David Hansen’s Corsair, a fitting tribute to VF(N) 101

A Corsair for Bob

Collection David Hansen



Model by David Hansen


Colorised version done by Pierre Lagacé


Bob Brunson in 1946 (Collection Bob Brunson via Tom Harmer)







































More on David Hansen





Remembering Charles Arthur Tabberer (1915-1942)

 This is a draft post I had written 5 months ago using what I had found on the Internet.

1942 VF (5) Squadron Saratoga 3-22 Tabberer

Charles Arthur Tabberer-born on 18 December 1915 in Kansas City, Kansas -enlisted in the Naval Reserve on 12 October 1939 and was appointed an aviation cadet on 11 January 1940. Following flight training in Florida at Pensacola and Miami, Cadet Tabberer was designated a naval aviator on 1 November. He was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve on 12 December. After further training at San Diego, California, he was ordered to report to Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-6) which was then assigned to Yorktown (CV-6).
Ens. Tabberer served with VF-6 throughout his short naval career. Promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) on 29 May 1942, his squadron was assigned to Saratoga (CV-3) for the invasion of Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands. Lt. (jg.) Tabberer was one of the 11 “Wildcat” (F4F) pilots lost when elements of the Japanese 26th Air Flotilla opposed the Guadalcanal invasion force on 7 August. Through the efforts of Tabberer and his comrades, the Japanese aerial forces were beaten back. For his sacrifice, Lt. (jg.) Tabberer was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, posthumously.

A ship was named after him.
(DE-418: dp. 1,350, l. 306’0″, b. 37’7″, dr. 13’4″, s. 24.3 k. (tl.); cpl. 222; a. 2 6″, 10 40mm., 3 21″ tt.; cl. John C. Butler)

Tabberer (DE-418) was laid down at Houston, Tex., on 12 January 1944 by the Brown Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 18 February 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Mary M. Tabberer, and commissioned on 23 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. Henry Lee Plage, USNR, in command.
On 27 June, Tabberer headed toward Bermuda for shakedown training. At the end of a fortnight’s postshakedown availability at the Boston Navy Yard, she got underway on 16 August to escort Severn (AO-61) to the Hawaiian Islands. The two ships transited the Panama Canal late that month and reached Pearl Harbor on 7 September. For over a month, the destroyer escort conducted underway training in the waters surrounding the islands. Her exercises included antisubmarine warfare drills and gunfire p ractice. She also screened carriers Coral Sea (CVE-67), Ranger (CV-4), and Saratoga (CV-3) during night flying qualifications and amphibious support training.

On 16 October, Tabberer sortied from Pearl Harbor with Task Group (TG) 12.7, a hunter/killer group built around Anzio (CVE-67), formerly Coral Sea (CVE67). Upon arrival at Eniwetok on the 23d, the ships joined Admiral Halsey’s 3d Fleet and, on 27 October, stood out of Eniwetok as TG 30.7. After stopping at Ulithi during the first three days of November, the task group headed for the 3d Fleet fueling group’s operating area to conduct antisubmarine sweeps. On 18 November, TG 30.7 registered its first kill when Tabberer’s sister-ship Lawrence C. Tavlor (DE-416) sent I-41 to the bottom after a coordinated depth charge attack with Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416). Following a replenishment period at Ulithi, Tabberer sortied with TG 30.7 on 9 December to resume antisubmarine sweeps of the Philippine Sea during Task Force 38’s Luzon strikes in support of the Mindoro landings.

On 17 December, as Tabberer was steaming in company with the 3d Fleet fueling group to the east of the Philippine Islands, rising wind and a choppy sea forced her to break off preparations to take on fuel. The barometer dropped precipitously as the weather grew worse. By evening, the little warship was fighting a full typhoon. During the night, Tabberer lost steerageway and could not fight her way out of the deep troughs. She frequently took rolls up to 60 degrees and, on several occasions, approached an angle of 72 degrees from the vertical.

