Allies Axis Battle of Midway Battle of the Philippine Sea Belleau Wood Bougainville Corsair Fighter Ace Grumman F6F Hellcat Guadalcanal Intrepid Isoroku Yamamoto Japanese battleship Yamato John “Ted” Crosby kamikaze memoir Mitsubishi Zero Movies Okinawa Pacific Theater Pearl Harbor POW South Pacific The Jolly Rogers U.S. Navy ULTRA USS Hornet USS Wolverine USS Yorktown vought f4u corsair WWII

Ted Crosby’s Air War in the Pacific

During furious fights over the Pacific, naval aviator Ted Crosby shot down five Japanese planes in one day.
During furious fights over the Pacific, naval aviator Ted Crosby shot down five Japanese planes in one day.

Throughout livid fights over the Pacific, naval aviator Ted Crosby shot down 5 Japanese planes in in the future.

By Eric Niderost

Lieutenant (j.g.) John “Ted” Crosby banked his Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat round, observing the life-and-death drama that was unfolding under him. The Yamato, then the world’s largest battleship and the satisfaction of Japan, was getting into its demise throes. It was a couple of minutes after 2 o’clock on the afternoon of April 7, 1945, and plane from the Activity Group 58.four carriers Yorktown (CV-10), Intrepid (CV-11), and Langley (CVL-27) have been shifting in for the kill.

Crosby had seen his share of motion and would quickly grow to be a fighter ace, however in the present day his mission was extra pacific. He was piloting a photograph aircraft, there to doc the unfolding drama. As an observer, he had a ringside seat to the final main sortie of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

By this time Yamato was a floating, flaming wreck, her antiaircraft crews decimated by Hellcat strafing runs, her higher works torn into twisted items of metallic by 1,000-pound bomb hits. Three bombs hit Yamato amidships, adopted by a number of torpedoes. The ship started to listing closely to port, the motion turning into a pronounced roll.

As Ted Crosby watched, Yamato’s big, 18-inch weapons hit the water, their monumental weight in all probability serving to the battleship capsize. Instantly, Yamato’s No. 1 journal exploded, sending up an enormous coil of smoke and flame that might be seen for over 100 miles. It was a wierd foretaste of the atomic mushroom clouds that might envelope Hiroshima and Nagasaki a couple of months later.

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Watching from above, Crosby had no feeling of elation. “I used to be considering of the Japanese crew,” he stated in a 2011 interview. “Three thousand lives misplaced.”  As a former fighter pilot and Navy man, he might recognize what it meant to go down preventing together with his comrades.

Throughout his World Conflict II profession, Ted Crosby served aboard two Essex-class carriers, Bunker Hill (CV 17) and Hornet (CV 12). There have been 24 Essex-class carriers constructed in the course of the conflict, they usually quickly turned the spine of America’s naval offensive within the Pacific. The efforts of pilots like Crosby not solely turned defeat into victory, but in addition modified the course of naval warfare eternally.

Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in May 1943.

Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in Might 1943.

Turning Level at Halfway

Within the 1930s, battleships have been thought-about to be crucial vessels in any fleet.  Primarily large gun platforms, they have been presupposed to commerce salvos with the enemy till the foe was battered into submission. It was an extended custom, courting again to the age of sail and males comparable to Nelson and Drake. Pearl Harbor modified all that. It’s ironic that the Japanese, having blazed a path with airplanes towards capital ships, turned again and adopted the normal street by commissioning vessels like Yamato.

By June 1942, most of Japan’s strategic aims had been realized. The U.S. Pacific Fleet had been neutralized, a minimum of briefly, and the Philippines and far of resource-rich Southeast Asia overrun. Japan seized numerous far-flung islands, establishing them as a defensive barrier to guard the house islands. Flush with success, the Japanese started believing their very own propaganda that America was a weak-willed, “tender” nation.

The Battle of Halfway was the high-water mark of Japanese conquest within the Pacific. Japan misplaced 4 carriers, the People one. Thereafter, the Japanese can be largely on the defensive. By 1943, new American carriers have been being commissioned, together with the Bunker Hill and Hornet. It’s right here that John Theodore Crosby, recognized to his associates as “Ted,” enters the story.

“I needed to go Navy”

Ted Crosby was born in Eureka, California, on July 30, 1920. When his household moved to the San Francisco Bay space, Ted would go to ships when the fleet got here into port. However as he matured, his preliminary objective was to be a pilot in business aviation. He had an older brother who received precedence, at the least when it got here to a school schooling.

