F6F Hellcat “Lil Minsi” was piloted by the USN ace of aces: David McCampbell. McCampbell was an incredible pilot, and scored his all of his victories in just six months.McCampell formed VF-15 on September 1, 1943 and led the squadron before being assigned as Commander of Air Group Fifteen in February 1944 to September 1944. As Commander Air Group (CAG) 15, he was in charge of fighters, bombers, and torpedo bombers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex. From April to November 1944, his group saw six months of continuous combat and participated in two major air-sea battles, the First and Second Battles of the Philippine Sea. During the more than 20,000 hours of air combat operations before it returned to the United States for a rest period, Air Group 15 destroyed more enemy planes (315 airborne and 348 on the ground) and sank more enemy shipping than any other Air Group in the Pacific War.
On June 19, 1944, during the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," Commander McCampbell shot down five Japanese 'Judy' dive-bombers, to become an "ace in a day". Later that afternoon, during a second sortie, McCampbell flamed another two Zekes over Guam. On October 24, 1944, he became the only American airman to achieve "ace in a day" status twice. McCampbell and his wingman attacked a Japanese force of 60 aircraft. McCampbell shot down nine, setting a U.S. single mission aerial combat record. During this same action, his wingman downed another six Japanese warplanes. Commander McCampbell received the Medal of Honor for both actions, becoming the only fast carrier task force pilot to be so honored. McCampbell was by far the fastest scoring US Ace of the war, and if he had done a second combat tour, would have without a doubt been the highest scoring ace of the war.