F-D4 Skyray - History

F-D4 Skyray - History


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F-3H Demon

Manufacturer: McDonnell

Speed: 616 MPH

Range: 1,130 miles

Wingspan: 35ft 4 in

Length: 655ft

First Flight: 12/24/1953

Last Delivery: 4/8/1960

Total Produced: 239


F-D4 Skyray - History


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213) - Pensacola, Florida - April 2006


F-14D Tomcats assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Fighter Squadron Three One (VF-31) and the "Black Lions" of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213)
perform a fly-by in formation over NAS Oceana, Virginia. VF-213 and VF-31 are completing the final deployment with CVW-8 aboard
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 2006


F-14D Tomcats assigned to VF-31 and VF-213 in formation over NAS Oceana, Virginia - March 2006


F-14D Tomcats assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Fighter Squadron Three One (VF-31) and the "Black Lions" of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213) perform a
fly-by in formation. VF-213 and VF-31 are completing the final deployment with CVW-8 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 2006


Lt. Ken Hockycko and Lt. Roy Emanuel, F-14D Tomcat pilots assigned to the "Black Lions" of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213),
launch from the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in aircraft number 201. This marks the final launch of a F-14 on deployment.
VF-213 and VF-31 are completing their final deployment flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 10, 2006


Lt. Ken Hockycko and Lt. Roy Emanuel, F-14D Tomcat pilots assigned to the "Black Lions" of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213),
launch from the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in aircraft number 201 - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcats launch from the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to their homeport of Naval Air Station Oceana.
VF-213 and VF-31 are completing their final deployment flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcats launch from the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to their homeport of Naval Air Station Oceana.
VF-213 and VF-31 are completing their final deployment flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcats launch from the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to their homeport of Naval Air Station Oceana.
VF-213 and VF-31 are completing their final deployment flying the F-14 Tomcat - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcats (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 10, 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2006


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over the Persian Gulf - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over Iraq - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over the Persian Gulf - December 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over the Persian Gulf - November 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - November 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - October 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over the Persian Gulf - October 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) over the Persian Gulf - October 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - October 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - October 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - September 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - September 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - September 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 2005


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) with a F/A-18A+ of VFA-204 over Louisiana - December 2004


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) with a F/A-18A+ of VFA-204 over Louisiana - December 2004


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) at NAS Oceana, Virginia - September 2004


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) at NAS Oceana, Virginia - September 2004


F-14D Tomcats (VF-213 + VF-11) at NAS Oceana, Virginia - September 2004


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) - February 2004


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - November 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - May 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - April 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - April 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - April 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - March 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - February 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - January 2003


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - December 2002


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - December 2002


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) - October 2001


F-14D Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) - March 1999



F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - August 1993


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - October 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - September 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - September 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - September 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - September 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) - September 1990


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - 1989


F-14A Tomcats (VF-213, 2xx / and VF-114, 1xx - CVW-11) embarked on USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - 1984


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - January 1983


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213) near NAS Fallon, Nevada - November 1980


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213) near NAS Fallon, Nevada - November 1980


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213) near NAS Fallon, Nevada - November 1980


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) was loaded onto USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1977


F-14A Tomcat (VF-213 / CVW-11) fires an AIM-7 Sparrow SAM missile - undated



F-4J Phantom II piloted by Lt. Paul Bennett of the Royal Navy and Capt. Gene Quist of the U. S. Air Force. This was the first time two aviators with such diversidfied backgrounds joined forces to record a flight. They were in an F-4J of Fighter Squadron VF-213 "Black Lions" on the catapult on board the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) operation in the South China Sea. VF-213 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the Kitty Hawk for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 21 May to 15 December 1975 (NNAM)


F-4B Phantom II (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1968


F-4B Phantom II (VF-213 / CVW-11) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1968


Two F-4G Phantom II of Fighter Squadron VF-213 "Black Lions" on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) during that carrier's deployment to Vietnam
from 19 October 1965 to 13 June 1966. The US Navy experimented with aircraft camouflage and painted half of the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11)
with dark green colours to blend in with the Vietnamese jungle (NNAM) - June 1966


F-4G Phantom II (BuNo 150642) of fighter squadron VF-213 Black Lions about to be launched from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).
The Phantom is one of the short-lived USN-F-4Gs - January 1966


F-4G Phantom II (BuNo 150484) of VF-213 Black Lions aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) during that carrier's deployment to Vietnam from 19 October 1965 to 13 June 1966. The US Navy experimented with aircraft camouflage and painted half of the aircraft of Attack Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) with dark green colours to blend in with the Vietnamese jungle. The Phantom is one of the short-lived USN-F-4Gs, 12 were converted from F-4Bs with AN/ASW-12 two-way datalink communication system and approach power compensator which, coupled with the shipboard AN/SPN-10 radar and AN/USC-1 datalink allowed hands-off carrier landings. All surviving F-4Gs were rebuilt as F-4Bs in October 1966, one had been shot down over Vietnam. The designation "F-4G" was later used for USAF "Wild Weasel" conversions of F-4Es (NNAM)


F-4G Phantom II (BuNo 150645) of Fighter Squadron VF-213 in flight, in 1965. The Phantom is one of the short-lived USN-F-4Gs, 12 were converted from F-4Bs with AN/ASW-12 two-way datalink communication system and approach power compensator which, coupled with the shipboard AN/SPN-10 radar and AN/USC-1 datalink allowed hands-off carrier landings. This aircarft appeared with markings of "VF-116" 18 months earlier. No records could be found for this squadron. All aircraft were assigned to VF-213 "Black Lions" in 1964 and were deployed with Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) to Vietnam from 19 October 1965 to 13 June 1966 (NNAM)



