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


Squadron 4:
A Cockpit
View of
World War II

(First Edition)

Squadron 4:
The Red



Air Group 4 - Casablanca to Tokyo

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

Marine Fighting VMF-124 and VMF-213

On December 28, 1944, Marine fighter squadrons VMF-124 and VMF-213 were assigned to Air Group 4, replacing Bombing Squadron 4 (VB-4). The assignment of VMF-124 and VMF-213 to the USS Essex made them the first Marine squadrons to augment carrier air groups during World War II.

VMF-124 was formed September 7, 1942 at Camp Kearney. In late October they got some of the first F4U Vought Corsair fighters to roll off the assembly line, making them first squadron to receive the new plane. (See One Manīs Journey by Robert M. Berg.)

The squadron left San Diego on January 8, 1943 on the USS Lurline and arrived at Guadalcanal on February 12, 1943. That afternoon they flew their first combat mission, logging 9 hours in the air. VMF-124 remained in the Solomons until September 7, 1943, participating in the Russells, New Georgia, and Vella Lavella operations.

VMF-124 on Guadalcanal - Feb 1943

VMF-124 on Guadalcanal - February 1943.
(Photo provided by Bob Fish)

Following their actions in the Solomons, they returned to the US for reorganization and training. They departed the US on September 18, 1944 on the USS Ticonderoga, arriving at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on September 24, 1944.

VMF-213 was formed July 1, 1942 at Ewa. The squadron left Ewa on February 21, 1943 and arrived at Espiritu on March 1, 1943. They received their first Corsairs while at Espiritu on March 11, 1943. On June 17, 1943, VMF-213 relieved VMF-124 at Russells. While in the Solomons, VMF-213 participated in actions against New Georgia and Kahali. On December 9, 1943 they returned to the US for reorganization and training. With VMF-124, they departed the US on September 18, 1944 onboard the Ticonderoga.

VMF-213 Group Photo

VMF-213 Group Photo -- December 1, 1944

After assignment to the Essex, VMF-124 and VMF-213 participated in actions against Lingayen, Luzon, Formosa, Tokyo, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

VMF-124 on Essex

VMF-124 and VMF-213 aboard the USS Essex. March 5, 1945.

There were 54 pilots, 4 ground officers, and 120 enlisted men in the 2 squadrons when they came aboard the Essex. Lt Col William A. Millington was in command of VMF-124 and Major David E. Marshall commanded VMF-213.

Lt Col Millington claimed the first kill by carrier-based Marines during WWII. When Cdr George O. Klinsmann was shot down during the strike on the Pescadores on January 15, 1945, Millington became commander of Air Group 4, the first Marine to command a Navy Air Group.

F4U Corsair Being Launched

Marine F4U Corsair being launched from the Essex for strikes on Iwo Jima
(Photo by Bill Wade, AG-4).

During their tour of duty on the Essex, VMF-124 and VMF-213 fighters were credited with 10 Japanese aircraft shot down, 16 destroyed on the ground, and at least 11 ships damaged by bombs or rocket fire.

For more information, based on declassified "War Diaries" and "Combat Reports,"see War Diary of Two Marine Squadrons: VMF-124 and VMF-213 Aboard the USS Essex.

VMF-124 and VMF-213 Signatures

Signatures of members of VMF-124 and VMF-213 as the Essex left the battle area in April 1945.

The most comprehensive history of Marine Aviation during WWII is Time/Life correspondent Robert Sherrodīs History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II. Sherrod was on the Essex during some of the Air Group 4 strikes against the Japanese. His firsthand experience included observations of the strikes on Saigon as a crewman in one of VT-4īs torpedo planes. For more information, see Saigon Takes Its Toll in Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II.

F4U Corsair Takes a Wave-Off

F4U Corsair takes a wave-off on approach to the Essex as a second plane enters the groove.

See Also:

Not many places have the rich naval history where you can learn about famous carriers and marine fighting squadrons than Annapolis. While there are many yachts for sale in Annapolis,  the area around the Chesapeake Bay has many historical sights. Shipbuilding in Maryland was very active, even going back to the 1700's.

Air Group 4 - "Casablanca to Tokyo"
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