KITS 08/2023

VC-27, Lt. Ralph Elliot, Jr., USS Savo Island, January 1945

Although the FM-2 Wildcats were the most

powerful and most numerous version of this type,

they were less frequently engaged in combat

with enemy aircraft than the previous F4F-3s

and F4F-4s. Nevertheless, ten pilots managed

to achieve fighter ace status flying them, and the

most successful squadron with the FM-2 in terms

of kills was VC-27, called “The Saints”. Its pilots

managed to shoot down a total of 61.5 enemy

aircraft in aerial combat, making it the second

most successful Wildcat squadron regardless of

version or period. They were surpassed only by

the VF-5 with 79 kills. VC-27 was established in

May 1943 and operated from the escort carrier

USS Savo Island from July 1944 to January 1945.

During this time, she participated in five major

operations, including the epic naval battle off

Samar, where a small task force repelled a much

stronger Japanese fleet. Under the command of

Lt. Cmdr. Percival Jackson, pilots of VC-27 shot

down more than twice as many enemies as any

other composite squadron. The commander of the

VF-27 fighter division, Lt. Ralph Elliott Jr., was the

most successful ace on FM-2 with nine confirmed

kills. In addition to its success in aerial combat,

VC-27 also sank or destroyed 30 Japanese vessels

and destroyed or damaged over 250 objects such

as bridges, buildings, fuel or ammunition depots,

vehicles, and the like. In March 1945, Ralph Elliott,

Jr. took command of the entire squadron, but

the war ended before VC-27 could rejoin the

fighting. Elliott’s FM-2 was emblazoned with the

inscription BALDY, documented on the right side,

which also featured nine kill marks.

JV640, Sub-Lt W. Park, No. 881 Squadron FAA, HMS Pursuer, August 1944

The British Fleet Air Arm used Wildcat FM-2s

under the designation Wildcat Mk. VI, as the

Martlet name was dropped for the last F4F

versions. The British Navy used these aircraft

for similar duties as the American ones, i.e., for

service on escort carriers, from whose decks they

provided air cover for convoys and also operated

against ground or surface targets. Under the Lend


INFO Eduard

Lease program, 340 FM-2s were delivered to the

FAA (220 in 1944 and the rest in 1945), and the first

of these were received by No. 881 Sqn, which took

part in the invasion of southern France in August

1944 aboard HMS Pursuer (Operation Dragoon).

The unit also took part in actions off the coast

of Norway before being rearmed with Grumman

Hellcat Mk.II aircraft in March 1945. In total,

FM-2s served with 22 FAA combat squadrons,

with others assigned to non-combat squadrons

as trainers. The JV640 aircraft sported a drawing

of a tiny hare with a sword and a Viking shield on

the right side of the engine cowl and had a nonstandard rear-view mirror on the windshield.

August 2023