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

HistoryVP-54 HistoryHistory

Circa 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVPB-54 History "...Returned Letter!..." WebSite: EBay http://cgi.ebay.com/ [13JUL2008]


Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-14 - History from 15OCT42-01DEC42 - Submitted December 22nd, 1944. Squadron's Assigned: VP-1, VP-2, VP-4, VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14, VP-15, VP-21, VP-23, VP-24, VP-33, VP-44, VP-53, VP-54, VP-71, VP-72, VP-81, VP-91, VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-106, VP-109, VP-111, VP-115, VP-117, VP-118, VP-119, VP-121, VP-122 and VP-202..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [06DEC2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...FAW-2, VPB-54 - War Diary November 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [20NOV2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...FAW-2, VPB-54 - War Diary October 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [20NOV2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-54 May through July 1944 on Midway..." Forwarded by ADC William Hubert BARRERA's Daughter Dee deeanddory@aol.com..." [Updated 25MAR2007 | 24MAR2007]

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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


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

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...September 4, 1944, Group ONE, Fleet Air Wing TWO was established, consisting of VP-54, VP-44, VB-148, Patsu 1-7, Patsu 1-9, and Patsu 1-11. The group was placed under administrative control of ComAirSoPac.. Operational control of the individual units remained as before. ComPatron 54 assumed additional duty as commanding officer of the group..." http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/redwood/372/part5.htm [09DEC2000]


Circa 1943

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCamera "...LT John Louis DePrato Jr. (August 14th, 1920 - November 14th, 2004). Inducted March 29th, 1942 at NAS New Orleans, Louisiana, he received his training at NAS New Orleans, Louisiana, NAS Pensacola, Florida and NAS North Island, San Diego, California. On December 15th, 1942 he embarked for the Pacific Theater where he served with VP-71 at NAS Midway Island, NOB Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, Tulagi, New Georgia and Bouganiville and with VH-2 at NAS Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands. LT Deprato particpated in the campaings in the Solomon area, New George, Bouganville and at Vanikora, Santa Cruz. He was transferred to inactive status on December 16th, 1945. Based on Dad's documents - he served with FAW-14, VP-54, VP-71 and VH-2..." Contributed by Jay Deprato jaydeprato@bellsouth.net [07DEC2010]

NAS New Orleans, Louisiana
May 1942 - July 1942
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NAS Pensacola, Florida
July 1942 - November 1942
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VP-54
January 1943 - April 1943
MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Dad was assigned to VP-54 on January 22nd, 1943. Dad logged his first patrol flight (10 hours in a PBY-5A with 5 passengers. He was ordered to Gunnery Training with a 3.57 completion score with orders to VP-71.


VP-71
November 1942 - February 1944
Qualified Patrol Plane Commander
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FAW-14
April 1944 - August 1945
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VH-2
January 1945 - October 1945
NAS Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands

Dad was assigned to VH-2 until he received orders on October 2nd, 1945 to report to NAS New Orleans, Louisiana for discharge.



UPDATE "...Here is a collection of photograph's my Dad had..." Contributed by Jay Deprato jaydeprato@bellsouth.net [21DEC2010]

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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, < href="vp73.html">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
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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-54 History ThumbnailCameraVP-54 History "...Circa 1943..." Contributed by John Lucas john.lucas@netzero.net [21MAR2003]


Circa 1942 - 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-54 207KB

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Squadron History:  VPB-54..."

Lineage

Established as Patrol Squadron FIFTY FOUR (VP-54) on 15 November 1942.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron FIFTY FOUR (VPB-54) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 7 April 1945.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

Although there is no record of any official insignia on file, a February 1943 photograph of the squadron commanding officer standing next to a VP-54 Catalina shows an insignia of a snarling black cat crouched on top of a bomb. Members of the squadron state that a full moon served as a background for the design. Colors: moon background, orange; cat and bomb, black with white outlining; cat’s tongue, red; teeth and whiskers, white.

Nickname: Black Cats, 1942–1945.

Chronology of Significant Events

15 Nov 1942–12 Feb 1943: VP-54 was established at NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, as a seaplane squadron flying the PBY-5A Catalina under the operational control of FAW-2. Formation and training of the squadron continued through 11 February 1943. Although 12 aircraft was the normal complement for a squadron, 18 aircraft were on board by the end of the year. On 12 February 1943, VP-54 was ordered to convert to a night flying unit with two weeks training time prior to transfer to the combat zone.

1 Mar 1943: The first element of aircraft de-parted NAS Kaneohe for NOB Espiritu Santo, with the last aircraft arriving in early April. During this period of operations the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-1. While en route, four aircraft were caught at NAF Canton Island in a surprise night raid by Japanese Mitsubishi G4M1 Navy Type 1 (Betty) attack bombers. All four Catalinas were destroyed.

