Imagine flying closely over the dangerous waters of the South Pacific during WWII, hiding in the darkness of the night from enemy ships. These nighttime operations referred to as “Black Cat” or “Nightmare” missions will soon become your specialty, earning you the nickname “Black Cat”. These nocturnal missions gave the PBY airmen their fame in the early years of the 1940’s. Painted matte black, effective and creative in its late night stealth missions, the PBY aircraft became the first of its kind.
The name “Black Cats”, adopted on October 30TH 1942, by the PBY aircraft stealth missions over the waters of the South Pacific, became one of the most important squadron names in U.S history. The PBY is considered to be the savior, hunter, aggressor, and supplier of the Pacific theatre during World War II. Though this heavy and slow flying aircraft was considered to be an easy target, the black matte paint turned this giant into an invisible nighttime predator. Equipped with torpedoes weighing more than two thousand pounds each, the PBY had to be precise to hit their targets during the dead of night. Extremely dangerous, but highly effective, these missions lead to shipboard Catalina crews receiving scores of commendations.
The first official Black Cat squadron was VP-12, which operated PBY-5As, an amphibious version of the PBY that could land on water or on a runway with conventional landing gear. Formerly VP-24, VP-12 was re-designated on August 1st 1941 and stationed at NAS Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 most of the fleet were on a training exercise when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A majority of their fleet managed to escape undamaged, but the hangars of VP-21 and VP-22 were ruined. Fueled by patriotism to defend their country, VP-12 was transferred to NAS Kaneohe and patrolled the waters around Hawaii as well as sending detachments to Midway Island. Their attacks and rescue missions patrolling the South Pacific waters around Guadalcanal would lead to their legacy.
Cockpit USA is proud to commemorate the history of the Black Cat squadron by introducing six iconic items that pay homage to the bravery of the aircrew men that served during WWII. We are offering three Black Cats t-shirts that shine light on the incredible aircrew of the VPB-24, VPB-71, and the VP-44 using the squadron logos, as well as our VP-44 baseball cap. Our VP12 Black Cats N4 Aircrew Deck Jacket commemorates the VP12 squadron, the first squadron that ventured into New Guinea and the Solomon Island airspace. Lastly, our hand treated goatskin Black Eagle leather G-1 bomber jacket honoring the missions of the VPB-71. Legendary, powerful, and one of a kind; the Black Cats were at the forefront of ingenuity and precision.