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Location: /Squadron Patches/USN NAVY Squadrons

WWII Patch, USN, VF-2B VF-3 VF-6 VF-6B VF-31, #2

WWII Patch, USN, VF-2B VF-3 VF-6 VF-6B VF-31, #2

Product Information
WWII US Navy Squadron Patch #2
USN VF-3
USN VF-6
Navy Fighter Squadron 3
Navy Fighter Squadron 6
VF= Fighting Squadron
Felix The Cat
Tom Catters
4.75 inches

The famous “Felix flop” when VF-3 and VF-6 exchanged numbers in 1943 which resulted in two units bearing the same Felix the Cat emblem.

From wikipedia: Felix the Cat is a cartoon character created in the silent film era. His black body, white eyes, and giant grin, coupled with the surrealism  of the situations in which his cartoons place him, combine to make Felix one of the most recognized cartoon characters alongside Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye, Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo and Woody Woodpecker. Felix was the first character from animation to attain a level of popularity sufficient to draw movie audiences

Given the character's unprecedented popularity and the fact that his name was partially derived from the Latin word for "lucky", some rather notable individuals and organizations adopted Felix as a mascot. The first of these was a Los Angeles Chevrolet  dealer and friend of Pat Sullivan named Winslow B. Felix who first opened his showroom in 1921. The three-sided neon sign of Felix Chevrolet,[14]  with its giant, smiling images of the character, is today one of LA's best-known landmarks, standing watch over both Figueroa Street and the Harbor Freeway. Others who adopted Felix included the 1922 New York Yankees and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who took a Felix doll with him on his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

This popularity persisted. In the late 1920s, the U.S. Navy's Bombing Squadron Two (VB-2B) adopted a unit insignia consisting of Felix happily carrying a bomb with a burning fuse. They retained the insignia through the 1930s when they became a fighter squadron under the designations VF-6B and, later, VF-3, whose members Edward O'Hare and John Thach became famous Naval Aviators in World War II. After the world war a US Navy fighter squadron currently designated VFA-31 replaced its winged meat-cleaver logo with the same insignia, after the original Felix squadron had been disbanded. The carrier-based night-fighter squadron, nicknamed the "Tomcatters," remained active under various designations continuing through the present day and Felix still appears on both the squadron's cloth jacket patches and aircraft, carrying his bomb with its fuse burning.

A Brewster F2A-1 Buffalo from aircraft carrier Saratoga
(CV-3).
Note "Felix the Cat" insignia of VF-3 squadron, consisting of
Felix happily carrying a bomb with a burning fuse. Fom wikipedia:
A Brewster F2A-1 Buffalo from aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-3).
Note "Felix the Cat" insignia of VF-3 squadron, consisting of Felix happily carrying a bomb with a burning fuse.


Squadron # "Nickname" Start End A/C Carrier/Base Top Ace (kills w/ sqn) CO (kills w/ sqn) Kills #
Aces
VF-3   "Felix the Cat" Dec-41 May-42 F4F Lexington CV-2 Butch O'Hare (5) Jimmy Thach 18   1
May-42 Jun-42 F4F Yorktown CV-5 Elbert McCuskey (5) Jimmy Thach 34.5 1
VF-6 Aug-43 Feb-44 F6F various CV's Alexander Vraciu (9) H.W. Harrison 37.5 0
Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare (March 13, 1914 – November 26, 1943) was a naval aviator of the United States Navy who on February 20, 1942 became the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Butch O'Hare's final action took place on the night of November 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O'Hare's F6F Hellcat was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.

A few years later, O'Hare was honored when Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, suggested a name change of Chicago's Orchard Depot Airport as tribute to Butch O'Hare. On September 19, 1949, the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport. The airport displays a Grumman F4F-3[1][2] museum aircraft replicating the one flown by Butch O'Hare during his Medal of Honor flight. The Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display was recovered virtually intact from the bottom of Lake Michigan, where it sank after a training accident in 1943 when it went off the training aircraft carrier USS Wolverine (IX-64). The Air Classics Museum restored the aircraft in 2001 to look like the exact one that O'Hare flew. The restored Wildcat is exhibited in Terminal Two at the west end of the ticketing lobby to honor O'Hare International Airport's namesake.