11 Mar 1943: VP-54 began sending its aircraft to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, relieving VP-12. Its duties were to conduct antishipping patrols in the Solomons area in support of the forces occupying the island and Dumbo missions in support of downed aircrews. The initial landings on Guadalcanal had been made on 7 August 1942, encountering strong Japanese resistance. The island was not declared secure until 9 February 1943. Patrol tracks included Russell Island, the southwest coast of Santa Isobel and the northern tip of Malaita and Savo Island.

5 Aug 1943: During the Rendova and Munda Island campaigns in the Solomons, the Japanese attempted to remove as many of their ground forces as possible from isolated garrisons. VP-54 conducted numerous antishipping attacks on transports during this period.

7 Sep 1943: VP-54 was based at NAB Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, with seven aircraft, NOB Espiritu Santo with one aircraft and Noumea with three aircraft.

7 Oct 1943: VP-54 provided support for the forces attacking Vella Lavella, Solomons.

1 Nov 1943: VP-54 was tasked with providing anti-submarine coverage, search missions and air coverage at the beginning of the Bougainville campaign. By the end of the campaign the squadron’s tour of duty drew to a close. Since arriving in the combat theater the squadron had recovered 52 personnel from the water, including downed pilots and survivors of ship sinkings.

20 Nov 1943: VP-54 was relieved and flew its aircraft to Sidney, Australia. The aircraft remained at Sidney while the squadron personnel were returned to the U.S. aboard ship. After a period of home leave, a cadre of personnel were given orders to report to NAS San Diego, Calif., for reforming the squadron.

6 Feb 1944: VP-54 was reformed at NAS San Diego, Calif., under the operational control of FAW-14, with new PBY-5A aircraft to replace the ones left in Australia. By May the squadron had fully integrated its new personnel and equipment and was ready for re-deployment.

20 May 1944: VP-54 departed NAS San Diego in elements of three aircraft, with the last arriving at NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, on 21 May 1944. The remainder of the squadron and its assets were sent to Hawaii aboard Breton (CVE 10). Upon arrival at NAS Kaneohe the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-2.

28 May 1944: A detachment of six aircraft and nine crews was deployed to Midway Island until 2 July 1944, conducting routine operational patrols. The remaining squadron assets at NAS Kaneohe continued to perform routine patrols in Hawaiian waters.

8 Jul 1944: VP-54 deployed to Guadalcanal in three-plane sections, leaving NAS Kaneohe every other day. The first section arrived at Espiritu Santo on 12 July, continuing on to Carney Field, Guadalcanal, to relieve VP-81. During this period the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-1.

31 Jul 1944: VP-54 was relocated to Luganville Airfield, Espiritu Santo, relieving VP-12. A detachment of four PBY-5As was maintained at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, for duty with the 2nd Marine Air Wing through 10 September 1944. The squadron aircraft at Luganville conducted routine ASW patrols and Dumbo searches.

13 Sep 1944: VP-54 deployed 13 aircraft and 15 crews to Emirau. Two aircraft were sent to Funafuti. Both detachments returned to Espiritu Santo on 21 September 1944.

22 Sep 1944: Long-range navigation over large areas of the ocean was difficult for large aircraft with a full time navigator and extremely difficult for single-seat fighters. The Navy was frequently called upon by the Army Air Forces to provide seaplane escorts for fighter groups making long transits between island bases. The presence of amphibious Navy aircraft also ensured a quick rescue in the event of ditching. VP-54 conducted such a mission on 22 September, escorting the Western Caroline Air Force from Emirau to Peleliu Island, staging through Hollandia and Owi.

24 Sep 1944: A three-aircraft element was sent on a night search for enemy shipping in the passage north of Peleliu.

1 Oct 1944: VP-54 was redesignated VPB-54. On this date, the squadron provided an escort for Marine squadrons being transferred from Emirau to Palau.

4 Nov 1944: A detachment of six aircraft and crews remained at Peleliu Island, Palau, for Dumbo missions. The other seven squadron aircraft remained at Espiritu Santo.

10 Nov 1944: VPB-54 was relieved by RNZAF Squadron No. 5, but lacking further orders remained at Espiritu Santo until mid-December.

12–23 Dec 1944: The seven aircraft of the Espiritu Santo detachment of VPB-54 were relocated to the island of Los Negros. On 23 December 1944, the detachment relieved VPB-34 for air-sea rescue and evacuation work. Tender support at Leyte Gulf was provided by Orca (AVP 49) under the operational control of FAW-10.

27 Dec 1944–10 Jan 1945: VPB-23 relieved the squadron’s Peleliu detachment, but its aircraft were too worn out to be able to rejoin the squadron at Leyte Gulf. The six aircraft were first flown to Woendi for overhaul on 1 January 1945. The work was completed a week later and the detachment flew into Leyte on 10 January 1945. Upon arrival the detachment was put aboard Tangier (AV 8), while the remaining five aircraft and eight crews of the former Leyte detachment departed aboard Orca (AVP 49) for duty in Lingayen Gulf.

