U.S. Skyhawk Navy Units

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U.S. Navy Skyhawk Units


 

Skyhawks and Blue Angels

 

 

  Before the Blue Angels traded in their Phantom IIs for Skyhawks in 1973, other Navy units realized the flight demonstration qualities of the A-4. In 1967 the VC-5 Checkertails formed an unofficial demonstration team flying the A-4B Skyhawk, and the VA-209 Air Barons flew demonstrations from 1967 to 1971 with the A-4L.

 

This page is dedicated to
Captain Michael J. Estocin, USN.

Please read about him below.

 


 

Skyhawks demonstrating - "ATTACK!"

 

 


 

A-4E Launch Unknown Scooter launched from an unknown "27C". Suspect; CVW-21 A-4E, off of USS Bon Homme Richard CVA-31 during 26 JAN 67 to 25 AUG 67 WestPac. USN - Robert Moeser ?

LEFT: A-4 Skyhawks from the carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) begin an attack on the Phuong Dinh railroad bypass bridge, six miles north of Thanh Hoe, North Vietnam, September 10 1967. One of the aircraft can be seen just above the explosions on the bridge. Official U.S. Navy photo by LCDR Jerry Breast, USN. The A-4 squadrons on the Oriskany in Sept 1967 were VA-163 and VA-164. According to an internet bio Jerry Breast was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee and attended Vanderbilt University. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1958 and finished flight training in 1959. He was a dive bomber pilot during the Vietnam War, flying 336 combat missions. As an admiral he commanded the Naval Safety Center, Carrier Group Two and was the Operations Officer of the U.S. Space Command. He retired from the Navy in 1990.

 


A-4C Rolling in on a Rail-yard by Neil Jacobe, former Senior Graphic Specialist with McDonnell-Douglas


Mig Killing A-4C Skyhawk BuNo.148609

On May 1, 1967, Lieutenant Commander Ted R. Swartz, USN in Douglas A-4C Skyhawk, NP-685, BuNo. 148609, of the VA-76 "Spirits" and flying from the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) shot down a MiG-17 over North Vietnam. The above picture is a display of VA-76 markings on a replica.
The real BuNo.148609 (A-4C) is pictured with the VA-12 Flying Ubangis, using side number AJ-414 and flying from the USS Shangri-La CVA-38. Skyhawk 148609 is shown cleaned up after takeoff from NAS Atsugi, July 24, 1970. Black & white photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.<

On April 12, 1989, at the Experimental Aircraft Association Oshkosh Flyin, professional photographer Robert S. DeGroat of Newark, Delaware arranged a quickie aerial photo session. Bob hooked a ride in a T-28 and arranged an aerial rendezuous with an A-4B Skyhawk and Russian MIG-21.
As you have probably noticed the Skyhawk pictured is an A-4B and not an A-4C, even though the BuNo. is 148609 and the side number is NP-685. What we have here is A-4B BuNo.142112 that is painted to replicate T. R.'s A-4C Skyhawk.
Chuck Scott was the Skyhawk pilot and Hoot Gibson the MiG-21 pilot for the photo shoot. Both aircraft were then owned by the Combat Jets Flying Museum in Houston, Texas. Later both jets were donated to the EAA Aviation Foundation in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Two more pictures from Bob's photo opportunity:
A-4B Skyhawk BuNo. 142113 in a port turn.
A-4B Skyhawk BuNo. 142113 -- the most beautiful shot for last!!!
A-4B Skyhawk BuNo. 142113 pictures taken and shared by Robert S. DeGroat

USS Constellation with aircraft formation, looks like a E-1 Tracer in the lead, two AD Spads, two A-4 Skyhawks and in the rear an F-8 Crusader, A-3 Skywarrior and a F-4 Phantom II. (VA-144 and VA-146 if taken in 1963-64) Looks like a E-1 Tracer in the lead, two AD Spads, two A-4 Skyhawks and in the rear an F-8 Crusader, A-3 Skywarrior and a F-4 Phantom II. (VA-144 and VA-146 if taken in 1963-64. Official U.S. Navy photo, Don Scott collection


 

Sampling of Navy Skyhawks photos below, many more in unit pages.

 

 

 


ATTACK SQUADRONS: An * (asterick) indicates a Replacement Air Group (RAG) Training Squadron. These units provided the final "fleet attack aircraft" training for a pilot prior to fleet unit assignment. VA43, 44, and 45 served the east coast fleet (RAG Atlantic), and VA125, 126 and 127 served the west coast (RAG Pacific).

