Hellcat Ace, Paul Drury

Lt. (jg) Paul E. Drury

F6F Hellcat  “Paoli Local”
VF-27 Princeton

Artwork and research by; Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette

Hellcat Ace, Paul Drury

There are 750 limited edition prints in this series. Print Size 12×18″

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Limited Edition Prints are signed and numbered by the Artist and by Navy Ace, Paul Drury. $65.00

All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist is done in soft graphic pencil.

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Poster Print $14.95 Poster prints are autographed by the artist only.

Shipping cost is only $6.00 anywhere in the U.S. as well as world wide.

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This is my original painting of Paul’s F6F Hellcat. This painting has been sold but I do have another canvas that Paul autographed for me if you are interested. Contac the artist below at the E-Mail address.

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Lt. (jg) Paul E. Drury

Paul E. Drury joined The Navy in November 1942 and completed flight training in August 1943 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Ensign Drury was then sent to Jacksonville, Florida where he received carrier qualifications flying the F4F wildcat.

The size of the American Fleet had grown over the last several years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. American shipyards were working twenty-four hours a day producing what would be the largest fleet ever in history. Airplane factories were working as hard in producing the fighters and bombers that the new carriers needed.

Paul Drury was flying one of the new Grumman Hellcats that was a product of this mass production along with sailing on one of the new aircraft carriers named the USS Princeton. Paul and his fellow pilots were assigned to VF-27 flying the Grumman F6F, Hellcat. Their squadron was the only Navy aircraft that were allowed to have artwork on their fighters. The artwork was the face of a Tiger Cat painted large and bold. The Captain of the Princeton did not care if his pilots adorned their aircraft with the artwork if they desired. Just no naked women.

Other carrier Captains were very strict hiding behind stupid naval discipline. They never allowed their pilots to paint their aircraft like the fighters and bombers in the Army Air Corp. A few got away with small squadron emblems and the names of their wives or girlfriends but nothing more.

VF-27 had participated in the first all carrier attack on the island of Manila. These attacks helped reduce the fighting capabilities of the Japanese in the Philippines giving the Americans the opportunity to take back the islands. The attacks on the island were an all airplane assault which was effective. This was the result the Japanese had planned for Midway before their efforts were forted by the American surprise attack.

On June 21, 1944, Paul took part in attacking a Japanese ship off the Philippines which led to its sinking. He received a citation for the sinking of the enemy vessel. The American Fleet then sailed North West towards other Japanese island strongholds.

On the evening of the 23rd of October, Paul and his squadron were assigned to fly Combat Air Patrol the next morning. Paul was one of eight pilots to fly CAP for four hours on the morning of the 24th. Paul described the CAP flights as “boring” because there was never anything going on except flying around the fleet as protective air cover.

However during their briefing on the night of the 23rd the pilots were told that they may encounter enemy aircraft because several had already been spotted in the area. The Japanese had sent out scout planes to locate the approaching American Fleet.

At four in the morning Paul was prepared for takeoff. With the carrier group entering a combat zone there was much excitement on the flight deck. Enemy aircraft had already been detected on the radar so the group was encouraged to get airborne as soon as possible.

Paul did not get to fly his regular fighter which was number 10, named “Paoli Local.” He had to fly the fighter that was set up and available for him at the moment.

They were launched off the deck of the Princeton in the dark hours of the twenty-fourth. The eight pilots were to fly in two groups of four called divisions.

Paul was to fly wingman for a fellow pilot named Carl Brown but ended up with “Red” Shirley who was the leading Ace for the Squadron at the time. This was not Paul’s normal flight division. He was to be flying with Carl Brown but they did not have the time to re-group because they were immediately vectored to the area of an incoming Japanese observation aircraft.

The pilots quickly found the Japanese intruder and shot it down. Carl Brown with another flight of VF-27 was vectored to another intruder. They too shot down the enemy spy. In quick succession Paul’s flight was vectored to yet another incoming enemy aircraft.

The sun was now rising when all eight aircraft were sent together at full speed to meet an oncoming flight of enemy aircraft. The rising sun over the ocean was always inspiring but this time it did not favor the Japanese.

The enemy aircraft first appeared as small black specks in the sky. The carrier had told them that they would be encountering “multiple bogies” but what Paul and his fellow fighter pilots saw was a mass of enemy aircraft. Far more than their eight fighters could handle alone.

“Red” called on the radio back to the Princeton “Tally-Ho! Eighty Japanese aircraft are spotted!” Paul joked and said it looked like a hundred and eighty Jap planes because he had never seen such a mass of aircraft at one time coming towards them.

The division led by “Red” Shirley’s and Paul flying his wing were in the led followed by the group of four led by Carl Brown. This is where one says to them self’s, “we’re not getting out of this one!” “Tally-Ho it was!” Head first they flew into the battle like the Calvary that always led their armies in battle in the past. They were brave and strong but also the first to die.

Onward the Hellcat pilots flew right into the face of death. Slightly nervous but incredibly excited by the very thought of entering combat. This was the moment every fighter pilot trained for and looked forward to. Normal people just cannot understand such a Psychological profile of thinking. That is why our society requires such men to be braver than the rest and openly willing to fight and die for those who cannot and for those who are gutless who will not. These are our “Superman or our Batman,” our guardians and protectors.

Carl Brown radioed back to the Princeton to “send help!” The carrier called him back and told him that they would send out twelve more fighters right away and they would also contact the carrier USS Essex to send out fighters as well.

First to enter the enemy formation with their guns blazing was “Red” Shirley, Paul and the other three pilots of their division right behind them. It was a “No guts, no glory” type of attack. They were followed by the other division led by Carl Brown. Paul had never flown with “Red” before and as stated earlier “Red” was the leading Ace of VF-27. There was no plotting or planning. Paul said that “Red” had no hesitation in flying right into the enemy formation uncaring of the danger that surrounded them.

Paul followed, picked an oncoming target and let his bullets fly into the engine and cockpit of the Japanese aircraft disabling the plane and pilot with one barrage of fifty-caliber bullets. No less than a hundred large caliber steel missiles ripped through the enemy sending it into the ocean below forever with its crew. Paul commented that he was far more concerned in accidently ramming head first into and oncoming aircraft than actually being shot at. Paul said that the sky before them was full of the enemy but he and the others were all able to find holes in the enemy group to emerge from safely. Or by chance.

Together the Hellcat pilots tore back into the fast moving Japanese. Each Hellcat pilot shot down one airplane each on their first pass. In one sweep ten percent of the enemy had been eliminated. Only one Hellcat and its pilot followed the Japanese down to their watery graves. Oddly enough the airplane that was lost was Paul’s personal fighter Number 10, named the “Paoli Local.”

Drury left the service after the war credited with six and one half confirmed aerial victories. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Gold Star, and the Air Metal with one Gold Star.

To read more about Paul then please consider one of our prints or one of our upcoming books. Thank you.

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Paul Drury and Artist at Art show.