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U.S. NAVY VP SQUADRONS - VPB 94

1)VPB 129


VPB-129


Established as Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE (VB-129) on 22 February 1943.

Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE (VPB-129) on 1 October 1944. Disestablished on 4 June 1945.


Squadron Insignia and Nickname


The insignia for VPB-129 was approved by CNO on 30 June 1944. Centered in the design was the caveman cartoon character Alley Oop, poised to throw a large bomb on an unseen enemy below.


VB-129 was established at NAS Deland, Fla., under the operational control of FAW-12, as a medium bombing squadron flying the PV-1 Ventura. The squadron started out with the handicap of having only one pilot who had qualified previously as a patrol plane commander.


After completing the customary ground school training, the flight crews were introduced to twin-engine operation in the SNB-1 Kansan, before getting orientation to the more powerful Ventura.


The squadron was relocated on 10 May to NAAF Boca Chica, Fla., for shakedown and advanced flight training. Maintenance problems were gradually worked out after the newly established HEDRON system was in place and functional. Shakedown training was cut short by operational demands.


30 May 1943: VB-129 was transferred to NAF Natal, Brazil, under the operational control of FAW-16. The squadron hastily departed NAAF Boca Chica in elements of three aircraft, the last arriving at Natal on 5 June. Conditions at NAF Natal were at that time very primitive. There was no Navy establishment and the small Army Post Exchange was the only place where basic amenities could be obtained.


ASW patrols, convoy escort and barrier sweeps commenced upon arrival. The squadron’s first operational casualty occurred when one of its aircrews failed to return from a routine familiarization flight. Extensive searches of the sector gave no clue to the crew’s fate until a section of wingtip washed up on the beach days later.


15 Jun 1943: The squadron was relocated to NAF Recife, Brazil, to continue the ASW patrols, convoy escort and barrier sweeps as before. The base at Recife was still in the process of being set up. The HEDRON was not yet functional and had no shops or adequate berthing facilities. The nearby town of Recife – Pernambuco had more to offer on liberty than Natal, and a strong British presence made American visitors feel welcome.


24 Jul 1943: VB-129 was transferred to NAF Ipitanga, Bahia, Brazil. VPB-129 was the first Navy squadron to use the facility, which had been previously shared by the Army and Pan American Airways. The squadron shared the field with a Brazilian Air Force squadron flying Hudsons (three crews and three aircraft).


This squadron and VP-74, a PBM squadron located at NAF Aratu, near the town of Bahia, came under the command of VB-129’s skipper, who was the senior naval officer present. Sweeps were coordinated between the three squadrons. The field had only one airstrip bordered by high sand hills.


The city of Salvador - Bahia was located 30 miles away, but did have a naval presence in the form of a Navy base. Buildings that existed at Ipitanga Field were quickly converted to barracks, chow hall and recreational facilities. R&R was spent by squadron personnel on five-day leave periods to Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian capital. It was on one of these trips that the squadron incurred its second major loss when the NATS transport aircraft crashed, killing three squadron officers and three enlisted personnel.


Chronology of Significant Events

22 Feb–May 1943: VB-129 was established at NAS Deland, Fla., under the operational control of FAW-12, squadron maintenance program at Ipitanga Field was hampered by the inadequacies of the understaffed and poorly equipped HEDRON. It was always necessary to lend HEDRON enlisted personnel to accomplish the maintenance required while at this field. During operations from Ipitanga the elimination of drop tanks and two depth bombs improved the safety record of the squadron and eased the load on the aircraft.


30 Jul 1943: Lieutenant Commander Thomas D. Davies and crew sighted a fully surfaced submarine during a coastal barrier sweep northeast of Bahia. The U-boat crew attempted to fight it out with their 20-mm AA fire, but the bow guns of the Ventura quickly cleared the decks of the submarine, allowing Davies to make a perfect drop with four Mark 47 depth charges athwart the still surfaced U-boat.


The submarine U- 604, Kapitänleutnant Horst Höltring commanding, submerged after the attack then surfaced again at a 60- degree angle with the screws out of the water. The Uboat again submerged. Later, German prisoners of war indicated that damage to the U-boat was so severe that it had to be scuttled on 11 August.


7 Feb 1944: VB-129 was relieved for return to NAS Quonset Point, R.I., under the operational control of FAW-9.


Source: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Squadrons.


 

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