Aircrew USN LTJG Alex Vraciu VF-16 White 32 Hellcat ace 1944 05

Aircrew USN press release photo showing VF-16 pilots onboard USS Lexington 1943 01

Art Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 32 Alex Vraciu 0A

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats from VF-16 landing CV-16 USS Lexington with BB 57 USS South Dakota 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 probable BuNo 66016 CV-16 USS Lexington Hawaii September 1943 0A

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 16 aboard CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 22 being positioned for launch CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 28 aboard CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 28 and 7 prepare for launch CV-15 USS Randolph 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 28 landing CV-16 USS Lexington with BB 57 USS South Dakota 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 38 ready for launch CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 4 and 18 ready for launch CV-16 USS Lexington 16th Apr 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 5 preparing to launch during Gilberts Operation Nov 1943 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 6 landing mishap CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat VF-16 White 8 landing mishap CV-16 USS Lexington 1943 01

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat VF-16 CV-15 USS Randolph and D28 HMS Urchin off Japan 1945 01

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat VF-16 White 611 landing mishap CV-16 USS Lexington 1944 01

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat VF-16 White L54, L2 and L35 aboard CV-15 USS Randolph 1944 01

Grumman F6F-5P Hellcat VF-16 White 99 landing CV-31 USS Bon Homme Ricard 16th Jan 1945 01

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat VF-16 USS Randolph CV-15 and HMS Urchin D28 off Japan 1945

View of the forward flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) off Japan, in August 1945. Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat fighters of Fighting Squadron 16 (VF-16) are visible on deck. Note that the Hellcats wear the new air group identification letter "L", replacing the eartlier geometric schemes. The British Pacific Fleet destroyer HMS Urchin (D28) is crossing in front of the carrier.

Deployed from:

(Tour I)
U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6) Dec '41 - Aug '42
U.S.S. Saratoga (CV-3) Dec '42 - Feb '43
Guadalanal Feb - Aprl '43
H.M.S. Victorious June - July '43
(Tour II) Aug -Dec '43
U.S.S. Independance (CVL-22), U.S.S. Princeton (CVL-23), U.S.S. Belleau Wood (CVL-24), U.S.S. Cowpens (CVL-25), U.S.S. Saratoga (CV-3), U.S.S. Essex (CV-9), U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11) Jan - Feb '44
(tour III)
U.S.S. Hancock (CV-19) March - April, June - Sept '45

 

COMMANDER ALEXANDER VRACIU, USN

Additional Information: http://www.alexvraciu.net/

Born in East Chicago. Indiana, I won a scholarship to DePauw University, and sensing a war looming on the horizon, obtained a private pilot's license under the government's CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) program during the summer vacation between my junior and senior years.

Following graduation in 1941, I entered naval flight training just prior to Pearl Harbor and earned my wings in August, 1942. With planes and aircraft carriers scarce in the earlier phases of the war, I was finally given the opportunity to carrier-qualify on the USS WOLVERINE, a converted excursion ship, on Lake Michigan. I qualified on eight straight passes in my F4F Wildcat, demonstrating an early affinity for carrier duty. My first combat assignment was flying F6F Grumman Hellcats off carriers, learning my deadly trade for five months as wingman to Medal of Honor winner. Lieutenant Commander Edward H. 'Butch' O'Hare, Commanding Officer of Fighting Squadron 3 (later changed to 6).

It was while flying section lead in Skipper O'Hare's division that I shot down my first enemy aircraft, a Japanese Zero fighter, at Wake Island in October, 1943. I got a reconnaissance Betty two-engine bomber at Tarawa, and on January 29, 1944 I qualified as an Ace after downing three more Betty's over Kwajalein. The last of these was destroyed after a long, low-level pursuit with only one gun firing part-time at the Betty which was jinking and turning in. I notched three Zeroes and one Rufe in a wild dogfight at the first Truk raid on February 16, 1944 as part of a 72-Hellcat fighter sweep at the Japanese Naval fortress. It was a new and enjoyable experience for the F6F pilots . . . an all-fighter raid with no bombers to protect. That night, Air Group Six aboard INTREPID, was forced to retire from the combat zone when the carrier was torpedoed by a Japanese Kate.

When my squadron returned to Stateside, I requested continued combat duty. The Navy obliged by assigning me to Fighter Squadron Sixteen aboard LEXINGTON, where I added two more Zeroes at the second Truk raid on 29 April. My 12th kill, another Betty snooper, was shot down north of Saipan on 12 June. Betty's (big, fat-bellied, versatile Japanese bombers) were my prime preoccupation after being told that it was a Betty that had shot down Butch O'Hare on a strange night encounter. On June 14, participating in a strike against enemy shipping in the harbor, I sunk a large enemy merchant ship with a direct hit on its stern.

