Hellcat Markings of VMF-512


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Two F6F-5P Hellcats were assigned to VMF-512 for photo-reconnaissance.  They were integral to the squadron and I assume their markings evolved in the same way as on the Corsairs.  Please see the page for Corsair Markings for relevant details.  The Corsair pilots remember the F6Fs joined 512 quite late, perhaps only a month or two before embarking on the carrier. 

The few photos I have all depict the F6Fs in dark paint, undoubtedly the standard dark sea blue.

Images on this page are thumbnails... please click on one to view a larger version.

Large EE markings 
Here's the only photo I have of an EE marking on an F6F.  Since they joined VMF-512 late, after the Corsairs were numbered, it's my guess the Hellcats were the last 2 in the numbering sequence making them EE69 and 70 or EE70 and 71.  This photo was taken after the squadron was taken aboard the carrier March 11 but before May 23.

Small number markings 
The big EE numbers disappeared by May 23 to be replaced with smaller numbers painted on both sides of the vertical stabilizer and cowl as well as the forward-facing landing gear doors.  The 2 F6Fs were numbers 19 and 29.

Data markings
This picture of 2 pilots next to F6F number 19 has enough clarity to read the small data markings.  The rudder is painted F6F-5P while the stabilizer has a two line marking 'NAVY' and 70936, the Bureau Number.  On the other photos I see the Hamilton oval decal on the props but no other data markings.  It's fair to say there may been other stencils as my other photos are neither close up nor from the top.

White recognition stripes
As with the Corsairs the white recognition stripes must have been painted on between July 7 and July 29 at Tacloban. The picture of 19 (above) gives a good idea of the placement on the tail. The 2 photos of 19 (below) show more stripe details. This one of 29 landing is the only one I have showing them on the upper right wing.

Aircraft Bureau Numbers (BuNo)
Some numbers were found in the War Diary of the Gilbert Islands.  In addition a few TBM pilots flew the F6F once or twice and the BuNos were recorded in their log books such as BuNos 77690 and 77424 flown by TBM pilots on March 31.  Since 77690 is number 29 (Capt. Sharpe's crash on June 18 is also discussed on the page VMF-512) I guess BuNo 77424, the plane Lt. Crawford was flying July 1, must go with number 19.

I used Joe Baugher's site at http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/ to ID the specific planes.  I should mention the Aircraft Action Reports written in 1945 for the Balikpapan operation specifically refers to the 2 Hellcats as type F6F-5P.  It's a little strange that the numbers 70936, 72936 and 72637, 79637 were found.  They all check out as F6F-5 but raise the possibility of a typo in the pilot logbooks.  I would not have guessed 4 more F6Fs were assigned although it is possible. 

Baugher ID
Date if Lost
Capt. Sharpe crashed on deck in number 29.
Lt. Crawford shot down and killed in number 19.
Lt. Liebich log 22-Jul-45
Lt. Liebich log 22-Jul-45
Photo on carrier deck, undated
Lt. Githens log 30-Oct-45

Photos of the individual planes 
I have only a few images.

This photo from Marpi Pt shows the stripes under the port wing and the numbered cowl.  I can see the small 19 on the forward landing gear door and Hamilton logo on the prop.  Also see the photo of 19 with the pilots (above).  Since I have no pictures of the starboard side I cannot say if 19 had nose art.  The photo of 'Launch Operations' might depict number 19 or 29 but I put it here.

29 Survey!
Capt. Sharpe's accident June 18 occasioned a few pictures of this plane. The 29s on the gear doors and tail are obvious and the white stripes had not yet been applied.  This Hellcat had nose art on the starboard side which unfortunately is only partially visible.  An enlargement of this area reveals the word "Survey!" at the feet of a walking cat which is perhaps holding a camera?

If you have photos of these planes or any other information I hope you will contact me.

Note for modelers and artists - if you do one of these please send me some photos.

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