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Location: /Squadron Patches/USN NAVY Squadrons

WWII Patch, USN, VF-27

WWII Patch, USN, VF-27

Product Information
WWII US Navy Squadron Patch
USN VF-27
Navy Fighter Squadron 27
Princeton CVL-23
Kangaroos

5.25 inches

Established as VGF-27           22 Apr 1942
Redesignated VF-27               1   Mar 1943
Disestablished                        26  Nov 1945

Squadron # "Nickname" Start End A/C Carrier/Base Top Ace (kills w/ sqn) CO (kills w/ sqn) Kills #
Aces
VF-27 May 1944 Oct 1944 F6F Princeton CVL-23 James Shirley (12) Fred Bardshar (7.5) 134   10
F6F Hellcat  "Paoli Local"  VF-27 USS Princeton - Ensign Drury then reported to VF-27 in California in late December 1943. VF-27 sailed to Hawaii where they qualified on the USS Princeton in the F6F Hellcat. While in Hawaii they painted the tiger cat face on their Hellcats. It was strict Navy policy to keep the appearance of their aircraft free of artwork except for small squadron emblems or aircraft names. Other services allowed their aviators elaborate artwork privileges. The Tiger Cat face painted on the cowling gave the Hellcat a frightful appearance. Paul’s number 10, Paoli Local, must have looked hideous to the Japanese pilots.

Paul saw combat for the first time on September 21st 1944 in the first carrier raids over Luzon. Ensign Drury and his fellow squadron mates engaged the Japanese over Manila in a wild dogfight. Paul started his trek towards being a Navy ace with three and one half victories that day. Destroying one Zero, two Tony’s, and sharing a Hamp with his division leader, Carl Brown.

His next combat came on the morning of October 24th as his squadron, were scrambled off to deal with an enemy observation aircraft that had been tailing them for the past several days. Paul and the other pilots were assigned to whatever fighter that was ready to fly. Paul took off in another Hellcat other than his “Paoli Local”.

The flight consisted of two groups of four aircraft. Paul was flying wing to Red Shirley. Their carrier radar operators vectored them from one bogie after another bogie. Each time they shot down the snooping enemy aircraft. Suddenly a call came in for both flights of four to go at full speed to intercept another flight of bogies. As they neared the location of the enemy, Paul saw the sky blackened with Japanese aircraft. 
Paul and his fellow pilots were to take part in the greatest sea and air battle in history. The Battle for Leyte Gulf. Even though Paul and the others were low on fuel and ammunition, they charged the incoming enemy.
After downing two Zero’s and a Tojo, Ensign Drury landed back on the Princeton as an Ace. Paul and his fellow pilots were being debriefed in the ready room,  when a Japanese pilot dropped his bomb on the Princeton.  Below the Princeton’s flight deck, a squadron of torpedo bombers had just been filled with gas and fitted with torpedoes. They were ready to be lifted up to the flight deck for launching when the enemy bomb penetrated the flight deck and exploded among them. One by one the loaded planes exploded.  Paul and the other pilots were sent to the flight deck to stand ready to fly off their fighters if things turn bad for the carrier. Before they could even strap themselves into their Hellcats, internal explosions had destroyed both of the ship’s elevators. The bowels of the ship were an inferno. The demise of the Princeton was inevitable. With the Princeton in flames, the Captain gave orders to abandon ship. Paul and the others took to the sea and began swimming toward the destroyer Irwin. Paul and the others pulled them selves up a cargo rope on the side of the rolling ship. As Paul neared the top, a sailor on the Irvin grabbed him and tossed him over the side like cargo turning their attention to the next sailor behind him.  To help with the fires, the Cruiser Birmingham pulled along side of the Princeton. A large explosion rocked the doomed carrier and the crew of the Birmingham suffered heavy causalities. Over 200 of the Birmingham’s crew were killed and another 400 injured trying to help the burning carrier. Paul and most of the other survivors of the Princeton were transferred to the Birmingham and sent back to Pearl Harbor.  The Birmingham and other ships pulled close to the Princeton to help fight the fires when another air raid alert came. Exhausted, Paul had just went to sleep during the mayhem. Awaken by the air raid alert; all Paul could think about was having to swim to another ship if the Irvin was struck.  Paul remembers that this seemed to be the longest day of his life. At 4:00 a m this morning he had been launched off the Princeton’s deck into the dark of night and he had yet had any food or rest.  With the air raid alert over, the Birmingham pulled back to the Princeton. During the separation of the air raid, the fires had reached mare aviation fuel and ammunition.  Resuming their work, the fire crews of the Birmingham were caught by a  large explosion that rocked the doomed carrier. The decks of both ships were striped with flying debris, killing 241 of the Birmingham’s crew wounding another 414.  Orders were giver for the Irwin to sink the Princeton with torpedoes. However their torpedo tubes had been damaged and one missile went astray and another turned around and came back to the Irwin. The Captain turned the ship and the errant torpedo passed behind the ship.

Order was then given to the Reno to sink the carrier. As Paul and the others watched, the once mighty Princeton was enveloped in a huge mushroom cloud. As the cloud dispersed, the Princeton was gone. It was now 6:00 p.m., and Paul was indeed ready for rest. Paul and most of the other survivors of the Princeton were then transferred to the damaged Birmingham so be taken back to Pearl Harbor.

Paul returned to the States and helped reformed VF-27 abroad the USS Independence. The war ended with Ensign Drury and his squadron flying over Tokyo Bay as General  Mac Arthur accepted the  surrender of the Japanese Leaders on the deck of the battleship Missouri.

Drury left the service after the war credited with six and one half confirmed aerial victories. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Gold Star, and the Air Metal with one Gold Star.
*********************
Grumman F6F Hellcat US Navy VF-27 Ace Lt. James Red Shirley. Shirley was credited with 12.5 enemy victories during WWII Pacific Theater of Operations mostly based on the USS Princeton. The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft developed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat in United States Navy service. Although the F6F bore a family resemblance to the Wildcat, it was a completely new design powered by a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800. Some tagged it as the "Wildcat's big brother". The Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair were the primary USN fighters during the second half of World War II.

Price: $200.00 $175.00


Product Code: PatchUSN.027.VF27
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