combat air patrol

Sea Harrier XZ 499 of No 800 Naval Air Squadron takes off from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes for Combat Air Patrol. The two aircraft on either side are GR 3 Harriers of No 1 (F) Squadron RAF. HMS Hermes was the Flagship of the British Task Force.

Dedicated to the “Cactus Air Force”, this painting pays tribute to the USMC ace Joe Foss. Joe’s 20th air combat victory was an Imperial Japanese Navy G4M Betty Bomber, claimed on 12th November 1942 during the fight for Guadalcanal, whilst he was flying an F4F Wildcat. 

 The Japanese sent in 16 Betty Bombers and 30 covering Zeroes to attack American transports full of infantry.  Joe Foss and his Wildcats were flying a combat air patrol as top cover and dived headlong into the attackers, flying right down to the Betty Bombers on the deck.

 Showing his aggressive close-in fighter tactics and uncanny gunnery skills, Joe Foss hauled to within 100 yards of the nearest bomber and fired at the starboard engine, which spouted flame. 

 The G4M tried a water landing, caught a wingtip and tumbled into the sea. 

The painting captures the moment that the stricken Betty Bomber struggled to keep airborne and the Wildcat soared away, victory assured. This makes a wonderfully striking composition. Captain Joe Foss was later credited with 26 aerial victories and became the first Marine Corps fighter pilot to win the Medal of Honor

USS Enterprise (CV-6) prepares to launch aircraft during the Battle of Midway, June 4th, 1942. Though her TBD “Devastators” were slaughtered at the hands of Japanese combat air patrol, the SBD “Dauntless” dive bombers of Scouting Six and Bombing Six claimed sole responsibility for the sinking of the Japanese carriers Kaga and Akagi. Enterprise would go on to have the most illustrious career of any ship in the Second World War.

Fighting Squadron Sixteen (VF-16) F6F Hellcat pilots on board the USS Lexington (CV 16) celebrate after shooting down 17 of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa in November of 1943.
Pilots are L - R: Ens. William J. Seyfferle; Ltjg. Alfred L. Frendberg; Lcdr. Paul D. Buie; Ens. John W. Bartol; Ltjg. Dean D. Whitmore; Ltjg. Francis M. Fleming; Ltjg. Eugene R. Hanks; Ens. E.J. Rucinski; Ltjg. R.G. Johnson and Ltjg. Sven Rolfsen.
The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Paul D. Buie, would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions at Tarawa:
“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Commander Paul Douglas Buie (NSN: 0-72438), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commanding Officer of Fighting Squadron SIXTEEN (VF-16) during interception of a large formation of Japanese fighter aircraft in the vicinity of Mille Island on 23 November 1943.
"He led a combat air patrol of twelve Hellcats against a force of 21 to 23 Japanese fighter planes and personally shot down two Zeros in this action. In a similar action off Mille Island on 24 November 9143, he led his twelve Hellcats in aerial combat against 15 to 20 fighters and 2 bombers and personally shot down one fighter in combat.
"His leadership, courage, and aggressiveness throughout these actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Cmdr. Buie would also receive the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and 2 more Distinguished Flying Crosses by the war’s end.
The second pilot from the right, with his fist in the air, is Dick Johnson, who shot down his third Japanese plane that day and overall, would have 3 confirmed destroyed, and 1 to 4 probably destroyed planes. On December 4, 1943, he would be listed missing in action in a mission to Kwajalien (Roi-Namur). Dick’s plane is likely one of over 150 airplanes that rest in the waters surrounding the island.
The Pistol Packin’ Airedales VF-16 squadron would produce 7 aces during World War 2.