Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II

Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II

Bruce Gamble

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0760342504

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“A stunning portrait of incredibly courageous men and their awesome flying machines.”
—Alex Kershaw, author of The Few

Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 214 is the world’s most famous fighter squadron. Its second wartime squadron commander was the legendary Greg “Pappy” Boyington. Boyington and the squadron were the loose inspiration for the late-seventies NBC television series Baa Baa Black Sheep, which was later syndicated under the name Black Sheep Squadron.
Swashbucklers and Black Sheep is a comprehensive illustrated history of the squadron from its formation and first two combat tours on Guadalcanal as the Swashbucklers, which included their transition to the iconic gull-winged Corsair, to the arrival of their second commander, Pappy Boyington, after which they became the Black Sheep. The squadron’s combat over Bougainville and Rabaul and the story of Boyington being shot down are covered, as are the squadron’s exploits in the latter part of the war (while Boyington was a POW), which culminated in the heavy losses suffered aboard the carrier USS Franklin. The squadron’s service in Korea, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terror complete the storied history of VMF 214.
In addition to a rich collection of historical photography, Swashbucklers and Black Sheep features combat aviation artwork from four of America’s top aviation artists: John Shaw, Jim Laurier, Craig Kodera, and Bob Rasmussen.


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issues, but twenty-one Corsairs arrived over the enemy airfield on the morning of October 17. And just as Boyington predicted, the setup was ideal. Air Group 201 launched more than thirty Zeros, precipitating a huge donnybrook that spread across the southern tip of Bougainville and the surrounding waters. Holding the altitude advantage again, the Marines scored repeatedly. One experienced captain from VMF-221 was credited with two Zeros and a probable, but the rest belonged to the Black Sheep.

thanks to Frank Walton, who had arranged a live interview. The last to taxi in, Boyington shut down his rumbling eighteen-cylinder engine and languidly held up one finger. He had narrowed the gap, but the record still eluded him. Battling a hangover when he departed Vella Lavella earlier that day, the weary-looking ace held up one finger to indicate a single victory over Rabaul. He admitted “doing dumb things up there,” which prevented him from tying or beating the record. National Archives In

would be no flying for the Black Sheep skipper on New Year’s Day, though Rabaul was once again the scene of heavy aerial combat. Boyington returned for his fifth fighter sweep over the enemy stronghold on the morning of January 2, 1944, but his spate of bad luck continued. An oil leak developed in his Corsair just a few miles from Rabaul, and once again Boyington returned to Vella Lavella in dismay. Checking the operations schedule, Boyington saw that no missions were planned for the next day.

carriers. Franklin, among the last flattops to arrive, would serve as the flagship of Task Force 58.2—a collection of four aircraft carriers and a screening force—under Rear Adm. Ralph Davison. During daylight carrier qualifications off Hawaii in late February, Ralph Husted made a normal arrested landing on Franklin’s flight deck, planked with Douglas fir. But an instant later, the belly tank broke loose and was split open by the whirling propeller. National Archives Before anyone could react,

within striking distance of the Japanese home islands. Air Group 5 was tasked with neutralizing airfields on southern Kyushu, with VMF-214 in the fighter-bomber role. After first eliminating airborne threats in the vicinity of Kagoshima airfield, the Black Sheep would unload their ordnance on aircraft and facilities at Izumi airfield, approximately thirty-five miles farther north. Stan Bailey led four divisions for the initial strike, which launched early on the morning of March 18. Finding no

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