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USS Essex CV-9
Built by Grumman as Model G-50 in Bethpage, New York. This aircraft was an early model F6F-5 and retained the windows behind the cockpit, an identical feature to the earlier F6F-3 model. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-5 Hellcat bureau number 70143.
Assigned to the USS Essex CV-9 to Air Group 15 (AG-15) to Fighting Squadron 15 (VF-15). Assigned to Commanding Officer (C. O.) Commander David McCampbell as the fourth aircraft assigned to him. Nicknamed "Minsi III" in yellow block letters on the right side of the nose.
Previously, he was assigned F6F-3 "Monsoon Maiden" until it was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and removed from service on May 20, 1944. Next, F6F-3 "The Minsi" that he flew and claimed 10½ victories. Afterwards, F6F-5 "Minsi II" and finally this aircraft.
Flying this Hellcat, McCampbell scored his eleventh to thirty-third and a half aerial victory claims between September 12, 1944 until November 14, 1944 (the last 23½ of his 34 kills) and became the U. S. Navy's highest scoring ace in World War II. On the right side of the cockpit was McCampbell's scoreboard with Japanese rising sun flags (6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 4).
On December 1, 1944 this Hellcat was photographed with aces from VF-15 and their scoreboard. Afterwards, this aircraft became part of the fighter replacement pool and was lost.
Some sources state this aircraft was lost during December 1944 during an accident while flown by a replacement pilot.
Conversely, USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List April 1945 lists F6F-5N Hellcat 70143 as a replacement pool aircraft lost April 2, 1945 off USS Windham Bay (CVE-92) off Okinawa piloted by Ensign L. E. Colvin who was rescued. It is unclear if this is the same aircraft or an error with the bureau number.
F6F-5 Hellcat 94203 displayed at the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) is painted in the markings of this aircraft.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-5 Hellcat 70143
Hellcat Aces of World War 2 (1996) by Barrett Tillman pages 41 (profile 30 "Minsi III"), 49 (photo), 56 (photo), 96 (profile 30 description "Minsi III", 90 (ace list)
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List April 1945 - F6F-5 Hellcat 70143
Thanks to David McCampbell (son) and Barrett Tillman for additional information
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