VPNAVY VP-5 Mercury Capsule Recovery
http://www.vpnavy.org
VPNAVY Address

HistoryVP-209 HistoryHistory

Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...WWII US NAVY Aviators (LT(jg) W. G. Booze) FLight Logbook - VPB-209 March - April 1944..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com [30DEC2011]


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UPDATE "...Some of the information you have posted concerning VP-209 was purchased from me last fall. This is the mterial concerning US Navy Pilot Wayne Booze. -- his pilot log book, plus a scattering of other papers. When I sent the material, I did not include a postcard-sized metal plate from the Martin Company. It states "This aircraft embodies features covered by one or more of the the U.S. Patents. . . ." and so forth. Interestingly, the reverse of the metal plate has an inscription scratched into the metal. It reads: "VP-209 P-85 - Bureau No. C1679 - Crashed March 14, 1944 - at Salinas Ecuador, S.A." - I would like to send this plate to you or to the person who owns the log book and papers..." Contributed by Mike Mattis mgmattis@comcast.net [08FEB2012]
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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...US Navy WW II Pilot's (LT Wayne G. Booze) Flight Log Plus Collection of Personal Papers Records. Photographs: LEFT: VP-22 00OCT1945 RIGHT: VP-209 00MAY1944..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com/ [30NOV2011]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Crew ThumbnailCameraVP-209 History "...My father, John Philip Allison, served with VP-209 around 1943 - 1944. Based out of NAS Banana River, Florida - stationed in the NAF/NAAF Galapagos, Seymour Island, Ecuador. Photographs (1944) - Bill is in upper left picture - man on right as marked. Twinning, Kemper, Allain, Carnicon, Baeriman..." Contributed by Terry Allison terry.g.allison@gmail.com [27JUN2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 11 Jan 1944..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [29SEP2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

VD-1, VD-2, VD-3 and VD-4

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-7, VJ-8, VJ-9, VJ-10, VJ-11, VJ-12, VJ-13, VJ-14, VJ-15, and VJ-16

VP-6 Coast Guard

VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14, VP-15, VP-16, VP-17, VP-18 and VP-19

VP-20, VP-23 and VP-24

VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-43, VP-44 and VP-45

VP-52 and VP-54

VP-61 and VP-62

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-110, VP-111, VP-112, VP-113, VP-115, VP-116 and VP-117

VP-126, VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-130, VP-131, VP-132, VP-133, VP-134, VP-135, VP-136, VP-137, VP-138 and VP-139

VP-140, VP-141, VP-142, VP-143, VP-144, VP-145, VP-146, VP-147, VP-148 and VP-149

VP-150 and VP-151

VP-201, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216


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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Albemarle - DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a5/albemarle-iii.htm [09APR2005]

Albemarle

A town and a sound in North Carolina and a county in Virginia. All three were named for General George Monck, the first Duke of Albemarle and one of the original Carolina proprietors

III

(AV-5: dp. 8,761; 1. 527'4"; b. 69'3"; dr. 21'11"; s. 19.7 k.; cpl. 1,195; a. 4 5", 8 .50-cal. mg.; cl. Curtiss

The third USS Albemarle (AV-5) was laid down on 12 June 1939 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 13 July 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Beatrice C. Compton, the wife of the Honorable Lewis Compton, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 20 December 1940, Comdr. Henry M. Mullinnix in command.

Albemarle remained at Philadelphia, fitting out, through mid-January, 1941. Underway for Newport, R.I., on the morning of 28 January, the seaplane tender arrived at her destination on the 30th, and loaded torpedoes. She sailed the following day for Norfolk, arriving on 1 February, and over the ensuing days remained in that area, loading bombs and pyrotechnics and calibrating her degaussing gear, before she sailed on her shakedown cruise on the afternoon of 6 February, setting course for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The seaplane tender shifted thence to Havana on the morning of 18 February, and over the days which followed her captain made the usual formal calls dictated by diplomatic protocol. In Havana harbor, Albemarle dressed ship for Washington's Birthday, her 21-gun salute to the American national holiday returned gun-for-gun by the Cuban gunboat Yarn. On the morning of 24 February, the ship got underway for the Canal Zone.

Diverted while en route, Albemarle anchored in the harbor at San Juan, Puerto Rico, on the morning of 28 February, and that afternoon received the official call of Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Commandant of the 10th Naval District. That same day, she embarked 91 men from VP-51 and VP-61 from VP-52 for temporary duty and transportation, and sailed for Norfolk, Virginia on the morning of 2 March. While en route, Comdr. Mullinnix was relieved as commanding officer by Comdr. H. B. Sallada.

Albemarle moored at Pier 7, Naval Operating Base (NOB) Norfolk, Virginia, on the afternoon of 5 March, but lingered there for less than a day, getting underway the following afternoon for Philadelphia. She returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and spent the rest of March there, undergoing post-shakedown repairs.

The seaplane tender departed Philadelphia on 6 April, and arrived back at Norfolk, Virginia the following afternoon; there she took on board depth charges and depth bombs. She sailed for Newport on the morning of 10 April, and soon after standing out into international waters past the Virginia capes, met her escort for the trip—six "flush-deck" destroyers, one of which was the ill-fated Reuben James (DD-245). That afternoon she fueled two of her escorts, Sturtevant (DD-240) and MacLeish (DD-220) at the same time, the former to starboard, the latter to port.

Albemarle then anchored in the harbor of refuge, off Block Island, late on the afternoon of 11 April and, accompanied by the destroyer Truxtun (DD-229), calibrated her radio direction finders. She then set out to finish her voyage up the eastern seaboard to Newport, arriving at her destination late on the afternoon of 13 April. She there joined a host of warships, ranging from the battleship Texan (BB-35) and the heavy cruisers Tuncaloosa (CA-37) and Wichita (CA^IS) to old and new-type destroyers and the destroyer tender Prairie (AD-15).

While Albemarle had been on her shakedown, the United States determination to aid the British in the Battle of the Atlantic had resulted in the establishment, on 1 March, of the Support Force, commanded by Rear Admiral Arthur LeRoy Bristol, to protect the vital lifeline between the United States and Great Britain in the North Atlantic. It was formed around destroyers and patrol plane squadrons; the latter would be tended by small seaplane tenders (ex-destroyers and ex-minesweepers) and Albemarle.

