• VT-17 Ship Assignment during WWII

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    From “CVG-17, CVBG-17, CVBG-5, CVG-6 , CVW-6 1943 – 1985”
    located at http://178.83.198.61/wings/24-USNavy/CVG-017.htm

    15 Jul 1943 – 10 Aug 1943 aboard CV-17 USS Bunker Hill with aircraft type TBF-1

    10 Sep 1943 – 2 Oct 1943 aboard CV-17 USS Bunker Hill with aircraft type TBF-1

    11 Nov 1943 – 6 Mar 1944 aboard CV-17 USS Bunker Hill with aircraft type TBF-1

    2 Feb 1945 – 8 Jul 1945 aboard CV-12 USS Hornet with aircraft type TBM-3

  • Suicide Bombers Attack U.S.S. Hornet

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  • See the TBM Avenger video here

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    TBM Avenger 2 minute tour

  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 7 of 7)

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    This is section 7, covering sheets 61 through 65 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.






    ***END***

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  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 6 of 7)

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    This is section 6, covering sheets 51 through 60 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.












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  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 5 of 7)

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    This is section 5, covering sheets 41 through 50 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.






















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  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 4 of 7)

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    This is section 4, covering sheets 31 through 40 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.






















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  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 3 of 7)

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    This is section 3, covering sheets 21 through 30 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.

    NARRATIVE

    HILO was the squadron’s first brush with the semi-tropics and living conditions at an advanced station (not having yet reached GUAM). Gunnery, searches, inter island hops, squadron and air group tactics, co-ordinated air group and inter-air group tactics and simulated torpedo attacks on blue shipping were included in the training during this period.

    Living conditions at HILO were satisfactory. The officers’ and mens quarters were clean and sanitary despite the indigenous dampness due to heavy rainfall.

    Pre-Dawn simulated attacks on friendly shipping in the Hawaiian area were valuable, if dangerous, to VT-17 pilots during this period. Because of widespread cloud cover a great portion of the time in this area during the winter season, the pilots were able to utilize this important combat advantage in simulated shipping attacks. Horizontal bombing tactics were perfected here.

    The squadron left HILO 15 December 1944, went to Pearl Harbor on an inter-island steamer, the name of which is difficult and happily forgotten. On 16 December the USS NASSAU left Pearl Harbor with the squadron enroute to GUAM.

    7. NAB AGANA, GUAM 26 December 1944 to 29 January 1945:

    GUAM became immediately more “advanced” than HILO. The squadron officers and men lived in Quonset huts, and ate canned foold, bathed in public and cold water and washed their clothese in all types of ingenious contrivances.

    – 17 –


    NARRATIVE

    Some refresher carrier landings were made during this period, and some division gunnery runs were made.

    One two-plane strike was made on AGUIJAN, from GUAM during which VT-17’s “combat bombing” was initiated. (The crossroads of the by-passed island’s village was hit).

    After one month on GUAM, the air group embarked for ULITHI on the USS KASAAN BAY, arriving there 1 February 1945.

    COMBAT

    8. Aboard the USS HORNET 1 February 1945 to 13 June 1945:

    The HORNET sortied from ULITHI 10 February 1945 with Air Group SEVENTEEN aboard. Training exercises had been conducted on a pre-operation shakedown cruise 4, 5, and 6 February, and continued on 11 and 12 February. Pilots were briefed on the first operation, “Tokio,” on 13 and 14 and 15 February.

    Tokio was a big name. The war looked big and important to VT-17 at this moment, and in the squadron ready rooms smiles passed rakishly and nervously before the first take offs. VT’s first target was HACHIJO Jima, only an island very close to Japan and Tokio, but a test, and unknown nevertheless. The airfield, installations and small craft in the harbor were hit, 16 February. The pilots came back with enthusiasm. This was the squadron’s first real attack on the enemy. Following this hop, the same day, a mission was

    – 18 –



    NARRATIVE

    sent over HAMAMATSU Airfield – the Honshu homeland! The AA was “disappointing.” Strafing by the squadron was rampant. Extensive damage was inflicted on the airfield installations and parked planes.

