USNavy training units markings

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by CATCH 22, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    #1 CATCH 22, Jan 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
    Hi everybody!
    There is an interesting photo of 2 TBF-1 flying over the ocean - from the polish monograph Grumman/Eastern TBF-TBM Avenger, part 1 (AJ Press, 2001) :
    [​IMG]
    The photo is dated "second half of 1943", which is basically correct based on the red outlined national insignia. The a/cs are in the old 2-tone camo with overpainted national insignia in 2 of the old 6 positions. I guess the 2 remaining insignia on the wings (top and bottom) have the white bars added, but not outlined (IMHO on the second a/c the bars are visible). As per the above mentioned book these are some training squadron "Avengers". The partially overpainted old code A7 on the second a/c and the still existing A9 (in yellow) are well recognizible. The new code S8 is applied in white, but the new S9 is written in chalk I guess.
    Does anybody have the information which training unit is this and when was the transition made from A to S code letter?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I’ll just make some guesses. Maybe this will help narrow down some research. This squadron is likely out of NAS Miami, or right out of that area. There were a number of different fields, there. This picture is likely over the Atlantic, although it could be over the Gulf. This is their training in their combat aircraft, after their SNJs.
     
  3. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    VBF-13, thanks for your respond.
    So you think this could be an OTU, rather than an ATU flying the "Avengers"?
    According to this site in Miami resp. in Miami Beach there was a Naval Air Gunners School and a Navigation Training Unit only. But there are much more in the whole state of Florida so I can try with them too. In fact I already started checking the 2 volumes of the Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, but with no success so far.
    Regards!
     
  4. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know exactly where your picture was taken but I do know they did more than just gunnery and navigation out of Miami. Look up Master Field and Opalocka, which were near there. This is my Dad taking his dive-bombing training out of there. That consisted of navigation, of course, but that was just a small part of it. When my Dad was there, they lost an SBD on a night navigation hop, it just disappeared off the map, pilot and crew lost. I had always wondered what the M-S marking on this aircraft meant. I never thought it might be a reference to the training unit, until I read your post, but I guess it might be.
     

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  5. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    #5 CATCH 22, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
    VBF-13, thank you for the nice photo from your personal album. I can even see the training bombs under the wings of your dad's "Dauntless"! (BTW my favorite USNavy a/c from the WWII). I think the time frame is different here. Was your dad in the training school in 1944 or even 1945? AFAIK the 2-letter codes were used after the alphanumerics. In this case the first letter identifies the school (M for Master Field?) and the second is for the type of training (S could be scouting? - not sure). I remember this detail very well, being a fan of the lost Flight 19. The a/c's than were coded F-T:
    07-Flight19-Samesquad-106.jpg
    The F is the field designator for Ft. Lauderdale and the T indicates Torpedo Training Unit. I remember the early codes with the letter+number were just given to the schools in some order and eventually the East coast had the first half of the alphabet and the West coast resp. the second, but I forgot this details already. E.g. a W was a letter designator for a training unit in California.
    BTW I found a photo of an "Avenger" coded S83 and named "The Queen of Rabaul", but I think this is a completely different designation and not of a training unit.
    Avenger S83.jpg
     
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  6. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, CATCH 22, I'm impressed! Thank you very much for this. You nailed it. My picture was taken in late 1944, and it was out of Master Field.

    I can't thank you enough for this information. I wish I can help you further in your research, but I just plumb don't know enough. Thanks for that picture of 106 F-T, and that explanation on the markings, I'm keeping it with dear old Dad's records. Every little bit of knowledge helps.
     
