January 1945 until September 1945

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



(After clicking on the thumbnail and loading the picture, the picture can be clicked on again to load a blown up version)


VF-85 & VBF-85 "Sky Pirates" mascot emblem.  This picture of an aircraft side decal, used from January 45 until..?  (Supplies dwindled?  Aircraft replaced too rapidly?  War involvement intensified?)  Also used as Jacket patch design by VF and VBF Corsair pilots.



30 Jan 45, VBF-85,  U.S.S. Shangri-La

30 Jan 45, VBF-85,  U.S.S. Shangri-La

(check out the 2 jokers in the portholes when you blow the picture up, HA!)

Personnel in picture above by row
(click to view and download as a MS Word Doc)

Personnel in picture as PDF




Maintenance Support


Formation over Japan

VF formation, probably near--or enroute to combat from--Hawaii


Note overspray

Note overspray from painting lightning bolt on right wing tip



U.S.S. Shangri La taken from U.S.S. Hancock


Corsairs from VF-85, side #50, and VBF-85, side #21. Note lightning bolt on the tail on one, and a "Z" on the raised right wing of the other. Picture must have been taken mid-change over from the lightning bolt to the Z. The change over would not have been immediate, and would have been applied as aircraft came out of maintenance -- or perhaps VBF was just slightly ahead of VF in the process. Picture not labeled, but must have been aboard the Shangri-La sometime in July.


tailless corsair

VBF Corsair landing on Shangri-La, and as 4th wire jerked plane to a halt both the (aircraft left) belly tank and (aircraft left) HVAR rocket on the right side of the picture, broke lose and started skipping down the deck.  Fuel vapor engulfs aircraft left wheel.  You can see the remaining (aircraft right) belly tank behind the prop tip and remaining HVAR rocket below the tape on the right wing.  Unknown date, and aircraft, but "Z" from the Shangri-La clearly visible on the fantail.


cake landing

This is the cake celebrating the 11,000th landing Aboard USS Shangri-La; pilot, date, and squadron unknown.  They were logging approximately 45 to 55 carrier landings daily at the time.  The 10,000th landing was by VT on 4 July 45; 12,000th on 9 Aug 45; and 13,000th on 28 Aug 45.  The day to day history of the ship shows an entry on 28 Aug 45: " VF-85: Red EDWIN made the 13,000th landing aboard the SHOW BOAT.  He also made the 12,000th landing.  How can you stand two of those cakes? "  Photo courtesy of Cecil W. "Black-Foot" Moore family.



maui crash

22 Mar 45. VF-85 off-field "landing" on Maui.  Note the round Sky Pirates emblem sticker below the wind screen in this photograph.




maui crash 2

22 Mar 45. The object is to make the same number of landings as you make take offs!



cup o joe slats

Ens. Leslie N. "Slats" Slates who flew as wing-man for Lt.(jg) Billie McCracken. Photo courtesy of Cecil W. "Black-Foot" Moore family.




corsairs 15 and 1

#1 and #15 from VBF-85, on the deck of the "Show Boat"



deck photo

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



Lt. James B. Black.  Note the "Sky Pirates" sticker below the windscreen.  Too bad the picture was cropped and most of the sticker was cut off for a photo album. Photo courtesy of Cecil W. "Black-Foot" Moore family.



Model of VBF-85 F4U-4 Corsair in Shangri-La "Z" paint. Model is shown as flown by Lt. Bob Reed of VF-85, even though Ltjg. Robert Reed was in VBF from the split date on and side #3 would have been VBF. When the photo was found, it was assumed to be wrong. However, it's stated in the DeMott diary that VBF-85 took delivery "of a couple" F4U-4 Corsairs as replacement aircraft on 16 July 45! A hotter aircraft, I'm sure everyone wanted to fly them. It's no wonder Reed wanted a model of that particular airplane. Note: 4 bladed prop.



tail damage

FG-1D BuNo 87868 damaged and down in the hanger deck for repair assessment. Beautiful "restorers dream" photo showing the exact placment of markings. You can see the faint outline of the placement of the Lightning Bolt, painted over and the new placement of the Z. This aircraft damaged over Kure on 28 July 45. Pilot Lt.jg. Feeley returned in it and survived. Aircraft was hit multiple times, determined to be written off, and jettisoned over the side. Lt.jg Feeley is pictured standing in flight gear by the tail. In zoom mode you can make out his name on his life preserver. Picture further proof Z was in place prior to mission on 28 July 45.