    For three days the Task Force haunted Honshu, VT hit other airfields (TOYAHASHI and KANOYA), and CHICHI Jima, a hot spot of anti-aircraft, which tucked in their confident ears somewhat but hardly affected their aggressiveness.

    The force steamed then for the primary operations objective, IWO Jima. The squadron was told “TOKIO” had been “diversionary,” and a feint to keep Empire aircraft aground watching the home fires burn while the amphibious units prepared to take the little island in the Volcano Retto.

    IWO was PETALUMA MARSH in the real. What the squadron had practiced 30 miles north of ALAMEDA, the were repeating 650 miles south of TOKIO. Five support missions were launced to support the IWO ground gorces, and the “well dones” were adequate payment for the long hours on and over PETALUMA MARSH.

    VT was given its first crack at Jap shipping in MIYAKO Hakuchi. Search disclosed two merchantmen and a DE there. Five torpedo-bearing TBM’s were launched 1 March 1945. Three of the pilots shared two hits on an SB, which exploded spectacularly and sank, and two other VT pilots shared in the sinking of a FTC. The fifth pilot, a veteran, returned shamefacedly and admitted he had scored but a near miss on the DE.

    – 19 –



    NARRATIVE

    This strike completed the first phrase of the cruise of VT-17. The Task Force returned to ULITHI 4 March.

    In 11 days the force was at sea again, this time for an extended prowl, one which took the squadron in forty-seven (47) days to such targests as KURE on the INLAND SEA, the KERAMA RETTO, which was a pre-invasion operation for OKINAWA; shipping in the EAST CHINA SEA, OKINAWA, AMAMI GUNTO islands, AMAMI GUNTO shipping, KANOYA, SAKISHIMA GUNTO, and the JAP FLEET, spearheaded by the late YAMATO.

    KURE, 19 March, will remain a nightmare of multi-colored flak as long as the squadron lives. Piercing this lethal pyro-technic display with a torpedo bomber was akin to sticking one’s fingers into a bowl of hot colored marbles. Still the ships were below it — waiting but angry ducks on the harbor pond. VT-17 poked “12 fingers” into the marble bowl, and pulled back eight whole ones. Three were injured, one was missing. But in those weary fingers was adequate feel of contact and accomplishment. VT-17 scored 14 x 500-pound bomb hits on eight ships.

    The KERAMA RETTO reminded many of the pilots of home. It was a sleepy group of hilly islands breeding people apparently of the soil. Even so, the little islands were obstacles to the goal OKINAWA. VT-17 bombed and burned them three times 23 March.

    – 20 –



    NARRATIVE

    An eight-ship enemy convoy, apparently enroute to secure OKIMAWA, was spotted too far from their home shore in the EAST CHINA SEA 24 March. Twelve VT-17 planes, with others of the Task Group, were launched. Three of the squadron’s planes failed to reach the target due to the emergency water landing of one and rescue procedure of the two planes standing by. (See Air Sea Rescue Appendix 10). The nine planes carrying their torpedoes to the target, however, scored six hits on four ships, all of which sank during the Task Group attack.

    Pre-Invasion OKINAWA support began for VT-17 25 March. Including these and the numerous post-invasion missions, VT-17 flew a total of 24 without losing a plane or crew. Targets included practically everything stationary and moving on the ground from aircraft revetments to truck convoys and galloping horses (the last-mentioned galloped unmolested).

    OKINAWA, despite occasional flurries of AA, ultimately became the convenient route to an Air Medal, but it was still tedious, technical business over the target with the ever-present potential threat of being destroyed at low altitude.

    AMAMI GUNTO held out to VT-17 pilots airfield and shipping targets mostly, and occasionally a barracks area or a concentration of aircraft revetments.