Over the next few days, the seaplane tender operated in local waters, at Narragansett Bay, off Martha's Vineyard and Quonset Point, Rhode Island, running drills of various kinds and conducting target practices. Rear Admiral Bristol came on board briefly on 28 April and wore his flag in Albemarle; that same day, she embarked her former commanding officer, now Capt. Mullinnix, who was now Commander, Patrol Wing, Support Force; men of VP-56 reported on board in connection with advanced base operations, as did men from VP-55. The following day, the planes from those two squadrons commenced night-flying operations.

Albemarle, after again wearing Rear Admiral Bristol's flag on 2 May, departed Newport for Norfolk, Virginia on 4 May, arriving the following day. The seaplane tender then cleared the Virginia capes on the morning of 9 May for Newport, and arrived there the following morning. She embarked officers and men of VP-52 on 12 May and then sailed the following morning (13 May) for Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada. Ultimately anchoring in Little Placentia Bay, Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, on the morning of 18 May, Albemarle was soon laying 13 seaplane moorings and gathering data on the weather of the region, establishing the advanced base for VP-52's operations from Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada.

Over the days that followed, in addition to tending the planes assigned to her, she also fueled a succession of destroyers. On 20 May, she received a visit from not only Rear Admiral Bristol— his first visit to Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, which he later made his headmarters— but Rear Admiral John H. Towers, the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, who both arrived separately in planes from VP-56. Both flag officers departed the following morning.

Twelve PBYs of VP-52 arrived at Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada from Quonset Point, Rhode Island on 18 May, and immediately commenced familiarization flights in the region—activities which were suddenly cancelled on 24 May. On that day, the German battleship Bismarck, which had left Norwegian waters shortly before in company with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eiu/en on what was to be a raiding cruise into the Atlantic, encountered and destroyed the British battle cruiser HMS Hood. An anxious Prime Minister Winston Churchill, concerned over the convoy routes that lay open to the powerful German battleship, immediately cabled President Roosevelt and requested American help.

Albemarle quickly refueled the aircraft that had been flying training missions that morning and readied others for the urgent mission. At 1440 the first group of four PBYs lifted off, followed a little less than three hours later, at 1720, by a second flight of seven. The pilots of the "Catalinas" were briefed for a long reconnaissance mission that would take them some 500 miles southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland. They encountered foul weather and very dangerous flying conditions in the course of their extensive searches, did not find their quarry in the murk, and were compelled by the fog and darkness to seek haven at various bays in Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec, and adjoining islands.

Albemarle remained at Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada until 12 June, when she sailed for Norfolk, Virginia, arriving on the 15th. There she loaded supplies, stores, ammunition and gasoline, before getting underway to return to Newfoundland on 20 June. Escorted there by the destroyer MacLeish, Albemarle touched at Halifax en route (22 June), and then proceeded on to Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, screened by MacLeish and Cole (DD-155), arriving on 24 June. The seaplane tender supported the operations of VP-71, VP-72 and VP-73 until she sailed again for Norfolk, Virginia on 19 July, in company with Dallas (DD-199). Mooring at Pier 7, NOB Norfolk, Virginia on the morning of the 25th, she shifted to the Norfolk, Virginia Navy Yard later that same day and remained there, undergoing an availability, until 12 August.

Underway on the day, Albemarle, screened by the destroyer Broome(DD-210), sailed for Angentia once more, and reach her destination on the 16th, resuming her support of VP-73. She provided support for seaplane and flying boat operations out of Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada through October, 1941. Clearing Little Placentia Harbor on 1 November, Albemarle sailed for Casco Bay, Maine, arriving there on the 3d; she then pushed on for Norfolk, Virginia, arriving there on the 7th.

On the day that Japanese planes attacked the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 December 1941, Albemarle lay at NOB Norfolk, Virginia, embarking passengers before she was scheduled to get underway for anchorage at Lynnhaven Roads. On Christmas Day, 1941, the seaplane tender got underway for Newport and Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada.

Ultimately, the ship proceeded to Reykjavik, Iceland, where she would encounter the most severe weather she would see in her career. One particular day, 15 January 1942, was memorable. She set her special sea, anchor and steaming watches and put out both anchors with 120 fathoms of chain on the starboard and 60 to port, with her main engines turning over and steam up on all boilers. The winds were clocked at 71 knots, with occasional gusts of 95, forcing the tender to drag anchor.

The gale lasted until 19 January, and caused heavy damage among the ship's patrol planes. The ship nearly collided with Wichita on one occasion, and was in danger of fouling several other ships during that time. Her starboard anchor was fouled once, and she lost the port anchor. She ultimately left Reykjavik on 19 January, steaming initially at greatly reduced speed because of the tempest, shaping course for Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, where she would embark passengers for transportation to Norfolk, Virginia.

Reaching Norfolk, Virginia on 29 January, Albemarle then proceeded to Narraganasett Bay, and there provided tender services to VP-73 as that squadron worked with torpedoes there. On 5 March, Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, made an unofficial call and inspected the ship informally. Albemarle completed her work with VP-73 and remained at anchor in Narragansett Bay until 3 April, when she proceeded to the Boston Navy Yard South Annex for an availability. Her overhaul lasted until 1 May 1942.

Upon completion of her refit, Albemarle got underway for Newport, on 5 May, and there, over the next few days, degaussed, calibrated her direction finders, and loaded aircraft for transportation to Bermuda. Underway on 15 May with Mayo (DD-422) and Benson (DD-421) as escorts, the seaplane tender reached her destination on the 17th, unloaded the planes she had brought, and immediately set sail for Narragansett Bay.

Relieving USS Pocomoke (AV-9) in connection with aircraft torpedo and submarine familiarization training, on the 19th, Albemarle remained anchored in Narragansett Bay until 12 August, providing torpedo services for a succession of squadrons: VP-94, VP-34, VP-33 and Torpedo Squadron 4. Underway on 12 August and escorted by the destroyers Livermore (DD-430), Kearny (DD-432) and Rowan (DD-405), the submarine tender sailed for Norfolk, Virginia. After her arrival there, Albemarle conducted gunnery exercises in the Chesapeake Bay operating area.

Shortly thereafter, escorted by Fletcher (DD-445) and O'Bannon (DD-450), Albemarle sailed for the Canal Zone on 5 September 1942. Damaging her starboard screw at Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, the seaplane tender was ordered drydocked for repairs; after transiting the Panama Canal for the first time on 15 September, she entered dry dock at Balboa on the following day. Upon completion of repairs, she transported Army troops and marines to Rio Hato, Panama, for two days of joint Army-Navy maneuvers.