F-3B Demon (VF-213 / CVG-21) embarked on USS Hancock (CVA 19) - 1963


F-3B Demon (VF-213 / CVG-21) embarked on USS Hancock (CVA 19) - 1963


F-3B Demons (VF-213 / CVG-21) embarked on USS Hancock (CVA 19) - 1963


F3H-2 Demon (BuNo 143454) (VF-213 / CVG-21) aboard USS Lexington (CVA 16) during a deployment to the Western Pacific from 29 October 1960 to 6 June 1961


F3H-2 Demon (VF-213 / CVG-21) launches from USS Lexington (CVA 16) - 1961



Douglas F4D-1 Skyrays (VF-213 / CVG-21) embarked on USS Lexington (CVA 16) during a deployment to the Western Pacific from 26 April to 2 December 1959


F4D-1 Skyrays (VF-213) - circa 1958 (NNAM)


F4D-1 Skyray (VF-213 / CVG-21) embarked on USS Lexington (CVA 16) during a deployment to the Western Pacific from 14 July to 19 December 1958 (NNAM)



Five McDonnell F2H-3 Banshees from Fighter Squadron VF-213 "Black Lions" and an F2H-2P from Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron VFP-61 Det.L "Eyes of the Fleet" in flight. Both squadrons were assigned to Carrier Air Group 21 (CVG-21) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 16 August 1956 to 28 February 1957


F2H-3 Banshee (BuNo 126447) (VF-213 / CVG-21) after a barrier landing aboard aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31)
during a deployment to the Western Pacific from 16 August 1956 to 28 February 1957.

The Fighting BLACKLIONS of VFA-213 were commissioned on 22 June 1955 at NAS Moffett Field , California . The BLACKLIONS flew the F-2H3 Banshee during their first deployment aboard USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CV-31). They transitioned to the F-4D Skyray for their next two deployments on USS LEXINGTON (CV-16). By their third WESTPAC deployment aboard the “LEX,” they were flying the F-3H2 Demon, which gave the squadron the capability to shoot the newly released AIM-7 Sparrow Air-to-Air missile.


In June 1961, the squadron moved to San Diego , California where they were based at NAS Miramar, “FIGHTERTOWN USA .” Three years later, in February 1964, the BLACKLIONS took a huge step forward in fighter capability by accepting the first of their new F-4 Phantoms. In November 1965, VFA-213 joined Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) and began the first of six combat deployments to the South China Sea aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) where they flew numerous missions over Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War. This deployment marked the first use of the Phantom as a conventional bomber, which was a role destined to make the Phantom a mainstay of the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Throughout the war, the BLACKLIONS flew over 11,500 combat missions and delivered in excess of 6,000 tons of ordnance. On 20 December 1966, LT D. A. McRae and ENS D. N. Nichols downed an enemy AN-2 Colt for the squadron’s first kill. In March 1971, VFA-213 became the first fleet squadron to fly the Phantom more than 1,000 hours in a single month.

In December 1976, VFA-213 transitioned to the Navy’s premier supersonic fighter, the F-14A Tomcat. In April 1982, the BLACKLIONS added a new mission as they began training with the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) and in September 1982, VF-213 deployed aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65). During Indian Ocean Operations, the BLACKLIONS achieved a new milestone by flying the longest Tomcat flight from a carrier on a 1,775-mile TARPS mission.

The BLACKLIONS deployed again to the Western Pacific in 1988 where they took part in Operation PRAYING MANTIS, a naval conflict with Iran on 18 April 1988. The BLACKLIONS won the prestigious “BOOLA BOOLA” award in March 1989 for their aggressive professional completion of all missile test firings.

In 1991, the BLACKLIONS deployed on USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s maiden WESTPAC cruise in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Day and night Combat Air Patrol flights by the BLACKLIONS over Kuwait enforced the United Nations’ sanctions on Iraq , while TARPS missions recorded the devastation of Kuwait oil fields.

In 1992, VF-213 won the coveted “MUTHA” award for espirit-de-corps and took honors as the Pacific Fleet’s top fighter squadron when they won the 1992 Fighter Derby. The squadron deployed for the second time aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN in 1993 and participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq and Operation RESTORE HOPE in Somalia. Upon their return, VF-213 began a turnaround for their next deployment, during which they again won the “MUTHA” award.

In 1995, the BLACKLIONS again deployed aboard “ABE” in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. The maintenance department was showcased, as all fourteen Tomcats assigned were airborne at one time over Iraq and Kuwait.

VF-213 next moved their operations to the USS KITTY HAWK, where the squadron deployed for six weeks on RIMPAC 1997 and six months on WESTPAC 1997. During RIMPAC, the BLACKLIONS fired twenty-six Phoenix and six Sidewinder missiles, including an unprecedented six plane, twelve missile simultaneous Phoenix shoot. Aboard USS KITTY HAWK on WESTPAC ‘97, VF-213 set a new record for 804 consecutive Tomcat sorties and earned the CVW-11 “TOP HOOK.”

When the BLACKLIONS departed KITTY HAWK at the end of deployment, they flew across the country to Virginia Beach , Virginia and became permanently stationed at NAS Oceana. In December 1997, VF-213 completed its transition to the F-14D and moved to the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70). Aboard their new carrier, the BLACKLIONS returned to the Pacific to participate in RIMPAC 1998. Immediately following RIMPAC, they executed another first in a missile exercise when they fired an AIM-54C Phoenix with an aircrew on night vision goggles.

The BLACKLIONS next deployment was the 1998-99 WESTPAC to the Arabian Gulf . Two months into the cruise, the BLACKLIONS participated in Operation DESERT FOX, which was the Navy’s largest combat evolution since DESERT STORM. This successful deployment included the longest combat line period in over 25 years.

