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VF-29 | Fighting Squadron Twenty-Nine | "Fighting Shillelaghs"


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VF-29 | Fighting Squadron Twenty-Nine | "Fighting Shillelaghs"


18 Jul 42 | Established as VGF-29
1 Mar 43 | Redesignated VF-29

10 Sep 45 | Disestablished



Oct 42-Dec 43 | Santee (ACV-29) | F4F-4
Oct 44- Apr 45 | Cabot (CVL-28) | F6F-5, -5P

Combat record: 114 victories, 12 aces. Lost 7 on deployments. |  Top score: Lt(jg) Robert E. Murray, 10.33


For one of the more distinguished "smallboy" squadrons of the war, Fighting 29 got off to a poor start. With 14 Wildcats embarked in Santee during four days of Operation Torch, the squadron lost 1 O aircraft and one pilot killed plus four others briefly captured by the Vichy French. The skipper, Tom Blackburn, ditched at sea on 8 November and remained in the water until late on the 10th. Two months later he established VF-17 with F4Us.

The squadron's only victory of Torch came on 10 November when Ens. Bruce Jaques splashed a Potez 63 reconnaissance bomber. Following departure from Santee a year later, VF-29 reformed as part of Air Group 29 in Cabot. Under Lt.Cdr. Bill Eder, a veteran of VF-2 and -3 during early 1942, the squadron demonstrated its competence in a two-ocean war. On 10 October 1944 the first Japanese victims fell to now-Lt. Bruce Jaques and his wingman, who bagged a pair of Frans off Formosa. Thus, Jaques scored VF-29's first three kills against two Axis nations.

As if making up for so few previous opportunities in two years, aerial targets appeared in profusion that month. On 16 October the squadron defended two U.S. cruisers that had been torpedoed off Formosa and, in barely two hours, claimed 34 kills. Two pilots became instant aces as Lt. Al Fecke and Ens. Bob Buchanan destroyed five planes apiece. By month's end, VF-29's Pacific Theater tally stood at 63, with 10 more added by New Year's.

The Home Island strikes on 16-17 February resulted in eight more shootdowns, plus five more during a "return engagement" a week later. Sweeps and strikes over Omura Airfield on 18 March brought 10 more victories, and making an ace of Bill Eder, who first had fired his guns in defense of the old Lexington off Rabaul 37 months before. The last sixteen victories occurred near Okinawa in the first week of April, ranking VF-29 as one of the top 20 Hellcat squadrons of the war.


Wartime COs:

19 Jul 42 | Lt.Cdr. John T. Blackburn
21 Dec 42 | Lt. Harry B. Bass
10 Apr 44 | Lt.Cdr. Willard E. Eder
10 Jun 45 | Lt.Cdr. John J. Hilton


Embroidered on wool.




VGF-29 | 1942



VGF-29 | 1943



VF-29 | 1944



VF-29 | 1945



CO | Lt.Cdr. Willard E. Eder




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


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