Over the next several months, Albemarle acted as fast transport of aeronautical material and men to naval air bases in the Caribbean and the Pacific coast of South America, as well as in the northern South Atlantic. During this time (September-November 1942), she visited Salinas, Ecuador; the air base at Seymour Island, in the Galapagos Islands; San Juan and Bermuda, primarily operating out of Colon and Balboa and escorted by the seaplane tender Goldsboroygh (AVD-5).

Relieved on station by the seaplane tender USS Pocomoke (AV-9), Albemarle sailed from the Canal Zone on 13 November 1942, escorted by Goldsborough and the small seaplane tender Matagorda (AVP-22). Proceeding via San Juan, Trinidad and Bermuda, the seaplane tender reached Hampton Roads on 30 November having completed her longest sustained tour of duty outside the continental limits of the United States.

Over the next seven months, Albemarle shuttled between Norfolk, Virginia and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Trinidad, British West Indies, San Juan, and Bermuda, on eight round-trip voyages. She varied this routine only slightly on the sixth and eighth of these, visiting Recife, Brazil for the first time (17 to 21 April 1943) on the sixth cruise and putting into the Canal Zone on the eighth. Her cargo included aviation gasoline and ammunition. Upon completion of that cycle of operations, she underwent repairs and alterations at the Boston Navy Yard between 15 June and 23 July 1943, departing on the latter date for Norfolk, Virginia, whence she resumed her cargo-carrying and transport run to Trinidad, Recife, San Juan and Guantanamo Bay. On this voyage, her last on this run, she brought back 27 German prisoners of war, survivors of a sunken U-boat.

Underway from Norfolk, Virginia on 16 September 1943, Albemarle sailed for the British Isles, escorted by the destroyers Bulmer (DD-222) and Barker (DD-213). Proceeding via Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, the seaplane tender reached Swansea, Wales, with aeronautical cargo and passengers on 28 September, the men and freight she carried to support the newly inaugurated antisubmarine operations by patrol squadrons operating from the British Isles. Underway from Swansea on 4 October, she scraped a screw while leaving the harbor, and, after sailing via Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, reached Boston on 15 October. She was drydocked the following day, and the damaged propeller was repaired. Albemarle returned thence to Norfolk, Virginia via the Cape Cod Canal, arriving at Norfolk, Virginia on 18 October.

Underway on 22 October as part of a task group formed around the escort carrier Croatan (CVE-25) and three destroyers, Albemarle sailed for Casablanca. Routed via Bermuda, the group reached its destination on 3 November. After discharging her cargo and disembarking her passengers, the seaplane tender then sailed for the United States on 10 November with another convoy, this one larger and formed around Croatan and the light cruiser Philadelphia (CL-41), escorted by seven destroyers, and containing Matagorda and three transports.

Albemarle made a second cruise to Casablanca before the year 1943 was out, underway on 28 November and escorted by the destroyers Barry (DD-248) and Goff (DD-247), and arriving on 7 December. She sailed on the 13th for Reykjavik, and reached that Icelandic port on the 19th. There she embarked men from VB-128 for transportation back to the United States, and proceeded out of Reykjavik on 22 December for Norfolk, Virginia. Battling heavy seas on the return voyage (making only five knots on Christmas Day), Albemarle returned to NOB, Norfolk, Virginia, on the last day of the year 1943.

Proceeding thence to Bayonne, N.J., on 4 January 1944, for upkeep and availability, Albemarle returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 17 January, and prepared for a voyage to San Juan. While outward-bound, however, on 18 January 1944, the seaplane tender fouled a buoy in a thick fog and put about for repairs. Drydocked on 20 January, Albemarle sailed again for her original destination, San Juan, the following day.

Subsequently touching at Trinidad, British West Indies and Recife, Brazil, and retracing her path calling at Trinidad, British West Indies and San Juan on the return leg of the passage, Albemarle returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 23 February for availability. She then steamed to Casablanca in company with the amphibious command ship Catoctin (AGC-5) and two destroyers, and, among her passengers on the westward bound trip, were 20 German U-boat sailors, prisoners of war. She arrived back at Norfolk, Virginia on 1 April 1944.

After upkeep at NOB, Norfolk, Virginia, Albemarle proceeded up to the Naval Supply Depot at Bayonne, where she loaded aviation cargo, between 7 and 13 April. She then sailed, via Norfolk, Virginia, to Guantanamo Bay, Trinidad, the Brazilian ports of Recife and Bahia, and San Juan, ultimately making arrival back at Norfolk, Virginia on 27 May for voyage repairs and upkeep. Loading cargo at the end of that period, including 29 dive bombers, Albemarle again shaped a course for North African waters, the seaplane tender making arrival at Casablanca on 20 June. She proceeded thence to Avonmouth, England, where she loaded cargo and embarked passengers for return to the United States. Underway for Boston on 6 July, she reached her destination on the 13th.

Albemarle spent the next month undergoing a 30-day availability for repairs and alterations at the Boston Navy Yard. Emerging from the yard on 15 August, the seaplane tender proceeded to Bayonne, to load cargo. Sailing via Norfolk, Virginia, the ship visited the familiar bases at San Juan, Trinidad, British West Indies, Recife, Brazil and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before returning to NOB, Norfolk, Virginia, on 29 September.

After loading cargo at Bayonne (12 to 17 October), Albemarle headed south for the supply run to San Juan, Trinidad and Recife. Outward-bound the voyage proved uneventful; however, while loading ammunition and cargo at San Juan for the return leg of the voyage, an electrical fire damaged the ship's main distribution board, putting Albemarle's lighting and ventilation systems out of commission. Underway for Hampton Roads on 22 November, the seaplane tender reached Hampton Roads on the 25th, and moored at NOB, Norfolk, Virginia, on the 26th to commence an availability.

Underway for Guantanamo Bay on the last day of 1944, Albemarle dropped anchor there on 4 January 1945. Reporting to Commander, FAW-11, for temporary duty, she tended VPB-201 and VPB-210 at "Gitmo" until 17 January, when the seaplane tender sailed for Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, arriving at her destination on the 19th. Thence she sailed for Trinidad, British West Indies where she tended VPB-213 from 1 to 11 February.

