Anxious to contribute in any way possible to the war effort, Lindbergh sought a position in private industry. Soon, he was helping Henry Ford solve B-24 production problems at Ford’s Willow Run plant.
By 1943, he was testing high-altitude pressure chambers at the Mayo Clinic and test flying the new F4U Corsair for Chance Vought in Connecticut. One of his goals was to help get the landing bugs out of the F4U Corsair. He did that eventually by recommending that Chance Vought raise the plane’s tail wheel and place a small air-spoiler on the right wing, changing the plane’s center of gravity.
When he stopped over at our El Centro base in l943, he was on his way to San Diego, where he quietly persuaded Marine Corps General Louis Wood to let him study USMC Corsair operations in the South Pacific. A few months later, as a 42-year-old civilian, Lindbergh was flying F4Us on combat missions with a Marine fighter squadron—covering TBF raids on Rabaul.
FDR and the American public knew nothing about it.
The 4th Marine Division had fought at Guadalcanal. The division was now in training on the central California coast for what would eventually be the invasion of Tinian and Saipan in the Marianas. Unknown at the time, the 4th Marine Division would also be a part of the amphibious force destined to lead the assault on Iwo Jima a year later.
The men of the 4th Marine Division were among the finest fighting men in the world.
At El Centro in mid-December 1943, twelve of us were selected to participate in a major close air-ground support exercise with the 4th Marine Division. We flew across the mountains to the El Toro Marine Air Station in Orange County and operated out of that base during the maneuvers. In the exercise plan, the 4th Division Marines had established a beachhead on a rugged section of the coast near Oceanside. And they were driving inland.
We were in the air as they moved forward. When ordered by radio controlunits “trapped” on the front line, we would make low-level bombing runs on “enemy” positions, knocking out pillboxes and attacking gun positions just ahead of the Marine infantrymen. No live ammunition or bombs were used. But during the exercise, we gained a valuable feel for the close coordination, control and tactics required during an actual landing.