CLICK HERE to see Action Report of 28 July 45. Page two shows damage to aircraft and the fact it was jettisoned, and page 4 lists a narrative of the incident.


XO wrote in the diary

"Larry Sovanski brings Bernie’s plane back from Kyushu.  You should have seen the other side."

Photo and caption from VBF-85 XO "Tex" O'Neill's diary, thanks to his son Kevin O'Neill.




VBF Corsair #32, BuNo 88440, involved in a mid-air collision during combat over Kure Harbor, with a Corsair from the Yorktown, which subsequently crashed. Limped back to Shangri-La with damage to fuselage. Pictured here after having caught the #1 wire, and the stress of the jerk just tore the tail clean off. Date is 24 July 45, proving the Z was in use and on line on at least some aircraft as of that mission. Note the tail has hit the deck and smashed the top of the vertical stabilizer in and is bouncing back up. Note Z on aircraft proves VBF and Z on fantail proves it to be the Shangri-La.



Aircraft flown by Lt.jg. Reed who survived. BuNo 88440 was shoved over the side, and stricken from the record. [note about photographs: Found in National Archives by researcher hired by VBF-85 webmaster. Dates filed show "21 July 45"; however, there are 2 known incidents of tails being ripped off.  One on 24 July for VBF, and one for 9 Aug 45 for VF.  Deck logs from Shangri-La confirm that on 24 July Corsair side #32 crash landed on deck at 18:35 hrs and was jettisoned at 18:43.  The date recorded as "21 July" was either miss-filed, or the result of someone  mistaking a hand written 4 for a numeral 1 with a large barb on the top as numbers were commonly hand written at the time.]


F4U-1C, with two 20MM cannons per wing as assigned to VF-85

Close up of the F4U-1C, with two 20MM cannons per wing as assigned to VF-85, instead of three 50 cal. machine guns per wing of the -1D as assigned to VBF-85. Both had 4 underwing rocket mounts on each side, and both could carry fuselage mounted bombs.



Picture found at the National Archives by researcher hired by VBF-85 webmaster. Shows the 9 Aug 45 incident where the tail was ripped off. VF records indicate “Doc” Snavely landed hot with no flaps, caught 11th wire and tail snapped off. Uninjured. You can tell it was a late wire by the placement of the mid deck elevator which can be seen in both this 9 Aug picture and the pictures from 24 July. Aircraft and tail much further down the deck. #59 is a VF number, and records indicate this to be FG-1D BuNo 92023. Proving VF received at least a few FG-1Ds as replacements. Aircraft shoved over the side and stricken from the record.



Picture of the U.S.S Shangri-La (aka “Show Boat”) in parade formation at the wars end. This has been posted elsewhere on the internet.  However, the detail provided by this huge tif file copy taken from the National Archives is very nice and zooms to good detail.  After clicking on the thumbnail and loading the picture, the picture can be clicked on again to load a blown up version (as almost all the pictures posted this page). After zooming in, it can be seen the Corsairs on the deck have the Z paint, and the Z on the deck at the bow can be looked at closely allowing one to make out the outline of the old lightning bolt that was painted there. Also, the bow is dragging a chain or cable while they are obviously underway and leaving a wake... (not being a black-shoe Navy man, that seems sort of strange to the brown-shoe “airplane guy” web master.  If you care to explain, click on “Contact Us” and send us an email) or visit our *NEW* Bulletin Board and post a comment.


Flight Jacket of VBF-85 Ens. Falvey M. Sandidge Jr.