Shifting back to the Canal Zone soon thereafter, Atbemarle commenced tending operations for VPB-214 at Almirante Bay, Panama, on 18 February, and remained engaged in that duty until Washington's Birthday. On 25 February, the ship was designated as flagship for Commander, Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, the day after she cleared Limon Bay for the Galapagos group.

There, Albemarle tended VPB-74 and VPB-209 from 27 February to 6 March, when the seaplane tender got underway to return to the Canal Zone. She steamed thence to Guantanamo Bay and Norfolk, Virginia, arriving at the latter place on 17 March for an availability that lasted through mid-May 1945.

Albemarle cleared Norfolk, Virginia on 18 May for New York, laden with cargo, escorted by the destroyers Bernadou (DD-153) and Dallas. Two days later, the seaplane tender sailed for the British Isles in CU-71, a convoy formed around the venerable USAT George Washington. Albemarle's mission was to bring back to the United States those patrol squadrons whose task in the Atlantic had been completed with the end of the war in Europe, and whose presence was required in the still-active Pacific theater. Ultimately, Albemarle reached her destination, Avonmouth, on 30 May, and brought her passengers—men of FAW-7 — back to Norfolk, Virginia on 14 June.

Albemarle made a second voyage to Avonmouth, sailing from Hampton Roads on Independence Day 1945 and reaching her destination on 13 July. There she embarked 772 sailors and soldiers, the majority of the latter repatriated prisoners of war. Underway on the 17th, the seaplane tender arrived back at Norfolk, Virginia on the 26th.

Entering the Norfolk, Virginia Navy Yard on 28 July for repairs and alterations to fit her out for duty in the Pacific, Albemarle was in the midst of this availability when the war in the Pacific ended in mid-August, 1945. The Japanese capitulation suspended the work; and, soon thereafter, the orders to the Pacific to tend seaplanes were cancelled.

Shortly thereafter, however, Albemarle underwent alterations of a different kind, to fit her out for different duty. With repairs carried out to the ventilation and berthing arrangements, the seaplane tender departed Norfolk, Virginia on 25 September with 2,000 Navy replacements embarked, bound for the Canal Zone. She soon reported for duty as a transport under the Naval Transport Service.

Albemarle cleared Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, but while transiting the Panama Canal suffered damage to her port screw. Reduced to proceeding with a single propeller, the seaplane tender put into San Francisco for repairs. Assigned to the "Magic Carpet" fleet—the ships given the job of returning American veterans home for rotation or discharge—upon completion of her repairs, Albemarle sailed westward, arriving at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 1 November before pushing on for New Caledonia, arriving there on 13 November, eventually arriving at NAS Alameda, California, on 28 November.

Following a second round-trip voyage to Samar, in the Philippines, and back, Albemarle underwent a three-month overhaul at the Naval Shipyard, Terminal Island, Calif., in preparation for her participation in Operation "Crossroads." The seaplane tender arrived at the Marshall Islands on 4 May 1946, to provide laboratory and base facilities for the technical staff for the operation. On the date of the first test (Able), an air detonation of an atomic device, Albemarle lay 155 miles to the southeast, moored in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands lagoon. Departing there on 3 July, the ship reached Bikini Atoll the following day, and, except for a rehearsal exercise on 19 July, remained moored at Bikini until she departed the lagoon there on the 25th. She observed the second test (Baker) on that day, and after spending a brief period at Bikini departed Kwajalein, Marshall Islands Atoll for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, reaching her destination on 5 August 1946, her part in "Crossroads" completed. She continued on to the west coast, reaching San Pedro on 12 August, and remained there until she sailed for Norfolk, Virginia on 29 October.

Arriving at Norfolk, Virginia via the Panama Canal on 15 November, Albemarle underwent a six-week overhaul at the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Shipyard. She remained in the Norfolk, Virginia area until she sailed on 3 March 1947 with Commander, Training Command, Atlantic, embarked. Stopping briefly at Key West, Fla., from 6 to 8 March, Albemarle proceeded on down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reaching her destination on 10 March for a week's operations there. Clearing "Gitmo" on 18 March, the seaplane tender returned to Norfolk, Virginia on the 21st.

Departing the Hampton Roads area on 9 April, Albemarle sailed for Boston, arriving at the naval shipyard there on the llth. She remained there until the 21 April, at which time she sailed for Newport, making arrival the same day. Departing Newport on the 23d with ComTraComdLant embarked, Albemarle returned to Norfolk, Virginia on the 24th, remaining in that vicinity, conducting refresher training and routine upkeep, until 30 June, when she sailed for Boston.

Spending the 4th of July at Boston, Albemarle remained at that port for over a month, shifting to Newport on 5 August and then back to Boston on the 14th, remaining until 2 September, when she sailed for Norfolk, Virginia. She then conducted one more trip to Newport (22 to 31 October 1947) before coming back to Norfolk, Virginia on 1 November. She then underwent a restricted availability at the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Shipyard from 1 December 1947 to 15 January 1948, for "special temporary alterations" in connection with her next operation.

Albemarle sailed from Norfolk, Virginia on 16 January 1948 for the Canal Zone, and upon completing the transit of the isthmian waterway reported for duty with Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, for temporary duty with Joint Task Force "Switchman." Steaming thence to Terminal Island for final fitting out for her next task at hand, and arriving there on 4 February 1948, Albemarle sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 1 March, in company with the radar picket destroyer Rogers (DDR-876), proceeding thence to the Marshall Islands, arriving at Eniwetok on 16 March, to take part in Operation "Sandstone." Specially altered for the task, Albemarle served as the laboratory ship during "Sandstone"—a three-detonation nuclear atmospheric test series— shots "X-Ray" (15 April 1948), "Yoke" (1 May 1948) and "Zebra" (15 May 1948). Departing Eniwetok on 21 May 1948, Albemarle arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the 27th, en route to Oakland, Calif., which she reached on 4 June. Sailing for Norfolk, Virginia on 11 June, she transited the Panama Canal on 20-21 June, and reached her ultimate destination on the 26th. She remained there undergoing overhaul at the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Shipyard until 23 August, when she sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reaching "Gitmo" on the 27th for a three-day stay. Over the two weeks following her departure from Cuban waters, Albemarle visited Key West, Boston, and Newport before returning to Norfolk, Virginia on 14 September.

