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Jonathan_Lotton

USS Lexington found in Coral Sea

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22 minutes ago, nerdling said:

That would be awesome. Where did you hear they were going to do the decals?

 

I can't find it now but I read a post directly from Fundekals saying they were doing the decals.

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11 hours ago, nerdling said:

That would be awesome. Where did you hear they were going to do the decals?

Just a quick blurb over on HS.  Not much more than a statement that they are working in this project, more info to follow.    

 

Are there any 1/32nd F4F-3’s out there?   

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Trumpeter does a 1/32 F4F-3. I have one in my stash and it looks pretty nice

 

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3 hours ago, 11bee said:

Just a quick blurb over on HS.  Not much more than a statement that they are working in this project, more info to follow.    

 

Are there any 1/32nd F4F-3’s out there?   

The Trumpeter kit is excellent. I have it setting right in front of me as I type this message. Like it so well, That I can see me buying a second kit. The F4f4 comes with wing folds, but only one decal option. Joe Foss' Wildcat. Yellow Wings is your friend with the F4f3.

gary

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Here's a question;

 

If that F4F-3 is  Lieut. Noel A. M. Gayler's, VF-2's XO why was he assigned the fifth aircraft in the squadron?

 

IIRC, back then the fighter squadron's were still using the three plane sections, the CO would lead the first section (planes 1 to 3) and the XO would lead the section (planes 4 through 6) so I would think the XO's aircraft would be 2-F-4 instead of 2-F-5.

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Wow, I just put a wildcat on the desk to build....I’ll hold for these decals. I am most definitely building this aircraft.

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4 hours ago, GW8345 said:

Here's a question;

 

If that F4F-3 is  Lieut. Noel A. M. Gayler's, VF-2's XO why was he assigned the fifth aircraft in the squadron?

 

IIRC, back then the fighter squadron's were still using the three plane sections, the CO would lead the first section (planes 1 to 3) and the XO would lead the section (planes 4 through 6) so I would think the XO's aircraft would be 2-F-4 instead of 2-F-5.

 

Very good question. This post at Hyperscale explains it well (at least IMHO it does):

 

http://www.clubhyper.com/forums/forum.htm

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(Copied from Hyperscale - author name at end) Sorry for this wall of text, but the F4F-3 found this week (along with the other aircraft) is one of my primary areas of research, or at least an off-shoot of it. I mainly work with Marine Aviation records for the early war years with a focus on F4F operations, but the overlap often allows me to indulge. Hopefully some of what I am posting will help others in the future as they try to unravel some of the questions they may have about the aircraft recently discovered. The information I have gathered over the years from the various archives in the D.C. area help supplement the seminal work by John B. Lundstrom covering naval fighter activities for the first six months of WW2.  

For fans of early-war US naval aviation, the news of the discovery of the wreck of the U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2) was some of the most exciting news since the discovery of the U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5) almost 20 years earlier. Not only had the remains of the carrier been located, but no less than 11 of her aircraft were found as well. The crystal clear images that soon started flooding our computer monitors and overwhelming many of us was almost too good to be true. Unlike aircraft aboard the three American carriers that took part in the Battle of Midway a month later, the aircraft aboard Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea were not as well documented. Photographic evidence was scarce, consisting primarily of long distance shots or poorly lit and exposed photographs that provided little in the way of detail. Due to this, historians, artists, modelers and enthusiasts were forced to rely on their own judgement and often faulty research when it came to depicting how aircraft from Lexington’s Air Group appeared during the desperate battle. 

Part of the confusion as to how the aircraft appeared stems from the change in markings that were occurring at that time. Regulations related to markings are taken as gospel by some as to how an aircraft appeared at a specific moment in time, while others understand that is not always the case. Photos taken shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor and early war photos of aircraft assigned to Lexington clearly demonstrate how her aircraft appeared the first few months prior to Coral Sea. The issue has been further confused by public relations photo shoots that occurred after the battle. One of the more well-known photos is that of Lt(j.g) John Leppla and John Liska, ARM2c from VS-2. This pilot/radio-gunner duo were credited with shooting down 5 enemy aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea and the need for photos of heroes to help boost the morale of the public has caused many scale modelers to incorrectly depict their aircraft for over 75 years. Posed with an SBD-3 repainted to look like their assigned aircraft, it carried a full side code (2-S-12), kill markings and the squadron insignia.  