VF-213 again embarked on the USS CARL VINSON in July 2001 for another WESTPAC. On September 11th, 2001, the BLACKLIONS were preparing to enter the Persian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH when terrorists attacked New York and Washington D.C. The BLACKLIONS headed to the Northern Arabian Sea to lead the first strikes into Afghanistan against Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces on October 7th, 2001 beginning Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF).

For the next ten weeks, VF-213 participated with honor in OEF by flying over 500 combat sorties, over 2,600 combat flight hours, and expending over 400,000 pounds of ordnance. VF-213 became the first Tomcat squadron to log more than 1,000 hours in two consecutive months. The BLACKLIONS also provided invaluable reconnaissance to the Task Force and Theater Commander with their TARPS pods. VF-213 received the 2001 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle “E”, CNO Safety “S”, CNO Clifton award and the COMFITWINGLANT Golden Wrench for their superb performance during 2001.

In 2002, the BLACKLIONS became a member of Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8). In January 2003 the squadron deployed aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). On March 21, 2003 VF-213 along with coalition forces commenced combat missions over Iraq . CVW-8 and CVN 71 became the “Night Carrier” and conducted most operations in the dark, which inspired the aircrew to coin the phrase, “living after midnight, bombing ‘til dawn”. Over the course of OIF, the BLACKLION’S completed 198 combat sorties with a 100% sortie completion rate, 907.6 combat flight hours and expended 96 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and 102 Laser Guided Bombs.

In 2004, VF-213 again earned high honors as the winners of the “BOOLA BOOLA” award for excellence in maintenance and employment of Air-to-Air ordnance. The squadron deployed for a second time in support of OIF in September 2005. Flying over 3,500 combat hours in 581 combat sorties, the BLACKLIONS dominated the air over Iraq dropping over 5,000 pounds of precision guided ordnance. VF-213 also pioneered a new technology for the Tomcat in Remote Operated Video Receiver (ROVR) capability. This allowed the troops on the ground to see the Tomcat’s infrared display from the cockpit real time. Soon after, this ability became a requirement for all strike aircraft operating in Iraq.

On March 10, 2006, the BLACKLIONS marked the end of an era. Their “fly-off” from cruise back to NAS Oceana featured the last operational flight of the F-14D Tomcat. In a 22-jet formation, VF-213 and VF-31 closed the book on the Tomcat being an asset in the US Navy arsenal.

The BLACKLIONS were re-designated VFA-213 on April 2, 2006 as they transitioned to the F/A-18F Super Hornet.


Beautiful Climber

Near dawn on a sparkling spring day, a tailless jet fighter shaped like a manta ray taxied into position on Runway 21 at the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California. Pointing the airplane into the dense, cold air flowing off the Pacific, Marine Corps Major Edward N. LeFaivre applied full power with the brakes on, then, brakes off, lit the afterburner. The aircraft screamed down the runway for the ten seconds it needed to reach 150 mph and lifted off in a 70-degree climb, tracked by missile-range cameras and radar. Two minutes and 36.05 seconds after releasing the brakes, LeFaivre was at 50,000 feet. It was the fastest time to that altitude in history.

From This Story

Radical for its day, the Douglas Skyray looked even more exotic bedecked in the stars-and-deep blue of the Navy's VFAW-3 squadron. (John MacNeill)

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The airplane that set that mark was not a daring experiment in delta-wing technology, but a Navy fighter that had been in development for more than a decade, had served with the fleet for two years, and was already entering the twilight of its service life. Yet as of May 23, 1958, Ed LeFaivre’s airplane could still outclimb any other military jet, foreign or domestic.

Douglas designed the aircraft to meet the Navy’s 1947 requirement for a land- or carrier-based jet interceptor quick enough to catch and kill an approaching enemy bomber flying at 500 knots (575 mph) and 40,000 feet within a 100-mile radar range. To do this, the jet would have to reach 40,000 feet in five minutes and be able to fight when it got there.

Named the Skyray for the unique shape of its wing, LeFaivre’s aircraft was known by those who flew and cared for it as the Ford, from its designation, F4D, and fighter pilots’ penchant for understatement. In fact, there was nothing Ford-like about the Skyray. It was exotic and fast, the first of the high-performance designs born during the post-World War II fascination with delta wings, which sprouted on military aircraft around the world like fins on late-1950s automobiles. Many had been inspired by the 1930s experimentation of German aircraft designer Alexander Lippisch. He, in turn, attributed the delta wing to a gift of a zanonia seed, sent him by a colleague during the 1920s. Triangular and airworthy, zanonia seeds can glide a good distance from their parent vine on the weak thermals of the Indonesian rainforest.

The more immediate provenance of the Skyray was a visit to Paris in the week following VE Day, during which Douglas engineers Gene Root and A.M.O. Smith acquired a trove of German wind tunnel data and were able to listen to Lippisch, then in Allied custody, brief his captors on the flying-wing interceptors he believed were aviation’s future. Smith and Root returned to El Segundo and the legendary California design-works run by Edward H. Heinemann, where engineers started playing their own supersonic variation on the Lippisch theme.

“The original layout we had at Douglas was very much like Lippisch’s plan, which had a sweepback of 45 degrees,” recalls Malcolm J. Abzug, a control and stability engineer present at the Skyray’s creation. “As I remember, it was okay, but the airplane couldn’t be balanced. So the sweepback was increased to 52.5 degrees.” Increasing the degree of sweep balanced the aircraft by shifting the wing’s area in relation to its center of gravity, the point around which the aircraft pivots in pitch. “All this was under A.M.O. Smith,” Abzug says. “His first name was Apollo, so he went by initials we called him Amo Smith.”

The first design was a wing that could easily have flown off the drawing board of Lippisch himself. Then, like a reptile morphing into a bird, the new fighter began to take shape: A rudimentary fuselage appeared, and the wings shrank to a smaller triangle.