Following an overhaul at Norfolk, Virginia Naval Shipyard, Albemarle stood out of Hampton Roads on 8 February, and over the ensuing weeks visited a succession of ports and operating areas: Key West; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; and Bermuda, interspersing these port visits with training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Returning to the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Base on 19 March, she remained there into the summer, ultimately sailing for Boston on 13 July for a port visit. Subsequently visiting Newport and New York, Albemarle returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 27 July, and worked in the local operating areas into September. Further operations late in the summer and early fall of 1949 took the ship to Newport, New York, and the Norfolk, Virginia local operating areas. Standing out of Lynnhaven Roads on 2 March 1950, Albemarle subsequently worked out of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and Roosevelt Roads before she visited Martinique'\15-17 March 1950), Grenada (17-19 March), Willemstad, Curacao (20-22 March), and Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic (23-25 March). Stopping briefly at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the ship returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 31 March and remained there until 11 May, when she got underway for the New York Naval Shipyard, arriving there the following day. Attached to the New York Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, the ship was decommissioned on 14 August 1950 and berthed at Brooklyn.

Shifted to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in February 1956, Albemarle was earmarked for conversion to tend Martin P6M "Seamaster" jet flying boats. She was reassigned from the Atlantic Reserve Fleet to the Commandant, 4th Naval District, for conversion, effective 6 February 1956. Equipped with stern ramps and servicing booms to handle the "Seamaster," as well as a semi-sheltered area and a service drydock, the ship emerged from the conversion possessing the capability to serve as a highly mobile seadrome capable of supporting jet seaplanes anywhere. Albemarle was recommissioned at Philadelphia on 21 October 1957, Capt. William A. Dean in command. After fitting out, she sailed for Norfolk, Virginia on 7 December, and arrived there on the 10th. The ship then sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 3 January 1958, made port there on the 7th, remaining there for ten days and carrying out shakedown training, before dropping down to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Proceeding thence back to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluding her shakedown on 21 January, Albemarle steamed thence to San Juan and Trinidad, carrying out tending operations with four squadrons of Martin P5M "Marlin" flying boats and participating in "Springboard" exercises. Albemarle arrived back at Norfolk, Virginia on 9 April, remaining there only five days before proceeding back to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she remained under overhaul through mid-July. Returning to Norfolk, Virginia on 20 July, the ship got underway for operations in the North Atlantic on 14 August, and ranged as far as the Azores before returning to Norfolk, Virginia on 16 September. Over the next two months, Albemarle operated between Norfolk, Virginia and Bermuda; she rounded out the year at Norfolk, Virginia, arriving there on 19 November and remaining until 2 March 1959.

Albemarle continued to operate out of Norfolk, Virginia through 1959 and into 1960, although the cancellation of the "Seamaster" program meant that the ship would never service the aircraft for which she had been reconfigured. Her ports and places visited in 1959 encompassed the naval air facility at Patuxent River, Maryland; Pillsbury Sound, in the Virgin Islands; San Juan, and Savannah, Ga.; Halifax and Nova Scotia, Canada; New York City; York-town, Va., Port-au-Prince; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Bermuda. The ship commenced the year, 1960, operating out of San Juan, then moved in succession to Bermuda, back to San Juan, thence to Pillsbury Sound and Grand Turk Island, in the West Indies, thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Pillsbury Sound again; thence to San Juan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into March.

Unloading ammunition at the Naval Weapons Station at York-town, between 12 and 15 July, Albemarle moored at Norfolk, Virginia, commencing preparations for inactivation, from 15 to 18 July, before she proceeded to Philadelphia to unload material. Returning thence to Norfolk, Virginia on 30 July, she continued inactivation preparations through the summer.

Placed out of commission, in reserve, on 21 October 1960, Albemarle was initially berthed with the Norfolk, Virginia group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet pending her transfer to the Maritime Administration (MarAd) James River Fleet. Placed in the custodial care of MarAd, Albemarle was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 September 1962.

On 7 August 1964, however, MarAd transferred the ship— earmarked for conversion to a floating aeronautical maintenance facility for helicopters—back to the Navy. On 27 March 1965, the ship received the new name and classification Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH-1), and was transferred to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 11 January 1966.

Converted at the Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard, the ship emerged from the yard only faintly resembling her former self. Gone was the prominent seaplane ramp, aft, replaced by a built-up superstructure topped by a helicopter landing pad measuring 50 by 150 feet. Previously, damaged helicopters had had to be transported back to the United States for refit; with the advent of this "new" ship type, repairs could be accomplished near the forward areas, damaged helos barged out to the ship and lifted on board by two 20-ton capacity cranes.

Accepted by MSC in January 1966, Corpus Christi Bay's first commander was Capt. Harry Anderson, who had a crew of 129 men, a fraction of the ship's original complement, under him. Accompanying the ship on her first deployment in support of forces in Vietnam was the Army's 1st Transportation Corps Battalion (Seaborne), 308 aircraft technicians and specialists under the command of Lt. Col. Harry 0. Davis, USA. The ship operated out of Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, during 1966.

Ultimately determined by MSC to be "in excess of current and future requirements," Corpus Christi Bay was taken out of service and berthed in ready reserve status at Corpus Christi, Texas. Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH-1) was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 December 1974. On 17 July 1975, the ship was sold to Brownsville (Texas) Steel and Salvage, Inc., and was scrapped subsequently.

VP History ThumbnailCameraUSS Albemarle USS Albemarle (AV-5), 30 July 1943, in what is probably Measure 21 (Navy blue/haze gray) camouflage. (80-G-76629)

VP History ThumbnailCameraUSS Albemarle USS Albemarle (AV-5), her stem showing the extensive modifications made to enable her to handle the projected Martin PGM "Seamaster" flying boats, in the Azores, 21 August 1958, in this photograph taken by Chief Photographer Leuko. (USN 1044231)

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "VP History ThumbnailVPB-209 Letter Contributed by John Lucas JohnLucas@netzero.com [08FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Today I looked up VP-206 and VP-209, a couple of PBM squadrons.

I was originally sent to Panama to be assigned to VP-206, but I arrived just as they were pulling out for the states on rotation. So they put me in VP-1, with PB2Ys, which was a real favor, as I learned to have a solid disrespect for the airworthiness of the PBM. They could have stuck me in VP-209, which was also there at NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, and was flying PBMs. VP-209 had four major accidents in the first six months after I arrived there, and I might just have been involved in any one of them if fortune hadn't placed me in VP-1.