“My mom might solely afford to ship one in every of us to school,” Ted defined. “My brother was a lot better in math than I used to be—in highschool, he was even doing nice in calculus. There was a household assembly about it, and he ended up within the College of California, Berkeley.”

Undaunted, Ted labored on the Golden Gate Worldwide Exposition (World’s Truthful) on Treasure Island and managed to save lots of sufficient cash to attend Marin School, simply north of San Francisco. Struggle interrupted his research, although, and on the spur of the second he and a few pals went to Hamilton Area (later Hamilton Air Pressure Base) to see about becoming a member of the Military Air Forces.

Crosby handed the bodily and was thought-about a primary candidate for flight faculty, however the 22-year-old began having second ideas. “I stated no, as a result of I needed to go Navy. I understood Navy, and felt it gave you one of the best coaching.”

With none additional ado, Crosby went right down to San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront and enlisted within the U.S. Navy. It was an extended and painstaking course of to create a service pilot, and Ted recalled that the Navy was in no hurry. “Once I did enroll they informed me to return to Marin School, end the semester, they usually’d ship me orders. I lastly was advised to report back to [preflight school] at St. Mary’s School, Moraga, California.”

These preliminary levels have been fairly straightforward since “I used to be in fine condition. At St. Mary’s we have been constructing muscular tissues, operating alongside railroad tracks, and taking floor faculty. After a few month and a half, I went to Livermore Naval Air Station.” Locations like Livermore have been typically referred to as “E bases,” brief for elimination bases. The failure or “wash-out” fee might be as excessive as 30 % in some locations.

Crosby was now an AvCad, or naval air cadet. If he handed, he would develop into an officer and bear the distinguished title of naval aviator educated on Stearman N2-S “Yellow Peril” biplanes earlier than being transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas, to earn his wings.

The newly minted aviator traveled to Opa-Locka, Florida (close to Miami) for service touchdown apply. After that, it was on to the freshwater carriers on the Nice Lakes. “That they had two previous coal oilers that that they had transformed into small flattops,” Crosby recalled. “I practiced on the united statesWolverine.”

Becoming a member of With the VF-18

After his coaching, Crosby went on depart, then headed to San Diego 4 days earlier than his liberty was to run out. Ted was anxious to be assigned to a big service. “That’s the place the motion was,” he defined. The task officer had different concepts, although, and assigned Crosby to an escort service. About one-half the size and one-third the displacement of their greater sisters, escort carriers have been typically referred to as “child flattops” or “jeep carriers.”

In a dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the carrier USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze plane that was on its way to attack the American naval task force off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings show it belongs to the USS Hornet (CV12).

In a dramatic portray by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the service USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze aircraft that was on its strategy to assault the American naval activity pressure off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings present it belongs to the united statesHornet (CV12).

The task officer advised Crosby in no unsure phrases that he was going to an escort service. “No,” Ted replied, “I’m not. I’ll be again tomorrow. I don’t need a jeep service. If I’m going in, I’m going to go in on one of many huge guys.” It was a cussed contest of wills—every day Crosby would return, and every day the task officer would supply an escort service.

Crosby acquired assist from an sudden quarter. Lieutenant James Bellows, a veteran of the Battle of Halfway, was sitting at one other desk and overheard the arguments. Bellows was in San Diego to type VF-18, a brand new fighter squadron of Hellcats. “He’s coming with the VF-18,” Bellows declared, whereupon the task officer had a match. “He’s mine!” the task officer insisted, stating he had different plans for Crosby.

Bellows was undeterred. “I feel I’ve modified these plans,” he stated flatly. And so it was that Ted Crosby was assigned to VF-18 on the service Bunker Hill. In a way, Crosby and Bunker Hill have been each novices within the artwork of naval warfare. Bunker Hill was a brand new ship, commissioned in Might 1943. By coincidence, Ted had additionally been commissioned that very same month and yr.

Ted Crosby’s First Battle

Bunker Hill reported to the Pacific within the fall of 1943. By this time Allied offensives on New Guinea have been prospering, and Guadalcanal within the Solomons had been taken after a bloody six-month battle. Because the People pushed ahead within the South Pacific, the most important Japanese base at Rabaul was a main goal.