22 Jan 1945: The six aircraft and crews aboard Tangier (AV 8) were relocated to San Carlos (AVP 51) and continued operations in the Leyte Gulf.

14 Feb 1945: The Lingayen Gulf detachment was relieved by VPB-17 and then returned to Leyte Gulf to rejoin the rest of the squadron. Currituck (AV 7) provided this group tender support.

17 Feb 1945: VPB-54’s tour of duty formally concluded with its relief at Leyte Gulf by VPB-17. Three of the squadron aircraft were flown to Manus Island for transportation to the U.S. The remaining crews departed from Samar Island via NATS, returning to the continental U.S. The support staff and ground crews boarded Wharton (AP 7) for return to the States.

24 Feb–13 Mar 1945: The commanding officer and aircrew personnel reported to COMFAIRALAMEDA and FAW-8 at NAS Alameda, Calif.. On 13 March 1945, prior to the arrival of the ground crews and support staff, all personnel were given reassignment orders sending them to other squadrons.

7 Apr 1945: VPB-54 was disestablished at NAS Alameda, Calif.

 

Home Port Assignments

LocationDate of Assignment
NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii15 Nov 1942
NAS San Diego, Calif. Dec 1943
NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii21 May 1944
NAS Alameda, Calif.24 Feb 1945

 

Commanding Officers

NameDate Assumed Command
LT Carl W. Schoenweiss15 Nov 1942
LCDR Kenneth J. Sanger6 Feb 1944

 

Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
PBY-5A 15 Nov 1942

 

Major Overseas Deployments

Date of DepartureDate of Return Wing Base of  Operations Type of Aircraft Area of Operations
1 Mar 1943* FAW-1 Espiritu SantoPBY-5ASoPac
11 Mar 1943*FAW-1 GuadalcanalPBY-5ASoPac
20 Nov 1943Dec 1943FAW-2 SidneyPBY-5ASoPac
20 May 1944*FAW-2 KaneohePBY-5ASoPac
28 May 1944*FAW-2 MidwayPBY-5ASoPac
12 Jul 1944*FAW-1 GuadalcanalPBY-5ASoPac
31 Jul 1944*FAW-1 Espiritu SantoPBY-5ASoPac
13 Sep 1944*FAW-2EmirauPBY-5ASoPac
4 Nov 1944*FAW-2 PeleliuPBY-5ASoPac
12 Dec 1944*FAW-10 Los NegrosPBY-5ASoPac
Orca (AVP 49)
10 Jan 1945*FAW-10LeytePBY-5ASoPac
Tangier (AV 8)
San Carlos (AVP 51)
10 Jan 1945*FAW-10 LingayenPBY-5ASoPac
Orca (AVP 49)
14 Feb 194517 Feb 1945FAW-10LeytePBY-5ASoPac
Currituck (AV 7)
  • Continued combat deployment in the Pacific, moving from base to base.

 

Wing Assignments

WingTailCodeAssignmentDate
FAW-215 Nov 1942
FAW-11 Mar 1943
FAW-14Dec 1943
FAW-220 May 1944
FAW-18 Jul 1944
FAW-24 Sep 1944
FAW-1012 Dec 1944
FAW-824 Feb 1945

 

Unit Awards Received

Unit AwardInclusiveDate Covering UnitAward
None on record.

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


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Circa 1941

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVP-54 History "...CDR Harry G. Sharp, Jr. graduated from flight training in May 1942, CDR was attached to VP-44 and later VP-54 the same year flying night patrols from Solomon Islands...." Official U. S. Navy Documentation [20DEC2012]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Reflections on the Early History of Airborne Radar - By Dave Trojan, Aviation Historian, 27 Mar 2007...Squadrons/Patrol Wings (only part of file containing VP related information) Mentioned: VP-54, VP-71, VP-72, VP-73, VP-74, CPW-5 and CPW-7..." http://www.exreps.com/ [11MAY2011]

MIT radar receiver laboratory 1941

In mid 1941, a PBY-2 aircraft 54-P-10, BuNo 0456 belonging to VP-54, was equipped with the first operational radar aboard a US Navy aircraft. The ASV radar equipment used long separate transmitting and receiving antennas mounted on insulated stub supports along the forward hull of the PBY.

The British had already put ASV Mark II on their Consolidated Catalina flying boat patrol aircraft, so it was straightforward to mount it on US Navy Catalina's. The installation was completed at NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C. NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C. was the site of the Fleet Air Tactical Unit.

They conducted experiments with new aircraft and equipment in order to determine their practical application and tactical employment. NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C. was a primary training base for naval aviation and the home of all Navy flight test operations until overcrowding caused that mission to be moved in 1943 to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. At the time of the radar installation, VP-54 was assigned to CPW-5, stationed at NAS Norfolk, Virginia.

