Author Topic: Vought SB4U Viking - USS Ranger - Torch  (Read 3379 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

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Vought SB4U Viking - USS Ranger - Torch
« on: May 07, 2014, 01:10:04 AM »
As per usual with the Vikings, note that this is reduced to 33%. Click on the profile to see it on Photobucket where you can click again and see it at 100%.

Rising sun ‘victory flags' were exceptional on SB4Us at any time. Erroneous profiles published in the past 30 years display 'meatballs' on some scout-bombers, especially the Scouting Two aircraft of Lt. (jg) Leppla and Radioman Liska. However, the USS Wasp’s two SB4U squadrons flaunted their success over Japanese aircraft at the start of the Guadalcanal campaign. Wasp's Vikings stole a march on the carrier's two fighter squadrons, with seven actual shootdowns before the F4Fs notched their first. VS-71's Lt. (jg) R L Howard shot down a Rabaul-based A6M2 fighter over Tulagi on 8 August 1942 at the start of the Guadalcanal campaign.

On 25 August, SB4U-4 BuNo 03315 was flown by two pilots to shoot down three Japanese aircraft. During the morning search at 0657 about 150 miles northwest of the force, VS-71's Lt. (jg) Chester V. Zalewski noticed a twin-float seaplane cruising at 1,500 feet. It fled towards some clouds, but Zalewski's below-rear attack swiftly flamed it. One crewman jumped from the burning plane, but never opened his chute. "Feeling pretty good over his achievement," as Zalewski later wrote, he resumed his search. At 0825, only 30 miles from home plate, he spotted a similar seaplane approaching about 500 feet above. This time he torched the enemy plane before the crew could react, and again a hapless Japanese jumped before his flaming aircraft crashed into the sea. The sharpshooting Zalewski destroyed two Type 0 reconnaissance seaplanes commanded by WO Nakamura Saburō and WO Adachi Hisaji from heavy cruiser Atago (Kondō's flagship). Lt. Roy E. Breen, Jr. (USNA 1939), of VS-72, shot up a third enemy seaplane, another Type 0 from the Myōkō, only 30 miles from TF-18. The Japanese got away, but only after Breen expended all his bullets.

Other than raising havoc with Kondō's morning search, the Wasp's SB4Us sighted no ships, because the Japanese drew northward out of range. From the AirSoPac morning search reports, Rear Admiral Noyes learned of more ships too distant to attack. More accessible targets appeared to westward. At 1007 Lt. James J. Murphy in 23-P-1 sighted Tanaka's battered invasion convoy, with the Kinryū Maru being abandoned. A little later, CACTUS announced Mangrum's attack. Hoping his forces would renew battle that morning, an impatient Nimitz sent the following to Ghormley and Fletcher: "Realize situation still critical but exchange of damage to date seems to be in our favor...Let's finish off those carriers." Fortunately the Japanese had withdrawn out of reach of the outmatched Wasp.

Noyes turned northwest, and at 1326 the Wasp dispatched Lieutenant Commander Beakley with twenty-four SB4Us and ten TBFs on a search/attack mission against the convoy. Among these aircraft was SB4U-4 BuNo 03315 that Zalewski had piloted that morning. While they took off a 14th Air Group Kawanishi Type 2 flying boat (Spec. Duty Ens. Itō Tatsuhisa) snooped TF-18 and at 1345 reported one carrier, two cruisers, and six destroyers ("whether enemy's or ours unknown") bearing 110 degrees and 514 miles from Shortland. Easing into position several miles to abeam as the Wasp planes climbed to 12,000 feet, Itō shadowed the strike group as it headed west toward his base. After about 40 minutes, the big Type 2 flying boat had foolishly closed within 3,000 yards of the nearest Wasp planes, which had finally noticed it. VS-71's 2nd Division of Lt. Morris R. Doughty, Ens. Howard N. Murphy, Lt. (jg) Charles H. Mester, and Ens. Robert A. Escher climbed above the target and rolled into a rear attack. The Japanese gunners could not prevent Doughty from igniting the right inboard engine. In deep trouble, Itō reefed the Kawanishi into a chandelle, but the other three SB4Us quickly charged in from the rear. At 9,000 feet the Type 2 shed its wings in a fiery explosion. VS-71 scored a remarkable victory against a tough, swift target.