So, about that F4F-3. Photos of this aircraft literally took my breath away. Prior to their posting on the internet, I was somewhat sure of how most of the aircraft aboard Lexington were supposed to look. A short movie clip that is often included in documentaries, but wrongly attributed and not associated with the Battle of the Coral Sea shows VB-2’s SBD-3s with black side codes. I really hope we get a glimpse at a VB-2 SBD-3. Photos of VS-2 SBDs have been around for a while and indicate they carried white side codes, same thing for VT-2 and their TBDs. The removal of the squadron number was also a given, and not surprising since these three squadrons had been active participants in the combat zone and that had been one of the first markings associated with the pre-war regulations to go for security reasons. But that F4F-3, I would have never have imagined it was still carrying the markings of VF-3. 

The fact that Lt Noel A. M. Gayler had been transferred to VF-2 before the battle has little to no bearing on the fact that the aircraft he was assigned while with VF-3, most likely for a public relations photo opportunity was the one found on the sea floor. It would not have "followed" him over to VF-2. Aviators flew what aircraft was available, not the one assigned to them in the squadron files for organizational purposes. Attempting to state that Gayler flew this aircraft on every mission in which his record was displayed on the fuselage is irresponsible at best. We may never know if he actually ever flew this specific aircraft, but he very well may have. The only thing that we can state, at this time, is that his name and record was applied to this aircraft. I understand the desire to tie a specific aircraft to a specific aviator, I attempt it all the time in my own research and work. But that has demonstrated to me time and time again that very few navy or Marine aviators flew the same or their assigned aircraft on a regular basis in the early part of the war which is my primary subject area. Stating that Gayler flew this specific aircraft on the missions he had recorded on the fuselage of “F-5” clouds the historical record and will result in errors by others at a later date, regardless of their discipline, be it scale modeling or illustrator.  

To further confuse the issue, we know that the F4F-3 that was marked as “F-5” and assigned to VF-3 during February 1942 was lost 4 March 1942 as it was being ferried over to VF-42. I know that it has been posted that it is BuNo 4009, which carried the side code “F-5” for a while, but it is not the F4F-3 marked “F-5” sitting on the bottom of the Coral Sea today. Until we know whether photos of the vertical stab and rudder were taken, we may never know the exact Bureau Number of this aircraft, only a range based upon the official navy loss list, aircraft history cards, and characteristics of the aircraft itself. Further adding to the possible confusion is that the induvial aircraft number (5) appears to be applied over then fresh paint covering up its previous number. 

So why does an aircraft assigned to VF-2 carry markings from VF-3? Time and necessity. When the war started, VF-2 was still flying the Brewster F2A-3, the only navy squadron still saddled with the type. In order to replace the F2As with F4F-3s as quickly as possible and provide a reserve for the other squadrons, the Marine Corps fighter squadrons were stripped of their F4F-3s and VF-2 was put ashore in Hawaii to train on the new type after they arrived. While they were ashore, VF-3 took their place (and glory) when Lexington was in the South Pacific. When Lexington returned to Pearl Harbor, VF-2 resumed its place in the Lexington Air Group but several events occurred before they made their way to the Coral Sea.  

When VF-2 was assigned F4F-3s, they received the F4F-3A model. Equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R-1830-90 engine and single stage supercharger, these aircraft had been ordered by Greece but taken over by the navy when that country was overrun by Nazi Germany in 1941. Lacking the higher altitude performance of the F4F-3s equipped with the R-1830-76/86 with two-stage superchargers, it was considered inferior to the standard F4F-3. When VF-3 returned to Hawaii in April, they turned in their F4F-3s and received new F4F-4s. The F4F-3s previously assigned to VF-3 were then transferred to VMF-212 which was preparing to deploy to the South Pacific and was still flying F2A-3s. Just two/three days after receiving the F4F-3s from VF-3 though, VMF-212 was ordered to swap with VF-2 so the navy squadron would have the better aircraft. 