    Ordinarily camouflage played its theatrical role in the Gunto. Shipping, when found, was often close against the ponderous shorelines under nets or

    – 21 –



    NARRATIVE

    or tree limbs, and the aircraft, too, were hidden in groves. During two shipping strikes, though, VT-17 damaged eight ships, destroyed two luggers and damaged other small craft.

    MIYAKO SHIMA was an excellent airfield target. It was more circular, like a bull’s-eye, than were most of the oddly-shaped NANSEI SHOTO airfields. This shima was hit twice by VT-17. Its bombs were dropped on the airfield and installations principally.

    On 7 April, a portion of the Jap Fleet, including the YAMATO, was struck in the EAST CHINA SEA. Thirteen planes of VT-17 were in on the kill, and were the first torpedo planes to attack the principal units, including the prized 45,000-ton YAMATO. Four of the eight VT-17 torpedoes fired at the YAMATO scored hits on the port side of the big ship. The ship listed to the port, wounded painfully. Three other VT-17 pilots dropped their torpedoes on the TERUTSUKI class DD in the force, scoring one hit. The DD sank. One torpedo hung up, and one missed a DD in the screen. One pilot and crew were lost attacking the port bow of the YAMATO. All of the ships in the convoy seemed to be underway and maneuvering when the squadron attacked. Torpedoes were dropped against the YAMATO from an altitude of 600-700 feet and from an average range of 1600 yards. Torpedoes were set at 20 feet depth setting for the YAMATO, (see comments of CO), and 10 feet depth setting on the smaller ships in this force.

    – 22 –



    NARRATIVE

    Colored puffs of AA, like those observed at KURE, were seen also during this attack. The shipborne AA was intense, destroying one VT-17 plane and damaging five others. Wing tanks were carried by the VT-17 planes for the 263-mile leg out mission. The planes were in the air five hours.

    The target was hazy, and the ceiling during the squadron’s attack was from 1200 to 2000 feet with seven tenths clouds and intermittent rain.

    Returing pilots said the YAMATO assumed tremendous proportions as their attacking planes drew within dropping range. She was underway at high speed.

    Following the excitement — and rejoicing — over the YAMATO attack, VT-17 “simmered down” to a series of support attacks on OKINAWA and airfield and installations attacks on KIKAI and AMAMI GUNTO.

    Although the support strikes were not of a spectacular nature, their effectiveness was essential to the advancement of ground troops and the ultimate security of OKINAWA SHIMA and the satellite islands intended to establish the base from which to hit Japan’s homeland and/or China.

    After the support strike on OKINAWA 27 April the Task Group left the operation area, and steamed to ULITHI, arriving there 30 April. The group sortied 9 May and on 12 May VT-17 was again flying in support of OKINAWA, striking the now familiar KANOYA Airfield and other KYUSHU airfields and installations. One SHIKOKU Airfield, shipping in the EAST CHINA SEA, additional strikes against AMAMI GUNTO and ended this final phase of combat by flying supply paradrop

    – 23 –



    NARRATIVE

    missions for the advanced front line troops on OKINAWA’s hard-fought southern sector.

    Damage inflicted on KYUSHU’s airfields and installations by VT-17 was difficult to assess. Most attacks against this type of target were glide boming attacks, and bombs were released at altitudes ranging from 1500 to 3500 feet.Observation by the pilots was difficult also since their planes were in pull-outs usually when the bombs hit the targets. Over-all, however, the bombing accuracy was estimated at 80-90 per cent, and the damage extensive to airfields, revetments, more than a dozen hangars, scores of plane revetments, warehouses, workshops, barracks, one gunpowder plant and a dozen aircraft factory buildings.

    After a series of attacks on KANOYA, IZUMI Airfield and SAEKI Naval Air Base, on 14 May VT-17 was assigned its first strictly industrial target, the KUMAMOTO Aircraft Plant. (The strike was reported as the first by U.S. Planes against the factory). Fifteen of the squadron’s planes in two flights dropped a total of 52 x 500-pound bombs on the factory area seriously damaging three large camouflaged buildings, a large “U”-shaped building, four large buildings, several smaller buildings, and a gas tank. During the second of the two KUMAMOTO striked 4 x 500-pound bombs in one of the planes hung up over the target, and were dropped returning to base on the gunpowder plant north of NOBEOKA on the east coast of KYUSHU. The four-bomb salvo made a direct hit on the four large adjoining buildings. An explosion followed, and the plant was probably destroyed.

