A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-11F "...XP3D-2 Served with VP-11F at San Diego, California, until it was lost on take-off in Acapulco Bay, Mexico, February 8, 1937. No. 7554. Douglas XP3D-1 (9613 c/n 1235) US Navy..." WebSite: DAN SHUMAKER COLLECTION http://1000aircraftphotos.com/ [10JUL2008]Circa 1936 - 1938
The sole XP3D-1 was built as a competitor to the Consolidated XP3Y-1, prototype of the well-known Catalina series. While XP3D-1 was flown on February 6, 1935, a month ahead of the XP3Y-1, the latter won the competition on price basis, and Consolidated gained a contract for sixty P3Y-1s on June 29, 1935.
Douglas proposed an improved version to the USN, incorporating stronger engines mounted ahead of the wing leading edge, a raised wing, partially retractable floats and a nose turret. The XP3D-1 was rebuilt to the XP3D-2 and redelivered to the USN on May 15, 1936. Although it gained no production orders, the aircraft served with VP-11F at San Diego, California, until it was lost on take-off in Acapulco Bay, Mexico, February 8, 1937.
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-11F "...BuNo 0454 - 11-P-12 - 1937-May-15..." WebSite: WWW.PBY.COM http://www.pby.com/ [10JUL2008]
Photograph Caption: This photo of the first PBY-2 was taken at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant in San Diego, shortly before being delivered to VP-11F. Comparing the roofline to the photo of the plant on p182 of Reuben Fleet and the Story of Consolidated Aircraft leads me to believe the plane is left of the left/rear corner of the building with the photographer facing the small section of building that extends from the main rear wall. Note the other PBY behind 0454, facing the other direction.
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-11F "...BuNo 0124 - 11-P-12 - 1937-Apr-13..." WebSite: WWW.PBY.COM http://www.pby.com/ [10JUL2008]
Photograph Caption: This is probably the first PBY numbered 11-P-12 (VP-11F). Later, PBY-2 BuNo 0454 became VP-11F's 11-P-12. Later still, VP-6F became VP-11 (after a short stint as VP-23) and had at least one PBY-5 as 11-P-12.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-11F History - 1936 through 1938..." WebSite: VP-11 Neptune Association vp11news.html 09JUL2008JULY 2008 Newsletter
PATROL SQUADRON ELEVEN HISTORY
(This article begins a series in which I hope to present a fairly detailed and accurate history of VP-11. The information comes from various sources which I have accepted as accurate, but in many cases I have not been able to verify. Thus, we shall call it an unofficial history. ROR)
VP-11 in the Pre-World War II Era
Patrol Squadron Eleven (VP-11F) was commissioned at NAS North Island, San Diego, California on July 1, 1936. Commander Laverne A. Pope assumed command, and with his Executive Officer, Cdr. A. Mills and twenty enlisted personnel, transferred from the USS Wright, they formed the nucleus of the new seaplane squadron. Assigned to the squadron were three patrol type seaplanes for the purpose of training flight and maintenance personnel. These aircraft designated; Hall PH, Consolidated P2Y and the Martin PM-1 were to be replaced by a complement of 12 new Consolidated PBY-1, the Catalina, later in 1936. Although there is some evidence linking the history of VP-11 to earlier squadrons such as VT-19 and VY-6D14, this commissioning appears to be the first reference to a squadron carrying the designation of VP-11.
After the initial training phase, including the transition to the PBY-1 seaplanes, the flight crews of VP-11F flew their 12 planes on April 12/13, 1937 to NAS Ford Island in the Territory of Hawaii. The ground support personnel joined the flight crews sometime later after being transported aboard the USS Langley and the USS Wright (AV-1). With the USS Langley (AV-3), the USS Wright (AV-1) and the USS Pelican supporting the squadron as tenders, VP-11F participated in Fleet Problem 17 in the Midway Is. and French Frigate Shoals areas. Upon completion of this fleet exercise, the twelve squadron aircraft were turned over to VP-8F stationed at Ford Is. The entire VP-11F squadron complement then sailed back to San Diego aboard the USS Langley (AV-3) and USS Wright (AV-1) arriving in June 1937.
Back at their homeport of San Diego, VP-11F received 12 new PBY-2 aircraft and resumed their training phase. In June 1937, VP-11F was designated the host squadron of a newly formed radio operators school to assist in providing training for airborne radio operators assigned to Patrol Wing One squadrons. The squadron continued to operate from North Island throughout 1937, and in February 1938 they were again tasked to participate in a fleet exercise.
Fleet Problem 18 commenced on 3 February, and in the opening stages of this exercise tragedy struck the squadron when two squadron PBY-2 aircraft collided off the southern California coast resulting in the loss of eleven of the fourteen crewmembers. VP-11F continued to operate from North Island under the operational control of Patrol Wing One until the commencement of Fleet Problem 19 on June 26, 1938. A notable event during this period occurred when aircraft number 11 crash-landed at sea south of Point Loma sustaining minimum damage and no serious injuries to the crew. The plane was towed back to NAS North Island, San Diego, California and returned to service after extensive repairs.
In January 1939, VP-11 was re-assigned to Patrol Wing Five, and under the newly adopted scheme of designating squadrons based on the Wing assignment, the unit designation changed to VP-54 only to be re-designated in April of 1941 as VP-51. During this period numerous realignments and changes in unit designations took place. In attempting to follow a unit's lineage throughout this period, it helps to keep in mind that the squadron designation was based on the wing - squadron relationship, thus VP-11 would indicate squadron number one under the operational control of Patrol Wing One. In July 1939, VP-7 became VP-11, which was re-designated as VP-21 by the end of 1940, and remained such throughout WWII. Early in 1941, another VP-11 squadron came into existence when VP-53 was transferred to PAT WING ONE with the unit assuming the VP-11 designation. This revival was short lived as the squadron was reassigned to PAT WING SEVEN with an associated re-designation as VP-73 a designation in retained to the end of the war.
In tracing the lineage throughout WWII of the squadron known as VP-11, we begin with a unit designated as VP-6 formed under the operational control of Patrol Wing Two on 1 October 1937. Under the July 1939 revised designation scheme, this unit became VP-23 (Wing Two / Squadron Three) before it was transferred to Patrol Wing One and on 1 July 1941 officially adopted the VP-11 designation. Thankfully, VP-11 held this designation into WWII, thus we have some continuity to the squadron's history. At the time of its designation as VP-11 in 1941, the Pegasus insignia was already an established symbol of this unit reportedly dating back to its days as VP-6B in 1933.
(Next time VP-11 as WW II begins)
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-11F "...USS FARRAGUT (DD-348) - Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11F)..." WebSite: NavSource Naval History http://www.navsource.org/ 10JUL2008
Photograph Caption: USS Farragut (DD-348) underway during manouvres staged for Movietone News, off San Diego, California, 14 September 1936. She is being overflown by five patrol planes. That at left is a PBY-1 of Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11F). The other four are P2Ys of Patrol Squadron Seven-F (VP-7F) USN Pic No NH 67309.
"VP-11F Summary Page"