Established as Patrol Squadron THIRTY THREE (VP-33) on 1 April 1942.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron THIRTY THREE (VPB-33) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 7 April 1945.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
VP-33 was destined to become one of ten well-known Black Cat squadrons operating in the South Pacific during WWII. After reaching the combat zone and being assigned its unique mission, the squadron submitted a new design to CNO. This insignia was approved on 17 April 1944. The black cat, the central character of the design, was shown armed with a telescope and depth charge and superimposed on an enlarged cats eye. Colors: background, black; eye, orange and lemon yellow; cat, black with yellow outlines; eyeball, yellow; pupil, green; telescope, blue and white; depth charge, light blue with black markings. This insignia was used by the squadron until its disestablishment in 1945.
Nickname: Black Cats, 19431945.
Chronology of Significant Events
1 AprJul 1942: VP-33 was established at NAS Norfolk, Va., under the operational control of FAW-5, as a seaplane squadron flying the PBY-5A Catalina. Squadron training was conducted at NAS Quonset Point, R.I., until mid-July.
9 Jul 1942: Patrol Squadron 52 was withdrawn from NAS Coco Solo, C.Z., and replaced by VP-33. During this period the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-3 and was assigned duties of patrolling convoy routes, ASW patrols and ferrying supplies to advanced bases in the Caribbean.
10 Jul 1943: VP-33 was relieved at NAS Coco Solo for return to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and 15 days home leave with orders to report to NAS San Diego, Calif.
15 Aug 1943: After a brief two-week period of refit with new aircraft and equipment, the squadron departed NAS San Diego, Calif., for transpac to NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii. Upon arrival the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-2 and quickly deployed to Canton Island. VP-33 conducted day searches toward the Gilberts covering the occupation of Baker Island.
26 Sep 1943: VP-33 was relocated to Funafuti, conducting day searches toward Tarawa.
26 Oct 1943: VP-33 moved to Perth, Australia, under the operational control of FAW-10. The squadron conducted day searches and night bombing missions to Koepang and Amboina, officially becoming a member of the Black Cat club.
15 Feb 1944: VP-33 was relocated to Samarai, New Guinea, under the operational control of FAW-17. The squadron was assigned night search patrols and attack missions against enemy shipping in the Bismarck Sea.
25 Mar 1944: VP-33 was relocated to Manus, in the Admiralty Island chain. There it conducted daylight searches toward Turk and Woleai; bombing missions against Woleai and Wakde; air-sea rescue missions around Truk, Woleai and Yap; and coverage for the invasion of Hollandia.
19 May 1944: After the occupation of Hollandia, the squadron moved aboard Heron (AVP 2) in Humboldt Bay. With VP-52, the squadron conducted VP-33 was destined to become one of ten well-known Black Cat squadrons operating in the South Pacific during WWII. After reaching the combat zone and being assigned its unique mission, the squadron air-sea rescue for Army strikes on Wewak, Wakde, Biak, Noemfoor, Manokwari, Babo, Jefman and Sagan.
17 Jul 1944: VP-33 was relocated to Manus to conduct daylight searches and air-sea rescue missions for downed aircrews.
1 Sep 1944: VP-33 moved to Middleburg Island to conduct night search and attack missions against enemy shipping in the Netherlands East Indies and southern Philippine islands area.
19 Sep 1944: The squadron was relocated to Morotai with no change in its assigned missions.
26 Sep 1944: Lieutenant James F. Merritt, Jr., led his Catalina in an attack against two enemy transports and their five armed escorts. The attack was conducted off the southwest coast of Mindanao, Philippines, in hazardous night conditions of bright moonlight and heavy concentrations of antiaircraft fire from the armed escort ships. During his mast head bombing attack his bombs failed to release. He returned, despite the heavy AA fire, and made a successful attack resulting in probable damage to one large transport and the destruction of the other transport. For his actions he was awarded the Navy Cross.
3 Oct 1944: While patrolling the Toli Toli Bay, Northern Celebes, on a Black Cat mission the night of 3 October, Lieutenant (jg) William B. Sumpter led his PBY Catalina in an attack against a 6,000-ton Katori-class light cruiser. His attack was made during the hazardous conditions of bright moonlight and against constant and intense antiaircraft fire from the cruiser. He scored eight bomb hits resulting in explosions and the burning of the cruiser and its sinking. For his actions he was awarded the Navy Cross.