    – 24 –



    NARRATIVE

    TACHIARAI Airfield was hit 14 May for the first time by VT-17 planes during this period of operations. MATSUYAMA WEST, the only SHIKOKU Airfield to be attacked by VT-17 planes during the entire combat cruise, received one mission. TOKUNA Airfield was a new target for VT-17.

    Two VT-17 planes were launched with fighter planes to intercept a three-ship convoy in the EAST CHINA SEA 22 May. One of the planes scored a direct 500-pound bomb hit on a PC-13 sinking it.

    Among the most successful missions of VT-17 over OKINAWA were the two supply paradrop flights during which 12 planes flew a total of 42 sorties from KADENA Airfield to the advanced lines in the southern sector of the island. At this time mud and blocked roads were hampering ground movement of supplies. The planes dropped food, water, ammunition and medical supplies, received thanks and “well dones”.

    Combat missions for VT-17 ended 3 June 1945.

    There followed, however, one of the most harassing experiences. On 5 June the squadron’s base ship, USS HORNET, with other ships of the Task Group encountered a typhoon. Steady winds reached a velocity of 80-100 knots, with gusts up to 120 knots. The seas were mountainous. No one was injured or lost, however, aboard the ship.

    – 25 –



    NARRATIVE

    The Task Group reached LEYTE 13 June and anchored in SAN PEDRO BAY.

    After a partial ship-stripping, the USS HORNET sailed eastward 19 June to the U.S. via PEARL HARBOR.

    * * *

    (See Appendicies for combat figures and details).

    (See Chronology for Squadron Log, Personnel Losses, etc.).

    – 26 –


    (continued)


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  • VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 2 of 7)

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    This is section 2, covering sheets 11 through 20 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.

    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17
    ROSTER OF ENLISTED MEN

    SMITH, Blair N., ARM1c(T), 519 Notre Dame Avenue, Dayton, Ohio.
    SPRING, Richard A., ARM3c, Main St., Perry, Ohio.
    STRAW, William (n)., AOM3c(T), 176 E. 81st Street, New York, New York
    STRIBLING, Samuel L., ARM2c(T), 127 N. Monroe Avenue, Arcadia, Florida.
    THOMPSON, LeRoy S., PB1c(T), 4528 Wilkshire Avenue S.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    TIKKA, Carlo J., AMM2c(T), 302 W. Buena Vista, Highland Park, Michigan.
    TOENER, Joseph E., ARM2c(T), 1054 Winfield Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio.
    TRABOLD, William O., ARM2c(T), 141-12 Collidge Avenue, Jamaica, Long Island, New York.
    TULLY, William L., AMM2c(T), 7 Miles Avenue, Olyphant, Pennsylvania.
    VERNON, Edward F., Jr., ARM1c(T), 1425 Third Avenue South, Denison, Iowa.
    WALTER, George H. ACRT(AA)(T), Willard, Colorado
    WOOD, James C. (AOM2c(T), Route #4, Box 196, Bessemer, Alabama.
    YOUNG, Leonard R., ARM3c, 3816 Ridge View Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana.

    * * *
    – 8 –


    CHRONOLOGY

    COMBAT
    PERSONNEL LOSSES

    Lieut. Thomas C. Durkin 67 Wall St., New York, New York.
    Thomas J. Tindall, ARM1c #224 93 33, 540 E. Washington St., Trenton, N.J.
    Cecil W. Stewart, AOM2c #657 16 21, 106 N. 12 Street, North Carolina

    Missing in Action following a strike on Kanoya Airfield, Kyushu 12 May 1945. The plane was last seen gliding toward Kagoshima Bay. Radio transmissions from Lt. Durkin indicated that enemy AA fire rendered the plane’s engine useless. Some witnesses said they saw a plane crash on the shore of Kagoshima Bay. It was ont established however, that the plane was Lieut. Dukin’s or that the crash had been fatal to the pilot or crew.