The VP-54 aircraft was most likely selected because the squadron had aircraft available in the area and was also experienced with working with the British RAF. VP-54 had conducted neutrality patrols in the Atlantic daily, weather permitting, from Newport to Nova Scotia in June 1939 to February 1941, and also from Bermuda, B.W.I. in September 1940 to January 1941.

VP-54 PBY BUNO 54-P-10. The first operational radar on a U. S. Navy PBY-2 is shown 9 June 1941 at NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Commander J. V. Carney, Senior Support Force Staff Officer, reported on 18 July 1941 that British type ASV radar has been installed in one PBY-5 Catalina each of VP-71, VP-72, and VP-73 and two PBM-1's of VP-74. Initial installation of identification equipment (IFF) was made about the same time. In mid-September, radar was issued for five additional PBM-1's of VP-74 and one PBY-5 of VP-71, and shortly thereafter for other aircraft in CPW-7 squadrons. Thereby CPW-7 became the first operational Wing of the U.S. Navy to be supplied with radar-equipped aircraft. Its squadrons operated from NAS Norfolk, Virginia, NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island and advanced bases on Greenland, NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada and NAS Keflavik, Iceland during the last months of the neutrality patrol. Radar introduced both aircrew and ground personnel to a whole new capability for Navy airborne operations. The early installations were awkward due to their long separate transmitting and receiving antennas mounted on insulated stub supports along the forward hull of the PBYs.

ASV Mark II Antennas installed by General Electric on a PBY-5A Catalina at the Consolidated Aircraft Factory, 11 Feb 1942.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-54 PBY ThumbnailCameraVP-54 PBY BUNO: 54-P-10 "The first operational radar on a U. S. Navy plane is shown 9 June 1941 at NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C.. One of the antennas is shown strung on spikes on the port side of the fuselage." "Cause a PBY Don't Fly That High," by Captain William E. Scarborough, U. S. Navy (Retired), U. S. Naval Institute "Proceedings" - April 1978

UPDATE "...The PBY shown in the picture (plane #10) is from the first tour in the Solomons. The second tour used PBY5A's which arrived already painted a full flat black..." Contributed by Tom Doty nocone1@ix.netcom.com WebSite: http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/redwood/372/cover.htm [16SEP99]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...CAPTAIN ARNOLD JAY ISBELL..." http://www.ranger95.com/navy/navy_ship/combat_ship/destroyers/background/arnold_j_isbell_dd_869_bak.htm [26MAR2005]

Arnold J. Isbell—born on 22 September 1899 in Quimby, Iowa—entered the Naval Academy on 24 July 1917 and graduated on 3 June 1920 (a year ahead of schedule due to acceleration of midshipman training during World War I) with class 21A of the Class of 1921. Isbell then served successive tours of duty in Melville (AD-2), Bath (AK-4), and the fast minelayers Ingraham (DM-9) and Burns (DM-11) before beginning flight instruction at the NAS Pensacola, Florida, on 30 June 1923. He then briefly served as an instructor there before reporting to Observation Squadron 1, based in the minelayer Aroostook (CM-3) which was then serving as an aircraft tender in November 1924. In March of the following year, he was transferred to the aviation unit of the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). Following two years of postgraduate work in ordnance back at the Naval Academy between the summers of 1926 and 1928, he received further flight instruction at Washington, D.C., under the supervision of the post graduate school, before going to sea with Torpedo Squadron IB in aircraft carrier Lexington (CV—2).

Isbell then served in the Aviation Ordnance Section of the Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) in Washington before reporting to Newport News, Va., on 16 September 1933 to participate in the fitting out of the Navy's first aircraft carrier to be built as such from the keel up, Ranger (CV-4). Following a brief tour of duty in that ship, he served from 6 June 1934 to 9 June 1936 in carrier Saratoga (CV-3) as gunnery officer on the staff of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Henry V. Butler, Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force.

Isbell subsequently flew as executive officer of VP-7F based in aircraft tender USS Wright (AV-1) from 9 June 1936 to 1 June 1937 before commanding one of the five squadrons of the Aviation Training Department at NAS Pensacola, Florida, VN-4D8. While at Pensacola, he won the coveted Schiff Trophy, "emblematic of maximum safety in aircraft operation."

In the early summer of 1939, Lt. Comdr. Isbell assumed command of VP-11 (later redesignated VP-54). The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 found VP-54 based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia; engaged in biennial maintenance of its dozen PBY—2 flying boats. Eight days later, a detachment of six planes departed NAS Norfolk, Virginia and arrived at Newport, R.I., their assigned base, that same day. The entire squadron resumed operations on NAS Norfolk, Virginia on 14 November 1939, relieving VP-53 on the Middle Atlantic Patrol.

