KITS 09/2022

BuNo. 4019, Capt. Henry T. Elrod, VMF-211, Wake Island, December 1941

The first Japanese attempt to occupy Wake Island was

made December 11, 1941. After the first initial bombardments, VMF-211 possessed only four airworthy Wildcats.

One of the pilots that played a role in deflecting the

attack was Captain Henry Talmadge Elrod that earlier

had shot down a pair of G3M Nells, and during a raid

on the invading Japanese flotilla he hit the destroyer

Kisaragi with a 45kg bomb, causing the ship to explode

shortly thereafter. According to some sources, he hit

a depth charge storage area, the detonation of which

sent the destroyer to the bottom with all 157 men aboard.

Incoming aircraft and fire from 5-inch coastal batteries

persuaded the Japanese to withdraw. A second attempt

was made by the Japanese on December 23, 1941, at

a time when there wasn’t a single airworthy Wildcat on

the island. For that reason, Capt. Elrod took part in the

ground fighting, and led a Marine unit until he fell, for

which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Wildcat coded 211-F-11, on which he had gained his victories, was painted FS 36440 Light Gray underneath and

FS 35189 on the upper and side surfaces. The national

markings were in only the two positions on the wings,

and the fuselage markings were complemented by

a small marking at the rear.

BuNo. 2531, Lt. Elbert S. McCuskey, VF-42, USS Yorktown (CV-5), May 1942

Elbert Scott McCuskey was born February 8, 1915 in Little

Rock, Arkansas, and after attending universities in Alabama

and Arkansas, he signed up for naval aviation training on

May 28, 1938. After successfully undergoing pilot training, he

was assigned to VS-41 on the USS Ranger as an Ensign in

October 1939. In July 1941, he was reassigned to VF-42 on the

USS Yorktown, on which he would serve until July 1942. Then,

until June 1943, he trained young Naval Aviators in the art

of flying, floowing this up with a return to operational flying

as a unit commander, first with VF-6, and then, from March

1944, with VF-8. Both of these units were flying the Hellcat

by then. During his combat career in the Second World War,

he gained 13.5 kills. He remained loyal to the Navy after the

war, not retiring until July 1965. He died of a heart attack on

June 15, 1997. With this Wildcat, he shot down a Zero in the

Battle of the Coral Sea. The aircraft was camouflaged in the

same way as the Wildcat flown by Lt. Edward O’Hare, and

even the markings were similar, with one difference being

the application of large American markings on the fuselage

and wings. An interesting facet to this aircraft was the original markings on the wings being visible under the new ones.

BuNo. 4006 (4008), Capt. John F. Carey, VMF-221, Midway Island, June 1942

During the pivotal Battle of Midway, which swung the

fortunes of the war in the Pacific to the Americans

from the Japanese, aircraft did not fly exclusively

from aircraft carriers. Some flew off of Miday Island

itself. One of the units to do so was VMF-221, which

did so with their Wildcats and Buffalos. Wildcat coded

22 was flown by John Francis Carey, who managed

to shoot down a B5N Kate while intercepting the


INFO Eduard

incoming Japanese force. His Wildcat was, however,

damaged by an escorting Zero. Carey himself was

wounded in the foot, but managed to put down at

Midway safely. He returned to duty and survived the

war, and remained faithful to the USMC after war’s

end. He took part in the wars in Korea and Vietnam,

and finally went into a well deserved retirement on

June 30th, 1965 with the rank of Colonel. He passed

away on December 12, 2004. The Wildcat with which

Capt. Carey achieved the aforementioned kill, was

camouflaged with Blue Gray and Light Gray, and

the national markings, in accordance with an order

dated May 15, 1942, had their red components removed. Similarly, the red and white stripes on the ruder

were overpainted with the appropriate camouflage


September 2022