Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Thach and O'Hare' Wildcats VF-2 April 1942



The US Navy's two most famous Wildcat pilots in early 1942 - Leader of VF-2, Lt. Cmdr. John S. "Jimmy" Thach (creator of the Thach Weave) flys F4F-3 #F-1 alongside the Navy's first ace "Butch" O'Hare (in #F-13) near NAS Kaneohe on 10 April 1942. Note the opened canopies (a typical action when not in combat).
 

With the release of the Airfix 72nd scale kit there has been some discussion on various forums re Thach's Wildcat. Thach flew more than one Wildcat; there's a well known photo with him flying next to Butch O'Hare's F-13 in his F-1 (above), and both of those are -3 variants (two guns, non-folding wings), with the rudder stripes and red centers to the roundels, when they were based on Lexington. Thach was at the controls of F-23 on the morning of 4 June 1942 escorting the Yorktown strike (both aircraft have the VF-2 Felix the cat badge) and used the weave in combat for the first time. F-23 was damaged and never flew again, going down with Yorktown. So Thach used F-23 on only one mission, shooting down 3 Zeros.  He flew a different machine, F-1 when he shot down Joichi's Kate. The pictures depicts Thach's earlier -3, with O'Hare as his wingman, shortly after O'Hare shot down 4-5 Bettys trying to torpedo Lexington.. Thach flew a different aircraft in defence of Yorktown later in the day. F-23 was a -4.  I doubt there are any photos of F-23, although its Bu no was documented.




On 20 February 1942 Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the Navy's first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of 9 heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier. Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On 21 April 1942 he became the first naval recipient of the US Medal of Honor in World War II.




O'Hare seated in the cockpit of his Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighter, circa spring 1942. The plane is marked with five Japanese flags, representing the five enemy bombers he was credited with shooting down as they attempted to attack USS Lexington (CV-2) northeast of the Solomon Islands on 20 February 1942. The censor has blanked out the Fighting Squadron Three "Felix the Cat" insignia below the windshield.

No comments:

Post a Comment