    * * *

    Lt. (jg). Talmadge Westmoreland, 2600 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley, Calif.
    Harold F. West, AOM3c, #733 71 81, 520 Grand Avenue, Hoquiam, Wash.
    Robert H. Williams, ARM3c, #828 01 17, 2602 Russell Road, Portsmouth, Ohio.

    Missing in Action following the Kure Attack on 19 March 1945. The plane was last seen in a glide over Kure Ko and headed northwest toward the beach. Some of the VT pilots had heard a transmission from Lt.(jg). Westmoreland that his plane had been hit and that he was going down. The plane was apparently still under control, and could have made a safe emergency landing, if additional AA fire had not further disabled the plane or wounded the pilot.

    * * *

    Ens. William E. Hooton, 1001 N.W. 16th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
    Robert A. Warren, AMM3c, #576 99 06, 4415 Avenue R., Galveston, Texas.
    Richard W. Gere, ARM3c, #225 44 19, 46 Chetwood Terrace, Fanwood, N.J.

    Missing in Action following an attack on a Jap Convoy in the East China Sea on 24 March 1945. Ensign Hooton’s plane was last seen making a torpedo attack on a merchant vessel in the convoy. Two TBM’s were seen to crash during the attack. It is believed one of these was piloted by Ensign Hooton. Subsequent searches of the area disclose no evidence of survivors.

    * * *

    – 9 –



    CHRONOLOGY
    COMBAT
    PERSONNEL LOSSES

    [TBF Avenger crew]
    Ens. Leo O’Brien, Louisville, Nebraska. [pilot]
    Jacob E. Ricketson, AMM3c, #893 25 05, 719 N. Madison, Douglas, Ga. [gunner]
    James L. Opheim, ARM3c, #322 01 89, 205 S. Hyland St., Ames, Iowa. [Radar/Navigator]

    Missing in Action following an attack against the Yamato in the East China Sea on 7 April 1945. The plane was last seen making a torpedo attack on the Yamato’s port bow. AA fire was intense, and a TBM was seen to splash in the (Yamato’s) vicinity. Subsequent search shows no evidence of survivors.

    * * *

    Russell L. Miller, AOM3c, #869 36 03, Ringle, Wisconsin.

    Deat At Sea. Miller died as a result of exposure and illness contracted during nine days at sea in a life raft. The plane of which he was gunner had an emergency water landing about 150 miles northeast of Okinawa Shima on 24 March 1945. Nine days later the three-man crew was picked up seventy miles south of Kyushu. Miller was in a critical condition when rescue on 2 April 1945. He died the same day abouard the USS CHANDLER. His body was removed to Zamami Shima in the (Kerava) Retto, about 20 miles west of Okinawa, and was buried with military honors.

    * * *

    PERSONNEL INJURED

    Lt. James A Tew, 200 Avacado, Sanford, Fla.
    Face and head cuts during the attack at Kure on 19 March 1945.

    Lt.(jg). John E. Strickland, Warsaw, North Carolina.
    Minor left arm injuries during the attack on Kure on 19 March 1945.

    Blair N. Smith, (ARM1c(T), #612 45 64, 519 Notre Dame, Dayton, Ohio.
    Head injuries during the attack on Kure on 19 March 1945.

    – 10 –



    CHRONOLOGY
    SHIPS VT-17 WAS ABOARD

    USS TAKANIS BAY, Qualifications, 8-16-44 to 8-18-44
    USS RANGER, Qualifications, 10-27-44 to 10-29-44
    USS HOLLANDIA, Transportation from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, 11-3-44 to 11-10-44
    USS NASSAU, Transportation from Pearl Harbor to GUAM, 12-16-44 to 12-28-44
    USS KASAAN BAY, Transportation from Guam to USS HORNET, 1-28-45 to 2-1-45
    USS HORNET, Combat – Transportation to the United States, 2-1-45 to

    * * *

    Note: This Squadron was based on board the above carriers as Torpedo Squadron SEVENTEEN of Air Group SEVENTEEN.

