"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
Navy C.B.I. Patches
Above:  Aircrewmen from Composite Squadron 93 (VC-93) pause for a photo-op while their carrier, U.S.S. Petrof Bay (CVE 80), takes on supplies and ordnance at Kerama Retto, west of Okinawa, on April 3, 1945. The radioman seen in our background photo, with a "painted" Navy C.B.I. patch, is second from right, on the Avenger's port wing. Note that his patch is worn just above his left elbow, rather than the conventional shoulder location. Another patch can be found in the front row, far right. See enlargements below.

Below:  If our previous page gave the misimpression that only one squadron, VF-11, wore these patches, this page will feature their use by others in the POA as well.  The 42 pilots of VC-93 were photographed at the same time as the squadron's gunners and radiomen. Typical for a composite squadron at the time, the aircraft compliment was 20 FM-2s and 12 TBM-3s. A half-dozen pilots were cross-trained and qualified to fly either aircraft when needed. Only one patch is visible, on the kneeling pilot at far right, but others may be hidden from view due to the necessarily close quarters.
Above and below:  The ready room for aircrewmen of VB-87, aboard Ticonderoga on July 16, 1945, has a less-than-capacity crowd. Flying SB2C-4E Helldivers, their authorized complement of rear-seat-men had been reduced to 24 from the original 36, and was later to hit a low of only 15. In an attempt to counter the Kamikaze threat off Okinawa and the waters surrounding Japan, VB numbers were cut while VFs were increased by adding new VBF squadrons flying Hellcats or Corsairs.

Often seen hanging from ready room overheads, gas masks and steel helmets were available for quick donning in the event of
enemy air attack.
Above, left:  An example of the VB-87 squadron patch from the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum. These were painted on the heavy, blue, water-proof canvas used for aircraft engine and cockpit canopy covers.  

Above right: The "Chief" at the rear of our first VB-87 photo above sports a "Halsey Gray" overseas cap with CPO insignia and a "painted" C.B.I. patch on his summer flight jacket.

Below, left:  This Helldiver rear-seat-man catches up on his reading during a lull in the action.

Below, right:   Three "painted" patches show themselves among the flight clothing and equipment  on the ready room bulkhead. Note the wooden hanger used for one patched flight suit, an often seen, and perhaps more squared away, alternative to hanging your gear from the coat hooks provided.
Upon their arrival in the POA in January of 1945, the squadron's pilots were briefly land-based and given pre-combat navigation, gunnery and rocket-strike refresher training on Pityilu in the Admiralty Islands before embarking aboard Petrof Bay to participate in the Okinawa campaign on March 10th. Familiarization with the latest survival gear and techniques was included, as well as escape and evasion briefings provided by Mobile Training Unit 4 of the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Areas. Might this be the source of their "painted" C.B.I. patches?

Above:  VC-93 pilots receive last minute updates before another strike at targets in the Okinawa area. Combat operations for the squadron spanned the period from March, 25th to May, 26th, 1945. LT Norman Dunsweiler, at left, wears a "painted" patch on his M-426a suit.
 Also of note are the A/O MK-IV goggles in use by the pilot at far right.
Above and below:  Unlike the "painted" patches of VF-11, those of VC-93 and VB-87 shown in our photos on this page all appear to have been trimmed around the shield.
Below:  VB-87's insignia can been seen applied to the cowlings of these dive bombers in the form of a decal. The white chevron on the tail denotes aircraft flying from CV 14, Ticonderoga.
Below:  Reader Alan Wood sent us this photo of pilots from VBF-87 receiving a briefing in their ready room aboard Ticonderoga. Carrier Air Group Eighty-Seven's Bomb-Fighting squadron was equipped with F6F-5s, as was its Fighting squadron, and was the recipient of the 10,000 Hellcat produced (see "Grumman at War", Pg 2 for photos). Alan's father, LT George Douglas Wood, Jr., is center front, wearing a navy HBT cap. All hands appear to be in attendance, as folding chairs have been set up in the isle, several are sitting on the deck (including Alan's dad) and the late arrivals are left to stand in the rear. Escape and evasion aids seem to have been handed out as part of this briefing as a Chinese blood-chit can be seen facing the camera. The seated pilot, second from right with his ready room chair's desk top deployed, has a Chinese (folded over) and American chit (face down) as well as an uncut, "painted" C.B.I. patch (to the right of his chits with the blue field toward the camera). We will be sharing more with you about Alan's dad in the near future.
Above:  LT Wood in full flight gear. Unfortunately, the outside of his left shoulder is not visible, so we don't know if his flight suit (or jacket) is patched, but we can tell that the reverse side of his Mae West has been painted blue and his QAS harness has been marked with a "Final Striking Date".

Below:  On the evening of 3/12/45, the "Batmen" of Night Air Group 90 threw a "blow-out" with beer for all hands that spanned their three ready rooms on U.S.S. Enterprise. One VF pilot, just back from a night CAP,  wears his tropical flying suit with a "painted" C.B.I. patch in an unconventional location. If he still had on his Mae West, it would go completely unnoticed.
Above:  An unidentified TBM crew from VC-98 aboard U.S.S. Lunga Point, circa May-August, 1945 in the POA. The pilot (center) appears to be wearing a "painted" C.B.I. patch. Per the squadron's history, they were the first CVE based air group to operate in the East China Sea while providing anti-submarine patrols and CAP over a force of 98 mine sweepers tasked with clearing a path southeast of the Japanese home islands during the first week of July, 1945. Several anti-shipping strikes were also made by the air group's aircraft along the Chinese coast during the remainder of July and into August. Photo provided by Greg Pons.

Below:  A closer view. The sun's rays (representing the 12 months of the year) on the "painted" patch are less distinct, resembling the cogs of a gear, when compared to those found on the printed, or machine woven C.B.I. patches. In addition, the silver border between the stripes can make the white stripes appear wider than the red stripes in black and white photos.

 Bottom:   The uncropped version of our background photo. Note, the life raft stowage door (above the radioman's left shoulder) appears to be a replacement from another TBM.