  7. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    #7 CATCH 22, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
    VBF-13, you are welcome! But I must thank you for the shared memories too. And...apologize for the wrong guess! Half of my "explanation" was wrong: M was not assigned to Master Field - see below.
    As I wrote before, I remember I've already seen all this 2-letter abbreviations and their meaning, but I couldn't remember where and when. I started checking all my books and notes and (Thanks God!) I found the data. Here it is:
    1. One or two characters designate the Naval Air Station and the number of the training unit (if more than one). If there was only one training unit a single letter designated the Air Station to which an a/c was assigned (2 exceptions with 2 letters see below): The assigned letters were:
    J = Jacksonville
    M = Miami
    B = St Simons Island (Brunswick)
    D = Daytona Beach
    ME = Melbourne
    V = Vero Beach
    F = Fort Lauderdale
    L = Lake City
    DE = Deland
    S = Sanford
    R = Banana River
    K = Key West (initially)
    K = Beaufort, SC (later)
    E = Edenton, SC (USMC)
    G = Green Grove Springs, FL
    C = Cecil Field, FL
    2. One letter indicated the type of Operational Unit resp. the a/c type:
    F = Fighter
    S = Scout Bomber
    T = Torpedo Bomber
    P = Patrol Bomber
    B = Landplane Bomber
    N = Miscellaneous Trainer (e.g. Navigation, Instrument etc.)
    3. The number after the two letters (painted on the wings in a group with the letters, but sometimes separately on the fuselage) denotes the number of the a/c in the unit. For example:
    Markings training units - F4F.jpg
    This is the 48-th a/c from a fighter OTU (F) in NAS Miami (M).
    Markings training units - F4F-2.jpg
    This is the 112-th a/c from the first fighter OTU (F) in NAS Jacksonville (J1).
    Markings training units - SNJ.jpg
    This is the 156-th a/c from a miscellaneous TU (N) in NAS Deland (DE).
    In other words your dad's "Dauntless" was the 19-th a/c in a Scout Bomber OTU in Miami.
    Unfortunately the older alphanumeric designations were not that well described and I couldn't find any good explanation. But I'm still searching...
    Best Regards!
     
  8. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    This is fantastic! So the 19 is unique to the aircraft? I ask that because I have a date on the picture and correlating it with the log book I get the BuNo on the aircraft (36875) and that he was taking C (Training - Qualified Pilots) and G (Bombing) on that date.

    Getting back to your TBF-1s, those are out of Sanford, then? Did you ever look through this: Navy Serial Number Search Results? I couldn’t find any reports there on any TBFs out of Sanford, but there are reports on TBF-1s out of Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale. Here's the link that has your Flight 19 TBMs: Navy Serial Number Search Results.
     
  9. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff here guys.
     
  10. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    #10 CATCH 22, Jan 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
    VBF-13, you really have all you need for the identification of your dad's plane!:thumbright: Yes, M-S 19 is a unique marking for one particular a/c at some moment. There were no 2 a/cs with the same markings at the same time. But if a plane was lost, crashed and was salvaged (this could happen relatively often in the training units) or was destroyed for some other reason, another a/c could receive the same markings. Since BuNo 36875 is not shown in the Joe Baugher's list as crashed or lost, than with a very big probability this was the only airplane with the aforementioned markings. Unfortunately I can't use this list, because I don't know any of the BuNos of the 2 "Avengers".

    I have no proof whatsoever, that the older alphanumeric codes were connected in any way with the names of Naval Air Stations resp. ATUs/OTUs. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the single letters given to training units (earlier than the coding system I described for the East Coast based units) probably do not reflect the name of the Station. In the case with the 2 "Avengers" I even think that they belonged to a training unit with earlier designation A* in yellow (AFAIK operational units didn't use this color) and than were transferred to an operational unit (or the training unit became operational) coded S* in white.
    This IMHO is a TBF-1 from the same unit. The markings on the wing and on fuselage are A8 (in yellow) and a new marking, probably S3 is chalked under the turret. It's done in the same fashion as with the 2 "Avengers" from the initial photo, this time showing the a/c on deck of some carrier.
    TBFonacarrierdeck_zpsc5db8dc7.jpg
    Some examples for the same type of markings:
    This is a TBF for advanced training in the Central Atlantic in the last months of 1943 - alphanumeric code in yellow:
    TBFAvengerE16_zpsf6a154d6.jpg
    The above photo is from the same monograph as mentioned in my first post.
    And this is an operational a/c over the continental USA - code U21:
    14-TBF-1CAvengerwithCompositeSquadronSeventy-OneVC-71inflightoverSouthernCalifornia_zps91c9d99f.jpg
    Same here - code E91:
    15a-TBF-1CAvengerwithTorpedoSquadronSeventeenVT-17inflightatSanFranciscoovertheGoldenGateBridge_.jpg
    Or here a/cs from the USS Natome Bay:
    17-TBMAvengerswithCompositeSquadronSixty-ThreeVC-63ontheUSSNATOMEBAYCVE-62inflightoverWotji_zps5.jpg
    The above 3 photos are from the Warbird Information Exchange Forum
    One can find more and more photos, but there is no obvious system behind the alphanumeric codes given to them. I found just a brief description that there were some "local alphanumeric codes" in use for the Pacific stationed units, but those were destroyed.
    Regards!
     