Rabaul, situated on the island of New Britain within the Bismarck Archipelago, featured 5 airfields, a harbor filled with delivery, and formidable antiaircraft defenses. When U.S. Marines landed on Bougainville, properly inside hanging distance of the Japanese base at Rabaul, it was important that the power be neutralized.

An autumn raid on Rabaul was a serious effort involving a number of American carriers. It was additionally Ted Crosby’s first style of battle. The raid of November 11, 1943, concerned dogfights on an enormous scale. It was an aerial free-for-all, with the brand new F6F Hellcat usually gaining the higher hand over the vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero or “Zeke.”

One incident caught in Ted’s thoughts after the passage of greater than 65 years. As they flew over Rabaul, greenhorn Ted caught shut behind his division chief, Lieutenant Bellows. Instantly, there was a blast of gunfire and Crosby was shocked to see the blazing fuselage of a Zero streak by simply overhead, its fiery path marked by an arc of darkish smoke.

The pilots of Crosby’s Squadron VF-18 photographed with a U.S. Navy Grumman Hellcat on the flight deck of the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).

The pilots of Crosby’s Squadron VF-18 photographed with a U.S. Navy Grumman Hellcat on the flight deck of the united statesBunker Hill (CV-17).

Bellows had seen the Zero and shot it down earlier than Crosby was even conscious of its presence. “At that second,” Ted confessed, “I questioned if I might do that. However later, again on the Bunker Hill, Jim [Bellows] advised me that I used to be following him too intently; I ought to drop again a bit, so I might higher have the ability to go searching for myself. I adopted that recommendation.”

Capturing Down a Betty: Crosby’s First Kill

On November 26, 1943, Ted acquired his first kill—a bit of a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber. Bellows was main his division—which included Ted—again to the Bunker Hill after a routine CAP (fight air patrol) when the service radioed them in flight. Ted stated, “ The CIC [Combat Information Center] referred to as us and stated, ‘Can you’re taking one other task?’ Jim Bellows stated, ‘Sure, however keep in mind—we solely have between 20 minutes to a half hour of gasoline left.’ The CIC guys stated, ‘OK. Right here’s the heading….’”

It appears that there have been some Japanese bombers within the space, as Ted put it, “snooping round.” Bellows and his 4 Hellcat pilots lastly caught up with a Betty, in all probability originating from Rabaul. The Betty was a twin-engine bomber, efficient however very weak as a consequence of its lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. “The tail gunner was giving us a match,” Ted recalled, “so I felt he needed to go.”

A gentle stream of .50-caliber slugs sprayed from Ted’s six machine weapons peppered and shattered the Betty’s tail and rear-gun place. Different Hellcats chimed in, becoming a member of Crosby’s symphony of destruction till the stricken bomber crashed. When he acquired again to Bunker Hill, he claimed the Betty, nevertheless it was decided that the opposite pilots had a share in its downing. In consequence, Crosby’s official rating stood at one-quarter of a Japanese bomber.

There was a harrowing postscript to the Betty episode. “We have been operating low on gasoline,” Crosby remembered, “and it was getting darkish. When a ship goes by, it may well depart a sort of fluorescent wake behind it. We detected simply such a wake, in all probability a service. So, it was merely a matter of ‘Which means did he go?’”

It turned out the ship in query was Belleau Wooden (CVL 24), a light-weight service. “Because it was getting darkish, the very last thing they needed to do was to activate the ship’s lights. They did activate a row of purple lights within the middle of the deck, so we might see one thing as we landed. However, you see, none of us had been educated for night time landings, so this was undoubtedly one thing totally different!

“I went in first, as a result of I had used my gasoline injector to get an additional push to get that Betty. The truth is, I assumed that I had much less gasoline than the opposite guys within the flight. But, when one of many different guys landed, his aircraft died on the spot—no extra fuel!”

Ted introduced his Hellcat in with out incident.

VF-18’s Raids

Because the months handed, Crosby and his squadron honed their expertise. VF-18 and its torpedo bomber and dive bomber counterparts raided Japanese strongpoints and offered floor help for Marines and troopers touchdown on fortified islands. Notable raids included Truk within the Carolines, the Marianas, and Kavieng. Ted stated these raids adopted the identical sample. “We did most of those island raids early within the morning. We’d hit them at dawn, so it might be some time earlier than we’d encounter any flak. As soon as we rousted them out, in fact we’d get antiaircraft hearth. Typically you possibly can even see Japanese troops operating to their battle stations.

