Fighting Squadron 17 was formed in Norfolk, Virginia on 1 January 1943, and selected to fly the new Vought F4U-1 Corsair, a gull-winged fighter built around a powerful Pratt-Whitney 18 cylinder radial engine.
VF-17 was assigned to USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), but landing problems caused the Navy to question the Corsair’s carrier-worthiness. The Jolly Rogers worked closely with Vought engineers to successfully modify the F4U, rather than switch to the F6F Hellcat.
In October 1943, VF-17 was based on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands, where it first flew F4Us in combat during the invasion of Bouganville. Squadron pilots shot down six Zeke fighters and damaged another six on the first day of the battle with the loss of only one Corsair.
During the Battle of the Solomon Sea in November 1943, VF-17 was credited with 18.5 confirmed kills and 7 damaged Japanese planes, with zero losses of their own aircraft. The big push came in March 1944 when, aboard USS Hornet, the squadron took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In fighter sweeps from 18 March to 17 April 1945, the pilots of VF-17 downed 146.5 Japanese aircraft.
During its tour, the Jolly Rogers shot down 8 Japanese planes for every Corsair lost and produced twelve aces, more than any other navy squadron.
Size: 5 by 5 inches (12.5 cm)
Material: Embroidered on black wool felt
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