The US Navy’s top ace of World War II, David McCampbell has several interesting claims to fame.
After the jump, a brief look at the ace and his most successful mount.
David McCampbell joined the Navy and became a carrier pilot before World War II. When the war broke out he was serving as the Landing Signals Officer on the USS Wasp. As such he was in the Atlantic and Mediterranean for the early months of the war. He was still LSO on the Wasp when it transferred to the Pacific until it was sunk in September of 1942.
A year later he was given command of Fighting Fifteen (VF-15) that was working up for assignment on the new USS Essex. He had been made Group Commander (that means he was in charge of the Fighting, Bombing and Torpedo Squadrons on the same ship) during that ship’s first war cruise. Although most group commanders flew with their torpedo squadrons (longer range aircraft with extra crew for radio and navigation help) Commander McCampbell continued to lead his Fighting Squadron personally.
During the Mariana’s Turkey Shoot he scored seven kills on two sorties. Four months later he had the best day of any American Fighter pilot. Cmdr McCampbell and his wingman intercepted 60 Japanese aircraft and destroyed 15 of them. That was 9 kills on one mission for McCampbell, an American record. He landed with only two rounds of ammunition remaining. David McCampbell was the only American ace to have two “Ace in a Day” missions (five kills or more on a single mission). And his Air Group Fifteen destroyed over 650 enemy aircraft, a record for a single tour.
This is the Hasegawa kit of “Minsi III”. This is the plane Cmdr McCampbell flew in the later part of his tour and in which he had his 9 kill mission. There are few external clues to distinguish an F6F-5 from an F6F-3; the biggest differences were the addition of water-ethanol boost to the engine and spring tabs on the ailerons for improved maneuverability. There were several other minor detail differences; but I find it amusing that the most significant change to the viewer is just the color. The Navy coincidentally changed their camouflage order from a three tone scheme to over-all Navy Blue at the same time Grumman was switching from -3 to -5 production. So the color of the paint is literally the first indicator of what version Hellcat we’re looking at.