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VF-85 and VBF-85 | USS Shangri-La (CV-38) | "Sky Pirates"


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VF-85 and VBF-85 | USS Shangri-La (CV-38)

Sky Pirates


Originally attached to the U.S.S. Shangri-La in 1944 as a single large fighter squadron, the 72 plane “Fighting Squadron” was ordered on Jan. 2nd 1945 to divide into a 36 plane “Bombing Fighting Squadron” [to have aircraft side numbers 01 through 36], and a 36 plane “Fighting Squadron” [to have side numbers counting up from 38 on]. The personnel were arbitrarily assigned one or the other, and in many cases bunked with those in the other squadron. Actual aircraft types and numbers varied continually as aircraft were lost to combat and accidents and their subsequent replacements arrived. VF-85 also had 6 F6F Hellcats assigned as night fighters and photo recon ships. The remainder of Air Group 85 as assigned to the Shangri-La were the “Bombing Squadron” VB-85 flying SB2C Helldivers and the “Torpedo Squadron” VT-85 flying TBF Avengers.



Embroidered. A stylized Asian Demon riding the lightning bolt of retribution, with implications of night flying with moon and stars in the background.







VBF-85 plane side decal





Flight Jacket of VBF-85 Ens. Falvey M. Sandidge Jr., credited with the last "Corsair Kill" of WWII. (photo: www.vbf-85.com)







Quoting a unit historian:


"Fighting Squadron 85" was created in June 1944. The large VF-85 was split in half into VBF-85 and VF-85 in January 1945 (with the addition of VB-85 and VT-85 making up Air Group 85) and there was no rhyme or reason for which pilots were placed in which squadron. They all had the patches on their jackets; there was no separate patch created for VBF-85. All the Corsair pilots were the "Sky Pirates" and wore the patch for "Fighting Squadron 85" which was a stylized Asian Demon riding the lightning bolt of retribution, with implications of night flying with moon and stars in the background. This does not fit easily into a nicely categorized listing of "Navy Squadron" nicknames or patches, so it is assumed on some other web page sources that the "Sky Pirates" and thus the patch "belong" to VF-85 which is not really correct. It belonged to both the fighter squadrons of Air Group 85. It's not true that VF-85 was the Sky Pirates with a patch and VBF-85 had no patch, mascot, or moniker. They just stayed with what they had, and even new pilots to VBF-85 had the patch (Ens. Sandidge joined VBF-85 in March '45 after the split.) All the fighter pilots in Air Group 85 were Sky Pirates and this was their jacket patch. The non-Corsair VB and VT squadrons had their own separate patch, mascot, nickname or moniker.


More at: http://www.vbf-85.com



USS Shangri-La (CV-38)






VBF-85 (30 Jan 1945)









In formation






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