The first fighter squadron ("FitRon" in USN parlance) to be designated as Fighter Squadron 33 (VF-33) was originally established as VGS-16 on 6 August 1942 and then redesignated as VC-16 on 1 March 1943. VC-16 was redesignated VF-33 on 15 August 1943 and equipped with the Grumman F6F Hellcat making their combat debut in the Solomon Islands. VF-33 was the first US Navy unit to use the F6F in the Solomon Islands campaign, being joined soon after by VF-38 and VF-40.
VF-33 was land based at this time, supporting the island-hopping Pacific War campaign. By the end of 1943 VF-33 was credited with 60 Japanese aircraft shot down, and had produced three aces (five or more kills); Lt.Frank E. Schnieder with seven kills, Lt. C. K. Hildebrandt with five kills, and Lt.(jg) James J. Kinsella also with five kills, three on VF-33, two flying F4F-4s with VF-72. During the Second World War VF-33's patch was a black "Hellcat" leaping out of red flames on a white circle outlined in red; the motto "The Hellcats" was written in black script. After the war, VF-33 was disestablished on 19 November 1945.