Fighting Squadron 80 was established 1 February 1944 by RADM C.T. Durgin at NAS Atlantic City, N.J. Assigned to command the new unit was LCDR Albert O. Vorse Jr.; his Executive Officer was LT Frank G. Gooding, USNR. "Scoop" Vorse, a 1937 graduate of the Naval Academy, was a remarkably experienced fighter pilot. While serving with VF-2 and VF-3 on USS Lexington (CV-2) and VF-6 on Enterprise (CV-6) during 1942, he had been credited with the destruction of five-and-a-half Japanese aircraft in the Coral Sea and the Solomons.

Assigned to Air Group 80, the squadron's original complement was 36 pilots, 3 ground officers and 15 enlisted men, 14 more pilots reporting in during the following two weeks. VF-80?s aircraft totaled 36 F6F-3 Hellcats. Shortly after its establishment, the officers decided that they would be known henceforth as Vorse's Vipers, or simply, Vipers.

The majority of the Vipers of VF/VBF-80 did fire their guns at an airborne enemy, but by no means all of them. Fifty-seven of them were credited with confirmed kills and at least six more made probable/damaged claims. Ten Vipers became aces during CVG-80's four-month combat tour. Pat Fleming destroyed every Japanese plane he shot at ? a total of 19.

Appropriately, Fighting Eighty scored its last aerial victories on its final mission, even as it had scored its first kills on its first mission on 5 November. These kills brought the squadron's score to 159.5 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, plus about 60 more probably destroyed and damaged. The Vipers and CVG-80 had done their job well, including the destruction of considerable enemy shipping and many aircraft and installations on the ground.

Squadron Highlights

Lt. J.W. Fair, USN was the first VF-80 pilot to destroy an enemy aircraft in the air.

Japanese heavy cruiser NACHI sunk by planes of air group 80       NACHI.

Japanese Kumano class cruiser sunk by planes of air group 80   KUMANO.

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