One of the youngest members of the design team was Erven Heald, who had come to Douglas in 1940, fresh from the University of Michigan. “Heinemann would just come up with a design and take it to one of the engineers to be turned into an airplane,” he says. “When he showed me the Skyray he asked if we could make one, and I said yes, but the center-of-gravity travel can’t be more than about five percent.” That limited what could be hung on the airplane, and where. “My role was just the flying qualities, how to make it stable and controllable.” With a grin, he adds, “Stable and controllable was a challenge.”

In October 1950, not quite a year after the Navy awarded a contract to build two prototype Skyrays, Douglas rolled out the XF4D. It was neither a flying wing nor a delta-wing airplane, but something in between. To those who would come to love the craft, its planform looked like a valentine. To others it looked like the ace of spades.

Because the Skyray had no horizontal tail, pilots controlled pitch and roll with elevons on the trailing edge of the wing—control surfaces that have combined the functions of ailerons and elevators on all delta-wing airplanes right up through the Concorde. The Skyray’s elevons were boosted hydraulically. Were the hydraulic system to fail, the stick could be extended about a foot to give the pilot enough leverage to move the control surfaces. Pitch trimmers augmented the elevons. Control in yaw was provided by a swept dorsal fin with an unboosted rudder.

About Carl A. Posey

Novelist and award-winning science writer Carl A. Posey was the author of seven published novels, a number of non-fiction books, and dozens of magazine articles. He was a licensed pilot and an Air & Space magazine contributor for more than 30 years, beginning with its second issue in 1986. Posey died on February 9, 2018.


Background and Epilogue

Ed Heinemann’s inspiration for the Skyray was the designs of Dr. Alexander Lippisch. Dr Lippisch proposed some advanced concepts for high speed aircraft. These included the Me 163 Komet, tailless interceptor. Another Lippisch design was the DM-1 which had a delta wing.[i]

The Skyray showed the advantages and disadvantages of delta wing aircraft. The Skyray had excellent performance and good maneuverability at high speeds. The tradeoff was difficult handling at low speeds. Low speed handling difficulty is a big disadvantage for carrier-based aircraft.

With no horizontal tail, pilots used the elevons on the trailing edge of the wing to control pitch and roll. Pilots seemed to have a love it or hate it opinion of the Skyray.

As with most interceptors it had limited multirole capability. It didn’t have an air-air refueling system, which limited the Skyray’s range. The age of the interceptors ended with the 1960s. The last Skyrays on active duty were at the Navy Test Pilots School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Their purpose was to give pilots familiarity with how an unstable aircraft flew.

[i] �lta” refers to the triangular shape, which is the symbol for the Greek letter delta.


Nice FFF F4D Build

EDF engines are very high rpm (Kv), so it will be hard to remove the motor whining and hear mostly air blow. The pipe tends to amplify the motor whining, or high rpm sounds. If anyone makes a high rpm motor with lower Db noise, that would be the best way to hear more wind blow. The lower the rpm, the bigger the fan, the better sound reduction from motor whining.

That would suggest a fan unit larger than 70 mm and a lot of fan blades with a low/matched Kv motor. Not sure if anyone else has been working on this concept already to have a quite EDF unit. Some have gone to jet engine sound units with large speakers to mask the standard EDF whin. Of course that mean more noise rather than less.

Wondering if I should make a F4D Skyray hand glider using recycled foam drink cups to give folks ideas about how to form thin foam into the fuselage shape? It would take a bit of work and a lot of specific cuts to end up with a good copy that could be done larger in FFF using the cold rolling method. Other thin foam sheet can be done the same way as I showed the basic process in my Youtube channel.

In this video I made a foam tube using both Blu-core FFF and Dollar Tree poster board. Of course you don't have to cold roll the thin foam as much to make a tube if the curve you need is only slightly curved. The F4D fuselage panels/skin would have less curve, but you would need the curved pieces to match edge to edge. That often means a plug or frame is used to ensure the proper shape and reduce any chance of a warped fuselage. I probably need to make another video of the process and paste it in my foam drink cup fuselage blog.


Space History: Neil Armstrong flew it…but whatever happened to the F-5D Skylancer fighter jet?

“Miss him dearly” was the touching comment that former Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins made on Twitter on what would have been his Apollo 11 commander late Neil Armstrong’s 90th birthday on 5 August. The Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Armstrong’s home town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, which celebrates his life, has recently refurbished the Douglas F-5D-1 Skylancer fighter jet which he flew in his time as a NASA test pilot. The museum originally had the jet loaned to it and then later donated to it by NASA. For several years it was outside of the museum as a “gate guardian”, suffering all that the weather and air pollution could throw at it. Now fully restored, it has joined the Gemini 8 space capsule he flew in, inside the museum.

Never heard of this aircraft? Well, the F-5D Skylancer was one of those very promising aircraft that became, due to politics and other competitor aircraft a “nearly bird” – that is one that was nearly taken into production but never quite made it.

Armstrong’s F-5D Skylancer test jet before its restoration. Courtesy: Armstrong Air and Space Museum

The Douglas F-5D Skylancer was a development of the Ed Heinemann-designed F-4D – no not a version of the famous F-4 Phantom II jet – but the “bat winged” F-4D Skyray aka “The Ford”. While the F-4D Skyray was not supersonic and had notable aerodynamic problems with “Mach tuck”, nevertheless, it excelled in climb and held the world record for a time. And it was this excellent steep climb performance which led to its being selected as the first “Stage Zero” for an air launched small launch vehicle NOTS-Pilot EV2 dubbed NOTSNIK), although none of the NOTS-Pilot Project’s six orbital launch attempts was ever fully confirmed as being successful.