Assigned to VMF-212 for only a few days, there was not enough time to repaint the markings on the aircraft. With the need to get underway, the few days VF-2 had after receiving the F4F-3s from VMF-212 resulted in at least one F4F-3 still wearing its VF-3 markings. Were all of them still carrying these markings, I can not say and proposing it would only be a guess, albeit a good one. For those that are interested, VMF-212 took several F4F-3As to the South Pacific (New Caledonia and Efate to be exact) still wearing VF-2 markings. How’s that for confusion?  

I am looking forward, as are many of you to more photos and if the BuNo of “F-5” can be verified, we can then start matching up its actual war record. Good times my friends. 
Respectfully, 
Brandon S. Wood 

 
Edited by Scooby

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What a cool story.   Still hoping we'll see some SBD's in similar condition.     Sad that ADM Gaylor passed a few years back, it would have been awesome if he was able to see those pictures of his old aircraft.

 

I have a feeling Allen has many more great pics that haven't been released yet.   

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19 hours ago, GW8345 said:

Here's a question;

 

If that F4F-3 is  Lieut. Noel A. M. Gayler's, VF-2's XO why was he assigned the fifth aircraft in the squadron?

 

IIRC, back then the fighter squadron's were still using the three plane sections, the CO would lead the first section (planes 1 to 3) and the XO would lead the section (planes 4 through 6) so I would think the XO's aircraft would be 2-F-4 instead of 2-F-5.

I think the XO led the second divison, consisting of the 4th, 5th, and 6th sections, and as such the XO would normally fly the number 10 airplane.

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11 minutes ago, Joe Hegedus said:

I think the XO led the second divison, consisting of the 4th, 5th, and 6th sections, and as such the XO would normally fly the number 10 airplane.

 

I didn’t say this earlier, a war was raging and they didn’t really have time to paint or worry about markings on aircraft. I studied the Pacific war as part of my studies at military college. At that point of the war attrition and moves were so frantic pilots and planes were getting reassigned and moved like crazy. The post above shows that the historian was surprised this aircraft moved units.

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46 minutes ago, Scooby said:

 

I didn’t say this earlier, a war was raging and they didn’t really have time to paint or worry about markings on aircraft. I studied the Pacific war as part of my studies at military college. At that point of the war attrition and moves were so frantic pilots and planes were getting reassigned and moved like crazy. The post above shows that the historian was surprised this aircraft moved units.

I agree with Scooby.  Need to keep in mind that this was pretty much America’s “darkest hour” of the war.   I doubt they had the time or interest to make the updating of markings a big priority.    That being said, it is interesting to see some signs of painted out markings on some of these airframes. Really hoping Allen will release additional pics.  

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I agree that keeping markings up to date wasn't a priority but if they had time to paint names under the canopy, they had time to update the aircraft side numbers. Side numbers were way more important than painting names on aircraft, those would be the first markings updated.

 

Still puzzled why the XO's plane was number 5, it doesn't add up to me.

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2 hours ago, 11bee said:

I agree with Scooby.  Need to keep in mind that this was pretty much America’s “darkest hour” of the war.   I doubt they had the time or interest to make the updating of markings a big priority.    That being said, it is interesting to see some signs of painted out markings on some of these airframes. Really hoping Allen will release additional pics.  

Darkest hour? Perhaps a read on the Battle Of The South Java Sea is a must read. 

gary

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3 hours ago, GW8345 said:

I agree that keeping markings up to date wasn't a priority but if they had time to paint names under the canopy, they had time to update the aircraft side numbers. Side numbers were way more important than painting names on aircraft, those would be the first markings updated.