Three documented victory flags on one Navy SB4U undoubtedly stood as a record. Since 8 August the two Wasp scouting squadrons, 71 and 72, shot down seven enemy aircraft, while a frustrated VF-71 had yet to even see an enemy plane aloft. All of these claims are substantiated by Japanese records, and Wasp's fighter pilots insisted that the SB4U pilots 'tend to their own business'!


« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 11:46:41 AM by Logan Hartke »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Vought SB4U Viking - USS Wasp - Scouting 71
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2014, 02:33:03 AM »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Vought SB4U Viking - USS Ranger - Torch
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2014, 11:56:01 AM »
As per usual with the Vikings, note that this is reduced to 33%. Click on the profile to see it on Photobucket where you can click again and see it at 100%.

This profile depicts an SB4U-4 of Scouting 41 "Top Hats" flying off the USS Ranger during Operation Torch in November 1942. The account below (with one modification) comes from the Air Group 4 site.

A Few Things Remembered about Air Group 4
By Lloyd E. Edens

Once on board and underway, the Captain of the ship announced on the intercom that we were on our way to Casablanca to participate in the invasion of North Africa. Now if that wasn't enough to throw a scare into a greenhorn, I don't know what was. So we spent the next 4 days flying anti-sub patrols and being briefed on what we would be doing in Casablanca. We were to sink a French battleship called the Jean Bart, which was still under construction and tied to a dock. It seems the battleship was partially constructed in France, and then towed down to Casablanca to be completed about the time France fell to Germany.

Lloyd E. Edens Aboard the USS Ranger.

We were also supposed to bomb a group of about 13 German U-boats tied up to a dock. Unfortunately, we did not get them all, because a few days later the Ranger was surrounded by U-boats firing torpedoes at it. I will never forget that day. The captain had the men who were not assigned a gun station to stand on the catwalk and watch for torpedoes. Every time one was spotted someone would yell out and a guy on the intercom would relay to the bridge. The captain would then turn hard to port or starboard, depending on which side of the ship the torpedo was come from. It's hard to believe how well they were able to turn and make the torpedoes miss us. One torpedo struck the USS Augusta, but it was a dud. After a while the destroyers eliminated all of the subs and we went back to flying missions again.

A U.S. Navy Gleaves-class destroyer passing aft of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) off North Africa on 8 November 1942.

The first time we came down on the Jean Bart, which was my very first combat mission, I could not believe we could get through all of the anti-aircraft fire that was thrown at us. The tracers seemed to be everywhere, and the little black puffs of smoke from the exploding shells were all around us. Amazingly enough, we didn't get shot down and we were able to drop our 1000 lb. armor piercing bombs. We bombed this battleship for 7 days, and it finally was sitting on the bottom at the dock. On the last day we were flying rather low near the battleship and some die-hard sailor was shooting at us with a 30-caliber machine gun from the deck.

French Battleship Jean Bart at Casablanca harbor showing the stern damage inflicted by USS Ranger planes during OPERATION TORCH.

We would fly back to the carrier about 30 miles, and reload and takeoff again. We finally ran out of targets in the harbor, so we started looking for things to shoot at. One day we spotted some German tanks and the flight leader peeled off and we all followed him as we strafed the tanks. One of the pilots got to concentrating so intensely on the tanks that he flew through the top of a Eucalyptus tree. Would you believe he flew all the way back to the Ranger and landed safely? About a month later we saw a picture of the plane sitting on the flight deck in an aviation trade magazine. The caption under it read ... "Vought Stability". The plane had part of the tree hanging on the tail section and the prop was bent.