During one of the flights his squadron conducted in the initial selection and survey of Army and Navy base sites in Newfoundland in the autumn of 1940—sites obtained in the "destroyers-for-bases" deal of the summer before—Isbell found himself in the path of a hurricane. In an attempt to evade the storm, Isbell skillfully maneuvered his aircraft in the murk until exceptionally strong headwinds forced him to make an emergency night landing on Prince Edward Island. Isbell took off before daybreak, despite fog and violent winds, and reached his destination without mishap. After completing his inspection over uninhabited regions and seacoast areas, Isbell returned to Newfoundland to carry out an aerial survey of Argentina, a place soon to become famous as the site of the "Atlantic Charter" conference. Isbell's expert airmanship and tenacious devotion to completing his mission resulted in his receiving the air medal.

Relieved of command of VP-54 on 15 April 1941, Isbell then served successive tours of duty in a staff capacity—first for Commander, Patrol Wing, Support Force (16 April-2 October 1941) as that command's planes escorted North Atlantic convoys; then as chief of staff and aide for Rear Admirals E. D. McWhorter and A. D. Bernhard, Commander, Patrol Wings, Atlantic Fleet (3 October 1941-11 June 1942)—before assuming command of NAS, Sitka, Alaska, on 5 June 1942. Promoted to captain during his time in the Aleutians, Isbell then served briefly in BuOrd before assuming command of the escort carrier Card (CVE-11) on 17 April 1943.

For the next year, Card ranged the essential lifeline across the Atlantic to North Africa, earning together with her escorting destroyers, a Presidential Unit Citation under the resourceful "Buster" Isbell, who believed firmly in the potential of the CVE, maintaining that such a ship, together with her escorts, "could most effectively whip the submarine menace—as an independent offensive group rather than as a mere tag-along protector of a single convoy." Isbell used the year he commanded Card wisely to vindicate his belief. As antisubmarine task group commander between 27 July and 9 November 1943, Isbell developed his escort carrier-destroyer unit into a powerful combat force, refining tactics to meet the operational demands imposed by a wily and tenacious foe and wresting the initiative from his hands. Card sought out the enemy undersea craft with relentless determination m a vigorous offensive and struck with a devastating coordinated action that destroyed eight U-boats between 7 August and 31 October 1943.

Detached from Card on 9 March 1944, Isbell—who had been awarded a Legion of Merit for his important work in Card—took his intimate knowledge of combatting U-boats to Washington, where he served in the 10th Fleet—a shipless "fleet" set up to research and develop tactics for antisubmarine warfare. Following this tour of shore duty—which lasted into 1945—Isbell was slated to receive command of a fast carrier. On 26 February 1945, he was ordered to the Pacific for temporary duty in Franklin (CV-13). On 13 March 1945, further orders directed him to relieve Capt. Thomas S. Combs as commanding officer of Yorktovm (CV-10). However, Capt. Isbell perished when a Japanese plane scored two bomb hits that touched off a conflagration in Franklin—the carrier in which he was embarked as a passenger—off Kyushu on 19 March 1945.


Circa 1940

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVP-54 History "...In 1940 - CAPTAIN C. L. WESTHOFEN became Officer-in-Charge, Advance Base Detachment of VP-54..." Official U. S. Navy Documentation [28DEC2012]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...16NOV40 - PBYs (VP-54) inaugurate flight operations from Bermuda; seaplane tender (destroyer) George E. Badger (AVD-3) provides support..." WebSite: HyperWar http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/USN-Chron/USN-Chron-1940.html [15SEP2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News March-April 1990"...The Neutrality Patrol - To Keep Us Out of World War II - Part 1 of 2 by Capt. William E. Scarborough, USN(Ret.)...Naval Aviation News March-April 1990 Page 18 through Page 23..." [24NOV2000]

VP-82 PBY ThumbnailCameraVP-52-P-7 VP-52 In February 1941, VP-52 was at San Juan, P.R., and flew a survey party to British Guiana to inspect a "destroyers-for-bases" site for future naval air station. No. 7 is moored for an overnight stop on the Essequebo River, upstream from Georgetown. On September l, 1939, the German invasion of Poland began a long anticipated and feared WW II. Declarations of war against Germany by Britain and France two days later showed that the war would undoubtedly expand to all of Europe a repeat of the beginning of WW I in 1914. The Allies would again be dependent on support by the United States for supplies and munitions which could reach them only aboard ships crossing the Atlantic. Germany would surely make every effort to halt such trafftc by U-boat and surface raider attacks and the Atlantic would again, as it had in WW I, become a major battleground. It was a foregone conclusion that the war in the Atlantic would endanger the neutrality of the United States, and the Navy moved promptly to minimize the threat.