 

VA-12 Flying Ubangis VA-15 Valions VA-22 Fighting Redcocks VA-23 Black Knights VA-34 Blue Blasters
VA-36 Roadrunners VA-43 * Challengers - VF-43 Challengers VA-44 * Hornets - VF-44 Hornets VA-45 * Blackbirds - VF-45 Blackbirds VA-46 Clansmen
VA-55 Warhorses VA-56 Champions VA-64 Black Lancers VA-66 Waldos VA-72 Blue Hawks
VA-76 Spirits VA-81 Sunliners VA-83 Rampagers VA-86 Sidewinders VA-93 Blue Blazers
VA-94 Mighty Shrikes VA-95 Green Lizards VA-106 Gladiators VA-112 Broncos VA-113 Stingers
VA-125 * Rough Raiders VA-126 * Nulli Secondus - VF-126 Bandits VA-127 * Batmen - VF-127 Desert Bogeys VA-133 Blue Knights VA-134 Scorpions
VA-144 Roadrunners VA-146 Blue Diamonds VA-152 Fighting Aces VA-153 Blue Tail Flies VA-155 Silver Fox
VA-163 Saints VA-164 Ghost Riders VA-172 Blue Bolts VA-192 Golden Dragons VA-195 Dambusters
VA-212 Rampant Raiders VA-216 Black Diamonds      

 

FLEET DEFENSE FIGHTER SQUADRONS:
The Anti-Submarine Fighter Squadron concept was to have a large squadron that provided a detachment to each CVS (anti-submarine warfare) aircraft carrier. The VSF detachment was to be responsible for CAP (Combat Air Patrol) over the CVS carrier. The VSF detachment was also responsible for the light attack mission and on occasion to pass fuel. Because of the war in Vietnam the expanded fighter concept was scrapped and VSF detachments took on the regular attack mission.

 
VSF-1 Warhawks VSF-3 Chessmen VSF-76 Saints - NAS New Orleans VSF-86 Gators - NAS New Orleans VF(AW)-3

SUPPORT UNITS:
 
VC-1 Blue Alii (Warriors)
NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii.
VC-2 Blue Falcons
NAS Oceana, VA.
VC-4 Det Cecil Field
NAS Cecil Field, FL
VC-5 Checkertails
NAS Cubi Point, Philippines &
NAS Atsugi, Japan.
VC-7 Redtails
NAS Miramar, San Diego, CA.
VC-8 Redtails
NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
VC-10 Challengers
NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
VC-12 (VFC-12) Fighting Omars
NAS Oceania, VA.
VC-13 (VFC-13) Saints
NAS Miramar, CA.
VX-4 Evaluators
NAS Point Mugu, CA
VX-5 Vampires
NAF China Lake, CA
VAQ-33 Firebirds - NAS Norfolk, VA,
NAS Oceana, VA and NAS Key West, FL
VRF-31
Ferry Squadron,
NAS Norfolk, VA
NARF (Naval Air Rework Facility),
O & R & FASron-8
, NAS Alameda, CA
NWEF (Naval Weapons & Evaluation Facility)
Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM.
NARF (Naval Air Rework Facility),
O & R & FASron-6,
NAS Jacksonville, FL
NARF (Naval Air Rework Facility)
O & R & NADEP
,
NAS Pensacola, FL
NOTS(Naval Ordinance Test Station)
(NWC, NWTC, NAWS, NAWC, NAWCWD)
and NWTS (Naval Weapons Test Squadron) Dust Devils.

NAF China Lake, CA
NPTC (Naval Parachute Test Center)
NAF El Centro, CA.
NADC (Naval Air Development Center)
NAF Warminster PA.
NATF (Naval Air Test Facility)
NAS Lakehurst NJ.
NAEC (Naval Air Engineering Center),
NAS Lakehurst, NJ.
FAGU (Fleet Air Gunnery Unit),
NAF El Centro CA. and MCAS Yuma, AZ.
NFWS
(Navy Fighter Weapons School)
TOP GUN

NAS Miramar
NATU (Naval A/C Torpedo Unit)
NARF (Naval Air Repair Facility),
O & R, FASron-2 & HS-74

NAS Quonset Point, RI
NTPS (Naval Test Pilot School)
NAS Patuxent River, MD

NATC (Naval Air Test Center)
NAS Patuxent River MD:
NWTC (Naval Weapons Test Center)
& NWTS (Naval Weapons Test Squadron)
(Point Mugu Blood Hounds)
,
NAS Point Mugu, CA
NMC (Naval Missle Center),
PMTC (Pacific Missile Test Center and predecessor NMC)

