1/48 Eduard F6F-3, Lt. Richard E. Stambook, VF-27, USS Princeton, October, 1944.
Surely, among the most recognizable markings carried by US Navy aircraft must be those of the Hellcats of VF-27 flying off of the USS Princeton. Their sharkmouths and bloodshot, menacing eyes seared themselves into the memories of many Japanese pilots. The uncommon and unofficial markings were painted on to the front of all of VF-27’s aircraft by one of its pilots, Robert Burnell. These birds, adorned in this way, wreaked havoc everywhere they engaged in combat over the Pacific from May to October, 1944. During this span, some 200 enemy aircraft were claimed. The end of combat for VF-27 came on October 24th, 1944, when the Princeton was hit with a catastrophic fire caused by a Japanese bomb, and was ultimately sunk, after being evacuated, by her own crews and units. Hellcat bearing the number ’17’ was the
personal aircraft of Lt. R. E. Stambook, who served with, besides VF-27, VS-3 on the SBD Dauntless, and with VF-3 and VF-6 on Wildcats. During the course of his combat career, he attained 11 kills.
The Navy Bureau Number of Lt. Stambook’s Hellcat is unknown. The decal sheet bears the BuNo of one of the Hellcats that was sunk along with the carrier. The aircraft likeness is reconstructed on the basis of pilot memories.All BuNos of VF-27 Hellcats were higher than 40235, and so the engine cowling lacks the bottom cooling flaps and the fairing of the side exhausts.