The Allied invasion of Algeria and French Morocco in November 1942 was a complex and daring operation that would not have succeeded without American naval air power. U.S. Navy Task Force 34 voyaged through some 4,500 miles of U-boat–infested waters to land Major General George S. Patton’s army on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. In addition to escorting warships, that flotilla—part of Operation Torch, as it was code-named— included the venerable aircraft carrier Ranger and four newly minted escort carriers: Santee, Suwanee, Sangamon and Chenango. The carriers ferried 109 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, 36 Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers and 27 Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers that would support the amphibious assault on the Vichy French.
F-4 Wildcat, Lt (jg) "Windy" Shields, VF-41, USS Ranger, Operation Torch, 1942
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