Last year my daughter took my grandson to see a local airshow which featured the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.
I had recently
started collecting 1/144th scale aircraft and had already picked up several of
the newer Blue Angels aircraft. But a little research can sometimes be
dangerous, and lead to bigger projects. I found in my research that
during the Korean War, many of the Blue Angels pilots were transferred to combat
duty aboard USS Princeton and formed the core of VF-191 “Satan's Kittens.”
I haven't seen many Korean war era models so I thought I'd give one a try.
USS Princeton (CV-37) - The prototype: (from several online sources)
The ship was laid down as Valley Forge — one of the "long-hull" Essex class — on 14 September 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was renamed Princeton on 21 November 1944 to commemorate the light carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23), which was lost at the Battle of Leyte Gulf on 24 October 1944. The new Princeton was launched on 8 July 1945. Following the war in 1948 she prepared for inactivation, and on 20 June decommissioned and joined other capital ships in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Reactivated with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea 15 months later, Princeton recommissioned on 28 August 1950. Intensive training refreshed her Reservist crew, and on 5 December she joined TF 77 off the Korean coast, her planes and pilots (Air Group 19) making possible the re-institution of jet combat air patrols over the battle zone. She launched 248 sorties against targets in the Hagaru area to announce her arrival, and for the next six days continued the pace to support Marines fighting their way down the long, cold road from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam. By the 11th, all units had reached the staging area on the coast. Princeton's planes, with other Navy, Marine, and Air Force squadrons, then covered the evacuation from Hungnam through its completion on the 24th.
Interdiction missions followed, and by 4 April Princeton's planes had rendered 54 rail and 37 highway bridges inoperable and damaged 44 more. In May, they flew against the railroad bridges connecting Pyongyang with Sunchon, Sinanju, Kachon, and the trans-peninsula line. Next, they combined close air support with raids on power sources in the Hwachon Reservoir area and, with the stabilization of the front there, resumed interdiction. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries, concentrating on highways, and in August Princeton got underway for the U.S., arriving at San Diego on the 21st. On 30 April 1952, Princeton rejoined TF 77 in the combat zone. For 138 days, her planes flew against the enemy. They sank small craft to prevent the recapture of offshore islands; blasted concentrations of supplies, facilities, and equipment behind enemy lines, participated in air-gun strikes on coastal cities, pounded the enemy's hydroelectric complex at Suiho on the Yalu River to turn off power on both sides of that river, destroyed gun positions and supply areas in Pyongyang; and closed mineral processing plants and munitions factories at Sindok, Musan, Aoji, and Najin.
Reclassified CVA-37 (1 October 1952), Princeton returned to California on 3 November for a two-month respite from the western Pacific. In February 1953, she was back off the Korean coast and until the end of the conflict launched planes for close air support, "Cherokee" strikes against supply, artillery, and troop concentrations in enemy territory, and against road traffic. She remained in the area after the truce on 27 July, and on 7 September got underway for San Diego.
Princeton (CV 37) - The Model
CVG -19 (9 Nov 1950
-29 May 1951*) Aircraft
Robert C. Bond
Photos and text © by Robert C. Bond