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  F6F-5 Hellcat Bureau Number 71441 Tail 29
USS Langley (CVL-27)

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IJN January 4, 1945

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USMC Sept 8, 1945

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USAAF Sept 1945
Pilot  Lt(jg) Charles V. August, 104075 (POW, survived) Whittier, CA
Force Landed  January 4, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman as a model G-50. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-5 Hellcat bureau number 71441.

Wartime History
Assigned to the USS Langley (CVL-27) to Fighting Squadron 44 (VF-44). Tail code 29 painted in white with a white tipped tail. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On January 4, 1945 at 7:15am took off from the USS Langley (CLV-27) piloted by Lt(jg) Charles V. August on Strike "B" led by Commander Malcome T. Wordell on a mission to escort six TBF Avengers attacking Kobi on Formosa. August was leading the second division tasked with strafing parked planes at Kobi Airfield from 3,500' down to 500' to 50' at glide angles of 20° to 35°.

After the first strafing run, this Hellcat was observed to pull up into the clouds from 2,500' before the second strafing run. August re-joined the formation for the third strafing attack. Afterwards, the formation joined up and attacked a radio tower roughly 10 miles to the southeast. Around 10:20am, the division returned to Kobi Airfield to continue strafing. Over the target, this Hellcat suffered an engine failure and force landed near Kobi Airfield. When this aircraft failed to return, August was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fate of the Pilot
In fact, August survived the force landing unhurt and was immediately taken prisoner, blindfolded and bound. Later, he was transported to Japan and held as a Prisoner Of War (POW) at Omori POW camp and detained for the remainder of the Pacific War. During September 1945 August was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) Tokyo Bay Area 35-140 and returned to the United States.

August passed away in July 1985. Burial details unknown.

Afterwards, his intact Hellcat was recovered by Japanese personnel from Kobi Airfield and transported to Kobi. Displayed at Kobi Shrine and later transported to Japan.

This Hellcat was repaired and operated from Yokosuka Airfield with Japanese markings including Hinomaru (rising sun) was applied with tail number ヨ-801 (Yokosuka Kōkūtai). At the end of the war abandoned at Yokosuka Airfield on the belly, likely after a force landing. Afterwards, it was partially stripped for parts with the propeller and engine cowling removed. The fabric surfaces and canopy were also missing.

During early September 1945, the wreckage was found by U. S. forces and photographed. Afterwards, moved and more parts were removed. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-5 Hellcat 71441
NARA "USS Langley War Diary January 1945 page 8
"4 January 1945 - 1141 recovered 8 VF [F6F Hellcat fighters] from Strike 'B'. Plane No. 29 of VF-44 from Strike 'B', Bureau No. 71441, piloted by Lieut. C. V. August, (A1), U.S.N.R., was last seen over target on Formosa Island. Pilot missing. 1 VF from Strike 'B' still unaccounted for."
NARA "Fighting Squadron Forty-Four (VF-44) War History" page 23 (October 27, 1944), 28 (January 4, 1945)
NARA "Report of air operations against Formosa, Philippines, French Indo China, South China & the Ryukyu Islands, 1/3-22/45" page 9
(Page 9) "2. Again on 4 January, although two strikes were scheduled, the second was canceled because of adverse weather. Two fighter pilots failed to return from one strike flown. One, Lieut. C. V. August, was last seen over Kobi Field, Formosa in a strafing run."
USN Fighting Squadron 44 (VF-44) Aircraft Action Report (AAR) January 4, 1945 transcribed by Henry Sakaida
NARA "Records of World War II Prisoners of War" Charles V. August racial group 2 Negro [sic]
NARA "WWII Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualty List [California] U. S. Navy 1946 page 201 Released From Prison Camps - Charles Valentine August
Arawasi Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2007 "Hellcat in Hinomaru" by Marin Ferkl
Thanks to Minoru Kamada, Henry Sakaida and Osamu Tagaya for additional information

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Last Updated
September 8, 2020

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