“Once they began their antiaircraft hearth, we fighters can be making an attempt to guard our dive bombers and torpedo bombers. That meant strafing to knock the antiaircraft batteries out—and that we might do. You haven’t any concept what six .50-caliber machine weapons can do. In truth, they will tear up something of their path.”

In dogfights and strafing runs, Ted had just one rule: “Don’t be in anybody spot for greater than 10 seconds! Once I seemed in my rear view mirror, I’d typically see flak bursts the place my aircraft had simply been.”

A crewman from the USS Yorktown prepares to remove the wheel chocks of a F6F-3 Hellcat, of the type flown by Crosby, prior to take-off, May 1943.

A crewman from the united statesYorktown prepares to take away the wheel chocks of a F6F-Three Hellcat, of the sort flown by Crosby, previous to take-off, Might 1943.

Crosby remembered the aircraft captains with specific affection. A aircraft captain is to not be confused with a mechanic. “A aircraft captain,” Crosby defined, “was required to stick with a specific airplane,  tie it down once they moved it to a brand new place, and so forth. Every aircraft had a captain. In the event that they moved a aircraft, a captain would untie it [from the deck]take all of the cables and tie-downs with him, and safe the plane once more. However when it might be raining just like the satan, you may see the aircraft captain within the cockpit, cover closed, sleeping!

“They have been good younger individuals,” he recalled with a smile, “and you bought to know them every time you noticed them. Each time you’d mount a Hellcat you’d greet them identical to assembly them on the road––‘How ya doing? Acquired any issues?’ And typically you’d discover a child who had an actual household drawback, and perhaps you’d write a observe to his mother and father telling them what an amazing job he was doing. I did that a few occasions.”

The F6F-5: An “Wonderful Aircraft”

Crosby as soon as had a serious drawback with a specific Hellcat. “Each time we’d have a break in flight operations,” he remembered, “I might get with the aircraft captain and ask him what issues we have been having with No. 14; this aircraft had an oil leak within the cooler system. It doesn’t matter what you probably did, you’d come again with oil everywhere in the stomach. He and I spent a great deal of time looking for the oil leak on that factor!”

The dialogue of Hellcat No. 14 introduced up one other revelation: service pilots didn’t have their very own “private” planes. Crosby may need flown No. 14 a number of occasions, nevertheless it was strictly the luck of the draw. It was not his “private” aircraft, nor did he have his identify and/or kills painted on the fuselage. Land-based Military Air Drive pilots might and did fly the identical planes persistently, however not Navy aviators.

The subject got here up when Ted mentioned a typical day by day routine: “Every squadron had its personal prepared room. The torpedo planes and dive bombers all had a prepared room of their very own. You’d discover storage on your Might West life jacket and different gear, and hangers on the wall on your flight fits. You’d go to the prepared room to get briefings on what was going to occur that day.

“There was additionally a blackboard the place your aircraft task can be chalked. In fact, you had your personal group, and also you went to your aircraft as a part of that group, however you had no concept of what the flight deck appeared like that day, or what aircraft you’d find yourself with.” That was why Navy pilots virtually by no means had their kills painted on specific planes; there was no assure that they might get the identical aircraft once more. In accordance with Ted, plainly photographs of Navy aces with their kills emblazoned on the aspect are principally “photograph ops” and never rather more.

A carrier’s flight-deck crew watches carefully as an officer guides a Hellcat toward the elevator, which is being raised into position, November 1943. Each plane was assigned a captain who was responsible for staying with that particular plane. Pilots, however, did not fly the same plane.

A service’s flight-deck crew watches rigorously as an officer guides a Hellcat towards the elevator, which is being raised into place, November 1943. Every aircraft was assigned a captain who was liable for staying with that exact aircraft. Pilots, nevertheless, didn’t fly the identical aircraft.

Ted Crosby had excessive reward for the Grumman Hellcat, notably the F6F-5, which was an enchancment over the sooner F6F-Three model. “Wonderful aircraft!” Crosby enthused. “For instance, on the F6F-5 there have been self-starters to start out the engine. I used to be only a new, younger child, however I knew as soon as we had the F6F, we had it made! It was an ideal airplane from the beginning, thought it did have flaws. These flaws have been corrected.”

