First Blues

Adam Burch
Tue, Mar 7, 7:55 AM (1 day ago)
to me

Formed in April of 1946, the US Navy Flight Exhibition Team, later known as the "Blue Angels" first flew the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat.

"Basically, we had to strip them" said team leader Lieutenant Commander Roy Marlin 'Butch' Voris.

Taking out the guns, ammunition cans, armor gave the aircraft a better power loading, and eliminated approximately 1,500 pounds. To balance the now vastly forward center of gravity, the Hellcats' tailhooks were bolted into place and approximately 50 pounds of lead sheet were soldered around the heavy assembly.

For color, Voris picked "insignia blue," a readily available and slightly lighter shade of blue than the dark sea blue then in use on US Navy aircraft. "The Navy's very conservative, I didn't want any fancy stripes or emblems. We just had US Navy painted on the bottoms of the wings and behind the wings on the sides of the fuselage, and the aircraft number on the tail."

Voris later found out much later that when he specified "gold lettering" for the airplanes, someone higher up the chain of command had instead acquired, at the height of postwar spending frugality - a large quantity of very expensive gold leaf!

The team flew ten shows in their Hellcats, transitioning to the F8F Bearcat in August 1946 at the suggestion of an impressed Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz.