A U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat of Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-5) during a flight out of Guadalcanal. VF-5 had been based aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3). Most of her air group was flown to Guadalcanal after the carrier had been torpedoed on 27 August 1942. VF-5 operated 24 Wildcats from Guadalcanal but, after five weeks, only five aircraft remained operational. (Wikipedia)
How to paint my Wildcat?
Hard to tell the right shade of blue when you start searching on the Internet.
But I think Plane Dave has the answer…
F12 would be how I want my vintage Monogram F4F to look.
F12 was flown by Pug Southerland who was on this group picture.
Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)
At the beginning of the Battle of Guadalcanal, August 7, 1942, American forces shelled Guadalcanal and neighboring Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Soon after the attack began, 27 Japanese bombers and an escort of 17 fighters took off from Rabaul, Japan’s stronghold and strategic base in the South Pacific. Their mission was to bomb the ships that were supporting the American attack.
Lieutenant Southerland commanded a group of eight American Wildcats aboard the USS Saratoga as a part of VF-5. Due to planning errors and the loss of planes to a recent training exercise, this was the only fighter cover available to patrol the landing area. Southerland (flying Wildcat F-12) and his flight took off to intercept the Japanese bombers before they could reach the American ships.
Southerland shot down the first Japanese aircraft of the Guadalcanal campaign, a G4M1 “Betty” bomber of the 4th Kōkūtai, under the command of Shizuo Yamada. After shooting down a second bomber, Southerland was engaged in a dogfight with an A6M2 “Zero”, piloted by Yamazaki Ichirobei of the Tainan Kōkūtai. He lined up the Zero in his sights only to find his guns would not fire, probably due to damage from fire by the tailgunner from the second bomber he had downed.
Although he was now defenseless, Southerland had to stay in the fight. Two more Zeros engaged him, as Kakimoto Enji and Uto Kazushi joined Yamazaki’s assault, but he successfully outmaneuvered all three of them. Southerland analyzed their tactics. Two fighters worked their runs from opposite flanks, while the third waited to take its turn. He coolly and carefully executed his defensive maneuvers. The dogfight was spotted by Saburo Sakai. Sakai also joined the battle. These Zeros finally shot down Southerland’s Wildcat, striking it below the left wing root with his 20mm cannon. Yamazaki, Uto and Sakai shared Southerland’s Grumman kill. Southerland later wrote:
As Southerland bailed out of his doomed Wildcat, his .45 caliber automatic pistolcaught in the cockpit. He managed to free himself, but lost his pistol, leaving him weaponless, wounded, and alone behind enemy lines. Suffering from eleven wounds, shock and exhaustion, Southerland struggled through the brush, carefully evading Japanese soldiers. He finally reached the coast, where he was found by some natives, who at the risk of their own lives, fed him and treated his wounds. With their assistance, he eluded Japanese ground forces and returned to American lines. Southerland was evacuated from Guadalcanal on the first patrol boat to land at Henderson Field, on August 20, 1942.
On February 14, 1998, the wreckage of Southerland’s Wildcat was found, including his pistol. Investigation of the remains confirmed these accounts of the dogfight.
About the original caption under the group picture…
Tom Harmer told me he did not know who wrote the caption. It’s most certainly not his father when you look at the original caption!
Whoever wrote it, Tom told me I could edit the caption.
Half of these men died in the battle…?
I know this is not true. I know how many died.
Lieutenant (Junior Grade ) Donald A. Innis
Ensign Robert L. Price
Lieutenant (Junior Grade ) Charles A. Tabberer
Two more would die later over Guadalcanal when VF-5 pilots would join the Cactus Air Force.
Ensign C.E. Eichenberger
(arrived 11 September, 1942, killed in crash after combat 12 September, 1942)
Ensign G.J. Morgan
(arrived 11 September, 1942, missing in action 2 October, 1942)