On 19 June I bagged six Judy dive-bombers in eight minutes in what has become known as the Marianas 'Turkey Shoot'. The following day I shot down a Zero, my last enemy kill, and damaged another while flying escort for bomber and torpedo planes on a record, long-range strike against the Japanese fleet in the First Philippine Sea Battle. Air Group Sixteen was returned to the States, but after several months, I talked my way back out to the combat area when I found that I was being lined up for a War Bond tour. My luck ran out early this time on December 14, 1944, however, when I was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on my second mission while strafing near Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines. After parachuting to safety, I spent the next five weeks with the USAFFE guerrillas and was given the honorary rank of Brevet Major while with them. For the final week of this episode, I found myself in command of 180 men, dodging Japanese to meet General McArthur's advancing Americans. I marched into an American camp sporting a Luger and carrying a Japanese sword. Forced to return home due to regulations, I would not be able to make the first Tokyo raid.

After surviving service on six carriers, two of which were torpedoed, two ditchings and two parachute jumps--to be known as Grurnman's Best Customer--my war was over. I was the U.S. Navy's one-time leading Ace for four months in 1944 and ended World War II as the fourth-ranking Naval Ace, having shot down 19 enemy aircraft and destroyed 21 more on the ground. For the last few months of the war I served as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, helping evaluate tactical performances of U.S. and enemy aircraft.

After post-war staff duty in the Navy Department, Naval Post-Graduate School and shipboard duty, I received the ultimate desire of all fighter pilots--command of my own squadron. As Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron FIFTY-ONE, I won the High Individual Air-to-Air competition in 1957 Naval Air Weapons Meet at El Centra, California, outshooting all Naval and Marine pilots for the top honor. I received the following message from CINCPACFLT: I AM DELIGHTED TO HEAR THAT YOU ARE TOP GUN IN JETS IN PEACE AS YOU WERE WITH HELLCATS IN WAR X CONGRATULATIONS AND WELL DONE X ADM STUMP.

Pilot Combat Report

As part of the American task force protecting the Saipan landings, we were expecting an attack by over 400 Japanese carrier planes on the morning of 19 June 1944. I was leader of the second division of a standby group of 12 Hellcats launched from the LEXINGTON to supplement the combat air patrol already aloft. The full-power climb was too much for some of our tired engines, so I radioed our predicament to the FDO who ordered my group to orbit at 20,000 feet. A short while later we received a new vector of 265 degrees when the radar screens began to show another large force of enemy planes approaching. Taking that heading led us directly to a rambling mass of over 50 enemy planes 2,000 feet below, portside and closing--a fighter pilot's dream. In the next eight-minute tail chase, I was able to splash 6 Judy dive bombers, chasing the last two right into the task force AA fire. Looking around at that point, only Hellcats seemed to be remaining in the sky. (LTJG Vraciu might have added that having to work in closely due to his oil-streaked windshield, he amazingly used only 360 rounds of ammunition that morning to shoot down the six planes).

Fighter Squadron 16 VF-16

A transfer was effected to Fighter Squadron 16, nicknamed the "Airedales." when it was discovered that my first operational unit. Fighter Squadron 6 was being returned home in February 1944 after experiencing its second carrier torpedoing. I felt keenly that there was still a job to be done by requesting continued combat duty and I was not disappointed. The Pacific war was warming up and all good fighter pilots naturally want to be where the action is.

It is likewise natural for me to associate my most successful combat flight with the opportunity afforded us at the Marianas "Turkey Shoot" in June 1944, when I was able to down 6 enemy dive bombers on one flight. Not many fighter pilots get a-once-in-a-lifetime occasion like this.

Notes on Aircraft Flown in Combat

Throughout the war I flew the Grumman F6F Hellcat, which was designed to counter the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero, the dominant plane early in the Pacific war. The Hellcat gave us not only the speed, range and climb to compete successfully against the Zero, but it could dictate the rules of combat. It had a rugged dependability, a solid and stable gunnery platform, and distinctly was more of a pussycat than a Hellcat in its carrier operations. What better success could be attributed to the F6F than to acknowledge its kill-to-loss ratio of nineteen to one.

ALEXANDER VRACIU - THE MEDAL OF HONOR CONTROVERSY

A clerical error...
A medal downgraded...
Justice denied...
It's time to make it right...
Part I: The Nomination

Alex Vraciu's Medal of Honor Nomination and subsequent downgrade to a Navy Cross is one of those unfortunate quirks of history. A simple editing mistake resulted in disapproval of a much-deserved award.