Flight Jacket of VBF-85 Ens. Falvey M. Sandidge Jr., credited with the last "Corsair Kill" of WWII.  "Fighting Squadron 85" was created in June 1944: this was the patch created for the new squadron.  The large VF-85 was split in half into VBF-85 and VF-85 in January 1945 (with the addition of VB-85 and VT-85 making up Air Group 85) and there was no rhyme or reason for which pilots were placed in which squadron.  They all had the patches on their jackets; there was no separate patch created for VBF-85.  All the Corsair pilots were the "Sky Pirates" and wore the patch for "Fighting Squadron 85" which was a stylized Asian Demon riding the lightning bolt of retribution, with implications of night flying with moon and stars in the background.  This does not fit easily into a nicely categorized listing of "Navy Squadron" nicknames or patches, so it is assumed on some other web page sources that the "Sky Pirates" and thus the patch "belong" to VF-85 which is not really correct.  It belonged to both the fighter squadrons of Air Group 85.  It's not true that VF-85 was the Sky Pirates with a patch and VBF-85 had no patch, mascot, or moniker.  They just stayed with what they had, and even new pilots to VBF-85 had the patch (Ens. Sandidge joined VBF-85 in March '45 after the split.)  All the fighter pilots in Air Group 85 were Sky Pirates and this was their jacket patch.   The non-Corsair VB and VT squadrons had their own separate patch, mascot, nickname or moniker.



Aerial view of USS Shangri-La. Click on the picture and after it loads, click again for maximum zoom. Z's on the bow and fantail visible. Because of the 3 wing down Corsairs on the deck, one facing left, one right, one down the deck... picture probably was taken just prior or just after the full parade picture posted above.


Lt. Richard Tague Schaeffer, 14 Jun 1945. Last picture taken of him.


Beautiful and immaculately restored FG-1D Corsair

Beautiful and immaculately restored to "as delivered by Goodyear” condition, this FG-1D Corsair won Oshkosh Grand Champion in 2003.  BuNo 92106


FG-1D Seattle Museum

Beautifully restored and airworthy FG-1D from
Museum of Flight, Boeing Field, Seattle WA. BuNo 88382. Both this FG-1D, and the FG-1D on display at the
U.S. Navy museum in Pensacola FL, are painted in a
single tone overall of gloss Navy blue.  Both of these
surviving aircraft have BuNo's within the range of those assigned to VBF-85 as replacement aircraft, and are
restored to the same period markings.


FG-1D at the Navy Museum in Pensacola FL. BuNo 92246

FG-1D at the Navy Museum in
Pensacola FL. BuNo 92246


FG-1D from the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon

FG-1D from the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in
McMinnville, Oregon.  BuNo 92095, the aircraft served WWII in
VBF-80.  UNFORTUNATELY the airplane was restored and painted in
1977--as many WWII aircraft are--in an incorrect earlier paint scheme of a
famous ace from a famous squadron.   Thus making it "into something"
that it was not; the airplane of Oscar Chenoweth Jr who scored 8.5 victories
in "a Corsair" of VF-17 "The Jolly Rogers".  The paint scheme is too early
for it's BuNo and represents something which the aircraft was not. 
This is exactly what happens often; people paint airplanes to depict
"famous aces in famous squadrons" and forget the actual history of THE AIRCRAFT itself, and the multitutudes of squadrons and men forgotten
about which those squadrons represent. Seems the general thinking is
"people want famous squadrons, famous aces".   The Jolly Rogers of
VF-17 have plenty of paintings, models, and actual aircraft depicting them,
it's a shame when VBF-80 and VBF-85 go unrepresented and forgotten.  No models, no paintings, no restored aircraft to show the country and the world
how we won the war, with MANY squadrons and MANY men, mostly all forgotten about.  The airplane should be re-done in it's original
WWII VBF-80 markings!


Corsair being jerked to a halt after having caught a wire landing on an unknown carrier

Corsair being jerked to a halt after having
caught a wire landing on an unknown carrier


Corsair Paint Schemes from
VBF-85 and VF-85

(Click on the links below to view the
related paint schemes)

First Evolution

Second Evolution

Third Evolution

Fourth Evolution

Fifth Evolution



Corsair ripple firing all its wing mounted HVAR rockets on Okinawa

Corsair ripple firing all its wing mounted HVAR
rockets on Okinawa


LT. (jb) William H. Marr

Photo of LT (jg) William H Marr
Courtsey of his nephew, Ray Marr