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Location: /Squadron Patches/USN NAVY Squadrons

WWII Patch, USN, VP-203 VPB-203 Pluto

WWII Patch, USN, VP-203 VPB-203  Pluto

Product Information
WWII US Navy Squadron Patch
USN VP-203
USN VPB-203
Navy Patrol Squadron 203
Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 203
Walt Disney Design - Pluto the dog
4.5 inches


VPB-203 Lineage
Established as Patrol Squadron TWO HUNDRED THREE (VP-203) on 1 October 1942.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED THREE (VPB-203) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 30 June 1945.


Squadron Insignia and Nickname
-  Although a design had been submitted by VP-203 in 1943 featuring the Disney character Pluto, it was never approved by CNO. The squadron had failed to enclose a copyright waiver from Disney Studios and the squadron designation had not been removed from the drawing. The practice of using Disney-designed cartoon characters was quite common throughout the fleet, but the Navy was strict on adherence to the copyright provisions.

Nickname: Midnite Mariners, 1944–1945.


Chronology of Significant Events
1 Oct 1942:
VP-203 was established at NAS Norfolk, Va., as a medium seaplane patrol squadron flying the PBM-3C Mariner. While in training the squadron came under the operational control of PatWing-5. The squadron complement was 15 aircraft, three of which were spares.
10 Dec 1942–Feb 1943: A six-aircraft detachment of the squadron flew to NS San Juan, P.R., for a period of shakedown and ASW training, coming under the operational control of FAW-11. The remainder of the squadron joined the detachment at intervals over the next two weeks. The squadron’s first operational loss occurred on 31 December 1942 when Lieutenant (jg) E. M. Vogel crashed on takeoff in San Juan Bay, killing three of the crew. When aviation gasoline supplies ran short at San Juan, six aircraft were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for training on 31 January 1943. In February the squadron was transferred back to NAS Norfolk, Va. All of the aircraft arrived at Norfolk by 1 March, ready for return to operational status.
1 Mar–Jun 1943: VP-203 commenced regular operational duties under the operational control of FAW-5, escorting convoys and conducting ASW patrols. The first attack on a U-boat took place on 10 June 1943, but with negative results due to a defective bomb-release mechanism.
17 Jun 1943: The squadron’s PBM-3Cs underwent conversion to the “S” or “stripped” model. Turrets, armor plate and other extraneous gear were removed to make room for extra fuel and to lighten the aircraft to enable a greater range on patrols.
18 Jul 1943: Lieutenant Commander Morris D. Burns relieved Lieutenant Commander James R. Reedy as the squadron’s commanding officer. Commander Reedy and approximately half of the squadron pilots and plane crews detached to form a new PB4Y Liberator squadron, VB-110. Four crews from VP-209 and five from VP-211 were transferred to VP-203 to bring it back up to full manning.
1–25 Sep 1943: Attacks were made on U-boats on 1 and 4 September. Both obtained negative results. On 25 September, the squadron moved to a new home port at NAS Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y., placing the squadron under the operational control of FAW-9. Its principal duties remained the same as before, ASW and convoy escort.
4 Oct 1943: VP-203 received orders to deploy to NAF Aratu, Bahia, Brazil, to relieve VP-74. The squadron was then placed under the operational control of FAW-16. The squadron’s aircraft continued to arrive at Aratu through 23 November, a detachment of five aircraft was formed and sent to NAF Natal, Brazil, for advanced base operations. This group conducted sweeps out to 600 miles from shore.
5 Jan 1944: While on patrol Lieutenant S. V. Brown sighted a suspicious-looking merchant vessel. Subsequent investigation proved that the ship was actually the German blockade runner Burgenland. Omaha (CL 4) and Jouett (DD 396) were dispatched to the scene and sank the ship after a running gun battle.
16 Jan 1944:
VP-203 relocated its administrative headquarters to NAF Galeao, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with one detachment. One squadron detachment remained at NAF Natal and another at NAF Aratu, Brazil. The Aratu detachment rejoined the squadron at Galeao on 23 January.
4 Apr 1944: A U-boat was spotted on the surface at night using the wing-mounted Leigh searchlight. The aircraft made a strafing run, forcing the submarine to crash dive, but with negative results.
21 Apr 1944: Lieutenant (jg) W. N. Britton and his crew spotted 20 British sailors adrift in a small life raft, survivors of a torpedoed merchantman. Ironically, none of the 20 sailors in the raft had been harmed during their ordeal until Britton’s crew dropped supplies of food and water directly on the raft, knocking one man unconscious. The victims were safely picked up a short time later.
16 May 1944: The Natal detachment relocated to Aratu, then on to Florianoplis, Brazil, for advanced base operations. Tender support was provided by Matagorda (AVP 22). These operations were discontinued on 30 July, and they rejoined the Aratu detachment. On 14 August the remainder of the squadron, including the headquarters group, joined the detachment at Aratu. One detachment remained at Galeao until 5 November.
20 Jul 1944: The squadron’s second operational loss occurred when Lieutenant Livio DeBonis and his crew failed to return from a routine patrol. A merchant ship later confirmed that an aircraft crashed, with no survivors, at coordinates matching DeBonis’ patrol sector.
4 Oct 1944: Four VPB-203 crews were detached from the squadron and ordered to duty at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The losses were not filled, decreasing the squadron aircraft complement from 15 to a total of 9.
21 Nov 1944: One of the squadron aircraft was lost en route from Natal to Aratu during an intense tropical thunderstorm. Aircraft wreckage, an oil slick and empty life rafts were found at sea, but no survivors.
5 Jan 1945: A detachment of aircraft was sent to NAF Aratu, Bahia, Brazil, with tender services provided by Rehoboth (AVP 50) and later Matagorda (AVP 22). A second detachment was formed on the 21st at Bahia based on Rockaway (AVP 29) and a third detachment was sent to Natal, Brazil.
29 May 1945: VPB-203 was relieved for return to San Juan, P.R., where all of the squadron aircraft were turned over to HEDRON-11. Squadron personnel were transported aboard U. S. Grant (AP 29) to New Orleans, La., then by train to NAS Norfolk, Va., where the squadron was disestablished on 30 June 1945.


