Monday, April 23, 2012

Torpedo Bombing Squadron Five at NAS Norfolk, 1941

Sheet metal sailors work on the airframe of a Devastator torpedo bomber of Torpedo Bombing Squadron Five (VT-5) in December 1941.  The sign reads: "Speed work on this plane.  It may sink a Japanese ship."  Based at NAS Norfolk since 1938,  VT-5 was a part of USS Yorktown (CV-5)'s air group and deployed with the carrier to the Pacific.  
VT-5 bombers at NAS Norfolk, 1939
The sign was quite prophetic. The squadron participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. VT-5's planes made up the second wave of a massive air strike against the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho. Having already been hit by bombers from USS Lexington (CV-2), VT-5's torpedoes finished off the carrier.  VT-5 also participated in the attack on the aircraft carrier Shokaku, but either the planes' torpedoes missed their marks or they failed to detonate. 
With mixed color scheme, VT-5's planes sit on the NAS Norfolk tarmac, 1939
Causalities suffered during the battle forced the Navy to pull VT-5 off the battle line.  As a result, the squadron did not participate in the Battle of Midway.  The squadron did return to action later in 1942.  By the end of the war, VT-5 sortied sixty-eight times, more than any other torpedo bomber squadron.

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