The result was a full-color, original drawing of a cocky Bugs Bunny, carrot in hand, astride a live torpedo on its way to its target.
The pilots and crewmen took to the design, immediately. Our pompous skipper did not. He reluctantly agreed to go along, however, in the face of the squadron’s enthusiastic reaction. 1st Lt. T. A. James, our hard-drinking procurement officer, placed an order for insignia patches and decals.
What happened next is murky.
According to the squadron intelligence officer’s official report, issued sometime later, the Bureau of the Navy sent a letter to Bill Dean in which the bureau refused to authorize the Bugs Bunny design as the VMTB-242 insignia “because it was not original enough.”
That differed from the word spread rampant around the squadron.
As we heard it, Dean still didn’t like the design and never bothered to send the insignia in to Washington for approval and registration.
Either way, it was never officially registered.
Meanwhile, all hands began sporting patches of the Bugs Bunny insignia on field jackets and flight gear. Ground crews applied decals to plane fuselages. And that’s the way things stood throughout the war.
Today, cartoonist connoisseurs consider Bugs Bunny one of the greatest animated characters ever created. And the outlawed VMTB-242 insignia remains a valuable collector’s item.
We practiced free gunnery in three-plane formations.
A separate plane towing the target sleeve would weave from one side of the formation to the other, above and below. This gave each plane and gunner an angle of fire. And that’s when I discovered that my turret gunner, Ernie Linsmaier, was good—very good.
The sleeve was a 12-foot marked banner at the end of a long 200-foot cable attached to the tow plane.
The drill got underway with the tow plane getting the long tow line and target sleeve into the air. Easier said than done. One of our senior pilots, I think it was Bud Main, twice failed to get the sleeve off the ground without dragging it beyond use.
Gutsy Jake Nevans was the next pilot scheduled and he laid it on the line. He told everybody within hearing distance that he would get the job done, period. That challenge, on the heels of Bud Main’s earlier problems, prompted a few of us to hang around outside the ready room and watch the show.