"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
The following images have been published elsewhere, but tell more of the story of VCS-7 and may not have been seen in this resolution previously.

Below:  Another view of the ever-popular "4X", this time with the squadron CO,  LCDR William Denton, Jr. standing by. His M-445a winter flying jacket may have proved a bit bulky in the confines of a Spitfire cockpit, but the weather in England in the late spring of 1944  was probably cooler than anticipated.  Several of these VCS-7 images in the National Archives files have been liberally "red penciled" by a military censor, although one has to wonder why another Spitfire, in a photo of a Spitfire, would have drawn his attention.
 Navy Spits 
      VCS-7 In Normandy, Part 2

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Dustin, while doing the research for his new series of survival gear books, we are pleased to bring you these images of VSC-7, several of which have remained hidden away in the depths of the National Archives for the past 73 years. The remainder have been published before, many in Part One of this article, but can now be viewed in a higher resolution than previously available. Let's start with the new material first then, shall we?

Background photo: LT (jg) Charles S. Zinn, USNR, is seated in the cockpit of a clipped-wing Spitfire LF Vb (serial number unknown) coded "4X", the squadron's most-photographed aircraft. In this case, the "4" designates the squadron, and the "X" the individual aircraft. Invasion stripes were hastily applied at most airfields on the day before D-Day, to preserve secrecy. Period photos show the outlines typically being chalked on and the stripes being brush painted, rather hastily, in most cases.

Below: LT (jg) W. F. Lathrop, USNR, is seen here in the same aircraft, but is photographed from the starboard side. The squadron's assigned aircraft were second-hand machines from the RAF, but well maintained and of much higher performance than anything the scouting squadron pilots were used to. Zinn and Lathrop both flew from USS Tuscaloosa. The caption for this photo states that the LT is "about to taxi his Spitfire out of its pen for a flight to France". We can see that "4X" is in an earthen revetment at one of the dispersal areas around the airfield at RNAS Lee-on-Solent. None of these photos are dated, being credited only to "SHAEF" and having been received by the Bureau of Aeronautics on February 17, 1945, but had to have been taken between June 6 and June 25, 1944.

Below: Once operational after D-Day, the one USN, two RAF and four FAA squadrons of the spotting force pooled their ninety aircraft, so the American pilots could have flown any of VCS-7's twenty assigned planes or any of the other squadron's Spitfires, or Seafires, that were available on any given day. USN pilots did always fly together in pairs, however. Maintenance duties were shared between USN, RAF and FAA ground crews. Here we see Louis W. Orsie, AMM3c, USNR, who looks on as radio mechanic John Dillon of the Fleet Air Arm makes an adjustment inside the radio compartment. Note the cover over the Mark II gyro gunsight in the cockpit.
Above: From left to right, Ralph D. Malstrom, AMM3c, USNR, Corp. Edmund Oxtoby, RAF (on the ground) and Albert J. Dellevelt, AMM2c, USNR work on the Rolls Royce V12 Merlin engine of an RAF Spitfire. The two Navy men appear to be wearing the one-piece HBT coverall, standard issue to mechanics in the Army, as well as the Navy. An auxiliary power unit can be seen at the lower left, known to the RAF as a "trolley acc", it provided extra battery power to help start the plane's engine.

Below: LT (jg) P. G. Hill dons his parachute, with the help of Harold J. Pontiff, ACRM, USNR, on the left, and Rodus N. Hill, S1c, USNR. 
The trio are in front of the Quonset hut that served as the squadron's headquarters, according to the original caption. The squadron designation painted on the door has been obscured by the censor. LT Hill wears an M-422a intermediate jacket over his khaki shirt and service dress green trousers. RAF supplied equipment includes his type C flight helmet with type G oxygen mask (modified as a microphone carrier) and 1941 life vest. His AN-6530 goggles, seat parachute, pararaft and .38 Victory revolver with shoulder holster are all Navy issue.
Above:  Another view of LCDR Denton, this time without his full complement of flying gear, but wearing an M-422a jacket and RAF escape boots over his green winter working uniform, making for an odd looking combination. The censor, ever-busy, has targeted a row of aircraft, the identification number of the CO's jeep (NAF 413) and a large tree, for reasons known only to him.

Below:  Squadron members take some time off to familiarize themselves with the game of cricket. The variety of uniforms exhibited is far from uniform, ranging from khaki shirt and trousers with a flight jacket, summer khaki uniform, winter working greens, the blue service uniform and two similar, but slightly different, adaptations of Royal Navy officer's blue serge working dress blouses, customized with U.S. Navy buttons and insignia. Although we can clearly see eight men in the photo, only seven are identified in the original caption. From left to right, we have ENS Lucian K. Crawford, LT  Alexander A. Smith, LT (jg) John G. Norris (an information officer for the Navy and journalist / author in civilian life), LT (jg) Charles S. Zinn, LT Harris Hammersmith, Jr., LT Francis A. Cayhill, "unidentified" and Lt. Lawrence Fawcett, RNVR, who is showing the Yanks the proper form with a cricket bat.
Above:  LT Cayhill clowns for the camera, and ignoring his recent instructions, assumes his batting stance for American baseball. Note the escape boots in the left foreground.

Below: ENS Robert J. Adams, with "4X", has chosen to retain, in large part, his Navy issue clothing and equipment, with the exception of an RAF type C flight helmet fitted with an RAF microphone carrier and ear phones.
Below:  As seen on the opening page of Part 1 of this article, LT Francis Cahill prepares for a another spotting flight in "4X". The unique port-side fuselage door of the Spitfire made entry into the narrow cockpit an easier proposition. Two brackets were provided on the interior of the door to secure a crowbar, apparently not carried in "4X", used to facilitate an emergency exit if the canopy needed to be forced open due to battle damage. Under ideal conditions, when bailing out, or ditching, the canopy could be jettisoned by activating a quick-release. The five holes drilled in the base of the radio antennae mast were intended to sufficiently weaken the wooden structure, allowing it to break off when impacted by the canopy, thereby giving the pilot one less obstruction on his way out.