KITS 09/2022

BuNo. 1850, Lt. Charles Shields, VF-41, USS Ranger (CV-4), December 1940

The first production block of the Wildcat resulted in

49 aircraft and was delivered in a prewar scheme,

meaning that the fuselage and lower wing surfaces

were sprayed in aluminum, and the upper wing surfaces were yellow. Wing markings were carried in

all four positions, and on the fuselage they were either applied near the front or on the engine cowling.

The color of the tail surfaces designated the aircraft’s

home carrier. In this case, the carrier in question is

the USS Ranger (CV-4), which was the first to receive

Wildcats, followed by the USS Wasp (CV-7). The bands

on the fuselage and wings, including the engine cowl

ring, indicated which unit section the aircraft was

flown by, and in the case of white, this would have

been Section No. 2. Photographs of this aircraft show

it prior to being delivered to the unit, and without

weapons or its telescopic gunsight. The first nineteen

aircraft within this production block had the engine

cowl split into upper and lower halves.

VMF-111, Army-Navy maneuvers, Louisiana, United States, November 1941

December 30, 1940, saw the implementation of

a new camouflage scheme that was to replace the

between-the-wars scheme. It required all aircraft

flying off ships to be given an overall coat of FS

36440 Light Gray. It was in this scheme that Marine

Corps Wildcats from VMF-111 took part in large scale

military exercises, and also sported red crosses on

both upper and lower surfaces of the wings, as well

as on both sides of the fuselage. These crosses were

used to designate combat units during these maneuvres.

Lt. Edward H. O´Hare, VF-3, USS Lexington (CV-2), Hawaiian Islands, April 1942

Edward Henry O’Hare was born on March 13, 1914 in

St. Louis, Missouri, and after concluding his stint at

the US Naval Academy in 1937, he was assigned to

the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40) as an Ensign.

He initiated his pilot training in June 1939, which he

successfully concluded in May 1940. This was followed by assignment to VF-3, operating off of the

USS Saratoga (CV-3). In February 1942, the US Navy

wanted to attack the base at Rabaul on the island

of New Britain. The carrier Lexington led Task Force

11, and VF-3 flew off of her. The ship was discove-

September 2022

red on her approach to the target, and the Japanese sent two Betty units to intercept. The second of

these units was only countered by ‘Butch‘ O’Hare and

his wingman. O’Hare shot down three of the Bettys

and seriously damaged another two, leading to the

disruption of the attack force. The discovery of the

attacking fleet caused the abandonment of the target being Rabaul, and other targets were attacked...

The Wildcat flown by O’Hare became a major point of

interest on his return to the Hawaiian islands, and

many photographs were taken of it. The plane’s lower

surfaces were painted FS 36440 Light Gray, and upper and side surfaces were in FS 35189 Blue Gray. The

national markings on the fuselage and in four positions on the wings were complemented by thirteen red

and white stripes on the rudder. Edward O’Hare did

not see the end of the war, having likely been shot

down flying a Hellcat during night combat on November 26, 1943. His body was never found in the water,

despite some witnesses claiming to have spotted

a parachute. O’Hare settled in Chicago before the war,

and in 1949 the city named its airport after him.

INFO Eduard