“Gadget”, one of the planes flown by one of the US Navy’s most successful pilots, Lt.Alexander Vraciu, is from the end of 1944, beginning of 1945 time period, when Vraciu flew as a member of VF-6 off the deck of the USS Intrepid. By that time, he was already an ace, and was nearing the end of his first combat tour. He attributed his success to, among others, his CO and mentor, Edward O’Hare, first ace of the US Navy, and for whom he flew as wingman. Vraciu claimed his first Zero on October 10th, 1943 over Wake Island. One of his most successful days came on January 29th, 1944, when he flamed three Betty bombers.
Joy over his even greater success of downing three Zekes and a Rufe over Truk on February 17th, 1944, was tempered by the fact that his carrier, the USS Intrepid, had been torpedoed. The carrier survived, but had to put into Pearl Harbor for repairs. Vraciu completed his tour as the unit’s most successful pilot. After some R and R, he began his next tour with VF-16 and VF-20, and he finished the war with 19 kills. The cowl of this aircraft points to being of a later series F6F-3, with only two of the cooling flaps on either side, and lacking the side exhaust fairing.