Oddly enough, my log book reminds me that I was on the search plane that went out on 16 July 1944 to search for the PBM that crashed, killing all hands, the night before while making a searchlight run. We were ready plane that day, and so drew the assignment. Amongst the wreckage and flotsam was a section of the wing, upside down, with the searchlight and pontoon still attached. The sight became etched in the memory of that 18-year-old kid that I was. We circled the area until a subchaser arrived and then guided it around to the various chunks of wreckage so it could be hauled aboard. I recall flying low and slow, looking out the port hatch trying to spot survivors among the debris. As your record reports, there weren't any. Lt. Helms commanded our plane, and we were 9.3 hours in flight, searching, loitering and returning.

A year later, while on the beach at NAS North Island, San Diego, California, watching a PBM taking off for TransPac duty, I saw it crash and dissolve into a pillar of flame and smoke. What amazed me about that crash was thatseveral of the crew survived. About that same time my crew flew another search for a PBM down in the Pacific west of San Diego, but we found nothing on that occasion..." Contributed by BONVILLE, William J. bonville@q.com [07FEB2001]


Circa 1943 - 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Historical Center, Department Of The Navy, Washington, D. C http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/dictvol2.htm [28APR2001]
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Open VP History Adobe FileVPB-209 64KB


Circa 1943 - 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "VP History ThumbnailVPB-209 Shipmates "...These two shipmates were recorded as Dad's (John Philip Allison) closest friends. John Philip Allison (center), ?.?. Twinning (left) and Jack D. Carnicom (right)..." Contributed by Terry Allison terry.g.allison@gmail.com [25JUN2008]


Circa 1943

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 31 May 1943..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [02OCT2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

CASU

PATSU

VD-1, VD-2 and VD-3

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-7 and VJ-10

VP-1

VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14 and VP-15

VP-23

VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-43, VP-44 and VP-45

VP-52, VP-53 and VP-54

VP-61, VP-62 and VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-125, VP-126, VP-127 and VP-128

VP-130, VP-131, VP-132, VP-133, VP-134, VP-135, VP-136, VP-137, VP-138 and VP-139

VP-140, VP-142, VP-144 and VP-146

VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211 and VP-212

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 16 Jan 1943..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [01OCT2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

CASU and PATSU

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-6, VJ-7 and VJ-8

VP-6 Coast Guard

VP-3

VP-11 and VP-12

VP-23 and VP-24

VP-31, VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-41, VP-42, VP-43 and VP-44

VP-51, VP-52, VP-53 and VP-54

VP-61, VP-62 and VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81, VP-82, VP-83 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92VP-93, and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-110

VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-131, VP-132, VP-133 and VP-134

VP-200, VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211, VP-210, and VP-216


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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 09 Nov 1943..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [01OCT2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

CASU and PATSU

VD-1, VD-2, VD-3 and VD-4

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-15, and VJ-16

VP-6 Coast Guard

VP-1

VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14, VP-15 and VP-16

VP-23 and VP-24

VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-43, VP-44 and VP-45

VP-52, VP-53 and VP-54

VP-61, VP-62 and VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-110, VP-111, VP-112, VP-113, VP-114, VP-115 and VP-116

VP-125, VP-126, VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-130, VP-131, VP-132, VP-133, VP-134, VP-135, VP-136, VP-137, VP-138 and VP-139

VP-140, VP-141, VP-142, VP-143, VP-144, VP-145, VP-146, VP-147, VP-148 and VP-149

VP-150

VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216


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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 09 Feb 1943..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [28SEP2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-7 and VJ-8

VP-11, VP-12, VP-13 and VP-14

VP-23 and VP-24

VP-31, VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-41, VP-42, VP-43 and VP-44

VP-61, VP-62, and VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81, VP-82, VP-83 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92, VP-93 and VP-94

VP-101

VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-130, VP-132, VP-133 and VP-134

VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208 and VP-209,

VP-210, VP-211 and VP-212
History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail

Circa 1942-1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-5 - History of Headquarters Squadron Fleet Air Wing Five - 01SEP42 through 01JAN45. Squadron's Assigned: VP-15, VP-16, VP-17, VP-18, VP-21, VP-22, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, VP-28, VP-31, VP-52, VP-63, VP-81, VP-92, VP-94, VPB-105, VPB-107, VPB-110, VPB-111, VPB-112, VPB-113, VPB-114, VPB-126, VPB-134, VPB-147, VPB-149, VP-201, VP-205, VP-208, VP-209, VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216 - Submitted Feburary 1, 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [27NOV2012]

History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail
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Circa 1942

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Op-40-A-KB - (SC)A6-4/VZ - January 6, 1942 - Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [23SEP2006]

VP SQUADRONS MENTIONED

VP-11, VP-12 and VP-14

VP-23 and VP-24

VP-31, VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-41, VP-42, VP-43 and VP-44

VP-51, VP-52, VP-53 and VP-54

VP-61, VP-62, VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-83

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101

VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208, VP-209, VP-210, VP-211 and VP-212


History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail

Circa 1940

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Francis D. Tyler, Jr. PE, PBM, Patrol Bomber Mariner (PBM) US Navy Pilot..." http://world.std.com/~shermie/vets/vets009.html [09JUL2003]

