"The Snake Pit"

VMF-323 "Death Rattlers" monthly Newsletter

November edition of "The Snake Pit":


VMF-323 "Death Rattlers" History: The Big Turkey Shoot

Excerpts from the book "Death Rattlers" by William Wolf


The Japanese had lost over 700 kamikazes and as many conventional bombers and escorts since the start of their TEN-GO operations, and only a few scattered Japanese aircraft appeared. Shortly before sunset the Japs sent a large joint JNAF formation from Kyushu and a JAAF formation from Formosa. This was not a kikusui attack but it did more damage than the next-the forth kikusui-on the 27-28th of April.

After five days of boring CAP without aerial combat and six uneventful flights that day the Death rattlers were looking for action. Major Axtell, followed by his wingman, LT.Abner and his second section led by LT. O'keefe and his wingman LT.Hood, led eight Corsairs. This group was followed by another Death Rattler group for CAP 1500 hours. The first three hours of the CAP were uneventful.

After three hours of patrolling, Axtell's four plane division was vectored to 25,000 feet to intercept a high Jap bogie. Before they could reach their assigned alt they were re-vectored to dive on a large formation of 35 low-flying Japs to the Northwest.

At 5,000 feet they detected a large formation of Val dive bombers flying directly towards them and heading towards two destroyers about 40 miles North of Aguni Shima. Axtells Corsairs rolled over and dove through the cloud cover, intercepting the Vals. The Val formation split up and took evasives, some heading for cloud cover at 2,000 feet. Axtell attacked the Vals with beam runs from slightly above and all at 10-45 degrees deflection shots. 15 minutes later, Axtell had shot down 5 and damaged 3 to become an ace in one mission. Axtell's wingman, Abner, shot down two Vals and damaged another all on a single high stern run. The first Val smoked and crashed. He hit the second Val and its bomb exploded, forcing Abner to fly through the debris. Abners fighter suffered a shattered wing tip and damage to both wing roots, along with a few bullet holes in his fuselage. Despite the damage, Abner hit the tail of another Val before returning to base.

It was O'Keefes turn. Dropping full flaps to remain in firing position, O'Keefe flamed four Vals from a point blank 6 clk position. He was scissoring with a fifth Val and made a head on run. The Val kept on coming, looking like he was going to ram the Marine. O'Keefe pressed the trigger until the Val winged over, and O'Keefe had to pull up violently to avoid collision. He left combat with ammo in only 2 guns. "It was one of the most exhilarating, brief moments of my life." O'Keefe had become an instant ace.

LT.Hood followed section leader O'Keefe into the Jap formation shot at three planes on his first pass. A Val was hit in the tail from 400 yards with a 40 degree deflection shot and was credited as damaged. His next target was an ancient Nate Ki-27 that burst into flames and crashed after a stern shot. His last target on this run was another Val that was flamed by a stern shot. Hood pulled up in a wing over and was joined by other carrier-borne Corsairs in pursuing the Vals. His next victims were hit by point blank stern shots;the first rolled and crashed while his second victim snap-rolled and crashed for a share-victory. Hood's next shared victory came when he and another Corsair made a head on run on a hapless Val.

Before engagement, Major Dorroh's three plane section was orbiting at 5,500 feet. They were vectored to dive through the clouds and located the same formation that Axtell had bounced just seconds before. Upon seeing the large formation of Japs, Dorrah had deactivated two of his machine guns to conserve ammo. He went after two fleeing Vals in a high beam run. He hit the first Val around the cockpit and fuselage, and it went into a steep turn and towards the water. Dorroh could not hang around to see it crash and was credited with a probable. He recovered low on the deck and approached another Val from slightly above at the 9 clk position. The Val went into such a violent turn that Dorroh had to drop his gear and lower his flaps to continue the pursuit and not overrun the Val. Using four guns, he got hits in the cockpit, killing the pilot before the Val crashed into the sea for his first victory. He quickly got number 2 with an attack from above at 5 clk. Pulling up his nose, he gave it a one second, full deflection shot a 325 yards. He went on to rack up 5 total confirmed kills for the day.

Axtell, O'Keefe and Dorroh began the day without previously destroying an enemy aircraft, but by its end were "instant Aces". Seven -323 pilots returned to base with 24 3/4 kills, 3, probables, and 6 other Japs which got away with obvious damage. This was the highest daily total for any air squadron in the Okinawa campaign. The total bag of Japanese planes shot down for the day was 54. The Marine aviators were credited with 33 and the Navy had the remainder. Axtell, Dorroh, and O'Keefe were given the Navy Cross for their actions on this day. A truly remarkable "Death Rattler" day!