NAS Point Mugu, CA
 

 


AIR BASES:

 

NAS Alameda, CA NAS Atlanta, GA NAAS/NAS Chase Field, TX NAF China Lake, CA NAS Cubi Point, Bataan, Phillipines
NAS Dallas, TX NAF Detroit, MI NAF El Centro, CA. NAS Glenview, IL NAS Glynco, GA
NAS Grosse Ile, MI NAS Key West, FL. NAS Lakehurst, NJ NAS Lemoore, CA NAS Jacksonville, FL
NAS Los Alamitos, CA NAS Memphis, TN NAS Minneapolis, MN NAS New York, NY (Floyd Bennett Field) NAS Norfolk, VA
NAS North Island, CA NAS Oceana, VA NAS Olathe, KS NAS New Orleans, LA NAS Patuxent River, MD
NAS Pensacola, FL NAS Point Mugu, CA NAS Quonset Point, RI NAS South Weymouth, MA NAF Willow Grove, PA

 

Adversary Skyhawks (modified to "Mongoose")
The A-4 Skyhawk, in several versions, was used extensively in the adversary role. Units that used the Skyhawk in that role were : VC/VFC-12, VC/VFC-13, VA/VF-43, VA/VF-45, VA/VF-126, VA/VF-127, NFWS.
The "Adversary Skyhawk" and the VF-101 and VF-171 squadrons: VF-171 was initially formed by splitting the Phantom FRS (Fleet Replacement Sqadron) VF-101 in August 1977. The squadrons were first a RAG (Replacement Air Group) for the F-4 (171) and F-14 (101), but were also an east coast adversary unit with A-4 and TA-4 aircraft, the Skyhawks mostly being based at NAF Key West.

 

VF-101 Grim Reapers
(Red Barons?)
NAS Oceana, VA.
VF-171 Det Key West
NAS Key West, FL.
Navy Adversary Pilot Association, Po Box 1139 Severna Park , MD 21146
(VFC-12*, VFC-13*, VF-43*, VF-45*, VFC-111, VFA-126*, VFA-127*, VFA-201, VFA-203, VFA-204, VMFT-401, NFWS*)

 


Douglas Poster courtesy of Gary Verver

FLIGHT TRAINING COMMAND SQUADRONS:

 

TW-1 (Training Wing One) TW-2 (Training Wing Two) TW-3 (Training Wing Three)
TW-6 (Training Wing Six) VT-4 Mighty War Bucks
NAS Pensacola, FL (Forest Sherman Field)
VT-7 Eagles
NAS Meridian, MS.
VT-21 Fighting Red Hawks
NAS Kingsville, TX.
VT-22 Golden Eagles
NAS Kingsville, TX.
VT-23 Professionals
NAS Kingsville, TX.
VT-24 Bobcats
NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX.
VT-25 Cougars
NAS Chase Field,
Beeville, TX.
VT-35 Sting Rays
NAS Corpus Christi, TX.
VT-86 Sabrehawks
NAS Glynco, GA
NAS Pensacola, FL
JTTU NAS Kingsville, TX  

 

The below listed training units were never "assigned" the Skyhawk. They did provide training for many Skyhawk Pilots.

  • VT-1: Flying the: North American SNJ Texan - Harvard - T6. (194x), Temco TT-1 Pinto Jet (195x), Beechcraft T-34 Mentor (Teenie Weenie) (1956). VT-1 EagletsVT-1 Eaglets at Naval Auxillary Air Station Saufley Field, Pensacola, Florida.
  • VT-2: Doer Birds at Naval Air Station Whiting North Field, Milton, Florida.
  • VT-3: Red Knights at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, South Field, Milton, Florida.
  • VT-5: Flying the: North American SNJ Texan - Harvard - T6. (194?) and North American T-28C Trojan. (1956) VT-5 Tigers at Naval Auxillary Air Station Saufley Field, Pensacola, Florida.
  • VT-9: Flying the: North American T-2A Buckeye(1961), North American T-2B Buckeye (1968), North American T-2C Buckeye (1969). VT-9 Tigers , and VT-19 Attack Frogs at McCain Field, NAS Meridian, Mississippi.
  • VT-26: VT-26 Flying Tigers NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX.
  • VT-25: Flying the: TS-2A, T-25 Trojan, Beechcraft T-34C Mentor; and a single TA-4J Skyhawk for less than thirty days. VT-27 Boomers of Texas.
  • VT-31: Flying the Martin P-5M Marlin, Lockheed P-2V Neptune, Grumman S-2F Tracker (1961) and the T-44A (19xx).
    VT-31 Wise Owls at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. Although the Skyhawk was never assigned to VT-31 some VT-31 students and instructors later went on to fly the Skyhawk.

