U.S. Navy Skyhawk Units
|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-725/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.
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.
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|
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
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)
NAS Meridian, MS.
|VT-21 Fighting Red Hawks
NAS Kingsville, TX.
|VT-22 Golden Eagles
NAS Kingsville, TX.
NAS Kingsville, TX.
NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX.
NAS Chase Field,
|VT-35 Sting Rays
NAS Corpus Christi, TX.
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
VA-792 and Memphis
VA-811 and Twin Cities
VA-881 and NAS Olathe
VA-821 and NAS New Orleans
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.
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
NAF Detroit, MI. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7Y)
NAS Glenview, Chicago IL.NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7V)
NAS Grosse Ile, MI. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 7Y)
NAS Jacksonville, FL. (NARTU - Pre 1970 Tail Code = 6F)
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)
Units that utilized the Skyhawk on a limited basis.
Naval Aircraft Torpedo Unit at Quonset Point, RI.
Captain Michael J. Estocin, USN.
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).
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.
Mike Estocin is remembered on "The Wall" panel 18E row 092.
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.