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USMC SNJ-5N Texan night fighter

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comrade harps:
North Americna SNJ-5N Texan
Stella, #12, VMF(N)-544, Oki, Dogo Island, Japan
12 February, 1946



Marine Night Fighter Squadron 544 (VMF(N)-544) was activated on May 1, 1944 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, equipped with F6F-3Es. They immediately began training for aerial combat at night and in poor weather and low visibility. The squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station El Centro on November 3, 1944, where they continued their training for two more months. In February 1945, VMF(N)-544 again moved, this time to Marine Corps Air Station Eagle Mountain near Fort Worth, Texas. By now they were flying F6F-5Ns, but would be held back as a reserve unit until January, 1946, when they deployed to Pusan in southern Korea.



The Allied invasion of southern Korea had come about as an urgent reaction to the Red Army's intervention in China, Manchuria and northern Korea on August, 1945. Since the Western Allies had broken with the Reds over European Separate Peace of August, 1944, there had been grave concerns over the likely extent of any Red offensive in the Far East. This gave the impending deployment of VMF(N)-544 a double tasking, as they were now not only going up against the Japanese, but also maybe the Socialist Union. A review of both Japanese and Red nocturnal aviation threats in late August highlighted the need to counter slow, low flying intruders, such as the Red's Po-2 and the emerging use of biplane trainers as night harassment bombers by the Japanese.

The RAF, British Pacific Fleet, USAAF, USN and USMC all tried various types and tactics to counter the Japanese slow movers, including radar equipped  Beaufighters, Black Widows, Corsairs, Hellcats, Avengers and Fireflies, but with little success. It was the USN who figured it out first (you needed a slow radar equipped aircraft to successfully engage a small, slow, low, nimble ,biplane trainer at night) and VMF(N)-544, preparing to embark to the front, who were given the job to implement the solution. At China Lake, several SNJ-3 and -4 trainers has been equipped with APS-4 and -6 radar sets as test beds and for training. When experienced crews (pilot and radar operator) set out in these aircraft to intercept a N2S-5 Kaydet trainer simulating intruder tactics, the results bettered similar tests with dedicated night fights (and also the PV-1N Ventura). By late September, 12 SNJ-5 were being modified to SNJ-5N standard with APS-6 radars and sent to Eagle Mountain for VMF(N)-544 to establish the necessary tactics and doctrine before embarking for the trip to Korea. To bring the intercept to a successful conclusion, these radar Texans were armed with a pair of twin .30cal MG pods under the wings.





Arriving in the winter environment of January, there was little action for VMF(N)-544 until the US Army stormed the more temperate shores of Dogo Island in February. The night harrasers now returned in force, with (weather permitting) several sorties being flown from Honshu and other near-by islands each night. Once the airfield at Oki on Dogo Island was secured, VMF(N)-544 established a detachment there, rotating F-6F-5Ns, SNJ-5Ns and their crews through this forward position that was still prone to occasional mortar attack.




One of the first aircraft deployed was a plane whose nose art drew both on the unit's history and the Texan name; Stella was her name and she was a gun-toting cowgirl. On the night of 9 February, 1946, her crew was pilot Lt. Jack Stewart and CWO.2 Kenneth Dunn and, with the help of GCI, they shot down a Yokosuka K5Y Willow night harassment plane near the port of Kamaya on Dogo Island. Two nights later, the same crew in the same plane scored again, destroying another Willow, this time off the Island's east coast.



While Stewart and Dunn would go on to claim 7 Japanese night kills together, 3 nights later it was the end for Stella. Sitting at alert, the plane was struck by the a mortar round and destroyed by fire; there were no deaths, but three Marine ground crew were injured.


PR19_Kit:
Looks great Comrade Harps, but I can't help feeling the target aircraft would hear the Texan coming from a LONG way off!  ;D :lol:

The Rat:
Nicely done!  :thumbsup:


--- Quote from: PR19_Kit on April 01, 2013, 10:27:57 am ---Looks great Comrade Harps, but I can't help feeling the target aircraft would hear the Texan coming from a LONG way off!  ;D :lol:

--- End quote ---

Yeah, but it's like the siren on a Stuka, get 'em fearful!  ;D

jorel62:
Very cool......

NARSES2:
Great idea and really nice execution  :thumbsup:

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