Considering the harsh conditions at Henderson, morale was superb. The members of the first official Black Cat squadron were a hearty lot and took great pride in their accomplishments. With characteristic good humor they developed a system by which one could tell at a glance the prowess of a crew or something of the combat experience of an individual. After one bombing mission a basic cat could be painted on an aircraft or on the back of a shirt or a flight jacket.* After two such missions, eyes could be added. Three qualified a crew for teeth and whiskers. But the real prize involved the greatest risk, a night torpedo attack. After one of these, the cat could be adorned with anatomical accessories of a more personal nature.

The squadron also boasted a mascot, a genuine coal-black feline of indeterminate lineage. Someone had picked up the cat in the Fijis and brought it along to Guadalcanal. "Yardbird," as the cat was called, led a good life, with scraps from the mess tent and all the fat rats she could catch. Some claimed that the rats were larger than Yardbird, but whatever the case, the cat seemed well able to hold its own. Yardbird got plenty of attention from the flight crews and frequently went along on night missions. And it was said that, true to the old superstition the black cat did bring bad luck - in this case to the Japanese."**

*Despite the searing heat of the day, leather flight jackets were usually worn at altitude (10,000 feet or more) during night gunfire-spotting missions.

**When VP-l2 returned to the U.S. Aviation Ordnanceman Eugene L. Davies took the cat back to California with him.

(The above section of text was taken from "Black Cat Raiders of WWII" by Richard C. Knott, 1982)(now out of print)


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