Major Overseas Deployments

10 Dec 1942 1 Mar 1942 FAW-11 San Juan PBM-3C Carib
4 Oct 1943 * FAW-16 Aratu PBM-3S SoLant
16 Jan 1944 * FAW-16 Galeao PBM-3S SoLant
16 Jan 1944 * FAW-16 Natal PBM-3S SoLant
16 May 1944 * FAW-16 Florianopolis PBM-3S SoLant Matagorda (AVP 22)
14 Aug 1944 * FAW-16 Aratu PBM-3S SoLant
5 Jan 1945 * FAW-16 Bahia PBM-3S SoLant Rehoboth (AVP 50) Matagorda (AVP 22)
5 Jan 1945 * FAW-16 Bahia PBM-3S SoLant Rockaway (AVP 29)
5 Jan 1945 29 May 1945 FAW-16 Natal PBM-3S SoLant
29 May 1945 Jun 1945 FAW-11 San Juan PBM-3S Carib
* Continued combat deployment in South America, moving from base to base.


Aircraft Assignment
PBM-3C Oct 1942
PBM-3S Jun 1943


Home Port Assignments
NAS Norfolk, Va. 1 Oct 1942
NS San Juan, P.R. Dec 1942
NAS Norfolk, Va. 1 Mar 1943
NAS Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y. 25 Sep 1943
NAF Aratu, Brazil 4 Oct 1943
NAF Galeo, Brazil 16 Jan 1944
NAF Aratu, Brazil 14 Aug 1944
NS San Juan, P.R. 29 May 1945
NAS Norfolk, Va. Jun 1945

Price: $150.00


Product Code: PatchUSN.203.VP203
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