April Fools, South-pacific edition, 75 years ago
On 1 April 1943, during a big fight over the Russells Group in the Central Solomons, a Japanese Navy pilot plays the fool as he loops his “Hamp” in front of the F4F-4 flown by VMF-221 2nd Lt. Warner O. Chapman, USMC, who promptly shot him down. Chapman was also awarded a “probable” on the mission. Chapman went on to become Commanding Officer of VMF-221 in 1959, as the squadron entered the USMC Reserve program.
VMF-221 was formed five months before Pearl Harbor flying the forgettable Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo– using them to down a Japanese Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat in March 1942. Augmented by a handful of badly worn Wildcats, they fought at Midway before eventually switching out to the F4U Corsair, which they flew until the end of the war.