 


 


Douglas Poster courtesy of Gary Verver

 

NAVY RESERVE SQUADRONS:
Webmaster note: Prior to 1970, reserve aircraft belonged to the local NARTU (Naval Air Reserve Training Unit) aka Reserve Naval Air Station. Except for those squadrons on active duty, as in Korea, no reserve squadron "owned" their aircraft, as they were assigned to the NARTU/Station. In 1970, during that reorganization of the reserves into the "Reserve Force" concept, each new squadron was made independent of NARTU (later called NAR), and assigned either to CVWR-20 or CVWR-30. All squadrons were then made in the image of active duty units, with the reserve unit Commanding Officer owning the aircraft and reporting to the CAG. On this site you will find all era reserve combat aircraft images in the appropriate squadron photo page (when it is known what unit was flying it), and only non-combat support aircraft images in the reserve station photo page.

In a book published by "CNAVRES" in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation, there were 23 reserve A-4 squadrons and 11 fighter squadrons listed.
The below photos were copied from this book. Dave Dollarhide.

 

VA-725 (va209) and NAS Glenview
BuNo 142121, 142850, 142855 and 142916 were assigned to NART, NAS Glenview in 1964. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

 

VA-861 and NAS Norfolk
BuNo 142708 was assigned to NATRU, NAS Norfolk in 1962; and BuNo 142780 in 1965. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
BuNo 142784 (1963), 142771 (1965), 142708 (1962) and 142780 (1965) were assigned to NATRU, NAS Norfolk. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-792 and Memphis
BuNo 142759 and BuNo 142699 were assigned to NARTU, NAS Memphis in 1964. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-811 and Twin Cities
BuNo 144916 was assigned to NARTU, NAS Twin Cities in 1963. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

Twin Cities
BuNo 142762 was assigned to to NARTU, NAS Twin Cities in 1963. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-881 and NAS Olathe
BuNo 142722 and 144965 were assigned to NAS Olathe, KS in 1965. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-821 and NAS New Orleans
BuNo 142901 and 142913 were assigned to NARTU, NAS New Orleans in 1963. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-876 and NAS Alameda BuNo 144949 was assigned to NARTU, NAS New Orleans in 1963. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

VA-741 and NAS Jacksonville
BuNo 145056 was assigned to NARTU, NAS New Orleans in 1963. This photo was published in the CNAVRES in 1966 to commemorate 50 years of Naval Reserve Aviation.
From Dave Dollarhide.

In 2010, there were two tactical reserve squadrons left, VFA-204 (New Orleans) and VFA-201 (Fort Worth).

 


NAS Alameda, CA: (NARTU - Pre-1970 Tail Code = 6G)

 


NAS Atlanta, GA (NARTU - Pre-1970 Tail Code = 7B)

 


NAS Dallas, TX
(NARTU - Pre-1970 Tail Code = 7D)

 


NAF Detroit, MI. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7Y)

 


NAS Glenview, Chicago IL.NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7V)

  • 1966:
  • VA-5Y1, VA-5Y2, VA-724 VA-725. (see VA-209)
  • ,VA-727
  • 70s era:
  • VA-209
    Air Barons

 


NAS Grosse Ile, MI. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7Y)


NAS Jacksonville, FL. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 6F)

  • 1966:
  • VF-741, VA-741, VA-2F1. (see VA-203)
  • 70s era:
  • VA-203 Blue Dolphins

 


NAS Key West, FL.

 


NAS Los Alamitos, Los Angeles CA. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7L)

 


NAS Memphis, TN. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 6M)

 


NAS New Orleans, LA. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7X)

 


NAS New York, NY. (Floyd Bennet Field), Brooklyn, NY. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7R)

 


NAS Norfolk, VA. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 6S)

 


NAS Olathe, KS. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7K)

 


NAS Sand Point, Seattle WA

 


NAS South Weymouth, MA.(NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7Z)

 


NAS Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN.

 

Units that utilized the Skyhawk on a limited basis.

