F6F Hellcat


US Navy Ace

By , March, 2005. Updated March 22, 2012.

Born in McClain County, Oklahoma in 1921, Doug Baker enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June, 1942 and completed flight training a year later. With his squadron VF-20, he sailed on USS Enterprise and USS Lexington from 31 August 1944 until his death on 14 December.

His first combat came during a fighter sweep over Formosa on 12 October, 1944. There were 350 Japanese planes on the island, nearly half of them fighters. The American Fast Carrier Task Force launched its dawn attack at 0600, and 230 enemy airplanes rose to intercept. It was one of the biggest aerial battles of the Pacific War. VF-20, under LTCDR Fred Bakutis, led three divisions of Hellcats over Einansho airfield and met about 30 bandits. Ensign Douglas Baker, on his first combat mission, downed four: 3 Tjos and a Zero. Altogether, VF-20 accounted for 20 Japanese planes that day.

Three days later, over the Philippines, Baker knocked down two more, IJA Oscars this time. He was an ace!

On 18 October, the Enterprise pilots of VF-20 ran a sweep over the Manila area, and engaged some Tojos and other fighters. Baker and Ensign Chuck Haviland both scored triples. In all, VF-20 counted 18 this day.

Ensign Baker ran his score to a dozen by November 14, the highest ever for an Ensign.

He was promoted to Lieutenant(jg) on 14 December and flew another mission over Clark Field that afternoon. Facing plenty of opposition, he downed three Zeros and was last seen destroying an Oscar. With twelve kills in five combat missions, 23 year-old Baker was one of the most successful fighter pilots in the task force. But that evening, when everyone else had landed back on board Lexington, the young Oklahoman did not turn up. He was noted as "missing in action." Later Filipino guerillas found his F6F and took his dog tags. With 16 kills to his credit, he was the highest scoring Navy ace to be shot down.

Tally Record: 16 1/3 confirmed

Decorations: Navy Cross, Silver Star, DFC


American Fighter Aces Album, copyright 1996 by the American Fighter Aces Association, Mesa, Arizona