Squadron History:  VPB-52


Established as Torpedo Squadron THREE D FIFTEEN (VT-3D15) on 12 July 1928.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron THREE-S (VP-3S) on 21 January 1931.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron THREE Base Force (VP-3F) on 17 July 1933.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron THREE (VP-3) on 1 October 1937.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron THIRTY TWO (VP-32) on 1 July 1939.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron FIFTY TWO (VP-52) on 1 July 1941.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron FIFTY TWO (VPB-52) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 7 April 1945.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

The squadron’s first insignia was created by VT-3D15 and approved by the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics on 11 July 1929. The somewhat amateurish appearance of the original design showed a gray elephant holding a black bomb behind his back, with a telescope held to his eye by his trunk. A set of wings adorned the back. Wings and telescope were highlighted in yellow. Size of the insignia on the squadron aircraft was 21 inches overall. The significance of the design is unknown. With the redesignation of VT-3D15 to VP-3S on 21 January 1931, the same insignia continued in use. On 1 April 1937, the squadron submitted a modified design for bureau approval. The appearance of the elephant was somewhat less cartoonish, and the entire design was centered on a red background. All other colors remained the same. BuAer approved the modified design on 20 April 1937, which continued in use through numerous redesignations from 1937 until the squadron’s disestablishment in 1945. Nickname: No nickname is on record for the squadron, although it has been suggested that the original design in 1929 contained a pink elephant that was soon changed to official Navy gray, lest a nickname be attached that would not reflect favorably on the Navy!

Chronology of Significant Events

(Note: squadron history dates back to 1928, but only the WWII years are listed on this website.)

17 Jul 1941: VP-52 personnel and material were loaded aboard Curtiss (AV 4) for transport to Guantanamo, Cuba, to relieve VP-81. Using Guantanamo as a base of operations, the squadron conducted an aerial survey of Bermuda, Cuba and Great Exuma Island. During these operations tender support was provided by Albemarle (AV 5) and George E. Badger (AVP 16). VP-52 returned to NAS Norfolk in August 1941 to prepare the squadron for redeployment to South America.

23 Aug 1941: A six-aircraft detachment was sent to San Juan, P.R., for Neutrality Patrol duties.

5 Nov 1941-–Mar 1942: All of VP-52’s well-worn PBY-5s were turned over to VP-51 in exchange for its new PBY-5 patrol planes. Commencing immediately after the exchange, the squadron deployed to Natal, Brazil. After five months of operations from Natal, VP-83 relieved VP-52 of patrol duties at Natal and re-turned to NAS Norfolk, Va. in March 1942.

23 Apr 1942: The VP-52 administrative staff remained at NAS Norfolk, while the aircrews and support staff deployed to Bermuda. Once on station, the squadron conducted convoy protection and ASW patrols in the central Atlantic.

May 1943: VP-52 turned over six crews and six PBY-5 aircraft to VP-31, NAS Pensacola, Fla., and the remaining members of the squadron were sent to NAS San Diego, Calif. Upon arrival, the crews and support personnel upon arrival at San Diego began preparations for a transpac, while the crews with VP-31 at Pensacola participated in ASW duties in Caribbean waters.

31 May 1943: With the squadron reunited, the support staff, ground crews and material departed aboard Long Island (CVE 1) for NAS Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Two days later the aircrews began the transpac from San Diego to Pearl Harbor.

9 Jun 1943: Five aircraft and six crews were deployed to Canton Island for training and patrol duty, with a three-aircraft detachment sent to Johnston Island.

2 Jul 1943: Seven aircraft and seven crews were deployed to Midway for training and patrol duty.

30 Jul 1943: The squadron was reunited at NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, to prepare for deployment to Perth, Australia.

7 Aug 1943: VP-52 arrived at Perth, Australia, and commenced reconnaissance patrols and operations from advanced bases in the southwest Pacific. Detachments were located at Exmouth Gulf, Geraldton and Perth.

16 Oct 1943: VP-52 commenced Black Cat operations from Palm Island and New Guinea.

22 Nov 1943: The squadron was transferred to Namoai Bay, New Guinea, where it conducted Black Cat night antishipping patrols at masthead levels.

25 Nov–23 Dec 1943: Lieutenant Alex N. McInnis, Jr., led his PBY Catalina on night missions against enemy combatants and convoys in the Bismarck Archipelago during extremely adverse and hazardous weather conditions. During this period of operation from 25 November to 23 December 1943 he successfully carried out a low-altitude attack on a large merchant vessel. He experienced heavy antiaircraft fire from enemy combatants but was able to drop his thousand pound bomb on the merchant ship, leaving it in flames and still burning three hours after the attack. For his actions during the attacks between 25 November and 23 December 1943 he was awarded the Navy Cross.