The day war began in Europe the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) informed U.S. forces that German U-boats were ready to begin operations in Atlantic shipping lanes, and reports indicated thata dozen German merchant ships were being armed as raiders. The advisory noted that neutral merchantmen, including U.S. flag ships, could expect similar actions by the British and that it was the duty of the U.S., as a neutral, to prevent such activities in our territorial waters and to assure no interference with our rights on the high seas. The Neutrality Act of 1935, made further restrictive by amendment in 1937, forbade arms exports, either direct or by transhipment. to any belligerent and was looked upon by isolationist groups as the best insurance against U.S. involvement in a European war.

Naval Aviation News March-April 1990At Coast Guard Air Station, Charleston, the Coast Guard flew Douglas RD-4, Grumman J2F-2, and Fairchild J2K-2 aircraft on coastal and inshore patrols. In return for shared facilities, VP-52 provided copilots for RD and J2K flights. Building at bottom center was a converted warehouse for squadron shops and offices. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued his first proclamation of neutrality on September 5, 1939, declaring in part that any use of U.S. territorial waters for hostile operations would be regarded as unfriendly, offensive, and a violation of U.S. neutrality.

The Navy had initiated action on September 4, by CNO dispatch to Commander, Atlantic Squadron, directing establishment of air and ship patrols to observe and report by classified means movement of warships of the belligerents within designated areas. The patrol would cover an area bounded on the north by a line east from Boston to latitude 42-30, longitude 65; south to latitude 19; then around the the windward and leeward islands to Trinidad.

The next day CNO amplified his directive by ordering classified contact reports on foreign men-of-war approaching or leaving the U.S. East Coast or the eastern boundary of the Caribbean. Ships sighted by the patrols, both air and surface, were to be identified by name, nationality, estimated tonnage, color, and markings, and were to be photographed whenever possible. Course and speed were to be estimated and all information was to be recorded and reported on return to base.

VP-82 P2Y ThumbnailCameraVP-15-P-7 VP-15 VP-15 (later redesignated VP-53 and VP-73) P2Y-2 off Breezy Point, NAS Norfolk, Virginia, Spring 1939. Neutrality Patrol star on bow was not authorized until March 19, 1940.

On September 6, Commander, Atlantic Squadron reported to CNO that the patrol was operating and by the 20th, when a revised Atlantic Squadron OpOrder (20-39) became effective, Atlantic coastal waters from Nova Scotia, Canada, to the Lesser Antilles, West Indies, were under daily surveillance by surface and air patrols. Forces involved were primarily patrol planes from Patrol Squadron VP-51 (12 PBY-1s), VP-52 (6 P2Y-2s), VP-53 (12 P2Ys), and VP-54 (12 PBY-2s) of Patrol Wing (PatWing) 5 and VP-33 (12 PBY-3s) of PatWing-3, plus four Seaplane Tenders assigned to the PatWings.

Surface forces were battleships and cruisers of the Atlantic Squadron and their attached OS2U and SOC aircraft of Observation Squadron (VO) 5 and Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 7, Ranger (CV-4) with her air group and Wasp (CV-7), which was not yet in commission. Forty destroyers plus an undetermined number of old destroyers (to be recommissioned) and about 15 old submarines were the assigned surface forces.

Aircraft patrols were initiated by the patrol squadrons, deployed to assigned Neutrality Patrol bases - most of them ill-equipped to support aircraft and crews for flight operations at the level required for daily patrols. General orders to the patrols stressed safety of the operations, avoidance of nonneutral acts, and the exercise of care in approaching vessels to avoid actions which might be interpreted as hostile.

VP-82 PBY ThumbnailCameraVP-52-P-10 VP-52 VP-52-P-10, Spring 1941. These PBY-5's were transferred from San Diego-based VP-14 in January 1941. To expedite operations and conserve funds. VP-14 markings (black stipes on tail) were retained and only squadron numbers changed.

VP-51: Deployed PBY-1 s to San Juan, P.R., departing NAS Norfolk, Virginia, on September 12, with first patrols flown on the 13th. The squadron utilized seaplane facilities, including ramp and hangar, of Pan American Airways at the San Juan airport, housing crew and supporting activities in tents on the airport. Ttle site utilized was the area on which the future Naval Air Station (NAS), San Juan would be built, construction starting in 1940. VP-51's patrols covered harbors and shipping lanes in the West Indies from Puerto Rico to Trinidad, with special attention to the southern approaches to the Caribbean through the Lesser Antilles.

VP-52 and VP-53: Both continued flying P2Ys from home port NAS Norfolk, Virginia, patrolling mid-Atlantic coastal shipping lanes, coordinating operations with Atlantic Squadron destroyers. VP-53 had returned to NAS Norfolk, Virginia September 1 after a regular summer deployment to Annapolis, Md., for midshipman aviation training.

VP-54: Based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia deployed a detachment of PBY-2s to Newport, R.I., operating from the Naval Torpedo Factory Air Facility on Gould Island in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Daily searches were coordinated with destroyer surface patrols in the assigned offshore areas.