The high winds and seas continued to batter her on the 18th. By 1830, her mast and radio antennae were gone. At 2130, a signalman trying to rig an emergency antenna sounded the “man overboard” alarm. Tabberer rushed to the rescue. Once on board, the sailor reported that he was from Hull (DD-360) and that his ship had gone down about noon that day. Thus, she was the first ship of the 3d Fleet to learn of the tragedy of 18 December 1944. Though unable to call for help, she immediately embarked upon a search for other survivors. Her rescue efforts continued through the night, all day on the 19th, and into the 20th. In all, she saved 55 officers and men both from Hull and Spence (DD512). Later, Tabberer was relieved by other units of the fleet, and they rescued an additional 36 men, a few of whom belonged to the crew of the typhoon’s third victim Monaghan (DD-354). Outstanding rescue efforts during the storm won several members of Tabberer’s crew Navy and Marin e Corps medals, Lt. Comdr. Plage, the Legion of Merit, and the ship, the Navy Unit Commendation.

On 21 December, the destroyer escort reentered Ulithi lagoon before heading back to Hawaii. She stopped at Eniwetok early in January 1945 and reached Oahu soon thereafter. Following a short availability, she stood out of Pearl Harbor on 29 January. She steamed via Eniwetok and Saipan to screen TF 38 during the air strikes in support of the marines who stormed ashore at Iwo Jima on 19 February. Tabberer remained in the Voleano Islands through the first week of Mareh, screening the carriers from enemy submarines and aircraft. Though the task force was subjected to several air attacks and carriers suffered kamikaze and bomb hits, Tabberer sustained no damage. On 7 March, she headed for the Philippines and entered San Pedro Bay Leyte, on the 12th.

From late March to early May, the destroyer escort cruised with various task groups of TF 38 during the invasion of Okinawa. Once again, she protected the American earriers from Japanese submarines and aircraft while their planes struck enemy positions. Although she operated continuously for 52 days and sighted many unidentified planes, the ship never came under attack. Frequently, she rejoined the Anzio hunter/killer group for night antisubmarine sweeps.

Tabberer put into Apra Harbor, Guam, on 11 May to replenish and make repairs. On the 23d, she departed again and rejoined Anzio for further antisubmarine operations on the sea lanes between Okinawa and the Marianas. On 31 May, Anzio planes scored a kill, and Tabberer assisted Oliver Mitchell (DE-417) in recovering evidence of their sueeess. Following a visit, lasting just over a fortnight, to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, she resumed antisubmarine sweeps with the Anzio task group. For the remainder of the war, she hunted Japanese submarines and protected the logistics group during the 3d Fleet’s final air assault on the Japanese home islands. During the final month of the war, she destroyed mines and rescued four d owned Anzio airerewmen.

After the cessation of hostilities on 15 August 1945, Tabberer remained in the Far East to support the occupation forces. She escorted ships between Okinawa; Jinsen, Korea, and Tientsin and Taku, China. She also destroyed mines in the Yellow Sea. On 22 December, the little warship departed Tsingtao, China, to return to the United States. Along the way, she made stops at Okinawa, Eniwetok, and Pearl Harbor before entering San Francisco on 15 January 1946. In April, she shifted to San Diego where she was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 24 April 1946.

Tabberer was recommissioned at San Diego on 7 April 1951, Lt. Comdr. Willard J. McNulty in command. In June, she changed home ports from San Diego to Newport, R.I., and in August reported for duty with the Atlantie Fleet. For the next nine years, she operated along the Atlantic seaboard from Key West, Florida, to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Frequently, she operated in the Caribbean area, often near Guantanamo Bay and Vieques Island. Tabberer participated in a variety of exercises and, on several occa sions, embarked Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen for their summer cruises. She left the western Atlantic only once during this period-in the fall of 1957-for a two-month deployment to the Mediterranean. After that, she resumed her operations along the east coast.
On 19 April 1959, the destroyer escort put into port for the last time. At Philadelphia, she began preparations for deactivation. Tabberer was placed out of commission, in reserve, in May 1960 and was berthed at Philadelphia for the remainder of her career. On 1 August 1972, her name was struck from the Navy list and, on 3 October 1973, she was sold for scrapping to Mr. David Hahn of Key West, Florida.
Tabberer earned four battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for service in World War II.