26 Nov 1943: Lieutenant William J. Lahodney and his crew conducted a night attack on an enemy task force consisting of a cruiser and three destroyers in the waters off Rabaul. Lahodney’s bombs heavily damaged the enemy cruiser, but his own aircraft sustained severe damage with over 100 holes in the wings and fuselage from the intense AA fire. Lahodney managed to fly the perforated Catalina over mountainous terrain and stormy seas for four hours to arrive safely at his home base. For his heroic actions and skillful flying he was awarded the Navy Cross.

10 Dec 1943: Lieutenant (jg) Rudolph Lloyd and his crew made an attack at night on a large enemy freighter in the Bismarck Archipelago under extremely adverse weather conditions. After dropping their bomb on the target, Lieutenant Lloyd returned and made strafing attacks on the ship until it sank. 

14 Dec 1943: Lieutenant (jg) Lloyd and his crew conducted a night attack on ships in Kavieng Harbor during adverse weather conditions. A bombing run was made on what appeared to be a small enemy cruiser or large destroyer and two hits were observed. Lloyd returned to make a strafing pass, but was forced to retreat by intense AA fire and the arrival of enemy fighter aircraft. For his courageous actions on the nights of 10 and 14 December, Lieutenant Lloyd was awarded the Navy Cross.

13 May 1944: VP-52 conducted missions from Humboldt Bay, Hollandia, in the area of New Guinea, New Britain and in the Bismarck Sea.

15 Jul 1944: The squadron was transferred to Woendi Lagoon where it conducted antisubmarine patrols and Dumbo air-sea rescue missions for downed flyers in support of the bombing of Woleai, Truk and Yap islands.

18 Sep 1944: VP-52 operated from NAF Manus Island, with rotation of detachments to Treasury, Green and Emirau islands.

9 Dec 1944: VPB-52 was reunited for transfer to the United States via NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, arriving at NAS San Diego, Calif., aboard the Breton (CVE 23) on 31 December.

7 Apr 1945: VPB-52 was disestablished.


Home Port Assignments

Location Date of Assignment
San Juan, P.R. 27 Mar 1941
NAS Norfolk, Va. 1 Jun 1941
NAS San Diego, Calif. 11 Feb 1943
NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii 2 Jun 1943
NAS San Diego, Calif. 9 Dec 1944


Commanding Officers

Name Date Assumed Command
LCDR Thomas A. Turner, Jr. May 1940
CDR F. M. Hammit May 1942
CDR Frank M. Nichols Apr 1943
CDR Harold A. Sommer Sep 1943
CDR Rennix N. Isner, Jr. Aug 1944


Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
PBY-5 Jun 1941


Major Overseas Deployments

Date of Departure Date of Return Wing Base of  Operations Type of Aircraft Area of Operations
5 Nov 1941 27 Mar 1942 FAW-3 Natal PBY-5 SoLant
23 Apr 1942 11 Feb 1943 FAW-5 Bermuda PBY-5 Lant
2 Jun 1943 9 Jun 1943 FAW-2 Kaneohe PBY-5 WestPac
9 Jun 1943 30 Jul 1943 FAW-2 Canton PBY-5 SoPac
Johnson Is.
2 Jul 1943 30 Jul 1943 FAW-2 Midway Is. PBY-5 WestPac
7 Aug 1943 * FAW-10 Perth PBY-5 SoPac
22 Nov 1943 * FAW-17 Namoai Bay PBY-5 SoPac
23 Dec 1943 * FAW-17 Port Moresby PBY-5 SoPac
12 Feb 1944 * FAW-17 Palm Is. PBY-5 SoPac
26 Mar 1944 * FAW-17 Tangier (AV 8) PBY-5 SoPac
San Pablo (AVP 30)
13 May 1944 * FAW-17 Humboldt Bay PBY-5 SoPac
15 Jul 1944 * FAW-17 Woendi PBY-5 SoPac
18 Sep 1944 * FAW-17 Manus PBY-5 SoPac
9 Oct 1944 9 Dec 1944 FAW-17 Hollandia PBY-5 SoPac


  • Continued combat deployment in the Pacific, moving from base to base.


Wing Assignments

Wing Tail Code Assignment Date
FAW-3 5 Nov 1941
FAW-5 Mar 1942
FAW-2 2 Jun 1943
FAW-10 31 Jul 1943
FAW-17 16 Oct 1943
FAW-14 31 Dec 1944


Unit Awards Received

Unit Award Inclusive Date Covering Unit Award
PUC 15 Sep 1943 1 Feb 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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