    – 11 –



    VT-17

    HISTORICAL DATA

    PART TWO

    * * *

    NARRATIVE



    NARRATIVE

    SECTION A

    Section A of this narrative will cover the period from the time of origin of VT-17 (1 January 1943) to the time of return of this unit to the United States (10 March 1944).

    Unfortunately, records of the squadron covering this period are scant. The re-formed squadron command is able to compile only inadequate historical data covering the above-mentioned period. This report is being prepared at sea, a fact that adds to the limitation of information soures insofar as the “original” VT-17 is concerned.

    Chronological material on the “original” VT-17 squadron is contained in the Chronology of this report, however, and lists the required date of origin, names of commanding Officers, movements of the unit and actions in which it engaged. Personnel losses are, again, not available to this command, except in the instance of Lieut. Comdr. Frank M. Whitaker, San Diego, who was the squadron Commanding Officer.

    Briefly, the original VT-17 was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, was trained on the East Coast, took a shake-down cruise to Trinidad, and ultimately came through the Panama Canal aboard the USS BUNKER HILL for action in the Pacific. (See Chronology).

    VT-17 was organized as the torpedo bombing squadron of Carrier Air Group 17, and was commissioned under the authority of the Chief of Naval Operations. The squadron was under the command of ComAirLant during its period on the East Coast, and was transferred to the Command of ComAirPac while in the

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    NARRATIVE

    in the Pacific theater.

    SECTION B

    Section B of this Historical Data narrative of TORPEDO SQUADRON SEVENTEEN covers the period from 18 April 1944, when the unit was re-formed, until the squadron returned to the United States, after combat, in July, 1945.

    * * *

    1. General: TORPEDO SQUADRON SEVENTEEN was re-formed 18 April 1944 at NAS Alameda, California. Lieut. Comdr. William Melvin Romberger, 36 S. 11th Street, Sunbury, Pennsylvania served as commanding officer through training and combat.

    VT-17 was organized under the authority of the Chief of Naval Operations, as torpedo bombing squadron of Carrier Air Group SEVENTEEN. Average complement during training and combat has been 27 pilots (reduced to 23 just before embarking from NAS HILO and the combat zone), three (A)L officers, one (A-T) officer, 54 aircrewman (reduced to 46 when the pilot reduction was put into effect. This figure includes one ACOM), one ACMM, one ACEM, one Y1c and 20 non-flying enlisted personnel.

    The duties of the nonflying officers included administration, intelligence, radar and ordinance, and the duties of the nonflying enlisted personnel included the office work and aircraft maintenance.

    – 13 –



    NARRATIVE

    2. NAS ALAMEDA 18 April 1944 to 29 May 1944:

    This period was one of squadron organization. Departments were set up, and responsibilities assigned. Ground School, division and section flying, navigation, aerial gunnery, and glide bombing tactics were emphasized.

    During the period the squadron personnel became “acquaintedn” and acquired the habit of working together as an efficient unit organization.

    One pilot and two aircrewmen were lost during a training glide bombing attack in San Francisco Bay.

    The usual social functions were held to secure the spirit and fellowship of the squadron.

    3. NAAS Monterey, Cal, 29 May 1944 to 17 July 1944:

    The squadron came into its primary element during this period by concentrating on torpedo attacks and tactics. Combat conditions were simulated by dud runs on bowed surface targets and destroyers in Monterey Bay. Over-water navigation flights were extended to increase the proficiency of VT-17 in the use of instruments. Squadron bombing tactics also were designed by Lieut. Comdr. Romberger and became squadron doctrine during this period along with new improved squadron torpedo tactics (see Appendix 13).

    Squadron flight doctrine was practiced to (ensure) efficient formations to and from the target areas and to assure proper rendezvouses.

