January 1945 until September 1945

Attached to Air Group 85 on the USS Shangri-La, CV-38



deck photo

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This photograph was snapped of a British Destroyer along side the U.S.S. Shangri-La (probably being refueled by the carrier). The ship number is D15, which was the H.M.S. Nizam.

A cropped version of this photo was published on page 20 of a small booklet called "F4U-Corsair in action, Aircraft No. 29" ; Squadron/Signal Publications, 1977.  Its source is noted as "National Archives", and the date given as “30 July 45”.  That would make it a deck shot the day of Lt. Schaeffer's last flight.  However, in the book it's labeled as F4U-1Cs of (inaccurately) “VBF-99" and says "on board the U.S.S. Shangri-La heading into combat".  Another source for the same photograph also cropped, says "Sullivan" and "April 1945" and also inaccurately indicates VBF-99.  

This version is from the National Archives as found by a researcher hired by the VBF-85 web master, and the aircraft are definitely VF-85 and VBF-85 Corsairs on the Show-Boat, and the date says 30 July 45.  The date is probably not correct because of the photo in our photographs link which shows the tail of #32 snapping off on 24 July 45 and both the carrier and aircraft are switched over to the Z marking by that date.

It can be seen the Corsair in the lower right has cannons making it a -1C, side #55 from VF; the Corsair behind it has cannons making it a -1C, side #41 from VF; the one behind it also has cannons making it a -1C, number unknown from VF.  #52, also a VF -1C Corsair is the last in the top row.   #93 above that is a TBF Avenger from VT-85. 

The Corsair in the foreground has 3 machine guns visible on its left wing, and the side number appears to be #11 making it VBF by number.  VBF #11 was possibly flown by VF ace Joe Robbins for some of his kills because there is a side rendering of side #11 and the caption lists Robbins as the pilot (as indicated, VF and VBF are known to have used each other's aircraft).  Another possibility is that 3.5 of his kills were accomplished on the 11th of May, '45. The Corsair behind it also has fifty cal's and is VBF side #16.  It's interesting that all the front side numbers are painted on the forward facing landing gear doors.  That is different than seen in the VF formation photos from earlier showing the front side number painted small on the front cowls.