Remembering VF(N)-101

How can VF(N)-101 best be remembered?

I created this blog back in 2015 when Flight Lieutenant John Kelly’s son sent me this picture of his father on a group picture.

vfn-101

Collection John Kelly (courtesy Gunnar Kelly)

This is how I got started writing a blog with the idea of remembering unsung heroes.

There were 8 faces but only one name. 

Richard Emerson  Harmer was also smiling, as well as other night fighter naval aviators from VF(N)-101 aboard the Enterprise, but I did not know who he was… 

vfn-101-richard-emerson-harmer

Then Bob Brunson, another naval aviator on that picture, found my blog and I could add his name on another smiling face.

robert-brunson

Bob Brunson who knew Richard Harmer’s son gave me his email to contact him. What evolved from this contact was more than 3 gigabytes of files about his father Richard Harmer.

Photos like this one…

Lots of documents, and foremost his complete 1944 diary.

The start of the transcription is here.

 

I just had to turn back time, and start writing on each of the 39 naval aviators seen on the deck of USS Saratoga 15 July 1942…

VF-5 July, 1942

Top row (left to right): Price, Reiplinger, Altemus, Gunsolus, Eichenberger, Innis, Gray, Kleinmann, Morgan, Roach, Dufilho, Smith

Center row: Currie, Robb, Wesolowski. Starkes, Davy, Holt, Daly, Presley, McDonald, Tabberer, Barbieri, Haynes, Bass, Blair, Bright

Bottom row: Kleinman, Stover, Crews, Brown, Southerland, Harmer, Simpler, Richardson, Green, Jensen, Clarke, Stepanek. (photo from the collection of Capt. H. W. Crews)

I just had to turn back time before writing about VF(N)-101.


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The Quick and Dirty Guide to Modeling the Corsair in US Service

via The Quick and Dirty Guide to Modeling the Corsair in US service

Excerpt

Should I begin by saying the most awesome airplane that ever was is the Corsair? Sure there are those who would quickly disagree with me and cite all sorts of hard data and common knowledge – but those people are wrong.

This is a very quick and dirty guide to modeling one or more of the many US variants of the Corsair in 1/48 scale. Its actually incredibly quick as there are books that devote chapters to each of these variants.

If you model in other scales, you can still benefit from a lot of the information I have put down below. I am keeping this to the US for simplification but I can see doing this type of article for other nations as well.

I have tried to simplify it by putting it into a seemingly logical numerical order. But when it comes to labeling the various Corsairs that were developed, if there was a logic to it, the logic is not clear to me. Here is an old drawing of what I mean:

Guadalcanal: First to Fight —Part II

Learning about the Guadalcanal Campaign – Part 2

Fix Bayonets!

Not long after coming ashore, allied troops encountered a severe strain of dysentery; by mid-August one in five Marines was so inflicted.  Next up for the Marines: malaria.

On the evening of 12 August, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Goettge, serving as the Division Intelligence Officer, led a 25-man patrol west of the Marine perimeter at Lunga Point.  His intent was two-fold: first, to conduct a reconnaissance of the region, and second, to ascertain whether Japanese troops were willing to surrender to Allied forces.  Soon after coming ashore, Japanese naval infantry attacked the patrol killing nearly every Marine.  In response, on 19 August, General Vandegrift sent three companies of Marines from the 5th Regiment to attack the Japanese troop concentration west of the Matanikau River.  One company attacked across the sandbar at the mouth of the river, while another crossed the river 1,000 meters inland and attacked the Japanese force at the…

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Guadalcanal: First to Fight —Part I

Learning about the Guadalcanal Campaign – Part 1

Fix Bayonets!

Old Corps EGA“We struck at Guadalcanal to halt the advance of the Japanese. We did not know how strong he was, nor did we know his plans. We knew only that he was moving down the island chain and that he had to be stopped.We were as well-trained and as well-armed as time and our peacetime experience allowed us to be. We needed combat to tell us how effective our training, our doctrines, and our weapons had been. We tested them against the enemy and found that they worked. From that moment in 1942, the tide turned and the Japanese never again advanced.”

~Alexander A. Vandegrift

In the summer of 1941, the American people were horrified by the unfolding war in Europe. They were equally horrified by the idea that the United States might, in some way, become involved. The American people had already sent their loved ones off to die in…

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Intermission – IJN Aircraft at Pearl Harbor — Weapons and Warfare

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had a large carrier force at the start of the war, the air groups of which were weighted toward attack aircraft rather than fighters. Its aircraft were lightly built and had very long range, but this advantage was usually purchased at the expense of vulnerability to enemy fire. The skill […]

via IJN Aircraft at Pearl Harbor — Weapons and Warfare

June 1940

At Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California, in June 1940, embarking aircraft and vehicles prior to sailing for Hawaii. Aircraft types on her flight deck include TBD-1, BT-1, SBC-3, F3F-2, F3F-3, SB2U, JRF, J2F and JRS-1. Some of these planes were on board for transportation, while others were members of the ship’s air group. Three Torpedo Squadron Five (VT-5) TBDs at the after end of the flight deck are painted in experimental camouflage schemes tested during Fleet Problem XXI. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

On June 22nd, 1940, the Battle of France is over.

Great Britain is all alone.

Richard Harmer is aboard USS Yorktown.

SBC-3 No. 0543

Reading the Tailhook Association Lifetime Achievement Award led me to look for more information about this type of airplane that Richard Harmer was flying in May 1939.

SBC-3_Helldiver_VS-5_in_flight_c1939

A U.S. Navy Curtiss SBC-3 Helldiver (BuNo 0543) of Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5) in flight. The squadron was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) and flew the aircraft during from 1937 to 1940. The SBC-3 BuNo 0543 was retired on 6 July 1943.

Date: circa 1937-1940
Source: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.253.094

Author: U.S. Navy


This is how I know he was flying a SBC-3.

193905 Curtis SBC-3 Helldiver Biplane

Richard Harmer’s log book (courtesy Tom Harmer)

On May 23rd, 1938, he flew SBC-3 no. 0542… Close enough!

More log book pages courtesy Tom Harmer…

For September 1939

Richard Harmer is still flying SBC-3s.

194009 Flight Log Curtis SBC-3 Helldiver Biplane

In September 1939, he did some dive bombing training mostly on SBC-3 no. 0542. WWII had already started on September 1st.

For February 1940

The “Phoney War” is still “raging on” in Europe…

February 1940 Flight Log Curtis SBC-3 Helldiver Biplane

On February 6th, Richard Harmer flew as a passenger with Swede Vejtasa on SBC-3 No. 0576. Every history buffs know who Swede Vejtasa was.

Swede Vejtasa

Source Internet

March 1940

193905 to 194007 SBC-3 then new plane F3F-3_0004

In March 1940, he does a lot of ferrying SBC-3s to the USS Yorktown.

July 1940

France has fallen on June 22nd. England is now all alone.

194007 Curtis SBC-3 Helldiver Biplane

Richard Harmer is still on the Yorktown.

On July 1st, 1940, Richard Harmer took off USS Yorktown to Ford Island, and on the same day flew the F3F-3 for the first time.

Source Internet

On July 6th, 1940, Pug Southerland was a passenger on SBC-3 No. 0577 for tow target.

Southerland

History buffs know all about Pug, but I think they did not know this little footnote.