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Old 1st May 2010, 21:17
Brian Brian is offline
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USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Hi guys

I understand that US Marine squadron VMF-533 lost two aircraft and pilots to friendly fire circa May-August 1945, 1/Lt Wilhide and 1/Lt Kelley being killed. Can anyone provide details please?

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Brian
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Old 1st May 2010, 23:23
Larry Larry is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Is this thread on the wrong part of the forum. I can only assume you are talking of an incident in the Pacific in May - August 1945?
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Old 2nd May 2010, 01:52
Frank Olynyk Frank Olynyk is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Brian,
2ndLt Wilfred W Wilhide of VMF-311 was lost in F4U-1D 82286 on June 11, 1945 at Okinawa. His brother Robert M Wilhide of VMF(N)-533 was lost (disappeared) on May 17, 1945 (MIA) apparently (assumption) by American AA gunners at Okinawa, in F6F-5N 78303 (note correct aircraft designation and notation -- never a dash after the first F).

1stLt Maynard C Kelley of VMF(N)-533 died of wounds on May 24/25. He was not flying, but was the tower duty officer at Yontan A/F, Okinawa. From about 2225 hours five Japanese aircraft (several (all?) of which were Sallys) attempted to land on Yontan A/F with troops to attempt to destroy as many aircraft there as possible. Indescriminate rifle and machine gun firing from US ground troops (but *probably* not Japanese) apparently caused his death.

Details from Sherrod: History of MC Aviation in WW2.

Frank.
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Old 2nd May 2010, 12:04
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Thanks Frank, much appreciated.

Apologies Larry!

Cheers
Brian
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Old 6th May 2010, 16:13
Mark A. Magruder Mark A. Magruder is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

In response to questions regarding the 2 VMF(N)533 pilots lost in WWII. Colonel Marion M. "Black Mac" Magruder USMC, comissioned and commanded the squadron in WWII. I am his son. I have just completed the book "NIGHTFIGHTER," the true story of Magruder and VMF(N)533 in WWII.
Wilhide was killed the night of May 17, 1945 by AA fire from Admiral Turner's flag ship as 1st Lt. Wilhide was closing in to intercept two Betty Bombers in the vicinity of the ship. Wilhide was flying an F6F-5(N) that was a gift from his home town to the USMC. 1st Lt. Kelley was killed the night of 24 May 1945 while on night duty in the Yontan field tower, repelling the "Giretsu" suicide raid. He accounted for 1 dead raider before he was killed by a stray .50 cal. round from "friendly" fire. Both pilots were killed by US fire.
I am including a synopsis of VMF(N)533's WWII history:
VMF(N) 533: “Black Mac’s Killers” WWII Squadron Narrative


VMF(N) 533: “Black Mac’s Killers.” Commissioned October 1, 1943 as part of MAG 53, MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., Third Marine Aircraft Wing. Major Marion M. Magruder, CO, Captain H. Hutchinson Jr., XO. Magruder and Hutchinson had just returned from England along with two other Pilots, two line officers and seven NCOs’ from three months of intense training with the RAF to learn as much as possible about Radar Night Fighting Techniques from the British. Major Magruder was tasked with developing the Naval Night Fighting Doctrine for a single pilot, single engine fighter capable of operating from a carrier that could be quickly adapted from the existing US fighter inventory—as the Navy was in desperate need of effective night fighting capabilities in the Pacific.

It was not until December 1, 1943 Marine 533 received enough personnel to operate as an independent unit. Magruder had hoped to receive experienced pilots due to the highly specialized nature of Radar Intercept Night Fighting but none were available. The Squadron had to begin with pilots fresh out of operational training, which added to the daunting task at hand. VMF(N) 533 was the first Squadron to receive the F6F-3(N) Hellcat with AIA Radar. Magruder’s doctrine dictated a night fighter squadron should be configured to operate as a stand-alone unit so it could be quickly deployed to the rapidly changing combat arenas when most needed—at the beginning of hostilities. VMF(N) 533 was totally self contained; all they required was a runway to operate from. Maj. Magruder was promoted to Lt. Col. in December 1943.

After an arduous Radar Intercept training program the Squadron deployed to Eniwetok Island on May 6, 1944. VMF(N) 533 relieved VMF(N) 532. On July 6, 1944 the Squadron also set up a rotating contingent on Roi Island, Kwajalein Atoll, for their night defense. The Squadron continued its rigorous training schedule while conducting the night defense of the area. During this period they replaced their worn out fighters with the new F6F-5, converting them to the (N) configuration in the field with the updated APS 3 Radar equipment taken from their surveyed F6F-3(N)s (and eventually installing the APS 6 sets when the newer radar equipment came on line). (According to Vice-President Gillies of Grumman Aircraft Corporation, this was the only Unit known to have accomplished such conversions in the field in WWII.) On November 30, 1944 the Squadron moved its base of operations from Eniwetok over to Engebi.

