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Hot Papas, USS Saratoga (CV-3), The Second World War--two fire rescue team figures

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John Jenkins Designs

Item Number: IWA-29

“Hot Papas,” USS Saratoga (CV-3), The Second World War

Air operations aboard carriers included a wide variety of jobs. In addition to the plane crews, a large number of support personnel were required to keep the planes flying.  These included mechanics, ordnancemen, plane handlers, firefighters, catapult crews, and medical teams.  Without them and their dedication to getting the job done, the carriers and their air groups would not have succeeded.

Men whose duties required them to work on the carrier’s flight deck wore brightly coloured shirts for two reasons.  One, the flight deck was a potentially dangerous place, especially when planes were being launched or recovered.  Anyone not wearing a colour coded shirt didn’t belong on the flight deck during operations.  Two, the colour coded shirts also indicated the specific job specialty of the men who wore them.

A U.S. Navy Aircraft carrier’s deck crew exists to do one thing: to consistently put aircraft into the air and safely recover them after they launch. I n order to make this happen, there exists a small army of flight deck facilitators, and each individual has their own role primarily designated by the color of the shirt they wear.

Life on the flight deck is dangerous and taxing.  Spinning propellers, grease everywhere, and a stiff sea wind that never stops are just a few of the things that must be endured for many hours at a time.  The night and bad weather throw a whole other set of problems into the mix. 

During flight operations, fire fighters and crash crews usually had at least two men standing by wearing asbestos suits as a fire rescue team.  These were nicknamed “Hot Papas”, and it was their job to literally pull men out of burning planes.

Released in APRIL 2019.