F-4D Skyray with NOTS-EV2 rocket aboard. Courtesy: US Navy via drewexmachina

Back to the story. The follow-on F-5D Skylancer was powered by the J57 jet engine and had a design which fixed the handling faults of its predecessor. It was fully supersonic with Mach 1.2 demonstrated but thought capable of reaching up to Mach 1.5. The plan was to make it fully Mach 2 capable by using the more powerful J79 turbojet with revised inlets. However, this never happened.

The US Navy rejected this promising jet fighter (just four were made in the J57 powered guise) after Mercury and Apollo astronaut-to-be US Navy test pilot, Alan B. Shepard, rejected the aircraft, noting in his report’s recommendations to the US Navy that it already had the already successful Mach 1.8-capable Vought F-8 Crusader as its supersonic single-seater fighter. By the way, it has to be noted that the F-8 Crusader subsequently excelled at Mig-killing in the later Vietnam war, making up for the US Navy’s more cumbersome two-seat F-4 Phantom II fighter’s lack of agility or guns. While Shepard’s argument might have been right, there were suggestions that political fears that Douglas was beginning to dominate naval jet aviation (Douglas already won the US Navy A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft contract) were at play. By the way, the demise of the F-5D Skylancer was not the only potentially excellent supersonic jet to go down in this way: a similar proposal for the J-79 re-engining of the Grumman F-11F-1F Tiger to make it bi-sonic met the same fate.

F-5D Skylancer in flight. Courtesy: NASA

Nevertheless, while the programme ended, the two surviving F-5D-1 jets (one other was lost and another grounded) did find a use as chase planes and test vehicles at NASA. It was at this point that Neil Armstrong – not yet a Gemini or Apollo moon walking astronaut – came into contact with it in his test pilot role. For while Armstrong test pilot career more is more remembered for his flights in the X-15 hypersonic rocket plane, he was also charged with using the F-5D-1 to test out a new launch abort concept.

During the early 1960s, the US Air Force was developing a revolutionary Titan III-launched mini-shuttle craft called the Boeing X-20 Dyna-soar. It was Armstrong’s job to test out these emergency escape scenarios with the F-5D-1 (the NASA 802 aircraft) as it was the closest jet in shape and handling characteristics. By the way, Armstrong was one of the test pilots secretly selected to be astronauts on test flights of the Dyna-Soar.

Artist’s illustration showing Dyna-Soar being launched on a Titan III. Courtesy: US Air Force via drewexmachina

The idea was that a escape rocket on the astronaut piloted Dyna-Soar craft would boost it away from the rest of the rocket in an emergency which would then be able glide to a safe landing.

At Edwards Air Force base in California, Armstrong mimicked this launch and escape procedure in the F-5D by making a zoom vertical climb from 200 feet to circa 8,000 feet followed by a pull over onto its back. He then correcting this upside down attitude via a half roll in a style of the famous World War I fighter pilot Max Immelman, followed by a steep glide back to Rogers Dry Lake for a landing.

In the end, successful though these tests were, the Dyna-Soar project was later cancelled in 1963 for being too technically ambitious and not having an adequate enough mission goal to justify its cost. Armstrong himself subsequently joined NASA’s astronaut corps proper later that year.

And the rest, as they say, is history – and one now celebrated in an Ohio museum.


Specifications (F4D-1)

Data from The American Fighter [1]

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 45 ft 3 in (13.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)
  • Wing area: 557 ft² (52 m²)
  • Empty weight: 16,024 lb (7,268 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 22,648 lb (10,273 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 27,116 lb (12,300 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-8, −8A or −8B turbojet
    • Dry thrust: 10,200 lbf (45 kN)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 16,000 lbf (71 kN)
    • Maximum speed: 722 mph (627 kn, 1,162 km/h)
    • Range: 700 mi (610 nmi, 1,100 km) combat
    • Ferry range: 1,200 mi (1,040 nmi, 1,900 km)
    • Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (17,000 m)
    • Rate of climb: 18,300 ft/min (93.3 m/s)
    • Wing loading: 41 lb/ft² (198 kg/m²)
    • Thrust/weight: 0.71
    • Guns: 4 × 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon, 2 each just aft of the wing leading edge, mid-wing, underside, with 65 rounds/gun
    • Rockets:
      • 6 pods of 7 2.75 in (70 mm) unguided rockets or
      • 4 pods of 19 2.75 in (70 mm) unguided rockets

      F-D4 Skyray - History

      Plane Details

      Plane: F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray
      Mission: Carrier-based fighter/interceptor
      Service Date: 1956-1964
      Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company Santa Monica, CA
      Bureau Number: 139177

      F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray History:

      The Douglas F4D Skyray (later redesignated F-6 Skyray) is an American carrier-based fighter/interceptor built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Although it was in service for a relatively short time (1956-1964) and never entered combat, it was the first carrier-launched aircraft to hold the world’s absolute speed record, at 752.943 mph, and was the first United States Navy and United States Marine Corps fighter that could exceed Mach 1 in level flight.

      It was the last fighter produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company before it merged with McDonnell Aircraft and became McDonnell Douglas.
      The Ed Heineman designed Skyray was a wide delta wing design with long, sharply swept, rounded wings based on the designs and research of the German aerodynamicist Alexander Lippisch. The design was named for its resemblance to the manta ray. The thick wing roots contained the air intakes feeding a single turbojet engine. Fuel was contained both in the wings and the deep fuselage. Leading edge slats were fitted for increased lift during takeoff and landing, while the trailing edges were mostly elevon control surfaces. Additional pitch trimmers were fitted inboard near the jet exhaust, and were locked upwards on takeoff and landing.

