The history of the Hellcat is intertwined with the birth of USN Night Fighter development. The USN faced a real challenge in early 1942. Japanese air attacks were simply something they had no defense against. Evan Ã¢â‚¬Å“PeteÃ¢â‚¬Â Aurand was an ambitious naval officer who had been assigned to Scouting 2, flying SBD dive-bombers and he simply had to get into fighters. Accepting the first assignment offered in May 1942, Aurand headed for NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He became immersed in the effort to build a night fighting aircraft to protect the fleet. It would be a type of plane the U.S. Navy had never possessed before. Aurand worked with scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to improve the HellcatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s effectiveness as a night fighter. VF(N)-76 began as one of three pioneer squadrons to use the new radar and navigation tools. Pete Aurand was instrumental in this secret program, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his contributions to developing these important technologies.