KITS 11/2022

Ens. Benjamin F. Currie, VF-5, USS Saratoga (CV-3)/Guadalcanal, autumn 1942

On August 7, 1942, the American naval forces, to the big

surprise of the Japanese, disembarked the 1st USMC

Division on Guadalcanal and led by General Vandegrift

captured the Japanese unfinished airfield. The first

American pilots to land on this island were the Marines from VMF-223 (F4F Wildcat) and VMSB-232 (SBD

Dauntless) who did so on August 20, 1942. Later they

were reinforced by further USAAF and USMC units. Due

to the heavy losses in the battles with the retaliating

Japanese units it was decided to further reinforce the

fighter component of the Cactus Air Force, as the air

units operating from Guadalcanal were called, and

on September 9 another 24 Wildcats from VF-5 were

dispatched to the island from Espiritu Santo. They

immediately joined the fight against the incoming

Japanese formations. One of the VF-5 pilots involved

in the Henderson airfield’s defense was Ens. Benjamin

Currie. The unit was relieved from the Guadalcanal

operations in the middle of October and sent for a rest.

In November the pilots returned to the United States

and in January 1943 the unit was disbanded.

Ens. Hamilton McWhorter, VF-9, USS Ranger (CV-4), October 1942

Athens, Georgia native Hamilton McWhorter enlisted

in the Navy in June 1941 having graduated from the

university in Georgia. After he completed the training

in Miami he was assigned to VF-9 flying Wildcats. In the

beginning of October, the unit embarked on USS Ranger

(CV-4) aircraft carrier headed to the African continent

where it was to participate in the Allied successful

landing at Casablanca in the French Morocco (operation Torch). For the better friend-or-foe recognition the

aircraft participating in the operation Torch carried

a yellow outline to the fuselage and lower wings national markings. After the French resistance ceased

the USS Ranger formation was dispatched back to

Norfolk. In the beginning of 1943, VF-9, as the first Navy

unit equipped with Hellcats, embarked on USS Essex

(CV-9) aircraft carrier and was dispatched to the Pacific.

On November 19, 1943, McWhorter became the first

Hellcat pilot who scored five kills in the combat against the Japanese. During the further battles he added

seven more kills to his credit and his final score stood

at twelve enemy aircraft shot down.

OTU VFB-8, Daytona Beach, the United States of America, 1944

VFB-8, the operational-training unit, based at NAS

Daytona Beach in Florida, was from its establishment

in January 1943 commissioned to train the dive bombing and equipped with SBD Dauntless aircraft. After

March 1944 its inventory was changed and Dauntless were replaced by F4F and FM versions of Wildcat

and the new task of the unit was to train bombing


INFO Eduard

techniques to the VBF squadrons’ pilots flying Hellcat. Wildcats were used in this role until September

1944 when they were replaced by Hellcats supplemented by FM-2 in April 1945 and SB2C Helldiver in

June of the same year. The featured F4F-4 Wildcat

flew with this unit and sports the tri-color camouflage of Glossy Sea Blue on the upper surfaces while

the side surfaces were sprayed in Intermediate Blue.

The lower surfaces were painted white, the national insignia on the fuselage and wings show design

introduced after August 1943. Wildcats flying at the

training units carried highly visible markings in the

form of large letters and numbers painted on the

fuselage, occasionally on the tail surfaces or wings.

November 2022