During the First Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 then-Lieutenant (j.g.) Alexander Vraciu performed a series of heroic acts that set the standard for excellence among Naval Aviators and made him the face of the Marianas Turkey Shoot.

Alex's Medal of Honor nomination ( Page 1 / Page 2 ) only gives part of the picture [Notes Added in Brackets]:

VP-l6/Pi5/jjl

Fighting Squadron Sixteen Fleet
Post Office San Francisco, California
26 June 1944

From: Commander, Fighting Squadron Sixteen. [LCDR Paul Buie - Later Rear Admiral]*
To: The Secretary of the Navy

Via: (1) Commander, Air Group Sixteen. [CDR E. M. Snowden - Later Rear Admiral]*
(2) Commanding Officer, U.S.S. LEXINGTON. [CAPT E. W. Litch - Later Rear Admiral]*
(3) Commander. Task Group 58.3. [Admiral Marc Mitscher]*
(4) Commander. Fast Carrier Task Forces, Pacific Fleet. [Admiral Raymond A. Spruance]*
(5) Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet. [Admiral George D. Murray]
(6) Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. [Admiral Chester W. Nimitz]

Subject: Recommendation for award in the case of: Alexander VRACIU, Lt.(jg). A-V(N). USNR, (I24731)

Reference: (a) SecNav Circular Letter of 7 March 1944.
(b) Pacific Fleet ltr. 30L-44 of 23 May 1944.
(c) CTF 58 Itr. serial 169 of 19 June 1944.

Enclosures: (A) Suggested Citation for Congressional Medal of Honor.

1. This squadron was assigned the mission of conducting air operations against enemy aircraft, installations, and personnel at various enemy bases in the Marianas, in support of a landing by our forces on 15 June 1944 on Saipan Island, while assigned to a Task Group operating under Commander, Fast Carrier Task Forces, Pacific Fleet. On 19 June 1944 during the course of these operations, our naval forces were heavily attacked by enemy carrier based aircraft; and fighter pilots of this Squadron played an important part in intercepting and defeating these attacks, shooting down 45 enemy planes. On 20 June 1944 pilots of the Squadron escorted our carrier based bomber and torpedo planes in a long range strike which inflicted heavy damage on the enemy fleet.

2. These air operations included 388 sorties (exclusive of normal Anti-Submarine and Combat Aif Patrols where there was no contact with the enemy) over the two-week period from 11 June 1944 to 25 June 1944, inclusive, and resulted in the following damage to the enemy:

(a) Forty-eight aircraft destroyed (airborne).
(b) Four aircraft probably destroyed (airborne).
(c) Sixteen aircraft destroyed (on ground).
(d) One 6,500 ton AK sunk.
(e) One 2,000 - 2,500 ton AK damaged.

In addition, more than 500 strafing runs were made against anti-aircraft positions, temporarily or permanently silencing many anti-aircraft guns; thirteen trucks were burned and destroyed; 7 Sampans or launches were set on fire and left sinking.

CERTIFIED TO BE A TRUE COPY

(SIGNED)
R.C. GILLETTE, LCDR, USN
Director, Officer Records Division(1)

[Award Recommended by 1-5, Buie, Snowden, Litch, Mitscher, Spruance]

VF-16/PlS/jjl

Fighting Squadron Sixteen
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.
26 June 1944

Subject: Recommendation for award in the case of:
Alexander VRACIU, Lt.(jg), A-V(N), USNR, (124731)

3. In compliance with paragraph eight (8) of reference (a), a brief summary of the part taken in these actions by the subject officer (listed also in paragraph four (4) below) and a description of the especial achievement or outstanding acts of service accomplished by him are set forth herein:

(a) Lt.(jg) Alexander VRACIU, A-V(N), USNR, led a team of fighters carrying 500 pound bombs in an attack on enemy shipping in Tanapag harbor, Saipan, on 12 June 1944. In the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, he made a low level or "masthead" bombing attack against the largest Japanese ship in the harbor, a 6,500 ton AK, and sank it with a direct hit on the stern at the waterline. On 14 June 1944 in the course of a strike against enemy positions in the Islands north of Saipan and while at an altitude of 3000 feet, he sighted an enemy search plane at an altitude of 18000 feet. He approached the enemy plane so skillfully, keeping in its "blind spot" that despite its altitude advantage he was able to overhaul it and shoot it down in flames. On 19 June 1944, during the large-scale a attacks by Japanese carrier based aircraft against U. S. Naval Forces, near the Marianas Islands, he was one of thirteen pilots of this Squadron launched to meet the first wave of the attack. He intercepted a formation of 30-40 enemy dive bombers (Judies) at a distance of approximately 30 miles from our forces and single-handed, in the face of enemy fighter opposition, succeeded in shooting six of them down in flames, thus contributing tremendously to the breaking up of this attack on our ships. On 20 June 1944, he was one of a nine-plane fighter escort, which escorted our bombers and torpedo-planes on a strike of over 300 miles, against the Japanese battle fleet; and while covering the torpedo planes as they went in to attack, engaged five or six different enemy fighters (Zekes), shot one of them down in flames and damaged another, thus materially assisting our torpedo planes in pressing home attacks which resulted in the probable sinking an enemy carrier. He then returned 300 miles to base and landed safely aboard one of our carriers under extremely hazardous conditions, including total darkness. The planes destroyed by Lt.(jg) VRACIU in these actions raised to nineteen his total of planes shot down in the air. This is believed to be a record for U.S. carrier based pilots.