An earlier service aircraft, the Grumman F4F Wildcat, was discovered to be outclassed by the Japanese Zero. For one factor, the Zero was quicker and will outclimb the Wildcat. Zeros would climb steeply, hoping that inexperienced Wildcat pilots would comply with in pursuit. Often they did, solely to have their engines stall out. Powerless and in a corkscrew dive, the Wildcats can be simply picked off by the enemy.

However the Hellcats had a supercharger that enabled the fighter to climb sharply with ease. Ted famous that many Zero pilots found that the Hellcat was not a Wildcat—often the final lesson they ever discovered.

Assembly the Jolly Rogers

The Navy additionally used Probability Vought F4U Corsairs, the long-lasting gull-wing fighters that many affiliate with the Marines. The early Corsairs had teething issues, and it was thought that the airplane’s hose nostril configuration made it lower than preferrred for service landings.

The Corsairs might land on flight decks properly sufficient, however the primary drawback was logistics. It might be exhausting to provide single squadrons of Corsairs when most service planes have been Hellcats or Wildcats.

“Once I first received on the Bunker Hill,” Crosby remembered, “there was a squadron of Corsairs aboard. However they have been transferred to Espiritu Santo, an island within the Solomons. The pilots have been fairly disgusted.”

The Corsair squadron Ted referred to was VF-17, nicknamed the “Jolly Rogers.” The Corsairs had a quick reunion on Bunker Hill once they got here down for refueling. “These guys seemed fairly matted,” Ted stated. “Type of soiled, with beards.…” They managed to get some good Navy chow earlier than taking off once more.

Defending From Japanese Dive-Bombers

By the top of 1944 and early 1945, it was clear that Japan was on its final legs. The Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 and the Battle of Leye Gulf in October nearly destroyed what was left of Japanese naval aviation. Even earlier, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s ill-advised I-GO offensive within the Solomons managed to decimate the cream of Japan’s educated pilots, with no actual benefit gained.

In January 1945, Ted joined a newly reformed VF-17 aboard the united statesHornet. The brand new VF-17 appropriated the previous formation’s cranium and crossbones emblem, however this time the lads can be solely flying Hellcats, not Corsairs. The commander of the brand new VF-17 was Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. “Marsh” Beebe.

The USS Hornet, home to Crosby’s next squadron, VF-17, as shown in September 1944. After the first carrier Hornet (CV-8) was sunk in October 1942, a second flattop was named Hornet (CV-12) to carry on the heritage.

The united statesHornet, house to Crosby’s subsequent squadron, VF-17, as proven in September 1944. After the primary service Hornet (CV-Eight) was sunk in October 1942, a second flattop was named Hornet (CV-12) to hold on the heritage.

By this time American forces have been nicely inside putting distance of the Japanese house islands, and preparations have been underway to take Okinawa, solely 350 miles from  Kyushu, the southernmost Japanese house island. For his or her half, the Japanese have been getting ready a heat welcome with Ten-Ichigo, a concerted kamikaze effort. A whole lot of younger pilots, typically with minimal coaching, have been going to intentionally crash themselves into American warships.

There have been nonetheless a couple of educated Japanese pilots round, no less than sufficient to make life uncomfortable. At one level, Hornet discovered itself underneath assault by Japanese dive bombers.

“There have been Japanese dive bombers coming in on us,” Crosby remembered, “and our antiaircraft wasn’t getting them. We pilots needed to take off as a result of we have been far more efficient than antiaircraft; when antiaircraft hit one thing, they have been fortunate.”

Crosby and different Hellcat pilots raced to their planes, however after he scrambled into the cockpit Crosby discovered he couldn’t get the engine began. “It was in an older mannequin, a Hellcat F6F-Three,” he defined, including, “I used to be blocking Billy Watts [Lt. (j.g.) Charles Watts]who was proper behind me in a F6F-5. The deck individuals moved me out of the best way onto elevator No. 2, which was on the port aspect of the ship.

“Once they received me out of the best way, they launched Billy by catapult. I’ve to congratulate him. I don’t know if I might have been as sharp as he was. He launched and knocked a Japanese dive bomber proper out of the sky proper out of the catapult! Simply moments after Billy launched, a bomb was coming proper for us. The captain ordered a tough starboard flip to keep away from it.”