  11. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    #11 VBF-13, Jan 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
    CATCH, take a look at this. It's from the first link, the TBFs. We'll agree that insignia looks like the red-outlined type, which ran from late June to the middle of September. This, from that link, is all TBF-1s, and all from within that window:

    • 06051 loaned to Royal Navy Dec 26, 1942, returned to USN Jul 31, 1943.
    • 06056 loaned to Royal Navy Dec 24, 1942, returned to USN Jul 31, 1943.
    • 06098 loaned to Royal Navy Dec 23, 1943, returned to USN Jul 31, 1943.
    • 06111 loaned to Royal Navy Jan 5,1943, returned to USN Jul 31, 1943.

    These were coming back from the Royal Navy? The former markings are Royal Navy markings? Maybe, maybe not. That link tells more than BuNos, though. You just have to know what you're looking for.

    I haven't searched the whole page. Here's another example of a search. Searching "1/1943," "2/1943," etc., through "31/1943," looking for anything in late June, July, August, or September, which is the window on your TBF-1s, I found this.

    • 00644 in mid-air 5 mi east of NAS Ft Lauderdale, FL Sep 12, 1943. One bailed out, one killed.

    There might be more, I didn't look through everything. The point is, these reports are where these TBFs were flying. Some, as these, for example, even say squadron information:

    • 00473 (VTB, OTU #2) right wing and tail broke off during glide bomb dive 9 mi S of NAS Jacksonville, FL at Doctors Inlet 3/30/1943. 2 killed.
    • 00478 (VTB, OTU #2) wing came off during dive 2 mi N of NAS Jacksonville, FL 5/9/1943. 3 killed.
    • 00648 (TB, OTU #1) spun in during landing Ft Lauderdale, FL 3/2/1943. Pilot killed.
     
  12. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    Yes, you're right - a "map" of the TBF-units could be made, based on the Joe Baugher's lists.
    In the meantime I checked the training units with the two fresh water carriers in Lake Michigan (USS "Wolverine" and USS "Sable"). The "Avengeres" with these carriers were coded T-* (* is a number) and the SBDs are B-*. Again, alphanumeric markings, but from a different type.
    Thank you for the input - I'll take a closer look!
     
  13. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking it's plausible the shadowed circle on the right wing (you've three aircraft showing those) could be the other Royal Navy marking as it wasn't uncommon for that aircraft to have had those markings on both wings. Look, good luck. This is an interesting research challenge.
     
  14. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    VBF-13, the overpainted insignia (one top right wing and one bottom left, which we can not see) are IMHO from the period of the older style national insignia in 6 positions. Since February 1943 the number of the NI was changed from 6 to 4 - 2 on fuselage, 1 top left and 1 bottom right wing. Later on (June/July 1943) the 4 roundels received the white bars with the red border. It's typical for a/cs with modified older insignia that the bars go over older markings (see fuselage) or have no border (as on the wings). The 2 "Avengers" are some of the oldest TBF's manufactured, with the wavy demarcation line between the upper and the lower camo colours and they obviously received several modifications of their initial markings. I even guess they had the 13 red and white lines on their rudders.
    The TBFs you mentioned above were some of those, loaned to the Royal Navy. AFAIK 25 TBF-1 were loaned to HMS "Victorious" and returned to US Navy in June/July 1943. They didn't receive new British serials, but kept their original BuNos. Were they in USN camo, but with British roundels is something I don't know.
    I need some more time (and luck of course:)) and I hope some information I've never seen before will surface sooner or later.
    Regards!
     
  15. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm way under-researched on this issue compared to you. At any rate, interesting discussion, CATCH. Sure filled in some holes for me, at least. Stick around. I think you'll like it. We talk about more things than just markings, here, lol.
     
  16. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Some good stuff here Cory and VBF.

    Geo
     
  17. CATCH 22

    CATCH 22 New Member

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    VBF-13, I'm happy to help!
    It always amuses me how one question can develop into another and if the initial one is not answered (yet), some other problems might be resolved or clarified. I still hope that someone who's reading/visiting here maybe have any information about the A-markings.
    BTW if you check my join date you'll see that I'm not very new to the forum. I'm reading it with a great interest since years and often some of the threads here are helping me to find the desired information.
    Best Regards!
     
  18. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I actually caught your 2006 join date just after my last reply. Oh well. Best regards to you, too, CATCH. And good luck!
     
  19. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    This might take a while Cory but I'm pretty sure I've got a book or two that trace U.S. Navy unit histories.

    Geo
     
  20. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, just found the books, 2 volumes, 1417 pages total. Might take a wee bit.

    Geo
     
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