (CVE-118) on 14OCT49. (NNAM.1996.253.7157.063)
This F4U-1D was involved in a mid-air collision, but was able to recover aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). However, the jolt of engaging the arresting wire has separated the tail section, leaving the rest of the aircraft to continue on down the deck …
… where it eventually slid into the ship’s island. Deck crews have already strapped a dolly under the fuselage. Note the stripped-down jeep, which were used on several carriers as towing vehicles.
Most Navy aircraft types were capable of remaining afloat for at least a few minutes, giving time for the crew to escape. The US Navy routinely positioned a destroyer directly behind an aircraft carrier to quickly rescue aircrew, designating the station as “plane guard”.
Firefighting crews go to work on a Fleet Air Arm Corsair aboard HMS Illustrious. Fire aboard ship is a serious threat, even with the armored flight decks of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers.
A similar scene aboard USS Bennington (CV-20) on 14FEB45. The hose team is using a spray applicator to knock the flames down. Note that they have approached the fire from up-wind and are using the wing of the aircraft to protect themselves from the flames.
A crane is used to right this F4U-1 on Torokina, Bougainville in 1943, the aircraft is from VMF-214 “Black Sheep”. This Corsair is somewhat rare in that it carries nose art, this is Ed Olander’s “Marine’s Dream”, BuNo 02576.
Part I here:
A fine study of a Corsair in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme showing how the grime can build up on the inner wings. On this aircraft the cowl flaps have been installed without regard to color. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Corsair was a beautiful aircraft from any angle. The bent wings were adopted to allow ground clearance for the 13-foot propeller, giving the Corsair its distinct appearance. (LIFE Magazine)
Artwork on Corsairs was a rarity compared to types operated by the USAAF. Here is a close-up of a FAA Corsair displaying a colorful image of Donald Duck.
The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm ordered over 500 Corsairs. The examples here are seen in the Temperate Sea Scheme with the last three digits of their serial numbers roughly sprayed on their cowls.
A Fleet Air Arm Corsair showing details of the wing fold mechanism. The three dark circles near the wingtip are colored recognition lights, red, green, and amber.
A Marine from VMF-511 inspects the guns of this F4U-1D aboard the USS Bock Island (CVE 106). The covers for the ammunition feed trays were interchangeable, this has disrupted the bar of the insignia on the port wing as Glossy Sea Blue panels have been substituted for white, a common occurrence.
One of the first Corsairs off the production lines, this is BuNo 02170. She is seen in the standard Blue Gray over Light Gray Scheme in September 1942. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The photographer has caught this Corsair cycling its landing gear. The wheels turned 90 degrees when retracted to lie flat within the wings. (LIFE Magazine)
A Marine Corsair of VMF-222 on Barakoma Field, Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands in November 1943. This is BuNo 03833. She wears a Graded Scheme camouflage which is already showing fading and wear under the harsh South Pacific sun.
An atmospheric photograph of a birdcage Corsair semi-silhouetted in the glare. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Part III here:
An atmospheric color photograph of an Avenger making an arrested landing aboard an escort carrier as plane handlers rush to release the arresting wire and move the aircraft forward. The large yellow “buzz numbers” indicate a training aircraft. The national insignia carry the red border which was only authorized from 28JUN43 to 14AUG43.
A similar photograph showing the buzz number carried on the starboard wing. Also note where the national insignia further outboard on the wing has been painted over in accordance with directives. On the yardarm the ship is displaying the two black ball dayshapes which indicate that she is restricted in her ability to maneuver while conducting flight operations. Escorting ships quickly learn to keep a close watch on aircraft carriers as they will often alter course to steer into the wind with little or no notice.
As American wartime production became sufficient to meet the needs of the front-line units, older aircraft were rotated back to the States, often to be used in training commands. This Avenger shows heavy fading and wear to the Blue Gray over Light Gray camouflage along with areas where the paint has been touched up.
This perspective shows details of the wing fold and landing gear. The interior of the wing fold is finished in the upper surface color Blue Gray, the landing gear is finished in the under surface color Light Gray.
Carrier aircraft often displayed small numbers in various locations to help crews in identifying specific airframes when the side numbers were not easily visible. This aircraft carries the number “7” on the cowl sides and wing leading edges. Interestingly, this does not appear to correspond to the aircraft’s buzz number on the wing upper surface.
A sailor ties off an Avenger at the landing gear attachment point. The decks of U.S. aircraft carriers were provided with slotted steel strips to anchor the lines, one of which is faintly visible in the lower left-hand corner of this photograph. As soon as the aircraft was spotted on the deck the wheels were chocked and it was secured with lines or chains – aircraft could easily roll of the deck of a ship underway.
A fine view of the Avenger’s Wright R-2600-8 powerplant. The engine was rated at 1,700 horse power. The Avenger was the heaviest single-engine aircraft to serve during WWII with a maximum weight of 13,667 pounds – just 400 pounds more than the P-47 Thunderbolt. (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm was a major user of the Avenger, taking over one thousand aircraft into service. In FAA service it was called the Tarpon until 01JAN44 when the American name was adopted. These 846 Squadron Tarpon are shown on a training flight in the U.S. in late 1943, they would be assigned to the escort carrier HMS Ravager.