VP-33: Deployed PBY-3s from NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone, to NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Patrols covered the area from Guantanamo to San Juan, coordinated with VP-51, destroyers, and the cruisers Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and San Francisco (CA-38), Cruisers Ouincy (CA-39) and Vincennes (CA-44): Patrolled sea approaches between Norfolk and Newport. Battleship Division 5 and Ranger were based at Norfolk as a reserve force.

Experience during the first month of operations dictated changes in the deployment of the forces to improve coverage of the assigned areas.

VP-52 moved to the U.S. Coast Guard air station located on the Cooper River in the Charleston, S.C., navy yard in December. Renovation and modification of existing buildings provided facilities to house crew and squadron administrative and maintenance activities. The air station supplied a seaplane ramp, aircraft parking area, and shared space in a small hangar. Officers were quartered in the Coast Guard BOO. Moving the squadron proved a major exercise in itself.

VP-52 had been home-ported at NAS Norfolk, Virginia since it was first commissioned as VP-14 on November 1, 1935, when the station was NAS Hampton Roads. As a self-supported squadron, a full allowance of maintenance equipment, spares, records, and myriad other authorized and unauthorized odds and ends accumulated required packing and loading aboard railroad cars for the move south. The operation was further complicated by a full schedule of training flights in addition to daily patrols of the assigned areas offshore.

VP-33's initial move to NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba posed problems similar to those of VP-52, somewhat diminished by the in-place facilities of the fully operational naval station there. However, the October move of the VP-33 detachment to Naval Station, Key West, Fla., long out of service and moth-balled, demanded much effort by the plane crews and their support personnel. Key West businesses and the population in general were so pleased by the arrival of the PBYs and several submarines that a celebration, including a parade on the main street, was staged! A VP-33 contingent turned out for the event. The Key West detachment flew regular patrols from Dry Tortugas to Miami, Fla., and to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, covering the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel.

In November 1939, VP-53 exchanged P2Ys for a mixed bag of older model PBYs-3 PBY-1s, 3 PBY-2s, and 3 PBY-3s. In February 1940, the squadron moved to Key West, remaining there until April 1941 when it returned to NAS Norfolk, Virginia and exchanged the old PBYs for new PBY-5s.

Naval Aviation News March-April 1990CGAS Charleston hanger shared with VP-52 for major P2Y maintenance. Coast Guard aircraft in photo, left to right: J2K, J2F, RD, and two J2Fs.

Also in October of that year, Ranger and her air group had joined the Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 7 ships and their VCS-7 SOCs to form a strike group with long-range search capability, on standby to fill gaps in the areas covered by the regular patrols. In November, a surface patrol of destroyers was established in the Gulf of Mexico to track shipping in that area. The Navy patrol effort was expanded by Coast Guard surface and aircraft coverage of inshore areas and cooperation by exchange of information, assuring complete area coverage and recording of all contacts.

On October 16, Commander, Atlantic Squadron expanded his earlier orders to the patrol forces with the issuance of OpOrder 24-39. In addition to reporting foreign men-of-war, "suspicious" vessels were to be noted and both they and men-of-war were to be tracked until their actions were considered satisfactory. All units of the Atlantic Squadron were included in the task organiza;tion but the major portion of the patrol activity was conducted by the patrol squadrons and destroyers, the latter primarily responsible for developing (visually checking at close range) contacts made by aircraft. Employment of the battleships was minimized and the ships of CruDiv-7 were soon withdrawn from the patrol for other duties.

The scope of Neutrality Patrol operations gradually expanded during 1940. Concurrently, the aircrews normally required training in all aspects of patrol plane operations - tactics, instruments, navigation, gunnery, bombing, etc. For example, VP-52 deployed detachments from Charleston to advanced bases such as Parris Island and Winyah Bay (both in S.C.) for operations with the aircraft tenders Owl (AM-2) in August and Thrush (AVP-3) in October. In addition to regular patrols, a normal schedule of training flights was flown from the advanced bases.

In spite of the increasing tempo of operations and the resulting workload, the effort proved well worth its costs; the experience markedly enhanced the readiness of Neutrality Patrol squadrons for the tasks that lay a scant year ahead in WW II. br>
The war in Europe during 1940 saw the apparently invincible German forces defeat France and threaten to bring Britain to her knees by the blitz on her cities and the success of the U-boat actions in the Atlantic. The specter of a British defeat and the danger to the United States of such an event were obvious and dictated further expansion of the forces in the Atlantic. In the famous destroyers-for-bases agreement negotiated by President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in September 1940, sites for bases in the Atlantic and Caribbean were exchanged for 50 WW I destroyers. Two of the sites, Argentia, Newfoundland, and Bermuda, presented rent-free as a "gift" for 99 years, would become key elements in the Battle of the Atlan- tic. Six other sites, in the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, and British Guiana, were leased, rent-free for the same period.