4. The following officer is recommended for the award shown below, with citation as suggested in the appropriate enclosure hereto:

CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR

Alexander VRACIU Lt.(jg), 124731 A-V(N),USNR

CERTIFIED TO BE A TRUE COPY

(SIGNED) R.C. GILLETTE, LCDR, USN
Director, Officer Records Division

In summary, Alex was nominated for the following heroic actions:

# Four Missions (June 12, 14, 19, and 20), including the "Mission Beyond Darkness" of 20 June, the longest carrier strike of the war. Here he single-handedly engaged five or six enemy fighters (downing one and damaging another) at extreme peril to allow our dive bombers to sink an enemy carrier.
# 8 Aerial Victories and one probable (six of them in one mission on 19 June, which, in the midst of friendly anti-aircraft fire and with a badly malfunctioning engine, saved the Lexington from Dive Bomber attack) all in the face of intense fighter opposition.
# The solo sinking of a 6,500-ton Japanese Merchant ship despite intense enemy anti-aircraft fire.
# Setting the all-time record for Naval Aces at that time with 19 victories.

The nomination was approved by five of Vraciu's immediate superiors, including Admirals Marc Mitscher and Raymond Spruance. The other three would also attain the rank of Admiral.

But this is where things took a turn...

ALEXANDER VRACIU - THE MEDAL OF HONOR CONTROVERSY

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

A clerical error...
A medal downgraded...
Justice denied...
It's time to make it right...

PART II: Garbled Communications, Admiral Murray, and the Navy Cross

Alex's Congressional Medal of Honor nomination, having been approved and forwarded up the chain of command by FIVE of his superiors, including Admirals Mitscher and Spruance, reached the desk of Rear Admiral George D. Murray. For reasons that have never been explained the version of the nomination that left Murray's desk eliminated two crucial details and contained information that was completely incorrect. (Whether or not this information was corrupted prior to reaching Admiral Murray is unknown, so we will give the Admiral the benefit of the doubt and assume that something was lost in the shuffle prior to his receipt of the nomination.) Alex's Navy Cross citation reflects these unfortunate changes.

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ALEXANDER VRACIU UNITED STATES NAVAL RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

"For extraordinary heroism as Pilot Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron SIX attached to the U.S.S. HANCOCK during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Marianas Islands, on June 12, 14, 19 and 20, 1944. Participating in a daring strike against enemy shipping in the harbor, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade,) Vraciu dived through antiaircraft fire to sink a large enemy merchant ship by a direct hit on its stern. With his Task Force subsequently under attack by a numerically superior force of enemy aircraft, struck furiously at the hostile bombers and, despite vigorous fighter opposition, succeeded in shooting down six and contributing to the breaking up of a concentrated enemy attack. Flying escort for bomber and torpedo planes on a long-range strike against the Japanese fleet, he fearlessly closed with a group of hostile fighters, blasting one from the sky and severely damaging another to enable our forces to sink a Japanese carrier. By his daring combat tactics and devotion to duty throughout, Lieutenant Commander Vraciu upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

For the President

(SIGNED) JAMES FORRESTAL Secretary of the Navy

The errors contained in the citation are glaring and obvious when compared to the original Congressional Medal of Honor nomination ( Page 1 / Page 2):

# Alex is shown as a member of Fighter Squadron Six in the Award. He was actually assigned to Fighter Squadron Sixteen.

# Alex is shown to have been attached to the U.S.S. Hancock (CV-19), which did not see combat action until a 10 October 1944 strike on Okinawa, some four months AFTER Alex's heroic deeds of June 1944. In fact, while Alex Vraciu was in combat as a member of U.S.S. Lexington's Air Group, U.S.S. Hancock was still in Boston. Hancock would not set to sea until 31 July 1944.

