Air Group 4 On The Flight Deck of USS Ranger (CV-4)

Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers of VT-41 (closest to the camera), Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers of VS-41 (middle and back of flight deck), and Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters of VF-4 (between the fixed-wing Dauntlesses) comprising Air Group 4 are spotted on the flight deck of USS Ranger (CV-4). The ship is being escorted by cruisers USS Augusta (CV-31) and USS Tuscaloosa (CV-37) just out of frame. USS Ranger was the only United States Navy fleet carrier to fly combat missions in the Atlantic against the Germans. Launched in 1933 as America's first purpose-built carrier from the keel up, Ranger had a shorter and slimmer flight deck and her six smokestacks had to be lowered for flight operations (they are not visible in this view). Air Group 4 fought the Vichy French during Operation Torch in early November 1942, losing five Wildcats in combat and fourteen to operational causes. Nine Dauntlesses were lost during flight operations, but scored two hits with 1000 pound (453.6 kilogram) bombs on the Vichy French battleship Jean Bart, knocking her out of the war. After two runs between the United States and Casablanca to ferry United States Army Air Force Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters, USS Ranger, still with Air Group 4 embarked, began escorting convoys and antisubmarine operations based in Argentia, Newfoundland. This photo was taken shortly after the German News Service reported USS Ranger sunk by U-404, commanded by Kapitanleutnant (later Korvettenkapitan) Otto von Bulow (October 16, 1911 – January 5, 2006). Antisubmarine patrols were flown in all weather. In September 1943 USS Ranger and Air Group 4 joined the British Home Fleet and participated in operations against German shipping in Norway in October 1943. Later Air Group 4 transferred to the Pacific and engaged the Japanese. USS Ranger became a training carrier for night operations off Hawaii for the rest of the war.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
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Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, April 1, 1943