Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Naval Air Stations, etc., Where Based

N.A.S. 10/9 – 12/5?/41 Squantum, Mass. for initial (“elimination”) flight training and solos in N3N (“Yellow Peril”) 225 h.p. biplane traiuners. Some flying also at Clark Field, Hanover. Some ground school and drilling as a little “advanced” instruction.

N.A.S. Atlanta, Ga. 12/10/41 – 1/?/42 Only ground school, drilling and standing watch, waiting until there was room for us at Jacksonville.

N.A.S. Jacksonville, Fla. early Jan. ’42 to Dec. ’42 for principal flight training, successively in N2S Stearman (“Yellow Peril”) biplane trainers very similar to N3N’s for training through stunts and night flying; NR Ryan low wing monoplanes for first formation flying; SNJ low wing monoplanes, 450 H.P., intermediate trainer with retractable landing gear, for intermediate training in general and, after intermediate formation flying, instrument flying; OS2U (“Kingfisher”) low wing 450 H.P. non-seaplane monoplanes for intermediate formation flying; N3N seaplane (same as Squantum planes except for floats) for beginning of operational training in seaplanes, with spot landings in the river, etc.; OS2U (“Kingfisher”) seaplanes for final operational training, in the same type of plane carried on and catapulted from battleships and cruisers, with landing in “slicks” similar to those made by ships turning to smooth the ocean for their planes’ landings, with practice also in gunnery, dive bombing, navigation, catapult shots, etc.

N.A.S. Miami (Opalocka) Dec. ’42 for change of duty from being a seaplane pilot (there were too many of us) to being trained as an assistant instructor in carrier type planes, with familiarization rather than instruction in such planes as the SBC–3 (Curtis) biplane dive bomber, BT–1 (predecessor of the SBD series) monoplane scout and dive bomber, and TBD (Douglas “Devastator”) torpedo bomber, all of those by then obsolete.

Lee Field near late Dec. ’42 to early March ’43 N.A.S. Jacksonville for assistant instructing in pre-operational training in carrier-type planes, using OS2U “Kingfisher” land planes, SNJ’s and SBC–4’s, the last of the Navy’s biplane dive bombers.

N.A.S. Daytona Beach March ’43 to April ’44 for operational training in scout-dive bombing in SBD (Douglas “Dauntless”), with emphasis on dive bombing and field carrier landings, ending up with landings on the Wolverine, in Lake Michigan. This led to becoming an assistant instructor in operational training at Daytona, leading formations of students, instructing in instrument flying, etc. N.A.S. Bardnard River for field carrier landings.

Waiting late April ’44 orders at N.A.S. San Diego, Cal.

N.A.S. Alameda, Cal. May 1, ’44
to Nov. ’44
In Squadron VB–17 practicing “everything,” in SB2C (“Helldivers”), with emphasis on dive bombing and including practice carrier landings at sea—in fact, getting ready for combat.

N.A.S. Hilo, Hawaii: More practice in VB–17.

N.A.S. Agana, Guam. late Dec. ’44 to late Jan. ’45 Limited practice inb VB–17 because of lack of planes, but one flight “for fun” in F6F (“Hellcat”) Grumman fighter.

Fleet Anchorage late Jan. ’45 or Feb. 1 ’45 of 5th (sometimes called 3rd) and 7th Fleets, Ulithi, Caroline Is., there boarding Hornet. Two later stops at Ulithi.

U.S.S. Hornet —2/1/45 – 7/7/45 Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns, with strikes on those and other islands, including Honshu and Kyushu.

Fleet Anchorage, Gulf of Leyte, Philippines—several days rest aboard Hornet before heading for San Francisco, with brief stop at N.A.S. Pearl Harbor (allowing me to borrow an SBD at Barber’s Point to fly to N.A.S. Hilo and back).

N.A.S. San Diego, Cal. — released to inactive duty after 1700+ hrs. flown.