# Alex's mission of 14 June is completely ignored in this citation and his kill of that day is not mentioned. The original citation wording was removed: "On 14 June 1944 in the course of a strike against enemy positions in the Islands north of Saipan and while at an altitude of 3000 feet, he sighted an enemy search plane at an altitude of 18000 feet. He approached the enemy plane so skillfully, keeping in its 'blind spot' that despite its altitude advantage he was able to overhaul it and shoot it down in flames."

# Much of the wording involving the number of aircraft engaged by Vraciu in both the 19 June and 20 June missions was omitted.

# The citation also eliminates the fact, pointed out in the original nomination, that Alex Vraciu had set the all-time record for Naval Aviators with 19 aerial victories.

# Other pilots (Dive bomber pilots Lt. Cook Cleland, LCDR James "Jig Dog" Ramage, Lt. Harold "Hal" Buell, Stear, Scheurer, Taylor, etc.) were awarded the Navy Cross in this action, specifically for the strike on 20 June. For example, then-LCDR Ramage, commanding officer of Enterprise's Bombing Squadron Ten was awarded a Navy Cross for his "leadership" during the attack on 20 June. Clearly Ramage was a brave and capable leader, eventually attaining the rank of Rear Admiral. However, one cannot help but wonder how much higher a hurdle Vraciu would have to climb to earn a Medal of Honor. At the minimum, his four missions combined are worthy of far more than one Navy Cross.

Medal of Honor Controversy Part III - 1947, 1990 - "Careful" Reviews of Flawed Data

ALEXVRACIU.NET and ALEXVRACIU.ORG HOMEPAGE

NOTE: ALEX VRACIU HAS NO DIRECT CONNECTION WITH THIS WEBSITE.
THIS IS AN EFFORT BY HIS FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS, NOT BY ALEX HIMSELF.
HE IS TOO MODEST A MAN TO PETITION FOR REDRESS.

WWII 1939 to 1945
Original unit badge circa 1943

Air Group NINETEEN was established on 15 August 1943, consisting of VF-19 (Fighting), VB-19 (Bombing) and VT-19 (Torpedo). Initially stationed at Los Alamitos where it started to receive it's aircraft, the Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, along with SBD-5 for VB-19 and TBM-1 for VT-19.

Aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16), NINETEEN saw it's first action the Battle for Leyte Gulf, the climactic American naval victory over Japan. While the carrier came under constant enemy attack in the engagement in which USS Princeton (CVL 23) was sunk, her planes joined in sinking Japan's super-battleship Musashi and scored hits on three cruisers 24 October 1944. Next day, with Essex aircraft, they sank carrier Chitose, and alone sank Zuikako. Later in the day, they aided in sinking a third carrier, Zuiho. As the retiring Japanese were pursued, her planes sank heavy cruiser Nachi with four torpedo hits 5 November off Luzon.

During the action, the Lexington lost her island structure to a kamikaze plane. Within 20 minutes mayor blazes were under control, and she was able to continue normal flight actions, her guns knocking down a would-be kamikaze heading for the carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) as well. On 9 November Lexington arrived Ulithi to repair battle damage and learn that Tokyo once again claimed her destroyed.

After returning to the US, VF-19 transitioned to the new Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat, being the first squadron to report, in June 1944. The Bearcat never saw action during the Second World War, VF-19 aboard USS Langley, was on route to the Pacific when Japan surrendered on the 16th of August 1945.

Air Group 19 was one of the most decorated Air Groups of WWII, boasting eleven air aces:

  • Lt. William E. Copeland (6)
  • Lt(jg) Robert A. Farnsworth (5)
  • Lt. Cdr. Elvin L. Lindsay (8)
  • Lt(jg) Paul O'Mara, Jr. (7)
  • Lt. Joseph J. Paskoski (6)
  • Lt. Luther D. Prater, Jr. (81/2)
  • Lt. Herman J. Rossi, Jr. (6)
  • Lt. Albert Seckel, Jr. (6)
  • Lt. Bruce W. Williams (7)
  • Lt. Albert Seckel, Jr. (6)
  • Lt. Bruce W. Williams (7)
Claims against aircraft in Air
Claims against aircraft in Air: Destroyed Probable Damaged
tour I 64 3 9
tour II 37.833 2 1
tour III 20 4 1
Aces were: (scores in the squadron) [Pilots total score]
tour I tour II tour III
D.E. Runyon (8) [total 11] A. Vraciu (9) [total 19] 0
J.S. Gray (3) [total 6] C.J. Chambers (3.333) [total 5.333]  
L.P. Mankin (3) [total 5] T.T. Coleman (2) [total 10]  
A.O. Vorse (3) [total 11.5] R.S. Merritt (2) [total 3]  
R.A.M. Dibb (2) [total 7] E.H. O'Hare (2) [total 7]  
H.A. March (2) [total 4] J.D. Robbins (2) [total 5]  
F.R. Register (2) [total 7] F.J. Blair (0.333) [total 2.333]  
T.W. Rhodes (2) [total3] J.J. Bridges (0.25) [total 6.25]  
R.W. Mehle (1.666) [total 5.666]    

