In the last week of May, the Petrof Bay was relieved of combat
duty and sailed for the States stopping in Apra Harbor on the
first day of June. This aircraft was off loaded and reloaded
aboard the USS Steamer Bay, CVE 87, which was at that time in
dry-dock under going repairs. The Composite Squadron, VC 93,
received orders to board the Steamer Bay at this time.
The aircraft being stripped down
The three of them, the ship, the squadron and this aircraft
departed Apra Harbor, returned to the war, and for the next month
continued attacks against the enemy. This final month completed
the average 180 missions for each of the original fighter planes,
including Grumman Wildcat, FM-2, Bureau Number 74512.
The quality of this aircraft, the efficiency of the
officers and men of the Petrof Bay and Steamer Bay, the skills
of the pilots who flew these 180 or so missions and brought this
aircraft back to the US is a credit to the Navy, to manufacturers
and to the people who constructed all the Grumman planes.
At the end of the Steamer Bay's tour of duty, the war had
ended for the ship, the squadron and this plane. All three returned
to San Diego. VC 93 disembarked at North Island Naval Air Station
and the Steamer Bay sailed for Seattle where this plane was off
loaded. The history of this plane is unknown from September 1945
until 1949 when it was "given" to the Tacoma Naval
and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center.
For the next ten years it became derelict and then was presented
to the King County Parks and Recreation Board. It was placed
on the White Center playground where it was kicked around for
another ten years. At this time the plane came under the control
of the "Museum of Flight".
Here is the aircraft stripped down to bare bones. The two
upper longerons are original the two lower ones are new.
In the next 25 years several attempts by various organizations
were made to restore the plane to its original condition. These
efforts failed. The plane returned to The "Museum of Flight"
where it is now under going restoration under the direction of
Mr. Milt James and his able aviation engineering crew. This plane
is on view while being restored at the restoration hanger located
about one mile south of the Everett Boeing Plant in Everett,