23 Oct 1944: VPB-33 was relocated to Leyte to conduct daylight searches for the enemy in the Philippine Sea. The squadron at this time came under the operational control of FAW-10.
1 Dec 1944: A detachment of four aircraft remained under FAW-10 at Woendi Lagoon. The remainder of the squadron relocated to Los Negros under FAW-17. This group with seven aircraft operated from Emirau and the Green and Treasury islands to conduct ASW patrols and air-sea rescue missions.
20 Dec 1944: The Woendi detachment returned to Leyte aboard the tender San Carlos (AVP 51). There they were reunited with the rest of the squadron on 10 January 1945, with additional support from Tangier (AV 8). Antishipping patrols and Dumbo missions were the order of the day.
4 FebMar 1945: VPB-33 was relieved for return to the U.S. The squadron flew to Los Negros Island and boarded HMS Tracker on 27 February for return to San Diego, Calif. Upon arrival on 19 March the squadron was assigned temporary quarters and given leave on the 24th.
10 Apr 1945: VPB-33 was disestablished.
Home Port Assignments
|Location||Date of Assignment|
|NAS Quonset Point, R.I.||1 Apr 1942|
|NAS Coco Solo, C.Z.||9 Jul 1942|
|NAS San Diego, Calif.||Jul 1943|
|NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii||15 Aug 1943|
|NAS San Diego, Calif.||19 Mar 1945|
|Name||Date Assumed Command|
|LCDR H. D. Hale||1 Apr 1942|
|LCDR R. C. Bengston||22 Dec 1942|
|LCDR F. P. Anderson||15 Aug 1943|
|Type of Aircraft||Date Type First Received|
|PBY-5A||1 Apr 1942|
Major Overseas Deployments
|Date of Departure||Date of Return||Wing||Base of Operations||Type of Aircraft||Area of Operations|
|9 Jul 1942||10 Jul 1943||FAW-3||Coco Solo||PBY-5A||Carib|
|15 Aug 1943||*||FAW-2||Kaneohe||PBY-5A||WestPac|
|26 Sep 1943||*||FAW-2||Funafuti||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|26 Oct 1943||*||FAW-10||Perth||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|15 Feb 1944||*||FAW-17||Samarai||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|25 Mar 1944||*||FAW-17||Manus||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|19 May 1944||*||FAW-17||Humboldt Bay||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|Heron (AVP 2)|
|17 Jul 1944||*||FAW-17||Manus||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|1 Sep 1944||*||FAW-17||Middleburg Is.||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|19 Sep 1944||*||FAW-17||Morotai||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|23 Oct 1944||*||FAW-10||Leyte||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|1 Dec 1944||*||FAW-10||Woendi||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|1 Dec 1944||*||FAW-17||Los Negros||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|20 Dec 1944||19 Mar 1945||FAW-10||Leyte||PBY-5A||SoPac|
|San Carlos (AVP 51)|
|Tangier (AV 8)|
Continued combat deployment in the Pacific, moving from base to base.
|Wing||Tail Code||Assignment Date|
|PatWing-5||1 Apr 1942|
|PatWing-3/FAW-3 *||9 Jul 1942|
|FAW-2||15 Aug 1943|
|FAW-10||26 Oct 1943|
|FAW-17||15 Feb 1944|
|FAW-10||23 Oct 1944|
|FAW-17/10 ||1 Dec 1944|
|FAW-14||27 Feb 1945|
* PatWing-3 was redesignated Fleet Air Wing-3 (FAW-3) on 1 November 1942.
A squadron detachment remained under FAW-10s operational control while the remainder of the squadron was assigned to FAW-17 on 1 December 1944. The detachment returned to the main squadron in late December 1944 and then came under FAW-17s control.
Unit Awards Received
|Unit Award||Inclusive Date Covering||Unit Award|
|PUC||1 Sep 1944||4 Oct 1944|
The information on this page is from the Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons - Vol. 2 CD-ROM (which is unfortunately no longer available).
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