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VMF-511 | Disney design


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Established at MCAAF Oak Grove, North Carolina, on January 1, 1944 and redesignated VMF(CVS)-511 on October 28, 1944
DEPLOYMENTS: USS Block Island (CVE-106) - March to September 1945 (F4U-1D and F6F-5N)
Deactivated: at El Toro March 10, 1946
Artist: Walt Disney Studios
Date of Insignia: 1944
Authorization: HQMC
Type of Aircraft Employed: F4U-1, F4U-ID, F6F-5, F6F-5N

Remarks: "This design signifies the firepower of our planes and the warrior-like determination and tenacity of our pilots in flying the F4U airplane. The Indian was selected to represent the American pilot since other allied nations are also using this type plane." Taken from original request for approval documents dated 1 April 1944.


Often copied, below is the only authentic example for this short-lived squadron (which is probably why it is so rare) I have seen. I was fortunate to acquire it. It was formerly in the Millstein Collection and pictured on page 94 of his book.

American embroidered on wool. | Design by Walt Disney Studios.

VMF-511 was one of five MAG-51 squadrons intended for Project Danny - the naval portion of Operation Crossbow, aimed at destroying German Vl launch sites in France. By May 1944 Maze's unit had 25 Corsairs at Pollocksville, North Carolina, and in July it began tactical training at various Carolina air stations. But Danny was canceled and the squadron moved to Mojave in September.

Upon beginning CQs the squadron was redesignated VMF(CVS)-511 on October 28. Maze's unit was assigned to MCVG-1 in the second USS Block Island (CVE-106), the first having been sunk in the Atlantic in June 1944. The CAG was Lt Col John Dobbin of VMF-224 fame under Bob Galer.

During training off the California coast the Marines encountered deadly weather on February 14. Despite deteriorating conditions that canceled a gunnery flight, Block Island's Capt Massey Ferguson ordered two launches totaling 18 aircraft to bomb and strafe towed targets. When lowering ceilings dosed in, a recall was issued too late. VMF-511 lost two Corsairs and their pilots trying to land ashore, while VMTB-233 wrote off five Avengers and most of their crews, including the squadron commander, Maj Bob Vaupell. Upon deployment in March the air group nominally consisted of eight F4U-1Ds, eight F6F-5Ns and two photo Hellcats, plus 18 TBM-3s. Block Island reached Ulithi in late April in time to support the Okinawa operation in May and June.

Skipper Bob Maze was killed by flak while attacking a boat anchorage at Ishigaki Shima on May 27. The exec, Capt Jim Secrest, assumed command. On June 16 the unit lost 1Lt R. H. Ploen when his Corsair was downed over Amami O Shima. Block Island then steamed to Leyte for replenishment, before joining two other CVEs in supporting the Australian invasion of Balikpapan, Borneo, in July. It was the last major amphibious operation of the war, conducted without loss to MCVG-1 aircrews. The squadron's only shootdown occurred when lLt B. J. Reuter bagged a "Jake" floatplane on the morning of July 3. With no further tasks ahead, Block Island sailed to Guam, where she learned of Japan's surrender. The ship celebrated with three volleys from the 40mm mounts and 21 rounds from the 5-incher.

Block Island spent the last half of the month at Leyte, then provided cover for minesweeping operations off the Korean coast. She battled a heavy typhoon off Formosa for three days bracketing the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay. The ship reached San Diego on December 11, bound for the East Coast and the unknown joys of a world at peace. The squadrons were offloaded, with VMF-511 going to Santa Barbara.





VMF-511 Vought-F4U-1D-Corsair-ready-for-launch. USS-Block Island (CVE-106). 5 Feb 1945.


Millstein, Jeff. U. S. Marine Corps Aviation Unit Insignia 1941-1946. p 94.

Tillman, Barrett. U. S. Marine Corps Fighter Squadrons of World War II. pp 141-142.

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VMF-511 | First issue


By late 1943-1944 America's military leaders heightening security to inhibit enemy intelligence as to units, unit movements and conduct of the war. AAF units adopted symbols and/or color scheme markings on planes that inform our forces while masking the unit number that would inform the enemy.


Similarly, as Millstein mentions, USMC units ceased including their unit number on insignia for security reasons. Some units that previously issued patches removed the unit number from the design of patches made thereafter, such as VMF-112, VMF-214, VMF-218, etc. Original designs were modified to exclude unit identification.


VMF-511 did so as well. Posts above are examples of patches issued subsequent to the first issue, shown below.


Embroidered on wool | Design by Walt Disney Studios




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