The FAA also operated the Avenger in the Pacific. This obviously staged photograph gives us a good look at the uniforms of both the flight and ground crews which differ little from their American counterparts. Note the upper wing roundel which has minimized the white area and eliminated the red altogether to reduce the possibility of confusion with Japanese markings.
A yellow-nosed torpedo is wheeled into position. Red has also been removed from the Avenger’s fin flash. Friendly fire incidents remain a problem to this day in spite of precautions to minimize their likelihood.
Part I here:
This is the Pavla Sea Gladiator of Lt A. N. Young, 813 NAS Fighter Flight aboard HMS Eagle, Mediterranean Sea, Summer 1940. These are still nice kits, but with all the quirks you would expect from a limited run molding. One big asset is the Pavla decal sheet provides six sets of markings. The Pavla fuselage is a little more bloated than the newer Airfix molding, but I don’t really notice it much on the finished model. I had intended to model this one with a closed canopy, but the vacuformed kit canopy was far too small to fit properly and looked better open.
This is the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat prototype in flight during the summer of 1940. Finish is the “Yellow Wings” scheme, overall aluminum with Orange Yellow wings. Note the large spinner, not fitted in series production. The spinner was an attempt to reduce drag, but it also contributed to engine overheating.
A fine photograph of an F4F-3 in an unusual paint scheme. The aircraft is in an overall aluminum scheme without the prescribed Orange Yellow on the wings. The Willow Green tail denotes an aircraft assigned to the USS Ranger (CV-4). (LIFE magazine photograph)
Three F4F-3 Wildcats of VF-5 from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) in the overall Light Gray scheme authorized on 30DEC40. Note the small size of the national insignia on the fuselage.
Three U.S. Marine F4F-3 Wildcats of VMF-111 pose for the photographer. They wear the overall Light Gray scheme. The temporary red cross markings denote the Red Force for the 1941 Louisiana War Games, which dates the photograph as being taken during August or September of that year. The devices mounted under the wings on the national insignia are practice bomb dispensers.
A wildcat in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with the national markings as prescribed by CinCPAC on 23DEC41. These markings were only authorized for a short time, ALNAV97 required the red centers to the national insignia and the rudder stripes be painted over as of 06MAY42 to reduce the risk of confusion with the red Japanese Hinomaru.
Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Martlets and Seafires ready for launch as the HMS Formidable turns into the wind. Unlike their USN counterparts, the flight decks of British carriers were armored to reduce bomb damage, a feature which proved valuable when the Royal Navy faced Kamikaze attacks near the end of the Pacific War. The Illustrious class carriers had 3 inches (7.6 cm) of armor on their flight decks. The Midway class were the first US carriers with armored flight decks but the war ended before they saw combat.
A Martlet recovers aboard HMS Formidable. Note the camouflage paint on Formidable’s flight deck. At the far left of the photograph portion of an aircraft wing marked with a U.S. star insignia can be seen. British aircraft participating in Operation Torch were marked with U.S. insignia in the hopes that the Vichy French would not fire on American aircraft.
Not all Wildcats were carrier based. This view of a maintenance area on Guadalcanal shows the conditions faced by the aviation units fighting in the Solomons.
A beautiful LIFE magazine photograph showing a factory fresh FM-1 in the graded camouflage scheme to full advantage. The graded scheme was applied at the factory starting on 05JAN43. The barred insignia with the blue border was standardized on 14AUG43.
One of the Navy’s first war heroes, LT Edward “Butch” O’Hare poses in his flight gear in front of a Wildcat. Note that the flightsuit is worn over his standard khaki working uniform, complete with collar insignia and necktie. On 20FEB42 the USS Lexington (CV-2) was attacked by eighteen Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers of the 4th Kōkūtai operating out of Rabaul. One formation of nine was detected while still at a distance from the ship and was destroyed. A second formation of nine was detected late, with only O’Hare and his wingman between the bombers and the Lexington. His wingman’s guns jammed, leaving O’Hare to attack the Japanese formation single-handedly. O’Hare was credited with shooting down five of the bombers and saving the Lexington, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His aircraft on that flight was F4F-3 BuNo 4031, coded “white 15”, which was lost in an accident later that day with another pilot at the controls.
Part II here:
Taranto 1940: The Fleet Air Arm’s precursor to Pearl Harbor
by Angus Konstam, illustrated by Peter Dennis
Series: Osprey Campaign Book 288
Paperback, 96 pages
Published by Osprey Publishing November 2015
Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
The raid on the Italian fleet anchorage at Taranto was an example of how the actions of a small group of men can have a profound impact on a military campaign. On the night of 11 November 1940 twenty one Swordfish torpedo bombers launched from the HMS Illustrious conducted a nighttime raid and sank three Italian battleships, crippling their fleet and altering the balance of power in the Mediterranean.
This is book number 288 in Osprey’s very successful Campaign series. It follows the established format with a plethora of photographs, maps, and three double page illustrations by Peter Dennis. It is only 96 pages in total and thus a quick read, but the subject is covered well and the writing is interesting. I found the complexity of the overall British plan fascinating, and the individual actions of the flight crews are described in detail. Recommended.