      Production aircraft were not delivered until early 1956, while the United States Marine Corps received their first in 1957. In total, 419 F4D-1 (later designated F-6 in the unified designation system) aircraft were produced. The Skyray was designed exclusively for the high-altitude interception role, with a spectacular rate and angle of climb. It set a new time-to-altitude record, flying from a standing start to 49,221 feet (15,003 m) in 2 minutes and 36 seconds, all while flying at a 70° pitch angle. As a dedicated interceptor, the F4D was unsuited to the multi-mission capabilities soon in demand, so it had a short career in Navy and Marine Corps service, the last aircraft being withdrawn from service in 1964.

      F4D-1 (BuNo 139177) was accepted at Douglas Aircraft’s El Segundo Plant on October 7, 1958. It was flown to NAS Alameda where it was placed on a ship to supplement Marine Fighter Squadron (All Weather) – ONE ONE FIVE (VMF(AW)-115) which was supporting the Formosa Straits Crisis. VMF(AW)-115 along with other MAG-11 units flew missions out of Pingtun North airfield in Taiwan. Once the crisis died down, MAG-11 returned to NAS Atsugi and � was transferred to the Navy’s VF-141 aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) during its first WESTPAC cruise. Prior to USS Ranger’s return to Alameda, � was flown off to NAS Atsugi where it then joined VF-213 aboard USS Lexington (CV-16) for its WESTPAC cruise. It returned with USS Lexington to NAS North Island in December 1959. On February 18, 1960 it was transferred back to the Marine Corps and VMF(AW)-314 where it returned to NAS Atsugi. In September 1960 it was sent to VMF(AW)-513 at MCAS El Toro where it made several deployments to NAS Atsugi with � and VMF(AW)-542. On June 25, 1963 � was placed in storage at NAF Litchfield Park, Arizona. It was pulled out of storage on April 2, 1965 and returned to service with Naval Air Test Center’s Research, Test, Development and Evaluation lab at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. On May 1, 1966 it moved over to the Naval Test Pilot School where it remained until it was struck off charge on November 25, 1969 with 1,744 total airframe hours. It was displayed at the USMC Air/Ground Museum at Quantico, VA in February 1970 before moving to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

      Specifications

      Dimensions
      Length: 45 ft, 8 in
      Wing Span: 33 ft, 6 in
      Height: 13 ft
      Performance
      Max Speed: Mach .94 (627 kts / 722 mph)
      Rate of climb: 21,400 ft/min
      Ceiling: 55,500 ft
      Range: 973 nm (1,120 mi)

      Powerplant: 1 Pratt & Whitney J57-P-2
      Thrust: 8,000 lbs (dry), 16,000 lbs (AB)

      Armament
      4 × 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannon, 70 rounds per gun
      Missiles: 4 × AIM-9 Sidewinder
      Rockets: 76 × 2.75 inch rockets
      Bombs: 2 × MK-81 2,000 lb GP
      External Stations: 7 – 1 fuselage, 6 wing
      Total external load: up to 4,000 lbs.
      Crew: Pilot only


      Assembly

      Parts Removal

      Assembly begins with removing the various parts from their sheets. This is a good way to go if one plans on painting and building in a normal manner, but I had to stop for photos between sets. So, I removed what I needed starting with the next two steps, namely laminating the fuselage and wing. The rest of the parts remained on their sheets and were returned to the bag.

      Once the parts are removed with a sharp hobby knife, the tabs may be sanded flush with a 220-grit sanding block or sandpaper.

      The rear extension tab on the wing which supports the vertical stabilizer and ventral fin had been partially milled off and it didn't take long for it to completely come off. Foam-safe CA was all that was needed to reattach it. No big deal and not a minus.

      Fuselage

      The 6" long, .083" diameter carbon fiber rod is inserted into the recessed slot of the inside of one of the fuselage halves. The halves are then joined with Foam-Tac and allowed to dry.

      Once the glue is cured, the leading edges can be rounded off with the sanding block or paper. Doing so gives the fuselage a finished look and helps hide the seam between the halves.

      With the main wing's milled "brick" location markings facing up, glue is applied to the so-called "KFm step" and applied to the top of the wing. "KFm" is the abbreviation of Kline-Fogelman, the type of wing which is used on this model. A discussion of KFm construction may be found here at RCGroups.

      The KFm step acts as a reinforcement for the perimeter of the wing and the forward area where the fuselage is later joined. Naturally, it adds considerable stiffness and no further reinforcement is required.

      The manual seems to suggest that the F-4D first be assembled before being decorated. I thought this would be a good time to break out the paints and get to brushing up the airframe parts before installing the electronics and doing the final assembly.

      Jonathan was kind enough to share a .gif of the color scheme he used on his prototypes, but since it's based on his CAD drawings of the F-4D, I'm unable to share it here.

      The first was painted by a friend at a body shop who used automotive acrylics. The second was painted using Apple Barrel brand acrylic craft paints from Walmart. The selection at my local store wasn't that great, but the nearby Hobby Lobby stocked Anita's All Purpose Acrylic Craft Paint made by The Testor Corporation. These four colors were only 79 cents each. I picked up some Testors hobby brushes while at Hobby Lobby and some foam brushes from the nearby 99-cent store to apply the grey paint over larger areas.

      I might also add that Jonathan let me in on a neat secret: He uses ordinary 3M Post-It Notes for masking since they won't lift off the adjoining paint. Some ordinary blue painter's tape also came in handy.

      The end result was incredibly attractive and proved easy to see in the air. Better still, the paint soaked into the foam, giving it a sort of velvet matte finish. However, the scheme didn't seem to represent an actual F-4D based on my research. It's a mix of Jonathan's color scheme and Callie's decals applied per Jonathan's CAD drawing and that online research.

      Scale modelers may cringe at my ultimate solution, but the F-4D is a blank canvas for those willing to really detail a model of their own based on an actual prototype. Add a set of Callie Graphics decals and the sky is literally the limit.