May 7, 1945, on three days notice, VMF(N) 533 was ordered to deploy to Okinawa with a skeleton crew of 13 officers (8 extra pilots, Flight Surgeon, Fighter Director with 3 key department heads) and 57 enlisted men and very few spare parts, to fly aboard five R5C transports provided by VMFR 252 along with the Squadron’s fifteen hellcats—all flying into combat. The 2500-mile journey with two stops, Saipan and Iwo Jima, is the longest over water flight by single engine fighters in WWII. (The remainder of the squadron personnel and equipment followed by sea on LST’s, and arrived at Ie Shima Atoll, just off the north west coast of Okinawa, several weeks later to prepare a permanent base for 533 to transfer to on June 15, 1945.)
Arriving on May 10, 1945 at Yontan Field, the Squadron was operational in 36 hours, adding to the units already in the area. The “Scrappers” (call sign of 533) were responsible for two shifts of six aircraft for every night, until the schedule changed slightly on June 19 with one night in four on standby and one night sending up 4 two plane “offensive night combat attack missions.” “Black Mac’s Killers” never fell short on meeting its operational commitments. They also covered shortfalls in defensive aircraft other night fighter squadrons were unable to launch. On one occasion VMF(N) 533 sent up a total of 17 fighters in a single night. This is a remarkable achievement as the Squadron only had 15 fighters total, and they were operating in rudimentary facilities, with limited spare parts, in horrendous monsoon weather conditions with minimal personnel.

On June 15, 1945 the Squadron moved operations from Yontan to Charlie Airstrip, Ie Shima. The original 30 officers and 60 enlisted men operating the Squadron now joined the rest of the Squadron personnel busy setting up 533’s new location since their arrival on May 30 at Ie Shima. Having the entire Unit together made operations much easier for the “Crystal Gazers” (a slang term referring to 533’s Radar Intercept Program) for the remainder of the conflict.

Despite the fact “Black Mac’s Killers” arrived forty days after the Okinawa campaign began, and the weather was horrendous throughout, they shot down 35 enemy aircraft and 1 probable—all radar intercepts, which is almost as many aircraft destroyed as all 3 other night fighter squadrons on Okinawa, combined. VMF(N) 533 is the top scoring Night Fighter Squadron of the Pacific Theater in WWII. VMF(N) 533 had the best safety record and the highest combat ready rate for any operational squadron in the Pacific. In 15 months deployment overseas the “Scrappers” logged over 11,000 flight hours with only two regrettable losses, both due to “friendly fire,” 1st Lt.’s Wilhide and Kelley.

Captain Robert Baird of VMF(N) 533 is the only US Night Fighter Ace of WWII with 6 Night Kills. 1st Lt.’s Dellamano, Hemstad and Wellwood had 3 each and Le Faivre and Smurr had 2 each. Eighteen “Scrappers” had at least one Night Kill, including Black Mac, the CO. Among the many commendations and citations earned by the Squadron, VMF(N) 533 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for this action, and the legacy of “Black Mac’s Killers” still lives on today as VMFA (AW) 533, “Night Hawks.”


Reference Sources: VMF(N) 533 Squadron History Narrative Section October 1943 through April 1945, War Diary of Marine Night Fighter Squadron Five Thirty-Three for the Months of May and June 1945, Col. Magruder (Naval Aviator 6008) Military Flight Log Book, VMF(N) 533 after action reports ACA 1 through 35, Col. M. M. Magruder (05373) Military Service Records, USMC Credits for Destruction of Enemy Aircraft in Air-To-Air Combat WWII, USAAF Pacific Squadron Air-to-Air Combat Victories WWII.

Mark A. Magruder
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Old 7th May 2010, 19:43
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Hi Mark

Welcome aboard!

Thanks for responding - when will your book appear?

Cheers
Brian
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Old 13th May 2010, 07:08
Frank Olynyk Frank Olynyk is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Mark,
I too would be interested in learning further details of your history of VMF(N)-533 (price, availability, and ordering instructions). Further, if your father's flight log from the period survives would it be possible to learn the BuNo of the F6F-5N he was flying on June 22, 1945 when he claimed a Betty?

Many thanks.

Frank.
Historian, American Fighter Aces Association.
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Old 18th January 2018, 03:35
Edward L. Hsiao Edward L. Hsiao is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Gentlemen,

Interesting WWII Aviation history!

Edward L. Hsiao
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Old 18th January 2018, 12:03
twocee twocee is offline
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

As regards the other Wilhide, his Corsair was flying at 11,000' on a photo-escort mission to Kyushu when the engine failed. He attempted a ditching but hit hard and the aircraft sank quickly. He was not seen to get out.
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Old 19th January 2018, 20:36
edwest2 edwest2 is online now
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Re: USM F-6F-3(N) Night Fighters

Here is the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Nightfighter-.../dp/1455615315

And a little background about the author:

http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/c...e44426040.html



Usual disclaimer,
Ed
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