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Air Groups 51, 49 and 45 USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) | VF-51, VT-51, VF-49 & VT-49 | WWII

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#1 walika

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 05:05 PM

Air Group 51


(Est 22 Sep 1943, Dis 13 Nov 1945) (Flew F6F-3/5 Hellcat)
Flew off light carrier San Jacinto, CVL-30.  Carrier launched 26 Sep 1943.

Fighter Squadron 51 was the oldest fighter squadron of continous service in the Pacific Fleet. VF-51's roots date back to 1927 when the Screaming Eagles insignia made its debut on a Curtiss F6C-4 of the VF-3S Striking Eagles. Redesignated VF-1 on the 1st of February 1943, the squadron became VF-5 on the 15th of July 1943, changed to VF-5A on the 15th November 1946 and finally became VF-51 on the 16th of August 1948, retaining that designation until the squadron's disestablishment in March 1995.

Meanwhile, in September 1943 another VF-51 was formed with a short two-year existence from 1943-1945. It flew F6Fs off the San Jacinto (CVL-30) from 1943-1945 and was the companion squadron to VT-51, GHW Bush's squadron.







The rare squadron patch:

Embroidered on wool, 4-1/8" round




VF-51-500.jpg   VF-51b500.jpg

(Est (VC-51) 22 Sep 1943; VT-51 8 Nov 1943 - 7 Aug 1945) (Flew TBM-1C Avenger)
Known for being George H. W. Bush's squadron. The Grumman TMF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was a torpedo bomber that entered service in 1942.





TBM-1C Avenger


Some years ago I was fortunate to acquire this VT-51 patch, to this day still the only original issue I have seen. Reproduction/commemorative issues exist.


Embroidered on wool, 4-1/8" round

VT-51-500.jpg   VT-51b500.jpg

In June 1943, future-President George H. W. Bush became the youngest naval aviator at the time. While flying a TBM Avenger with VT-51 from the San Jacinto, his TBM was shot down on 2 Sep 1944 over the Pacific island of Chichi Jima. Both of his crew mates died. However, he released his payload and hit the target before being forced to bail out; he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.


LT. (jg) George H.W. Bush sitting in the cockpit of his TBM Avenger, preparing for a bomb run assignment. (1944).





Two other Air Groups saw service on the San Jacinto. For context, I have included them here.

Air Group 45

VF-45 Boxing Pistols
(Est 1 Apr 1944, Dis 10 Sep 1945) (F6F-5)


Although there was published an insignia design for VF-45, it is not known if a patch was ever made.

Embarked on the San Jacinto 30 Nov 1944 to 1 May 1945.


No patch known.

Air Group 49


Fighting 49 [VF-49] and Torpedo 49 [VT-49] operated from USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) between May and August 1945. Ship and Air Group were jointly awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. Their insignia used Peg Leg Pete . . .

VF-49 "Forty-Niners" (Est 10 Aug 1944, Dis 27 Nov 1944) (F6F-5P)




Embroidered on twill, 4-1/2" round






The second USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) of the United States Navy was an Independence-class light aircraft carrier that served during World War II. She was named for the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.









#2 jerry_k

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 11:32 AM

Thanks for great story and show orgin. patches which are RARE like hell!!!!





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