The Hornet executed a violent flip, so steep that the flight deck tilted to at least one aspect. It was even potential that Ted and his Hellcat, perched precariously over the water on No. 2 hangar, may need been tossed overboard. “God bless my aircraft captain,” Ted declared. “He had already secured my aircraft with a few cable anchors and tie downs. However I obtained drenched as I climbed out of the cockpit. It was from a waterspout created by a bomb that hit proper subsequent to us.”         


On April 16, 1945, Ted Crosby turned an ace in a day, capturing down 5 Japanese planes on a single mission. The Marines had landed on Okinawa on April 1 and, as time went on, the battle for the island intensified. Swarms of kamikazes flew out of Kyushu on suicide missions, crashing into any Allied ship they might discover within the space. Ted and his fellow aviators referred to as them “kamikrazies.” They appeared to evolve to the wartime stereotype of fanatics who would slightly commit suicide than give up.

A bomb-laden kamikaze, scourge of the U.S. Navy, dives toward an American carrier. Crosby learned to keep his distance when firing on a kamikaze to avoid being caught in the explosion from the kamikaze’s load of TNT.

A bomb-laden kamikaze, scourge of the U.S. Navy, dives towards an American service. Crosby discovered to maintain his distance when firing on a kamikaze to keep away from being caught within the explosion from the kamikaze’s load of TNT.

In fact, a cultural gulf that was wider than the Pacific they fought over separated the People from the Japanese. Ate up ultra-nationalistic propaganda that glorified the Bushido Code and Samurai spirit, the impressionable younger Japanese pilots didn’t consider themselves as committing suicide. Suicide per se is perhaps dishonorable, however the kamikaze felt he was giving his life to guard the homeland. It was a moot level, and a tragic lack of life, for by 1945 such sacrifices have been in useless.

Crosby started April 16 on a goal fight air patrol with Lt. Cmdr. Beebe. Crosby’s division (4 Hellcats) was led by Lieutenant Milliard “Fuzz” Wooley; Ensigns J. Garrett and W.L. Osborn accomplished the quartet. As  VF-17’s conflict diary put it, “Wooley’s division ‘tallyhoed’ [engaged] 12 Jacks and Zekes at 24,000 ft and began working them over.”

Truly, there have been two teams of Japanese planes, a dozen or so at round 24,000 ft and a second group that was flying about 9,000 ft decrease. Their primary goal was a destroyer, probably a Fletcher-class vessel, that was cruising north of Okinawa. Ted couldn’t recall the identify of the ship, however its name signal was “Whiskey Base.”

The fighter director aboard the destroyer was completely happy to see Hellcats above him however dismayed when it appeared that they have been leaving. “The fighter director stated, ‘I see what you guys are doing––don’t depart us!’ Wooley replied, ‘Don’t fear. We’ll be again. We need to meet these guys midway earlier than they will get to you!’”

Within the course of, Wooley and Crosby turned separated from the opposite pilots. Squadron Commander Beebe referred to as them, asking for his or her place. Crosby stated, “Fuzz” replied, ‘By no means thoughts, skipper, we obtained them [the Japanese] cornered!’”

“It was a combined group,” continued Crosby, “of some educated pilots escorting some kamikazes.”

5 Kills For Crosby

The primary aircraft Crosby encountered was a Mitsubishi J2M “Jack” fighter that was coming head on. Crosby and his adversary have been seemingly on a collision course, like two medieval knights jousting in a event.

“On the right-hand aspect of the cockpit there’s a service counter that controls the Hellcat’s six machine weapons,” Crosby defined. “There have been levers that permitted us to regulate the weapons—hearth two at a time, 4 at a time, and so forth. If you first enter a struggle, you’ve got all six going on the similar time.

“Properly, I met that Japanese aircraft head on with my six .50-caliber weapons, and the influence of the bullets blew him aside. A part of his engine and propeller, with the prop nonetheless turning, flew proper over my head. I picked out one other [Japanese plane]executed a flip, and went proper after him.”

The second was a Zeke, a kamikaze, not a fighter, so Ted proceeded with warning. “All of us realized you needed to be careful what you probably did as a result of the kamikazes have been loaded with TNT to do us most injury. Once you hit one, they might actually explode! As soon as they exploded, you’d end up flying via a lot of rubbish and particles.”

After he downed the Zeke, Crosby tried to seek out his division chief solely to note tracer bullets zipping previous his Hellcat. Mockingly, Ted had discovered his chief, however not in the best way he needed! The bullets have been from Wooley who, within the pleasure, had mistaken Crosby for the enemy. Realizing his error, Wooley sheepishly radioed Ted, “Did I get you, Ted?”

