Devilbirds of the Caribbean
An original Kodachrome showing a downright beautiful nine-ship formation of Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers from Marine Scouting Squadron 3 (VMS-3) “Devilbirds” in flight near the Virgin Islands, circa late 1943-early 44. As they are slick, with no ordnance or drop tanks, this was probably a training flight or photo-ex.
The VMS-3 Devilbirds scheme is particularly popular with scale modelers, primarily because of this fantastic reference image.
Based at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Bourne Field, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, during the entire course of its existence, the squadron logged patrols from 1934 to 1944. Included among them were flights on 11-14 May 1942 to circumvent the expected escape attempt of the French Fleet for Guadaloupe.
Overall, good duty if you could get it!
There were three Marine Scouting Squadrons prior to World War II; however, VMS-3 was the only squadron to retain the designation. The squadron served in Haiti from 1919 through 1934 and then spent its last ten years at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. During World War II they were the only Marine Corps squadron to operate east of the United States. They began the war flying the Grumman J2F Duck, transitioned to the Naval Aircraft Factory/Vought OS2N Kingfisher, and at the time of deactivation were flying SBD Dauntless dive bombers.
Other Marine SBD squadrons, dubbed VMSBs, were very active in the Pacific, especially in the Philippines campaign.