FIGHTING 27 HISTORY
    Established at NAS Norfolk,VA in April 1942 flying the Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, VGF-27 became one of the most traveled Navy squadrons of the war. Following OPERATION TORCH against French Morocco in November 1942, the squadron remained aboard the USS Suwannee as part of CVEG-27 through most of the next eight months. Upon redesigination as VF-27 in March 1943, the squadron operated their Wildcats ashore at Guadalcanal until July, except for a brief period at sea, again aboard the USS Suwannee, in June. Among the 12 victories credited during April through July, were the first for future standouts Cecil harris, and Sam Silber.
     After refitting with the Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat in the U.S. in early 1944, and intense training in Hawaii during March, and April 1944, VF-27 embarked aboard the USS Princeton CVL-23. This would prove to be one of the most spectacular Light Carrier cruises of the war. Under Lcdr. Ernest Wood, the "Cat Mouthed" Hellcats flew warm-up missions against Saipan, and Tinian, on June 11th and 12th of 1944. Within a week the squadron participated in the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", on June 19th. The Hellcats of VF-27 claimed 30 kills against Japanese aircraft attempting to strike Task Force 58. Squadron commander Lt. Cdr Wood was lost on this day however, his replacement was Lcdr. Fred Bardshar. Future aces Bill Lamb, Dick Stambook, and Gordon Stanley splashed four enemy aircraft apiece during the operation. Lcdr. Bardshar led VF-27 on a fighter sweep over Manila on Sept 21st, with VF-27 claiming 38 victories over IJN, and IJAAF aircraft. The days bag included 4.5 kills for Lt. John Rodgers, and 4 kills for Lt. Jim "Red" Shirley.
After strikes against Formosa in mid- October, the
Princeton was back in the Leyte Gulf as part of Task Force 38.3 on 24 October. Near Pollilo Island in the eastern part of the gulf VF-27 wrecked havoc on the Japanese, destroying 36 enemy fighters that day. Four pilots emerged as "Aces in a Day" in this engagement. They were Lt's Carl Brown, and Jim Shirley, plus Lt. (jg) Gene Townsend, and Ensign Tom Conroy.
However upon return to the fleet, "Sweet P", the
USS Princeton was found afire and sinking. At 9:38 that morning a lone JUDY dive bomber appeared suddenly out of thick clouds and dropped a single bomb on the Princeton's flight deck. The bomb exploded amidst fueld and armed Grumman TBF Avengers on the hanger deck. The ship was rocked by multiple explosions, seven hours later gutted by fire the Princeton was scuttled by American torpedoes. VF-27's 5 month war cruise was over. Of the 136 victories credited during the deployment, a staggering 104 occured on three days. A record unbeaten by any other CVL fighter squadron during the war. Lcdr. Bardshar reformed the squadron in time to return to the Western Pacific abaord the carrier USS Independance. One more victory was scored before the war ended. VF-27 officially disbanded Nov 26, 1945.

Chronology:   Apr 22, 1942 Established as VGF-27 at NAS Norfolk VA
                      Mar 1, 1943 Redesignated VF-27
                      Oct 26, 1945 Squadron disbanded

Deployments: Suwannee CVE-27         Oct. 42-  Feb. 43  18X F4F-4 Wildcats
                       Guadalcanal, S.I.            Mar. 43-  Jul. 43  18X F4F-4 Wildcats
                       Princeton CVL-23           May.44- Oct. 44  24X F6F-3, and F6F5 Hellcats
                       Independance CVL-22     Jul.  44-  Sept 45 24X F6F-5, and F6F-5P Hellcats

Combat Record: 136 aerial victories, 64 destroyed on the ground. 10 squadron Aces. 7 pilots lost                             on deployments.

Top Squadron Ace: Lt. Carl A. Brown, Jr., 10.5 Kills


                                                       "THE CATS MOUTH"

    
Pilots Carl Brown, Richard Stambrook, and Robert Burnell, designed the cat-mouth markings during VF-27's training at Kahului Naval Air Station, Maui, Hawaii, in March and April 1944. Each of the squadrons pilots helped with the painting, but Burnell, the artist of the squadron, did most of the work.
     All 24 of VF-27s F6F Hellcats were so marked when the squadron embarked aboard the light carrier
USS Princeton on May 29, 1944. Nine VF-27 Hellcats were airborne when the Princeton was hit, all nine landed safely on other carriers in the Task Force. Other commanders were not amused by the funny markings on VF-27's Hellcats. The "Cats Mouth" markings were promptly painted out as per USN regulations. So ended a legend in U.S. Naval Aviation.
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