Original U.S. Navy WWII Tomcatters VF-3A Fighter Squadron M-422A Flight Jacket
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. The U.S. Navy had its own series of leather Flying Jackets, issued to Navy and Marine Corps flyers. The M-422 series of jackets was used from 1938 to 1943, then replaced by the G-1. In 1941 a pencil slot under the left pocket flap was added to the M-422, known thereafter as the M-422A. The M-422A is the most recognized flight jacket that the US Navy used during WWII.
This example of an M-422A is offered in very good condition and is a large size 42. It features a wonderful FELIX THE CAT VF-3A Fighter Squadron multilayer leather patch. Other notable aspects include classic fleece collar, TALON zipper which is functional but there are a few teeth missing on the bottom of the run. You can zip it up, but it takes effort. The liner, cuffs and waist band are original but the original data tag was removed. Overall a wonderful rare USN fighter squadron jacket from a group that was at Pearl Harbor during the attack.
VFA-31 or Strike Fighter Squadron 31 is known as the Tomcatters, callsign "Felix", a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The Tomcatters are the second oldest Navy Fighter Attack squadron operating today.
The squadron was originally known as the Shooting Stars. The original "Felix the Cat" squadron was VF-3. After the Battle of Midway, VF-3 and VF-6 swapped designations on 15 July 1943, resulting in a three-year controversy as to which squadron owned the Felix name and emblem until VF-3 was re-designated VF-3A on 15 November 1946, and awarded the official approval to adopt Felix the Cat by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). VF-3A was then re-designated VF-31 on August 7, 1948.
The emblem and mascot is the famous cartoon character Felix the Cat, running with a large spherical black bomb with a lit fuse.
Several well-known aviators have flown with Felix on their shoulders, including Charles Lindbergh and Butch O'Hare.
Two US Navy squadrons have held the designation VF-31. The first to be designated VF-31 was in existence from May 1943 to Oct 1945 and is not related to the subject of this article. The second VF-31 has a direct lineage to the current VFA-31 " Tomcatters".
VFA-31, was originally established as VF-1B on July 1, 1935 flying the F4B, making it the second oldest active US Navy squadron behind VFA-14 which was originally established in 1919.
On 1 July 1937, the squadron combined with VF-8B and was redesignated VF-6, flying the F3F. Between the years 1937 and 1943 VF-6 flew the F3F-1 and two variants of the F4F Wildcat and ended with the F4F-4.
On 15 July 1943, VF-6 swapped designations with VF-3 and began flying the F6F Hellcat.
A VF-6 F4F-3 aboard USS Enterprise, March 1942.
Through the years the squadron and their predecessors have served on many of the Navy's early aircraft carriers, including the first, USS Langley; the second, USS Lexington; and the sixth, USS Enterprise. They were aboard Enterprise during the Attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the battles of Wake Island, Marcus Island, Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Eastern Solomon Islands. The squadron also saw aerial combat over the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, and China.
On 7 August 1948, VF-3A was redesignated VF-31. For almost four years, the squadron flew the F9F Panther, the squadron's first jet aircraft.
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