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Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II - Revised, Updated Edition, 2011

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Air Group 4 - Casablanca to Tokyo

Dedicated to those who
served in VT-4, VB-4, VF-4,
VMF-124 and VMF-213

USS RANGER: The Navy´s First Flattop from
Keel to Mast
by Robert J. Cressman

Book Review by Gerald W. Thomas, VT4

USS Ranger - Robert J. CressmanRobert Cressman, an award-winning historian, completed an excellent comprehensive history of the USS Ranger (CV-4) in 2003. This 451 page book, published by Brassey`s Inc., Dulles, VA contains many good photos and illustrations. The document is carefully researched with a long list of citations to verify the accounts in each of the 28 chapters.

The personal accounts of many individuals on the ship and in the Air Group add to the readability and historical value of the book. Those involved in combat during OPERATION TORCH in North Africa and OPERATION LEADER off the coast of Norway will verify the accuracy of the document. Cressman researched the Deck Logs, War Diaries, and Action Reports of the ship and Air Group Four. He cites material from such publications as, Wildcats Over Casablanca and Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War Two, along with interviews of survivors of WW II. I was honored to provide some input into his writings.

The USS Ranger (CV-4) was christened on 25 February 1933 as the first aircraft carrier to be built from keel to mast as a carrier. The previous 3 aircraft carriers USS Langley (CV-1), USS Lexington (CV-2), and USS Saratoga (CV-3) were converted from other war ships. First Lady Mrs. Herbert Hoover christened the Ranger during the prohibition era by breaking a bottle of grape juice on the bow.

USS Ranger - 1941

Cressman brings to life the fascinating story of the Ranger as "a very valuable ship." He covers the challenge of construction; pre-war assignments; involvement in action in North Africa and Norway; exciting cruises north of the Arctic Circle: assignments with the British Home Fleet and carrier training missions in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Many Naval Aviators and air crewmen experienced the thrill of landings and takeoffs from the narrow flight deck of the Ranger.

Wildcats on USS Ranger

Grumman Wildcats on the flight deck of the USS Ranger
during exercises with the British Home Fleet in September 1943.

Cressman cites some material from the Journal of Ernest Crochet. As a signalman, Crochet had the unique opportunity to observe and record many aircraft operations. The following summary from Crochet`s Journal is not from the book, but it should be added to the history of the Ranger. Crochet`s Journal reports (1941-1945):

  • 44 enemy sub contacts by the Ranger and escort vessels.
  • 310 plane crashes during air operations with 39 fatalities.
  • The first TBF to land on the Ranger on April 14, 1942
  • Numerous accidents involving F4F Wildcats, SBD Dauntless, FM2 Wildcats, F4U Corsairs, SB2C Helldivers, FR1 Fireballs, and F8F Bearcats.

The Ranger was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 29 October 1946 and "sold for conversion to scrap." The builder's plate and ships bell are now on exhibit at the Naval Air Museum, Pensacola, Florida.

Robert Ruth, Buck Barnett, and Gerald Thomas

Robert F. Ruth, Gerald M. "Buck" Barnett, and
Gerald W. Thomas (left to right) standing beside the
salvaged bell of the USS Ranger,
Naval Air Museum, Pensacola, Florida.

Anyone who reads Robert Cressman`s book will be convinced that the USS Ranger was indeed, "a very valuable ship." I have often wondered why the Ranger was never awarded the "Presidential Unit Citation." The ship deserves this honor!

Note: If you have a book review to contribute to AirGroup4.com, or a book to suggest that we review, please contact us here.


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