      Control Surfaces

      I'd made up my mind from the get-go to set up the F-4D with the most powerful motor possible and elevons for use outdoors. Sawn Craft actually provides two separate vertical stabilizers, one with a rudder and one without for use with elevons.

      The elevon setup is slightly less involved and simply requires that a straight edge ruler and a new hobby knife be used to bevel the elevons where they join with the wing. A sanding block may be used I used a little of both, starting with a knife and ending with the sanding block. The beveled part goes underneath the model and is held in place on either side by hinge tape. Glue hinges may be used as well.

      The hinge tape works beautifully, but required several coats of paint to cover brush marks.

      Electronics

      There's nothing quite like the feeling of pulling a brand new control board and motor from their packages only to have to cut the wires in preparation for extending them.

      Fair heart never won fair maiden, so out came the wire cutters and the soldering tools.

      Once the deed is done, the brick may be glued atop its squared-off area atop the wing with a bit of foam glue. Ditto the gearbox and motor in their clearly marked location once a propeller is screwed onto the gearbox's drive shaft.

      The F-4D may look like a pusher prop jet, but it is in reality a "tractor jet" for want of a better term. The propeller numbers are to face forward and the propeller to turn in the usual counterclockwise direction when viewed from the front. The prop and motor felt stiff at first, but they loosened up after the first flight.

      The manual states that some down thrust is preferred by some users with the P-51 power setup. This, of course, is to keep the F-4D from climbing under power without effecting the flight characteristics. It suggests using some scrap foam to tilt the front of the gearbox up and therefore the propeller downward, but the alignment dots do a great job of holding the retainer pins of the Champ gearbox. Out came the foam glue and on went the gearbox with the two forward pins just below the surface of the foam. That proved to be a perfect setup.

      The battery and motor wires must be routed around the propeller opening per a photo in the manual. Rather than use tape, I used small dabs of the indispensable Foam-Tac to tack the leads as illustrated after installing the two skids and ventral fin. They were first painted to match.

      Completion

      Assembly of the control rods is next. I've done control rods of this sort before, so I began with electronically centering the servos.

      The .051" carbon fiber rods and .024" steel control wires are held together with shrink wrap tubing shrunken with a heat gun. The control wires then go into the holes in the servos which, by the way, are a slop-free fit. The opposite ends go into the lite ply control horns and once the alignment is correct, the rods are glued together and the control horns glued in place. I opted for some small dabs of medium foam-safe CA to secure the rods and horns. I should have no trouble breaking the rods loose should I need to replace the brick at some point, but for now, it's a secure and solid setup.

      Gluing and sliding the fuselage in place and attaching the Velcro for locating the battery complete the model. The Velcro is applied over a piece of clear tape which is first attached to the fuselage just under the simulated air scoop on the left side. Once the vertical stabilizer is glued in place, the F-4D is ready for decals and, of course, for flying!


      F-D4 Skyray - History


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - March 2020


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - March 2020


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - March 2020


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - March 2020


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - March 2020


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - November 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) at NAS Key West, Florida - October 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) at NAS Oceana, Virginia - March 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) at NAS Oceana, Virginia - March 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - January 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - January 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - January 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - January 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) - January 2018


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - October 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - October 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - October 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - October 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 bombs (1000 pounds) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 bombs (1000 pounds) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 bombs (1000 pounds) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 bombs (1000 pounds) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - April 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - March 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - February 2017


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - November 2016


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2016


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - October 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - September 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


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      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


      excerpt


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - June 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - March 2014


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2013


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - August 2011


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - July 2011


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) - May 2010


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - November 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - November 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - October 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - September 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - July 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - July 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - July 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - July 2008


      F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-213 / CVW-8) embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - May 2008

      The Fighting BLACKLIONS of VFA-213 were commissioned on 22 June 1955 at NAS Moffett Field , California . The BLACKLIONS flew the F-2H3 Banshee during their first deployment aboard USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CV-31). They transitioned to the F-4D Skyray for their next two deployments on USS LEXINGTON (CV-16). By their third WESTPAC deployment aboard the “LEX,” they were flying the F-3H2 Demon, which gave the squadron the capability to shoot the newly released AIM-7 Sparrow Air-to-Air missile.

      In June 1961, the squadron moved to San Diego , California where they were based at NAS Miramar, “FIGHTERTOWN USA .” Three years later, in February 1964, the BLACKLIONS took a huge step forward in fighter capability by accepting the first of their new F-4 Phantoms. In November 1965, VFA-213 joined Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) and began the first of six combat deployments to the South China Sea aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) where they flew numerous missions over Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War. This deployment marked the first use of the Phantom as a conventional bomber, which was a role destined to make the Phantom a mainstay of the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

      Throughout the war, the BLACKLIONS flew over 11,500 combat missions and delivered in excess of 6,000 tons of ordnance. On 20 December 1966, LT D. A. McRae and ENS D. N. Nichols downed an enemy AN-2 Colt for the squadron’s first kill. In March 1971, VFA-213 became the first fleet squadron to fly the Phantom more than 1,000 hours in a single month.

      In December 1976, VFA-213 transitioned to the Navy’s premier supersonic fighter, the F-14A Tomcat. In April 1982, the BLACKLIONS added a new mission as they began training with the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) and in September 1982, VF-213 deployed aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65). During Indian Ocean Operations, the BLACKLIONS achieved a new milestone by flying the longest Tomcat flight from a carrier on a 1,775-mile TARPS mission.

      The BLACKLIONS deployed again to the Western Pacific in 1988 where they took part in Operation PRAYING MANTIS, a naval conflict with Iran on 18 April 1988. The BLACKLIONS won the prestigious “BOOLA BOOLA” award in March 1989 for their aggressive professional completion of all missile test firings.