Both air and surface elements of the patrol force expanded during 1940 as the scope of the operation grew. Pat-Wing 5 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia commissioned VP-55 on August 1 and VP-56 on October 1. Both were to be equipped with PBM-1 s but problems with the new planes delayed deliveries and severely restricted squadron training. Eventually, the squadrons would be merged into a single command, designated VP-74, with all early production PBMs assigned. On November l, 1940, the Atlantic Squadron was redesignated Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet and on December 17, then-Rear Admiral Ernest J. King relieved Rear Admiral Hayne Ellis as Commander, Patrol Force. On February l, 1941, the augmented and reorganized patrol forces were established under Admiral King as the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

This force reorganization included establishment of task forces responsible for operations in specific sectors of the Atlantic. Task Force 1 com posed of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers -covered the trade routes to northern Europe. Task Force 2 - aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers -patrolled the central North Atlantic. Task Force 3 - cruisers, destroyers, and mine craft - was based at San Juan and Guantanamo to cover the South Atlantic. Task Force 4 was Support Force, Atlantic Fleet, under Rear Admiral A. L. Bristol, established on March 1, 1941. The support force included destroyers and the patrol wing, with VP-51, VP-52, VP-55, and VP-56, and the tenders Albemarle (A V -5) and George E. Badger (AVD-3) attached. On April 5, VP53 rejoined the wing at NAS Norfolk, Virginia and, during the month, exchanged its old model PBYs for new PBY-5s. The establishing directive for the support force required preparation of the force for service in high latitudes and em- phasized training in antisubmarine warfare, protection of shipping, and defense against air, submarine, and surface raider attack. Primary mission of the force was operations from North Atlantic bases to prevent Axis forces from interfering with the shipment of war material from the United States to Great Britain.

Other air and surface forces originally operating with the Neutrality Patrol were subsequently designated Task Force 6 and elements based north of the Gulf and Caribbean became the Northern Patrol. The mission of the Northern Patrol, operating from bases at Norfolk, Bermuda, Narragansett Bay and Argentia, would be to investigate reports of potential enemy vessels and other non-American activity in the North Atlantic. This task gave the PatWing Support Force major responsibility for the advance of Naval Aviation to the north and east to insure safe passage of war materials to Britain.

VP-82 PBY ThumbnailCameraVP-53-P-9 VP-53 Courtesy of Fred C. Dickey. Prior to establishment of the Pat-Wing Support Force, a number of squadron redeployments were directed. VP-54 moved to NAS Bermuda, based on the tender George E. Badger and began Neutrality Patrol operations on November 15, 1940. In December, VP-52 exchanged its P2Y- 25 (last of the model in fleet service) for PBY-5s. The P2Ys were ferried from Charleston to Pensacola for use there in the training squadron. Replacement PBY-5s were ferried cross-country from San Diego by VP-14 and delivered to VP-52 at NAS Pensacola, Florida during January. VP-52 flew the new planes, as received, to its old home port, NAS Norfolk. The move from Charleston was essential as the facilities there could not support PBY operations.

On February l, 1941, VP-52 was transferred to San Juan for what proved to be a brief taste of tropical operations. The squadron joined VP-51 on still-unfinished NAS San Juan, sharing the Neutrality Patrols through the West Indies to Trinidad. In addition to the patrols there were mail runs and survey flights to island sites of the new stations being built under the destroyers-for-bases agreement. At the end of February, VP-52 was ordered back to NAS Norfolk, Virginia and, on March 3, all planes departed for the return. For the remainder of the month, the squadron flew patrols and convoy escort and contine. VP-53 was ordered to move from NAS Norfolk, Virginia to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Construction of the base at Argentia, another of the destroyers-for-bases sites, had not yet begun.

The deployment of VP-52 would be the first move toward im- plementing the mission of the Northern Patrol of the Support Force. The major North Atlantic shipping lanes would now be within range of the PBYs for convoy escort.

Albemarle arrived at Argentia on May 15, with VP-52's ground crew and squadron gear onboard. Preparations for aircraft operations were begun with a seaplane mooring area designated and buoys laid in the southwestern end of Placentia Harbor near the ship anchorage. This operating area was adjacent to the peninsula on which NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada would eventually be built.

After an attempt on May 18, aborted because of below-minimums weather in Argentia, all 12 VP-52 planes arrived on May 20. The weather was again marginal but, utilizing Albemarle's radio beacon, all aircraft made instrument approaches and safe landings. The next day, the weather was excellent and all crews were scheduled for and flew area familiariza- tion flights. This proved most fortunate because the weather was below minimums on the following two days and, on the 24th, the squadron was ordered to fly a major operation -one of the least- known events in pre-WW II Naval Aviation history.


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