   LT Edward Butch O'Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter carrying the famous "Felix the Cat" squadron insignia on this photo (1942).  The plane is marked with five Japanese flags, representing the five enemy bombers he was credited with shooting down.

When Butch finished his naval aviation training on May 2, 1940, he was assigned to USS Saratoga's Fighter Squadron Three (VF-3). O'Hare now trained on the Grumman F3F and then graduated to the Brewster F2A Buffalo. Lieutenant John Thach, then executive officer of VF-3, discovered O'Hare's exceptional flying abilities and closely mentored the promising young pilot.  Thach, who would later develop the Thach Weave aerial combat tactic, emphasized gunnery in his training. In 1941, more than half of all VF-3 pilots, including O'Hare, earned the "E" for gunnery excellence.

In early 1941, Fighting Squadron Three transferred to USS Enterprise (CV-6), while carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) underwent maintenance and overhaul work at Bremerton Navy Yard. Butch was called to duty the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

On Sunday evening, January 11, 1942, as Butch and other VF-3 officers ate dinner in the wardroom, the carrier USS Saratoga was damaged by a Japanese torpedo hit while patrolling southwest of Hawaii. She spent five months in repair on the west coast, so VF-3 squadron transferred to the USS Lexington (CV-2) on January 31.


Medal of Honor flight

O'Hare's most famous flight occurred during the Pacific War on February 20, 1942. LT O'Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when a second wave of Japanese bombers were attacking his aircraft carrier Lexington.  The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman "Duff" Dufilho. As the Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking Bettys nine miles out at 1700. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O'Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear facing guns for mutual protection. O'Hare's Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing.
O'Hare's initial maneuver was a high-side diving attack employing accurate deflection shooting. He accurately placed bursts of gunfire into a Betty's right engine and wing fuel tanks; when the stricken craft on the right side of the formation abruptly lurched to starboard, he ducked to the other side of the V formation and aimed at the enemy bomber on the extreme left. When he made his third and fourth firing passes, the Japanese planes were close enough to the American ships for them to fire their anti-aircraft guns. The five survivors managed to drop their ordnance, but all ten 250kg bombs missed. O'Hare's hits were so concentrated, the nacelle of a Betty literally jumped out of its mountings, after O'Hare blew up the leading Betty's port engine. O'Hare believed he had shot down five bombers, and damage a sixth. Lieutenant Commander Thach arrived at the scene with other pilots of the flight, later reporting that at one point he saw three of the enemy bombers falling in flames at the same time.
By shooting down five bombers O'Hare became a flying ace, was selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander, and became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

On July 15, 1943, VF-3 swapped designations with VF-6 squadron.
Equipped with the highly successful follow-on to the Wildcat, the new Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, two-thirds of VF-6 (twenty-four F6F-3s) under Butch O'Hare's command embarked on August 22, 1943 on the light carrier USS Independence (CVL-22). The arrival of the F6Fs with their powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines in late 1943 combined with the deployment of the new Essex class carriers and the Independence class carriers immediately gave the U.S. Pacific Fleet air supremacy wherever the Fast Carrier Force operated. The Hellcat's first combat mission occurred on August 31, 1943, in a strike against Marcus Island. The F6F did well against Japanese fighters, and proved that with the right tactics and teamwork the Japanese Zero need not be considered a superior enemy. VF-6's combat debut on the Independence also went reasonably well. For his actions in battles near Marcus Island on August 31, 1943, O'Hare was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. For his actions in subsequent missions near Wake Island on October 5, 1943, O'Hare was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross.
On October 10, 1943, O'Hare flew with VF-6 again in the air strikes against Wake Island. On this mission Lt.(jg) Alex Vraciu, the future ace, was his wingman - both Butch and Vraciu scored that day. When they came across an enemy formation Butch took the outside airplane and Vraciu took the inside plane. Butch went below the clouds to get a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero and Vraciu lost him, so Vraciu kept an eye on a second Zero that went to Wake Island and landed. Vraciu strafed  the Zero on the ground, then saw a Betty bomber and shot it down. Upon returning to the carrier, O'Hare asked Vraciu where he went and Vraciu knew then that he should have definitely stayed with his leader. Alex Vraciu later told  after the war, "O'Hare taught many of the squadron members little things that would later save their lives. One example was to swivel your neck before starting a strafing run to make sure enemy fighters were not on your tail." Vraciu also learned from O'Hare the "highside pass" used for attacking the Japanese Mitsubishi Betty bombers. The highside technique was used to avoid the fatal 20-mm fire of the Betty's tail gunner. The Wake Island raid would be the last occasion Butch would lead VF-6 in battle. According to orders dated September 17, 1943, October found Butch O'Hare as Commander Air Group (CAG) commanding Air Group Six, embarked on USS Enterprise (CV-6). Functioning as CAG, O'Hare was given command of the entire Enterprise air group: F6F fighters, SBD Dauntless dive bombers, TBF Avenger torpedo planes and 100 pilots.

