KITS 10/2021

VF-38, Munda Airfield, New Georgia, Solomon Islands, autumn 1943

VF-38, established on June 30, 1943, fought in the Solomon Islands area flying from land bases together with VF-33, VF-34, and

VF-40. The unit operated in the area from August 1943 until the end of fighting in March 1944. Hellcats provided the cover for

Avengers and Dauntlesses on their raids against the enemy naval bases, combat ships or shipping. Besides having achieved

success against the naval and ground targets during this period VF-38 pilots shot down at least 22 Japanese aircraft. Hellcats

deployed from the Solomon Islands bases belonged to the first aircraft of this type which saw combat and arrived in Guadalcanal during the period of re-designing the national insignias from roundels to the roundels with bars and red trim. The unit

received its Hellcats in San Diego, California on August 1, 1943, and arrived in the combat zone on August 14, 1943. On the aircraft

named Miss New Orleans there was apparently an extensive camouflage repair done around the fuselage roundels and there is

a trace of masking on the fuselage after they were sprayed. This aircraft probably arrived in the combat area still carrying factory applied roundels to which the bars were added at the unit level. The national insignia red bars,

applicable during July and August 1943, was most likely not painted on this aircraft.

BuNo. 40994, Lt. Alexander Vraciu, VF-16, USS Lexington, June 1944

Having finished his first tour of duty with VF-6 Lt. Vraciu declined to return to the USA and on his own request dated February 27th,

1944, was assigned to VF-16 aboard USS Lexington (CV-16). During his service with this unit he was credited with further 10 kills of

the Japanese aircraft. His best day was June 19th, 1944, when during the Battle of the Philippine Sea (thanks to the enormous number of victories over the Japanese airplanes also known as The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot) he claimed 6 Japanese D4Y Judy dive

bombers shot down in the mere 8 minutes. Vraciu’s plane marked 32 is camouflaged is camouflaged with Glossy Sea Blue on the

upper surfaces, the sides are sprayed with Intermediate Blue, the lower surfaces are sprayed with white colour. There is

a noticeable overpainting of the previous marking, including the stencils, right under the fuselage number. The current pilot’s score

is visible under the cockpit besides the VF-16 marking.

INFO Eduard - October 2021