Views and News: Aces High "Gets Naval"

Imagine 4 F4U's, 4 Hellcats and 4 TBM's lined up ready for launch off the CV while the task force nears the coastal region of the Rooks, near an airfield that is currently being bombarded by the 12" guns of escort ships, all the while, a Knight Landing craft is churning away towards the shoreline escorted by 2 PT boats...keep in mind everything is playe-controlled...the F4U's , TBM's, along with the Hellcats, lift off to help finish the hard structures on the enemy island after the escort fleet softens the target, while the Recce Floatplane is giving information on an adjoining enemy airfield....

This is what V1.05 is going to be all about, more strategy, more aircraft, ships and potential for a lot of fun! Pyro has written some words pertaining to the Navy coming this winter to Aces High.

"Work has been underway on 1.05. Nate's F6F and Superfly's TBM are coming along nicely and we'll be starting on the ships soon. We want the naval aspect to be more than just a carrier cruising around the terrain. There are a lot of elements we're looking to include in this system for 1.05 and beyond.Player-controlled task forces, player-controlled anti-aircraft and shore bombardment batteries, supply ship convoys, PT boats, LVTs, PT boat and seaplane tenders, shipyards, etc. These additions will create a dynamic target-rich environment that will open up new aspects of gameplay. We'll talk more about what to expect in 1.05 and how it will work as it comes together."

Sounds like an exciting new version to come to our hard drives in the future!





"Local Spotlite": Interview with "Saw", member of VMF-323

This new column is to help us get acquainted with members of VMF-323


How did you become involved in flight sims, and what was your first flight sim you played?

F18 Hornet on Amiga 500, I missed school for 2 weeks.....enough ;) ?

What are your favorite WW2 planes?

F4U-a to d

FW190 D9

What type of objects would be in your 'wish list' for a flight simulator?

Realsitic FM, nice Gfx, multiplay.... (Fav wish list 'd be a Vietnam era Sim....)

What would you like to see this squadron (VMF-323) do more of?

Drink Beer ! (That's when I 'll come back !)

What other types of hobbies do you have?

Women...errr, no, that's a duty...Lots of hobbies here, including errrrr...simulations ;)

Thanks for the short, but sweet interview, Saw!

For Saw's fine review of Combat Flight Sim 2, please click this link:






MAG-33 formed !!

VMF-111, VMF-115 and VMF-323 form Aces High First Marine Air Group 

Editorial by Ripsnort, CO of VMF-323

MAG-33 was a concept thought of after seeing it successfully implemented within the Warbirds community(MAG-11). It is a combination of several squadrons that meet at a designated time to perform co-operative mission ops within Aces High. MAG-33 was an actual Marine Air Group that flew primarily in late war events in the Pacific during WW2.

The squadrons involved so far with MAG-33 are Jimbears VMF-111 "Devil Dogs", Redwings VMF-115 "Joes Jokers" and Ripsnorts VMF-323 "Death Rattlers", all historical WW2 Marine corp squadrons. Combined we are approximately 60+ strong.

All 3 squads at this time fly any planes, speaking for -323, we primarily fly the Corsair, but again, we fly all A/C types, depending on what the mission calls for. During MAG operations, once V1.05 and the Navy version of AH gets here, expect to see us in TBM's, F6F hellcats, and F4U-1D Corsairs.

We welcome all VMF groups to join our MAG. You don't have to be the same country since we take turns changing countries when we do our once-a-month operations.

We don't have a MAG-33 website yet, however you can contact Jimbear, Weave, Redwing, Rocket, Apache or Ripsnort if you're interested in joining our MAG. Our emails are current within the Bulletin board of Aces High.





Historical Aviation Events: WW2:Month of November

Nov 1st 1943:Battle of Empress Augsta Bay-After heavy air and naval preparation, Wilkinsons Task Force 31 puts Marines ashore on Torokina beachhead(Bougainville). Japanese 8th fleet sails from Rabaul to make a landing of their own.

Nov 5th 1943:Adm.Halsey brings carriers Saratoga nd Princeton dangerously close to New Britain to launch large surprise raids on Adm Takeo Kurita's naval squadron at Rabaul. Over 100 American A/C cause serious damage to Kurita's cruisers and destroyers.

Nov 13th 1944: Aircraft from 3 carrier squadrons begin 2-day series of attacks against Jap installations around Manila and central Luzon Islands in the Philippines.

Nov 28th 1942:Admiral Halsey picks Rear Adm Kinkaid to command Task force 67-responsible for patrolling "Iron Bottom Sound" to prevent Japanese from landing supplies. Name comes from the large number of sunken ships in the area

Questions, comments? Email Ripsnort at ripsnort@earthlink.net