Francis D. Tyler, Jr. PE, PBM, Patrol Bomber Mariner (PBM) US Navy Pilot First, I think I should tell you how I got in the Navy. Some of you also registered for that first draft, back in October of 1940. I have a brother, two years younger; his number was in the first 100, while mine was 8809. He was called up in February of 1941. Then by the time I was classified 1A, I had seen a friend home on leave in a sparkling white uniform with beautiful Gold Wings on his chest. I decided that was the part of the service that I wanted to serve in, so I enlisted. I finally got sworn in, on December 30, 1941, twenty-three days after Pearl Harbor. In March of 1942, I received orders to report to the Naval Air Station at Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans, Louisiana. I had become a Naval Aviation Cadet. My early ideas of flying revolved around the fact that I had acrophobia, and I was concerned if I could fly. My first flight cured my fear, the instructor wrung out that little plane with loops and rolls and I hung on by the seat of my pants and was fine. After 11 hours of flight time, I made my first solo flight. In June I was transferred to the Naval Air Station, in Pensacola, Florida. Six months later I was designated an Ensign and Naval Aviator. I was then assigned to the Transitional Training Facility at Banana River Naval Air Station, Florida. Here we were introduced to the plane we would fly, the PBM, Patrol Bomber Mariner, as designated by the Navy. The Squadron in which I flew was VPB-209 was commissioned on January 1, 1943 and a full compliment of 15 planes was reached in June of the same year. The Squadron was originally assigned to the Breezy Point NAS Norfolk, Virginia. In order we then operated out of NAAS Harvey Point, North Carolina, NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, on the Eastern entrance to the Panama Canal, then Salinas, Equador, NAS, & finally NAF/NAAF Galapagos, Seymour Island, Ecuador. Here we also made flights as far north as Corinto, Nicaragua for over night and return next day to the NAF/NAAF Galapagos, Seymour Island, Ecuador. A bit about the crew of the PBM is extremely important. To begin with each plane had a crew of 3 Naval Aviators, one of who were a Patrol Plane Commander and the pilot, a second pilot and a navigator, bombardier, and duties were shared on every flight. The remainder of the crew was made of Navy trained experts, machinists, radiomen, gunnery-men and specialists in handling Naval Air craft like the PBM. This part of the crew varied from seven to ten men. Each plane had Plane Captain who often was a Chief Petty Officer. This person was a machinist who was responsible for the operation of the engines as well as the crew performance on the plane. These men were in a great part responsible for the successful operation of any PBM flight mission. Not too much credit can be given to these men. (Many of who were boys). On night flights over the water, when the Navigation was my responsibility, I particularly liked making three star fixes to determine our location; modestly I can say we were right on. The prime objective was to be part of the Anti-submarine warfare against the German U boat fleet. Our squadron was one of many that were commissioned for this purpose. When I was assigned to the squadron, new PBM's were being delivered from the Glen L. Martin Factory in Patuxent, Maryland. They were put in service immediately to fly protective cover over the giant (up to 200 ships) convoys that were sailing from the East coast ports towards Europe with war materials. It should be noted that there was never a ship lost when the PBM's were flying cover. As it turned out, a PBM could spot a submarine on Radar a hundred miles away and then hone in on the submarine and drop depth charges or torpedoes and sink the submarine. After a few submarines were sunk the U-boat fleet learned to respect the PBM. The U Boat detection system would enable the submarine to submerge before the PBM could make bombing run. If this happened the Flight Wing Commander would set up a hot spot and an expanding square search would be started, in the hopes that the submarine would again have to surface and could be destroyed. The Navy realized early on that the Submarine fleet could be controlled from the air. The planes overhead could keep the submarines from surfacing to recharge their engines. Because of this, the planes that were delivered to Squadron 209, were returned to the factory to become PBM3S, a stripped version that eliminated the three machine gun turrets, and replaced the weight with tanks and fuel, where the bunks had been in mid-ship. This then allowed for 12 to14 hour flights, which was what we did when we were flying cover for the convoys. This could take place since we had to take-off before dusk and land after dawn, again because we had an assigned landing area in Chesapeake Bay. On one of the first missions to fly cover, our plane was selected to be part of the cover for President Roosevelt who was crossing the Atlantic in a battleship on the way to Yalta to meet with Churchill & Stalin. Our Squadron was assigned to fly cover half way to Bermuda. Another similar squadron would then take the convoy 350 miles past Bermuda, where jeep carriers would act as escort to the various ports in Europe. One of our planes was out at night and had an emergency. He was forced to go on single engine and make an emergency landing. He called the tower and reported that he was on the water. The Tower called back immediately, "Don't move, you're in a mine field". Steering the plane was done by use of the rudders on the vertical stabilizers, located directly behind the propellers. Taxiing up wind was simple because the plane naturally weathervane into the wind. Crosswind or Downwind taxiing the pilot had to be alert to prevent the plane from swinging around into the wind. Taxiing crosswind was accomplished by using rudders and more power on the upwind engine. Just before take-off, each engine mag was checked at 1800 rpm, the engines were run up 43 inches of manifold pressure and checked to see if the engines developed 2600 rpm. With these conditions met, the wing flaps were set down 20 degrees, the elevator tab was set up 5 degrees, the throttles were advanced smoothly to 43 inches, now the plane will come up out of the water. As the plane falls back on the "step", ease back on the yoke, hold it steady and it will be air born. Landing the PBM was, as you might imagine, a task that had to done very care fully. Here again the surface of the water was most responsible for the approach. If it could be determined visually, that the surface was smooth, a power on landing could proceed. Usually we had the whole ocean to land on. If, we found that the surface was rough because of wind, we would make a full stall landing, which we would let the plane drop in to the water with full weight, so that the plane would stay on the water. Otherwise the sea could not put the plane back in the air, with out full control. As you might guess if a night landing was made, much greater caution had to be taken. When we were assigned to the Coco Solo NAS, our main duty was to protect the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, again ASW, anti submarine warfare. We had what we called the milk run, which took us in an easterly direction toward Venezuela. On nearly every flight, we would pick up a blip on the radar, most often it would turn out to be a small fishing boat, how ever it was always approached as if it were a submarine, and we were ready for a submarine attack with bomb bay doors open. In doing so we most likely scared the h--- out of the fishermen. Some of our planes were equipped with a million candlepower searchlight. On all flights we were briefed as to what we might encounter in the regular shipping lanes, but we had to maintain radio silence. One night one of our planes, approached a large vessel that appeared to be a warship, and because of darkness the ship could not be identified. Briefing did not mention that a battleship might be in the shipping lane. He therefore made a searchlight run on what turned out to be the USS Texas with a Four Star Admiral on board. Need less to say the Pilot was greeted at debriefing with a summons to the Admirals quarters the next day. At the meeting with the Admiral, the Pilot stated his flight orders were to properly identify any warship. Since it was pitch black at night and the ship would not use any means of identification, his action was to use the searchlight and identification was made. The admiral fumed but told our friend, he was glad he carried out the flight orders. Our squadron was ordered to the NAAF Salinas, Ecuador. This was a temporary stop as the base on the NAF/NAAF Galapagos, Seymour Island, Ecuador was being prepared for our arrival. Again we were assigned to fly what turned out to be protection for the western entrance to the Panama Canal. The best intelligence thought that the Japanese might have submarines operating near the canal. It was at this location that we encountered real open sea takeoff and landing. This turned out to be quite a challenge. You all know that the open sea can be very capricious. This was when the sea came forward in a hurry, and the take-off could result in the plane acting like a porpoise, nose up and down, up and down, one had to cut the engines and start over, otherwise the plane could nose dive and be a goner. I have a friend who was on board a plane when this happened; he was one of five that survived of the eleven on board. As I noted before, more often than not we had the whole sea to land on. However the wind could be very tricky. One plane made a normal approach to the landing bay that we used on the Galapagos NAS. A good landing was made, but as he landed the wind switched 180 degrees, and he approached the rocky shore at a much greater speed than he knew, would stop the plane before crashing on the rocky shore. He masterfully cut one engine, and poured full power on the other, and did his own 180, and let the plane come to rest on the water. I saw it from the shore, as did others, and we were all very happy. We broke out the "Companasoule", that night. At one point, I was designated to be the PPC in charge of a flight from the NAF/NAAF Galapagos, Seymour Island, Ecuador to the NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone at the eastern end of the Panama Canal. The flight plan would cover approximately 1000 miles and take about eight hours. The plane that was assigned for the flight was due for major overhaul. I was advised that extreme care was to be taken, so that a successful flight would be made. A careful study of the weather conditions showed that there was a stationary heavy weather front in the path of the flight, which could not be flown around. Every thing else was normal, it was a clear bright day and we were scheduled for an early morning take-off. I had a good crew assigned. I was told that there would extra passengers, mostly crewmen due for change of duty or leave. A special guest would be a "Life" photographer. On an early day in April of 1945 we were aided down the ramp in to the water. The sea was quite calm because there was very little wind; this meant that there would be very little lift. The take-off was longer than normal because of these conditions. Per instructions, we were also being careful not to the get the engine Cylinder heads too hot. After take-off there was a pleasant flight until we approached the expected front. At this point we were past the point of no return, so we had to proceed. I had hopes of flying above the front, thinking that eleven thousand feet might top the front. I was wrong and suddenly we were in a violent part of the front and were being tossed around like a feather in the wind. I notified my navigator that I was going to make a spiral decent to just above the water, where we could fly under most of the front. We did just that and for a rather tense hour, we were a couple hundred feet above the water, but passed successfully under the front. We then climbed back to cruising altitude and made a normal approach to the landing at the NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone. (I was told, later by my Crew Chief, that the guest passenger, from "Life" magazine was, to put it mildly quite frightened). For the rest of the crew this was a typical Naval flight. This was the story that caught Bill Saunders attention when we were in the " Weather " class at Middlebury. On another flight west of the Galapagos Islands, all of our flights were primarily searching for submarines. A radiomen on this flight noticed a signalman, on a large freighter that was heading west, was sending a distress call by semaphore. The radioman reported the message said that a crewman on the ship had appendicitis, and really needed to be put ashore, where he could receive proper medical attention. The PPC of the plane had a message sent to the Wing Command, with an explanation of the situation and permission to land at sea. The request was denied, however the PPC, who was an expert pilot, decided to land and pick up the crewman. So he did, but he then found that the sea was too rough to permit take-off. The ship Captain was requested to make a wide turn in front of the plane, to form a slick The ship did as requested, the plane took-off and a life was saved. The PPC got he—from the Wing Command, but the Squadron Skipper defended the PPC so all became a good story, but no medal. Any of the Navy people here are familiar with the Father Neptune ceremony when one crosses the Equator. As you may know the Galapagos Islands are south of the equator. Two of our pilots were assigned to take a Navy LST from Panama City to the Galapagos NAS. On the voyage they were subjected to rigorous Father Neptune Initiation, including a crisscross cut of the hair on their heads. They arrived at our base, and received much laughter from us. That was not the end; they were assigned to a flight next day that would take them over the LST as it made its way across the Pacific to the war zone. They prepared for the flight by visiting the mess commissary, so when they were over the LST, they let go with a couple dozen rotten eggs that landed with great precision on the ship, Naval Aviation Father Neptune revenge. On another instance a plane and crew were making touch and go practice landings, on the inland smooth water near the San Blas Islands, just south of the Panama Canal area. On one landing, the plane hit something, under the surface of the water as it touched down, the bottom of the plane was ripped open, the pilot made a quick approach to the sandy shore before the plane could sink. However, many things were attempted to recover the plane, including trying to seal the hole with concrete, but none were successful. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the Pilots pride. On a flight from NAS Norfolk, Virginia to NAS Banana River, Florida, one plane landed and the pilots knew that the next day they were headed to the unknown of NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone. One of the pilots decided that they should take along a partially unused Jukebox. He then organized a work party who moved the jukebox from the BOQ down to the ramp where it was loaded on a boat that would take it to the plane. At this point the Station Duty Officer suddenly appeared and questioned the operation. Much discussion took place, but the good intention of the pilot failed, but became one of the more famous stories of the PBM Squadrons. The fortune for the 209 squadron was no submarine kills. On one instance, the submarine remained on the surface, and fired a shell that ripped through the wing of the plane. That plane returned to the safety of the home base. Fortunately there were no casualties because of enemy contact, during the existence of the squadron. Squadron VPB 209 had a complement of 100 Officers and about 225 enlisted personnel. We were assigned 15 PBM 3s airplanes. A combat air-crew was assigned to each plane. This crew consisted of Three Officers, the pilot who was the Patrol Plane Commander, a 2nd pilot and a third pilot, who served as the Navigator and Bombardier. These duties were shared. The remainder of the Crew consisted of between 7 an10 enlisted men of various Navy rank. A plane Captain, often a Navy Chief, a machinist, who operated the engine instrument panel, and directed the remainder of the crew. This consisted of a 2nd machinist, a radioman and his assistant, two ordnance-men, and two buoy-men. Each Combat Air Crew operated on a nine day schedule as follows: 1st Day-Assigned flight day, 2nd Day-Ready Crew to back up flight crew, 3rd Day-Ground School, 4th Day- Flight to Corinto, Nicaragua with over-night, 5th Day - Stand-by crew, 6th Day- Return Flight to Galapagos NAS, 7th Day- Squadron Duty Crew, 8th Day- Training Flight, 9th Day- R&R no duty.


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