Jump to content

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

Recommended Posts

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





(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


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.









Long-time collector of WWII Aviation: AAF, USN and USMC.




Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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






Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.