    – 14 –



    NARRATIVE

    Simulated searches were conducted, and the squadron was instructed in air-sea rescue. Squadron cross country flights gave the divisions the “feel” of the unit in the air.

    4. NAAS Vernalis, Cal., 17 July to 24 July, 1944:

    This was a period of night landing and field landings, and additional Landing Signal Officer training for all pilots, especially those without previous combat experience. The squadron spent a week at Vernalis, then returned to Monterey and continued torpedo and bombing training. On 14 August the squadron had returned to NAS Alameda for inter-squadron tactics and air group training.

    5. NAS Alameda, 14 August 1944 to 2 November 1944:

    This period covered air group tactics and “attacks”, long range flights, inter-air group training attacks, carrier qualifications on the USS Takanis Bay and USS Ranger, rocket training at NAAS Arcata, Calif., and additional night flying and field carrier landings at NAAS Vernalis.

    Arrangements were made also with Army officials at Camp Cooke, Cal., to engage in close air support exercise with ground units at the camp. Weather interfered with the proposed plan, however, and the scene of close air support training for the air group was changed to Petaluma Marsh, an area about 30 miles north of NAS Alameda.

    Considerable time was devoted to this close air support training. Mobile radio units were used by the air group ACI officers, who acted as Com-

    – 15 –



    NARRATIVE

    manders Air Support Control Unit. Pilots were assigned in divisions so that eacy pilot learned the mechanics of locating assigned targets from gridded maps or photos and became indoctrinated to pin pointed bombing. (The exhaustive training proved fruitful during the combat air support of Iwo Jima and Okinawa Shima).

    Long range inter-air group attacks on target areas 250 miles from base were made during this period.

    The squadron boarded the USS TAKANIS BAY, 16 August for a two-day qualification cruise, and qualified without incident or blowing out a tire. The rocket training period at NAAS ARCATA, was from 2 October to 10 October. On 27 October the squadron, despite bad weather, completed its live-rocket syllabus. Carrier qualification landings and take-offs were made from the USS RANGER during the period 27 October to 29 October 1944.

    After considerable “boxin’ up,” the squadron boarded a train from Oakland to San Diego, where it embarked on the USS HOLLANDIA for Pearl Harbor.

    6. NAS HILO, HAWAII, 12 November 1944 to 16 December 1944:

    VT-17, with other squadron of the AIR GROUP were assigned NAS HILO for advanced base training and air group tactics. A portion of the pilots flew planes from Oahu, other pilots and officers were flown in transports, and some officers and enlisted personnel were transported to HILO on the USS CUMBERLAND SOUND.

    – 16 –

    (continued)


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  • Grumman TBM-3E Avenger

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    The Grumman TBM-3E Avenger was the torpedo bomber used by CAG-17 VT-17 aboard the USS Hornet during 1944 and 1945.


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    The USS Hornet (CV-12) is now a floating museum at NAS Alameda, California. Their tribute to the WWII years includes a restored Grumman TBM-3E Avenger with VT-17 markings.

    TBM-3E Specifications

    • Length – 40 feet
    • Height – 16 feet 5 inches
    • Wingspan – 54 feet
    • Weight (empty) – 10,843 lbs.
    • Weight (maximum) – 18,250 lbs.
    • Engine –¬†Wright/Cyclone R-2600-20, 14 cylinders, 1900 horsepower
    • Range – 1920 miles without armament, 1130 miles with armament
    • Speed – 267 MPH
    • Ceiling – 23000 feet
    • Armament – (torpedo/under-carriage) Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 or 2000 lbs. explosives
    • Armament – (defensive) Wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns (2), turrent-mounted .50 caliber machine gun, tail-mounted .30 caliber machine gun.
    • Crew – 3

    VT-17 TBM aircraft were the first to strike the Battleship Yamato on 7 April 1945.

    Below are a series of photographs of the USS Hornet and VT-17 aircraft during 1944-1945.

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    USS Hornet CAG-17 VT-17 images from www.navsource.org