 

Still puzzled why the XO's plane was number 5, it doesn't add up to me.

 

It’s not puzzling at all. The theory on the name, code, kills, and bombing mission is those details were painted when Gayler attained them in his previous unit, VF-3. It was painted for a publicity photo.

 

Somehow the VF-3 aircraft found its way to VF-2, which is where Gayler became XO.

 

VF-2 replaced VF-3 on the Lexington so they probably kept some of their aircraft and didn’t bother changing the markings,

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1 minute ago, Scooby said:

 

It’s not puzzling at all. The theory on the name, code, kills, and bombing mission is those details were painted when Gayler attained them in his previous unit, VF-3. It was painted for a publicity photo.

 

Somehow the VF-3 aircraft found its way to VF-2, which is where Gayler became XO.

 

VF-2 replaced VF-3 on the Lexington so they probably kept some of their aircraft and didn’t bother changing the markings,

I get all that but why was the squadron XO assigned the fifth plane in the squadron and not the 10th (as Joe Hegedus )? That's kind of like a modern Navy squadron assigning x05 to the XO instead of x02.

 

Is it possible that all of the markings except the side number are a carry over from VF-3 and all VF-2 did was change the side number, that even though that plane had Gayler's name on it that wasn't his plane while in VF-2.

 

That actually kind of makes sense, that VF-2 only changed the side number and didn't change any other marking. That plane was Gayler's plane when he was in VF-3 but was assigned to someone else in VF-2 and they hadn't just changed the name yet. Heck, the side number may have been changed while the aircraft belonged to VMF-212 and VF-2 didn't get around to changing any of the markings at all.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ChesshireCat said:

Darkest hour? Perhaps a read on the Battle Of The South Java Sea is a must read. 

gary

 

It was still a rough time Gary, things hadn't improved since that battle.   The US had yet to get a decisive win against Japan (who by that point had started to look unbeatable).  

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Looking at the pictures for the umpteenth time I think it would be neat to build a diorama of the Wildcat as she looks now sitting on the bottom of the sea. I have a 1/72 one in the stash that may fit the bill. Such a great find and treasure trove of information to be gleaned from studying the pictures. I truly hope more photos will be released. Good walkarounds (...floatarounds?) of the aircraft would be awesome considering their excellent state of preservation.

 

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2 hours ago, 11bee said:

 

It was still a rough time Gary, things hadn't improved since that battle.   The US had yet to get a decisive win against Japan (who by that point had started to look unbeatable).  

I agree, but virtually loosing your entire task force was about as bad as it could get. For me anyway, the Battle of Savo Sound was about as tough as it could get. Some folks refused to even admit either one happened till the early seventies. Read Neptune's Inferno.

gary

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17 hours ago, Scooby said:

 

I didn’t say this earlier, a war was raging and they didn’t really have time to paint or worry about markings on aircraft. I studied the Pacific war as part of my studies at military college. At that point of the war attrition and moves were so frantic pilots and planes were getting reassigned and moved like crazy. The post above shows that the historian was surprised this aircraft moved units.

That's why I said, "normally".  The convention was for the CO to lead the first division, in X-F-1, and the XO to lead the second division, in X-F-10.  Under the operational necessity present at the time leading up to the Coral Sea battle, complying with convention obviously was less important than getting the proper equipment to the units going into battle - it wasn't "normal" circumstances. 

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On 2018-03-05 at 1:34 PM, Jonathan_Lotton said:


I'm betting that except for the areas where fire stripped away the paint..Lex is likely in very good shape considering what happened. These very deep water pacific wrecks are turning out to be extremely well preserved..Yorktown had visible paint, Indianapolis still has her camo intact and now that TBD. 

 

Very well preserved indeed, but the high resolution images and improved underwater lighting really help show that degree of preservation. It would be great to revisit other wrecks with the same technology so a fair comparison could be made. 

 

The quality of those images is outstanding. 76 years at the bottom of the ocean, and image is better than pictures I’ve taken indoors a week ago. 

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