“Noooo.…” Ted replied, “however let’s quiet down and get extra of those guys!”     

Wooley readily complied, going after one other Japanese aircraft, however discovered he was out of ammunition. Paradoxically, his previous couple of bursts had been expended when he mistakenly fired on Ted. Wooley dove down, making himself a decoy by luring enemy planes into Crosby’s weapons. The ruse was profitable, enabling Ted to down two extra Japanese planes.

They determined to name it a day, however as they began again to the service Crosby noticed kamikaze heading towards the identical destroyer that they had helped shield earlier. Ted gave chase, tattooing the Japanese aircraft with a sprig of .50-caliber lead. He broke off his assault as a result of they have been nearing the destroyer, and he knew that the ship’s radar couldn’t distinguish pal from foe.

Positive sufficient, the destroyer opened hearth, and the kamikaze, already disabled by Ted’s weapons, angled down and crashed onto a close-by island. Thus, Ted Crosby turned an ace in day, credited with three Jacks, a Zeke, and a Val dive bomber.  His talent and valor that day gained him the coveted Navy Cross.

Ted says he didn’t really feel too good about downing these kamikazes at first. He realized that a lot of the suicide pilots had little coaching and have been for probably the most half sitting geese to skilled Navy airmen. Nevertheless, Ted felt higher “once I was advised the extent of the injury they did on ships, and by capturing them down I used to be saving American lives.”

“I Misplaced Buddies That Day”

Even late within the struggle the skies over Japan might be decidedly harmful. Crosby participated within the raid on Kure, a serious Japanese naval base close to Hiroshima, and a number of other surrounding airfields. Hornet’s conflict diary states that on March 19, 1945, its Hellcats encountered a big formation of Georges whereas flying over the northwestern coast of Shikoku en path to Kure.

Ted Crosby today. This picture was taken on the Hornet (CV 12), which is a museum ship docked at Alameda, California.

Ted Crosby at the moment. This image was taken on the Hornet (CV 12), which is a museum ship docked at Alameda, California.

“George” is the Allied identify for the Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden-kai fighter, a aircraft many thought-about superior to the Zero—and equal to the Hellcat. Captain Minoru Genda of Pearl Harbor fame swore by them and urged that Japan construct up squadrons of Georges as an alternative of squandering lives in kamikaze assaults.

The Hornet diary states that although the Hellcats managed to splash 20 Japanese planes, six Hellcats have been misplaced. “Sure,” Crosby sadly admitted, “I misplaced associates that day—we misplaced six guys. And it was due [in part] as a result of we had a silly chief.” Ted doesn’t identify the officer however described the occasions as he remembered them. “We have been flying alongside beneath a skinny overcast. Wooley and I have been making an attempt to get this man [the leader] to fly over it, however he wouldn’t do it. ‘Keep off the air—I’m the chief—get out of right here!’ he stated. Nicely, Wooley and I dropped again and climbed up. As we popped up over the overcast, we noticed them—4 Georges monitoring and watching the remainder of the squadron, who have been forward of me and Wooley.”

As quickly as they noticed Crosby and Wooley, and knew their cowl was blown, the Georges plunged down on the primary physique of Hellcats with out hesitation. The end result was an enormous dogfight that value the lives of six People.

A Shut Name With a George

Crosby additionally had an in depth name on a photo-recon mission close to Shokaku, after American service planes had attacked Japanese delivery within the space. “I had my plot board out and I’m placing down the time of day, the slant of the solar, and all that needed to do with images. All of a sudden, I noticed stuff [bullets] bouncing off my wing. I look again, and there’s this man on my tail—in all probability a George.  Solely time I ever had a man on my tail.”

After one cross the George broke off the assault and appeared to go again to his base. Crosby was not inclined to comply with him. In the meanwhile he was alone, and following an enemy aircraft over enemy territory didn’t appear to be a sensible factor to do. After he received again to Hornet, Ted discovered an unexploded 30mm shell in his cockpit armor, mute testimony to his luck and the truth that American plane designs protected their pilots.

Ted Crosby remained within the Navy after the conflict and retired with the rank of commander. Though he had an extended and distinguished naval profession, the reminiscences of his days aboard Bunker Hill and Hornet stay recent, even after the passage of 65 years.