Planes Flown: F4F-4 (tour I) F6F-3 (tour II) F6F-5, -5N (tour II & III)

USN Top Fighter Pilot by Squadron and Leading Commanding Officer including Unit Total Kills
Squadron # Nickname Start End A/C Carrier/Base Top Ace (kills w/ sqn) CO (kills w/ sqn) Kills # Aces
VF-1 High Hatters Nov-43 Aug-44 F6F Yorktown CV-10 Richard Eastmond (9) B.M. Strean 100 3
VF-2 Rippers Mar-44 Sep-44 F6F Hornet CV-12 Cdr. William A. Dean (10)   240 28
VF-3 Felix the Cat Dec-41 May-42 F4F Lexington CV-2 Butch O'Hare (5) Jimmy Thach 18 1
VF-3 Felix the Cat May-42 Jun-42 F4F Yorktown CV-5 Elbert McCuskey (5) Jimmy Thach 34.5 1
VF-5 Aug-42 Oct-42 F4F Saratoga CV-3 H. M. Jensen (7) Leroy Simpler 78 4
VF-5 Oct-43 Apr-44 F6F Yorktown CV-10 Robert Duncan (7) Ed Owens (5) 93.5 7
VF-6 Shooting Stars Dec-41 Oct-42 F4F Enterprise CV-6 Donald E. Runyon (8) James S. Gray 63 1
VF-6 Aug-43 Feb-44 F6F various CV's Alexander Vraciu (9) H.W. Harrison 37.5 0
VF-7 Sep-44 Jan-45 F6F Hancock CV-19 Lt. Cdr. L. J. Check (10)   72 2
VF-8 Dec-41 Jun-42 F4F Hornet CV-8 Merrill Cook (2) Sam Mitchell 5 0
VF-8 Mar-44 Oct-44 F6F Bunker Hill CV-17 Cdr. William Collins (9)   156 13
VF-9 Cat o' Nines Oct-43 Mar-44 F6F Essex CV-9 Hamilton McWhorter (10) Phil Torrey 116 10 est.
VF-9 Cat o' Nines Mar-45 Jun-45 F6F Yorktown CV-10 Eugene Valencia (23) John S. Kitten 129 10 est.
VF-10 Grim Reapers Oct-42 May-43 F4F Enterprise CV-6 Swede Vejtasa (7.25) J.H. Flatley 43 1
VF-10 Grim Reapers Jan-44 Jun-44 F6F Enterprise CV-6 Richard Devine (8) William Kane 88 5
VF-10 Grim Reapers Feb-45 Apr-45 F4U Intrepid CV-11 P. L. Kirkwood (8) Walter E. Clarke 87 7
VF-11 Sundowners May-43 Jul-43 F4F Guadalcanal Charles Stimpson (6) Charles White 52 2
VF-11 Sundowners Oct-44 Jan-45 F6F Hornet CV-12 Charles Stimpson (10) E. G. Fairfax 106 5
VF-12 Sep-43 Jun-44 F6F Saratoga CV-3 John Magda (4) R.G. Dose 20 0
VF-12 Jan-45 Jun-45 F6F Randolph CV-15 Lt. Cdr. Frederick H. Michaelis (5)   51 2
VF-13 Black Cats Jul-44 Nov-44 F6F Franklin CV-13 Albert Pope (7) Wilson Coleman (6) 86 3
VF-14 Iron Angels May-44 Nov-44 F6F Wasp CV-18 William Knight (7.5) R. Gray 146 8
VF-15 Fighting Aces May-44 Nov-44 F6F Essex CV-9 McCampbell, Duncan, Rushing, Strane, Twelves James Rigg (11) 310 26
VF-16 Fighting Airedales Oct-43 Jun-44 F6F Lexington CV-16 Alexander Vraciu (10) Paul D. Buie (9) 136.5 7
VF-17 Jolly Rogers Oct-43 Mar-44 F4U Solomons Ike Kepford (16) Tom Blackburn (11) 152 11
VF-18 Oct-43 Mar-44 F6F Bunker Hill CV-17 Lt. Cdr. Sam Silber (6)   74 1