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Remembering Lieutenant (junior grade) John B. “Jughead” McDonald Jr.

Ensign McDonald’s nickname was Jughead according to excerpt from the book.

His name also appears here with Richard Harmer’s name…

Pages 167-168

The Japanese Fight Their Way Out

Apparently eleven Shokaku and six Zuikaku carrier bombers, three Shokaku and five Zuikaku Zeros survived the bomb runs against TF-16. However, many enemy aircraft bared the way out, including CAP F4Fs, IAP SBDs, returning search planes low on fuel, and strike planes. The first encounters in this phase of the battle took place at low altitude near TF-16. A set sequence of events cannot be given, necessitating an episodic treatment.

Fighting Five

Chick Harmer (VF-5’s XO) and wingman John McDonald of SCARLET 4 had contested the attacks of the lead pair of Shokaku carrier bombers. After chasing Seki’s wingman Imada into fierce AA, Harmer circled the black blizzard of shell bursts looking to ambush other dive bombers emerging lower down. Against one his above-rear run silenced the rear gunner, but the pilot reefed steeply in front, forcing him to roll out of the way. Seeing a large splash he thought perhaps that Aichi had succumbed. The next dive bomber turned the tables by charging hard up Harmer’s tail at 500 feet. Exhibiting excellent marksmanship, its pilot riddled the F4F’s fuselage and cockpit with sixteen to twenty 7.7-mm slugs and severely wounded Harmer in both thighs and the left ankle. More bullets bounced harmlessly off the armor plate behind his seat. Hurt and flying a battered airplane about to run out of gas, Harmer veered southeast toward the Saratoga. Meanwhile “Jughead” McDonald caught a carrier bomber that tried S-turns at 50 feet to avoid his tracers, but to no avail, as his full-deflection shot flamed the VB.



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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.


Collection John Kelly (courtesy Gunnar Kelly)

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

Faces but with just a name. 

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


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


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…

Documents…, and foremost his complete 1944 diary.

I just had to turn back time, and start writing on each of the 39 naval pilots 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. (Capt. H. W. Crews)

Before writing about VF(N)-101.

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Lieutenant (junior grade) Carlton B. Starkes

His name appears a few times in the book.


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Carlton B. Starkes, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier- based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron FIVE (VF-5), embarked from the U.S.S. SARATOGA (CV-3), in action against enemy Japanese forces while deployed over Guadalcanal and Tulagi, in the Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Born: September 27, 1914 at Cleveland, Ohio
Home Town: Churubusco, Indiana
Died: March 17, 1978

Find a Grave

More on him from this excerpt found in the book.

That afternoon low visibility separated the three carrier task forces. Fletcher needed to rendezvous them without breaking radio silence. Lt. (jg) Carl Starkes of VF-5 volunteered to find TF-16 and endured 4.0 miles of thick, low clouds. Missing the Enterprise, he used instruments to grope back through the soup. Ahead loomed the task force. Starkes swooped low over the Sam and dropped a message stating he could not find the Enterprise. A vigorously flashing signal light led him to think the message went astray, so he released a copy. Suddenly he realized with growing embarrassment that he was buzzing the Enterprise. She re-spotted her flight deck and instructed the F4F to land. Facing grinning greeters, Starkes gave the Saratoga’s position. “The Big E” responded with messages for Fletcher and also something less welcome: two SBDs to lead Starkes home. In the next morning news summary, her air officer observed, “A child who knows not its own mother is not so smart.” That chide was nothing in comparison to the ribbing Starkes faced from his VF-5 buddies.



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