Chance-Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator dive bomber of Marine Scouting Bombing Squadron One (VMS-1) based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico. The SB2U-3 version of the Vindicator was designed specifically for the Marine Corps, with a larger fuel capacity from unprotected, non-self sealing wing tanks and a larger fuselage tank. VMS-1 took delivery of 27 SB2U-3 Vindicators between May and July 1941. Redesignated VMSB-131 in July 1941, the squadron deployed to Pearl Harbor on September 27, 1942 and slowly converted to Grumman TBF Avengers, becoming the first Marine torpedo bomber squadron. They fought in combat around Guadalcanal from November 12, 1942, by which time all the Vindicators were replaced with Avengers. The other Marine Vindicator squadron, VMS-2, was redesignated VMSB-231 also in July 1941. VMSB-231 was embarked on USS Lexington (CV-2) enroute to Midway at the time of Pearl Harbor; the mission was cancelled because of the Japanese attack, and the squadron returned to Pearl to find the remaining six Vindicators were destroyed on the ground in the attack. on December 17, 1941, seventeen SB2U-3s of VMSB flew with a Consolidated PBY Catalina from VP-21 to Midway to reinforce the garrison there. The squadron was split in two and again redesignated to VMSB-241 in March 1942. Forming Marine Air Group 22 with VMF-221, they began to transition to the Douglas SBD Dauntless. The squadron was a mix of SBDs and SB2Us when the Battle of Midway broke out in June 1942. The squadron suffered heavy casualties as a result of a lack of training and unfamiliarity with the new SBDs. Three commanders were killed in as many days. Captain Richard E. Fleming of VMSB-241 won the Medal of Honor when he persisted in an attack on the IJN Mikuma. Conflicting Japanese reports had him either crashing his plane into the ship, or missing with his bomb and crashing nearby. Postwar analysis indicates that he did not crash into the Mikuma.
Caption ©2007 MFA Productions LLC
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