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VF-5 (I) & VF-5 (II) | Saratoga (CV-3), Guadacanal (CVE-60), (Yorktown (CV-10) and Franklin (CV-13)


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VF-5 (I) & VF-5 (II) | Saratoga (CV-3), Guadalcanal (CVE-60), Yorktown (CV-10) and Franklin (CV-13)


VF-5 (I)

Established as VF-3S | 17 Aug 1927
Redesignated VF-5B (??) VF-5 | 1937
Disestablished | 7 Jan 1943

Combat Record: 78 victories, 4 aces. Lost: 12 officers, 5 enlisted.

Saratoga (CV-3) | Aug 1942 | F4F-4
Guadalcanal | Sep-Oct 1942 | F4F-4

VF-5 embarked in Saratoga to support operation Watchtower, the occupation of Guadalcanal. In its first day in combat, seventh of August, the squadron intercepted Japanese land-based aircraft from Rabaul, New Britain in claimed 14 victories. Five of its own aircraft lost as were to pilots. During Eastern Solomons carrier battle of 24 August, VF-5 was credited with 19 more kills. The following month 24 of the Wildcats went ashore, operating beside the Marines from Henderson Field and the fighter strip. Between 12 September and 15 October, fighting five-game 45 more victories while producing three aces. In mid-October most of the exhausted squadron returned to the United States. From August to October, 54 pilots passed through the squadron, with 12 killed or missing.


VF-5. Type I. Hand-painted on leather.





Established as VF-1 | 15 Feb 1943
Redesignated VF-5 | 15 Jul 1943

Yorktown (CV-10) | Aug 1943-Sep 1944 | F6F-3 "Hellcat"
Franklin (CV-13) | Feb-Mar 1945 | F4U-1D "Corsair"

Combat Record: 93.5 victories, 7 aces. Losses unknown.

The second VF-5 (designated six months after the first squadron stood down) was among the first to receive Hellcats. Like its predecessor, the new fighting five was assigned to a carrier named Yorktown -- second of the new Essex class carriers. VF-5 helped launch the Central Pacific offensive in the summer of 1943, scoring its first 16 victories during the five October attack on wake Island. After the Kwaljalein operation in December and January, Yorktown played a major role in the first Truk strike, 17 February 1944. From early morning to late afternoon, fighting five claim 30 kills, producing the squadron's first ace in the process.

Another two-day operation against the Palau Islands nearly matched that totaled on 30-31 March, with 29.5 confirmed. The squadron's final combat of the deployment came near the end of April with missions over Hollandia, New Guinea, and a return to Truk. By 30 April the squadron claimed 93.5 victories.


VF-5. Type-II. Silkscreened on leather.





Yorktown (CV-10), 1943, with F6Fs





VF-5 F6F-3 Hellcat (1943)








VF-5 F6F-3 Hellcat (1944)






FitRon Five became one of the few to switch from Hellcats to Corsairs for a second combat crews. Embarked in Franklin (CV-13), the squadron made a good start with 13 victories on 18 March 1945, attacking Kagoshima Bay, Japan. Another victory came the next morning but moments later "Big Ben" took two bombs to the packed flight deck, igniting aviation fuel and ordinance.



USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) Aug 1944






VF-5 F4V-1A "Corsair" | USS Franklin (1945). The distinctive diamond on the tail identified aircraft on the Franklin.











Franklin was hit and set ablaze by a Japanese dive bomber on March 19, 1945. Franklin was attacked by a single Japanese plane which dropped two armor-piercing bombs, devastating the hangar deck and setting off ammunition. Casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded. It was the worst toll ever inflicted upon an American aircraft carrier, with 124 KIA's in the air group, but CV-13s determine crew saved their ship.


Roughly two thirds of Franklin's flight deck is on fire or smouldering in this aerial shot from an Essex (CV-9) aircraft. Santa Fe (CL-60) is alongside, trying to get water into the hangar deck through vents in the side of the ship.






USS Franklin as seen from USS Santa Fe (CL-60) after being struck by a Japanese bomb, March 19, 1945.





The squadron reformed at Klamath Falls, Oregon, in May 1945.




Tillman, Barrett. U. S. Navy Fighter Squadrons in World War II. 1997.



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