VF-18 Aug-44 Nov-44 F6F Intrepid CV-11 Cecil Harris (22) Ed Murphy 176.5 13
VF-19 Satan's Kittens Jul-44 Nov-44 F6F Lexington CV-16 William Masoner Jr. (10) T. Hugh Winters (8) 155 11
VF-20 Aug-44 Jan-45 F6F Enterprise CV-6/etc. Douglas Baker (16.33) Fred Bakutis (7.5) 158 9
VF-21 Feb-43 Jul-43 F4F Guadalcanal Ross Torkelson (6) John Hulme 69 3
VF-21 Jul-44 Oct-44 F6F Belleau Wood CVL-24 Bob Thomas (5) V. F. Casey 40 1
VF-22 Sep-44 Jan-45 F6F Cowpens CVL-25 Clement Craig (12) Thomas Jenkins 49.5 3
VF-23 Aug-43 May-44 F6F Princeton CVL-23 L.H. Kerr (4.83) H.L. Miller 35 0
VF-26 Apr-44 Oct-44 FM2 Santee CVE-29 Kenneth Hippe (6) Harold Funk 31 1
VC-27 Oct-44 Jan-45 FM2 Savo Island Ralph Elliott (9) P. W. Jackson 61 1
VF-27 May-44 Oct-44 F6F Princeton CVL-23 James Shirley (12) Fred Bardshar (7.5) 134 10
VF-28 May-44 Dec-44 F6F Monterey CVL-26 Oscar Bailey (5) Roger Mehle 55 2
VF-29 Oct-44 Apr-45 F6F Cabot CVL-28 Robert Murray (10.3) William Eder (6.5) 113 12
VF-30 Jan-45 Jun-45 F6F Belleau Wood CVL-24 James Reber (11) Douglas A. Clark 110 7
VF-31 Meat Axers Jan-44 Sep-44 F6F Cabot CVL-28 Cornelius Nooy (19) Bob Winston 165.5 14
VF-32 Outlaw's Bandits Mar-44 Oct-44 F6F Langley CVL-27 Lt. Cdr. Eddie Outlaw (6)   44 2
VF-33 Aug-43 Jan-44 F6F Solomons Frank Schneider (7) Hawley Russell 74.5 3
VF(N)-41 Aug-44 Jan-45 F6F Independence CVL-23 William Henry (9.5) T. F. Caldwell 46 2
VF-42 Dec-41 May-42 F4F Yorktown CV-5 Art Brassfield (4.83) Oscar Pedersen 25 0
VF-44 Crusaders Oct-44 Feb-45 F6F Langley CVL-27 Cdr. Malcolm T. Wordell (7)   47 3
VF-45 Nov-44 May-45 F6F San Jacinto CVL-30 James B. Cain (8) Gordon Schechter 81.5 6
VF-47 Fighting Cocks Mar-45 Aug-45 F6F Bataan CVL-29 Samuel Hibbard (7.33) Albert Clancy 67.5 1
VF-50 Devil Cats Apr-44 Jul-44 F6F Bataan CVL-29 Daniel Rehm (6) J.C. Strange 61 4
VF-51 Apr-44 Nov-44 F6F San Jacinto CVL-30 William Maxwell (7) C. L. Moore 50.5 1
VF-60 Nov-43 Oct-44 F6F Suwanee CVE-27 R. Singleton (3.25) H.O. Feilbach 25 0
VF-72 Jul-42 Oct-42 F4F Hornet CV-8 George Wrenn (5.25) Henry Sanchez 38 1
VF-80 Vorse's Vipers Nov-44 Jan-45 F6F Ticonderoga CV-14 Patrick Fleming (19) Leroy Keith 159.5 10
VF-82 Jan-45 Jun-45 F6F Bennington CV-20 Robert Jennings (7) Edward Hassell 85 5
VF-83 Kangaroos Mar-45 Sep-45 F6F Essex CV-9 Thaddeus Coleman (8) H.A. Sampson 137 11
VBF-83 Mar-45 Sep-45 F4U Essex CV-9 Thomas Reidy (10) Frank Patriarca 91 3
VF-84 Wolf Gang Jan-45 Jun-45 F4U Bunker Hill CV-17 Doris Freeman (7) Roger R. Hedrick 137 4

