Canadian Warplanes 6: Grumman F9F-5 Panther flown by LCdr J.J. MacBrien, RCN

Grumman F9F Panther

(USN Photo)

U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-5 Panther jet fighter (BuNo 126204) from Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111) "Sundowners" in flight over mountainous Korean terrain, 14 June 1953.

The Grumman F9F Panther is one of the United States Navy's first successful carrier-based jet fighters, as well as Grumman’s first jet fighter. A single-engined, straight-winged day fighter, it was armed with four 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon and could carry a wide assortment of air-to-ground munitions.

The Panther was used extensively by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the Korean War. It was also the first jet aircraft used by the Blue Angels aerobatics demonstration team, from 1949 through late 1954. The aircraft was exported to Argentina and was the first jet used by the Argentine Naval Aviation. Total F9F production was 1,382. The design evolved into the swept wing Grumman F-9 Cougar. (Wikipedia)

(USN Photo)

Lt. Joseph J. MacBrien, an exchange pilot from the Royal Canadian Navy lands his Grumman F9F-5 Panther (BuNo. 126034), VF 781, coded 109, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany off the coast of Korea on November 15, 1952.

(USN Photo)

U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-5 Panthers of Fighter Squadron VF-121 "Peacemakers" (D-1XX), VF-122 "Black Angels (D-2XX), and Douglas AD-3 Skyraiders of Attack Squadron VA-125 "Rough Riders" (D-5XX) on the snow covered deck of the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) in Japanese waters. All squadrons were assigned to Carrier Air Group 12 (CVG-12) aboard the Oriskany for a deployment to Korea from 15 September 1952 to 18 May 1953.

(RCN Photo)

01 Feb 1953.  LCdr J.J. MacBrien, RCN, flying as an exchange pilot in a Grumman F9F-5 Panther jet from the USS Oriskany, led a flight on an interdiction mission against supply and storage targets near Pukchong, Korea.  He was cited for “extraordinary achievement” in accomplishing the mission “despite marginal flying weather, heavy anti-aircraft fire, he displayed courageous leadership and outstanding pilot the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Joseph James MacBrien was appointed as an Officer Cadet in the RCN in 1942. He was appointed as a Midshipman RCN (with seniority dated 15/08/1943). During the Second World War he served in Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy warships in the Pacific theatre. He was appointed as an A/Sub-Lieutenant RCN (With seniority dated 15/04/1945). In 1945 he served on HMCS Crescent as the ship's Navigating Officer. He served in HMCS Naden. He was appointed as a Sub-Lieutenant (P) RCN (with seniority dated 15/04/1945). He underwent flying training in 1946. He was appointed as a Lieutenant (P) RCN (with seniority dated 15/01/1946). In 1952 he served on loan to the USN from the RCN. He served on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) for Task Force 77 (Korean War Service) 1952-1953. In 1953 he attended the Royal Naval Staff College course. He was appointed as a Lieutenant-Commander (P) RCN (with seniority dated 01/01/1954). In 1954 he served at NDHQ in Ottawa, on the Staff of Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air). Following his release, he was employed with Canadair (Montreal) as Assistant to the President. He later moved with his family to Toronto to pursue a career in finance management. He passed away on 18 Nov 2018. (RCN Records)

On 12 March 1949, Lt (N) J.J. MacBrien was taking part in flying operations on the RCN aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent when is was south of Kingston, Jamaica. Eighteen navigation, homing and interception sorties were carried out successfully, while a further 14 took place the next day. Two accidents occurred in the afternoon of the 12th when the pilots of a Firefly and a Sea Fury took late wave offs from the Landing Signal Officer and stalled. The plane guard HMCS Nootka quickly picked up both pilots. Of the Sea Fury pilot, Lieutenant J.J. MacBrien, RCN Lt (N) Jim Hunter observed “how he got out is quite a mystery—but he did, with only a small cut on his head.” He added that reports of the loss of two valuable aircraft through accidents would make “quite interesting reading for our critical friends in Ottawa.”

(RCN Photo)

Hawker Sea Fury FB Mk. 11 RCN, over HMCS Magnificent.

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