Now overseeing three squadrons, O'Hare still insisted that everyone call him "Butch." O'Hare's VF-6 squadron would "still stay broken up" among three light aircraft carriers, the squadron had made itself just too useful filling out the light carrier air groups, and AirPac had no well-trained replacements on hand. As a result, Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2) boarded the USS Enterprise from November 1943 and became now Butch's new Fighting Squadron. While he readied his new air group, he suffered what he intended as only a temporary separation from his beloved VF-6 "Felix the Cat" Squadron.

Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942
Composition of U. S. Forces - United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, Commander in Chief
Carrier Striking Force - Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, USN
Task Force 17 (TF 17)   Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, USN
Task Group 17.5 (TG 17.5) -  Carrier Group  -  Capt. Elliot Buckmaster, USN
USS Yorktown (CV-5) -Capt. Elliot Buckmaster, USN  -  Damaged by Japanese aircraft during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942, and sank after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-168, 7 June 1942
USS Yorktown Air Group - Lt. Comdr. Oscar Pederson, USN
Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3) Lt. Comdr. John S. Thach, USN  -  25 Grumman F4F-4 (Wildcat)
Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3) Lt. Comdr. Maxwell F. Leslie, USN  -  18 Douglas SBD-3 (Dauntless)
Scouting Squadron 3 (VS-3) Lt. Wallace C. Short Jr., USN  -  19 Douglas SBD-3 (Dauntless)
Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) Lt. Comdr. Lance E. Massey, USN  -  13 Douglas TBD-1 (Devastator)


Mission
Squadron insignia and nickname

The VF-6 squadron was originally known as the Shooting Stars. The original "Felix Cat Squadron" was VF-3. When the two squadrons swapped designations, both squadrons claimed the "Felix" mascot and call sign, which caused controversy for the coming three years. Finally in November 1946, VF-6 was decommissioned and the Chief of Naval Operations approved the adoption of the Felix the Cat name and call sign for VF-3A’s exclusive use.

The emblem is the famous cartoon character Felix the Cat, running with a large spherical bomb with a lighted fuse. The yellow field and outline were omitted from the aircraft and four stars at the end of a pair of sweeps were added. This emblem can be seen on the fuselage of the aircraft above the wing.

Several well-known aviators have flown with Felix on their shoulders, including Charles Lindbergh and Butch O'Hare.
The nickname Tomcatters was adopted in 1948.

History
Two US Navy squadrons have held the designation VF-31. The first to be designated VF-31 was in existence from May 1943 to Oct 1945 and is not related to the subject of this article. The second VF-31 has a direct lineage to the current VFA-31 " Tomcatters".

Early years
VFA-31, originally established as VF-1B on July 1, 1935 flying the Boeing F4B, is the second oldest active US Navy squadron behind VFA-14 (1919).

On 1 July 1937, the squadron combined with VF-8B and was redesignated VF-6, flying the Grumman F3F. Between the years 1937 and 1943 VF-6 flew the F3F-1 and two variants of the Grumman F4F and ended with the F4F-4.

On 15 July 1943, VF-6 swapped designations with VF-3 and began flying the F6F Hellcat.

Through the years the Tomcatters and their predecessors have served on many of the Navy's aircraft carriers, including the first, the USS Langley; the second, USS Lexington; and the sixth, USS Enterprise. They were aboard Enterprise  during the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as the battles of Wake Island, Marcus Island, Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Eastern Solomon Islands. The squadron also saw aerial combat over the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, and China.

On 7 August 1948, VF-3A was redesignated VF-31 Tomcatters. For almost four years, the Tomcatters flew the F9F Panther, the squadron's first jet aircraft.

Price: $90.00


Product Code: PatchUSN.003.VF3VF6.v2
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