 

RVAH-3

CAW-12:

  • BuNo 153468, NJ-600, assigned to Capt Lou Page parked in a Miramar hangar. Tailhook Association Photo.
  • BuNo 153468, NJ-600, assigned to CAPT Lou Page parked on the ramp. Tailhook Association.
  • 13JUN70: CAW 12 TA-4F BuNo 153468 Frank Macsorely.

 

Naval Aircraft Torpedo Unit at Quonset Point, RI.

  • Pic No.1
  • No.2
  • 04 APR 1962: 3 shot sequence of a Mk-46 torpedo being dropped from A4D-1 137818, the photos were taken by Tony Tambini from BuNo 139937.

 



Captain Michael J. Estocin, USN.

Citation:

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 20 and 26 April 1967 as an A-4 Skyhawk pilot in Attack Squadron One Hundred Ninty-two embarked in USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14).
Leading a three plane flight in support of a coordinated strike against two thermal power plants in Haiphong, North Viet Nam, on 20 April 1967, Captain (then Lieutenant Commander) Estocin provided continuous warnings to the strike group leaders of the surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats, and personally neutralized three SAM sites. Although his aircraft was severely damaged by an exploding missile, he re-entered the target area and relentlessly prosecuted a Shrike attack in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. With less than five minutes fuel remaining he departed the target area and commenced inflight refueling which continued for over 100 miles. Three miles aft of Ticonderoga, and without enough fuel for a second landing approach, he disengaged from the tanker and executed a precise approach to a ... arrested landing.

On 26 April 1967, in the support of a coordinated strike against the vital fuel facilities in Haiphong, Estocin led an attack on a threatening SAM site, during which his Skyhawk was seriously damaged by an exploding SAM missile; never-less, he regained control of his burning Skyhawk and courageously launched his Shrike missiles before departing the area

By his inspiring courage and unswerving devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Captain Estocin upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

[Dueling with SAMs was not ‘choice duty’ and those aviators who performed this mission braved fierce odds. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Michael J. Estocin, of VA-192’s ‘Golden Dragons’. On 20 April 1967, Estocin was flying an ant-SAM (Iron Hand) mission from the Ticonderoga against thermal power-plants at Haiphong. Providing continuous SAM warnings to other members of the strike group, he personally neutralized three SAM sites. Estocin’s A-4E received extensive damage, but he elected to remain over the target area and made another Shrike attack, all the while receiving heavy flak fire. Depleting his ordnance, the Skyhawk pilot managed to return the crippled plane safely to the Ticonderoga.
Six days later, on another strike against Haiphong, Estocin once again pitted himself against the deadly missiles. Hit by an exploding SAM, he managed to retain control of his now burning aircraft to launch his Shrikes. Engulfed in the fireball of a detonating SAM, Estocin’s Skyhawk was seen to commence four of five aileron rolls in a 45 degree nose-down attitude. Recovering, Estocin called he had a fire-warning light and headed for the safety of the sea with fire streaming behind his aircraft. However, before he could reach this haven, the stricken A-4 once again began a series of rapid rolls disappearing inverted into the undercast at 3,500 ft. Listed as MIA, Estocin was declared dead after the war and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.]

Mike Estocin is remembered on "The Wall" panel 18E row 092.

A-4E Memorial to Mike Estocin at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

 


Marilyn Holmlund took this picture of Mike at Cubi Point shortly before his last flight.

 

USS Estocin Decommissioned Story Number: NNS030406-02 Release Date: 4/6/2003 9:19:00 PM

From Naval Station Mayport Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- In a ceremony held April 4 at Naval Station Mayport, the crew of USS Estocin (FFG 15) lowered the stars and stripes one last time and decommissioned the ship in preparation for her transfer to the government of Turkey.

Estocin was named in honor of CAPT Michael J. Estocin, a .... pilot during the Vietnam conflict. Attached to Attack Squadron 192, "The World Famous Golden Dragons," then LCDR Estocin gallantly flew over Haiphong, destroying fuel depots vital to the enemy.

Even after taking on heavy damage from a mirage of surface-to-air missiles, Estocin continued to fly into the target area. Estocin's aircraft, badly damaged, went down April 26, 1967. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by Congress. His award read: "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty."

For more than two decades, the various crews of Estocin have strived to uphold the dedication and vigilance that earned her namesake our armed forces' highest honor.

    • Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant Commander), of U.S. Navy Attack Squadron 192, operating from the USS Ticonderoga (CVA14)
    • Place and date: Haiphong, North Vietnam, 20 and 26 April 1967
    • Entered Service at: Akron, Ohio
    • Born: 27 April 1931, Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania

 

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