USN Ships WWII
United States Navy escort carrier CV-16 USS Lexington II

IL-2 Sturmovik Cliffs of Dover - COD/CLOD skins - No 3d model at this stage
 
IL2 Sturmovik Forgotten Battles (FB), Ace Expansion Pack (AEP), Pacific Fighters (PF), 1946 skins
  IL2 game skin by RO F6F-3 VF-16 13 USS Lexington 1944
  IL2 game skin by RO F6F-3 VF-16 32 Pilot Vraciu USS Lexington 1944
  IL2 game skin by RO F6F-3 VF-16 32 Pilot Vraciu USS Lexington 1944 NM

F6F-3 of Lt. Alex Vraciu, VF-16, USS Lexington, June 1944. Vraciu, holder of the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, finished the war with 19 confirmed kills. Vraciu's tally of victories was cut short when he was shot down by enemy AAA over the Philippines. After successfully bailing out, Vraciu became the impromptu leader of the band of Filipino guerilla fighters who rescued him. The F6F-3 portrayed here dates from February 1944, shortly after the Truk raids. This skin is 100% free for personal use. Please do not alter this skin for upload or incorporate elements of it into others without permission. Thanks. For user-made or free campaigns feel free to use any of my stuff. If you do, let me know so I can fly it. RN Ronnco rtarget@gmail.com

  IL2 game skin by RS F6F-3 VF-16 32 Pilot Vraciu USS Lexington 1944
  IL2 game skin by RS F6F-3 VF-16 32 Pilot Vraciu USS Lexington 1944 V0A-V0B

  This is the F6F-3 of Lt-jg(junior grade) Alexander Vraciu, VF-16, USS Lexington, June 21 1944. He was the USnavys fourth leading hellcat Ace of the war with 19 kills Including 6 on June 19th, Six Japanese dive bomber in only 8 minutes, Thats and ACE. The son of Romanian immigrants, Alexander Vraciu became the Navy's fourth-ranking ace during World War II by shooting down 19 enemy aircraft and destroying 21 more on the ground. After graduation from DePauw University in 1941, he entered the Naval Reserve and earned his wings the following August. His first assignment was to fly F6F Hellcats in VF-6 "Fighting Six" under the command of Medal of Honor recipient "Butch" O'Hare. Initially flying as O'Hare's wingman, he gained valuable knowledge and honed his combat skills. He shot down his first enemy aircraft, a Zero fighter, over Wake Island. His second, a Betty bomber, fell over Tarawa. On 29 January 1944, Vraciu became an ace afteR downing three more Betty bombers over Kwajalein. He got four more victories with Fighting Six at Truk Atoll before being assigned to VF-16. Over the next 5 months Vraciu accounted for 10 aerial victories over Truk, Saipan, and the Marianas. When his squadron returned to the States, he put in for continued combat and was transferred to VF-19. In December 1944, he was shot down over the Philippines and picked up by friendly guerillas. A month later, he marched into an American camp sporting a Japanese sabre while leading a band of over 100 Filipino guerillas. After the war, Vraciu was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland, until he was asked to help build the Navy Reserve Program. He then served as a jet flight training officer for the F2H Banshee before attending the General Line School. Subsequently assigned to the USS Hornet as the communications officer, he won the "E" for battle efficiency for communications for the Pacific Fleet. Selected to command VF-51, Vraciu won both the "E" for fighter squadrons and top-gun honors for high individual score while flying the FJ3 Fury in the 1957 Naval Air Weapons Meet. He continued to serve in various staff capacities until his retirement in 1964, and remains an active member of the American Fighter Aces Association. RS RogueSnake79davesee79@yahoo.com

USN Ships WWII
CVE-66 White Plains

Chronology of the USN in WWII 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945

    Bibliography:

  • Barrett Tillman, Hellcat: The F6F in World War II, Naval Institute Press, 1979
  • David McCampbell article from National Aviation Hall of Fame website
  • Edward Sims, Greatest Fighter Missions, Harper and Brothers, 1962 - This sequel includes U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots
  • Barrett Tillman, Hellcat Aces of World War 2, Osprey

    Magazine References: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
  • Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
  • FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
  • Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
  • Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/

      Web References: +

  • History of RAF Organisation: http://www.rafweb.org
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F4U Corsair
  • http://warbirdregistry.org/corsairregistry/corsairregistry.html
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  • http://www.intrepidmuseum.org/ Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum New York NY
  • http://www.airzoo.org/ Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum Kalamazoo MI
  • http://www.lsfm.org/aircraft/hellcat.htm Lone Star Flight Museum Galveston TX
  • http://www.nasm.si.edu/nasm/aero/aircraft/grumman_f6f.htmNational Air and Space Museum Washington DC
  • http://www.naval-air.org/ National Museum of Naval Aviation AS Pensacola FL
  • http://www.neam.org/ New England Air Museum Windsor Locks CT
  • http://www.planesoffame.org Planes of Fame Air Museum Eden Prairie MN
  • http://users.ids.net/~qam/qam/ Quonset Air Museum North Kingston RI
  • http://www.aerospacemuseum.org/ San Diego Aerospace Museum North Kingston RI
  • http://www.planesoffame.org/ The Air Museum Planes of Fame Chino CA

 

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This webpage was updated 20th August 2019