      In 1991, the BLACKLIONS deployed on USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s maiden WESTPAC cruise in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Day and night Combat Air Patrol flights by the BLACKLIONS over Kuwait enforced the United Nations’ sanctions on Iraq , while TARPS missions recorded the devastation of Kuwait oil fields.

      In 1992, VF-213 won the coveted “MUTHA” award for espirit-de-corps and took honors as the Pacific Fleet’s top fighter squadron when they won the 1992 Fighter Derby. The squadron deployed for the second time aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN in 1993 and participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq and Operation RESTORE HOPE in Somalia. Upon their return, VF-213 began a turnaround for their next deployment, during which they again won the “MUTHA” award.

      In 1995, the BLACKLIONS again deployed aboard “ABE” in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. The maintenance department was showcased, as all fourteen Tomcats assigned were airborne at one time over Iraq and Kuwait.

      VF-213 next moved their operations to the USS KITTY HAWK, where the squadron deployed for six weeks on RIMPAC 1997 and six months on WESTPAC 1997. During RIMPAC, the BLACKLIONS fired twenty-six Phoenix and six Sidewinder missiles, including an unprecedented six plane, twelve missile simultaneous Phoenix shoot. Aboard USS KITTY HAWK on WESTPAC ‘97, VF-213 set a new record for 804 consecutive Tomcat sorties and earned the CVW-11 “TOP HOOK.”

      When the BLACKLIONS departed KITTY HAWK at the end of deployment, they flew across the country to Virginia Beach , Virginia and became permanently stationed at NAS Oceana. In December 1997, VF-213 completed its transition to the F-14D and moved to the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70). Aboard their new carrier, the BLACKLIONS returned to the Pacific to participate in RIMPAC 1998. Immediately following RIMPAC, they executed another first in a missile exercise when they fired an AIM-54C Phoenix with an aircrew on night vision goggles.

      The BLACKLIONS next deployment was the 1998-99 WESTPAC to the Arabian Gulf . Two months into the cruise, the BLACKLIONS participated in Operation DESERT FOX, which was the Navy’s largest combat evolution since DESERT STORM. This successful deployment included the longest combat line period in over 25 years.

      VF-213 again embarked on the USS CARL VINSON in July 2001 for another WESTPAC. On September 11th, 2001, the BLACKLIONS were preparing to enter the Persian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH when terrorists attacked New York and Washington D.C. The BLACKLIONS headed to the Northern Arabian Sea to lead the first strikes into Afghanistan against Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces on October 7th, 2001 beginning Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF).

      For the next ten weeks, VF-213 participated with honor in OEF by flying over 500 combat sorties, over 2,600 combat flight hours, and expending over 400,000 pounds of ordnance. VF-213 became the first Tomcat squadron to log more than 1,000 hours in two consecutive months. The BLACKLIONS also provided invaluable reconnaissance to the Task Force and Theater Commander with their TARPS pods. VF-213 received the 2001 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle “E”, CNO Safety “S”, CNO Clifton award and the COMFITWINGLANT Golden Wrench for their superb performance during 2001.

      In 2002, the BLACKLIONS became a member of Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8). In January 2003 the squadron deployed aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). On March 21, 2003 VF-213 along with coalition forces commenced combat missions over Iraq . CVW-8 and CVN 71 became the “Night Carrier” and conducted most operations in the dark, which inspired the aircrew to coin the phrase, “living after midnight, bombing ‘til dawn”. Over the course of OIF, the BLACKLION’S completed 198 combat sorties with a 100% sortie completion rate, 907.6 combat flight hours and expended 96 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and 102 Laser Guided Bombs.

      In 2004, VF-213 again earned high honors as the winners of the “BOOLA BOOLA” award for excellence in maintenance and employment of Air-to-Air ordnance. The squadron deployed for a second time in support of OIF in September 2005. Flying over 3,500 combat hours in 581 combat sorties, the BLACKLIONS dominated the air over Iraq dropping over 5,000 pounds of precision guided ordnance. VF-213 also pioneered a new technology for the Tomcat in Remote Operated Video Receiver (ROVR) capability. This allowed the troops on the ground to see the Tomcat’s infrared display from the cockpit real time. Soon after, this ability became a requirement for all strike aircraft operating in Iraq.

      On March 10, 2006, the BLACKLIONS marked the end of an era. Their “fly-off” from cruise back to NAS Oceana featured the last operational flight of the F-14D Tomcat. In a 22-jet formation, VF-213 and VF-31 closed the book on the Tomcat being an asset in the US Navy arsenal.

      The BLACKLIONS were re-designated VFA-213 on April 2, 2006 as they transitioned to the F/A-18F Super Hornet. During 2007-2008, the squadron took the lead in developing new tactics and procedures for using the Navy’s newest airborne radar. The experience gained and developments made by the BLACKLIONS provided for the smooth transition of several F/A-18E/F squadrons to the Advanced Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar and earned the squadron the Golden Wrench award.

      In September 2008, VFA-213 deployed with CVW-8 aboard CVN 71 for the first time as an F/A-18F Super Hornet squadron. In October 2008, the BLACKLIONS and CVW-8 commenced combat operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF), which continued through March 2009. At the conclusion of the deployment, the BLACKLIONS had completed 680 combat sorties, accumulating more than 3,970 combat hours, while employing 26 precision guided bombs and over 2,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition. They achieved 100% ordnance on target unmatched in the air wing. The BLACKLIONS received the CVW-8 Golden Wrench award for 2009.

      During the 2014 calendar year VFA-213 participated in the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77)’s maiden deployment. The cruise began with combat missions in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan before shifting into the Northern Arabian Gulf to counter the growing threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). VFA-213 fired the opening salvo of what would become Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, encompassing missions involving a multi-national coalition in both Iraq and Syria. The BLACKLIONS led CVW-8 with 74 combat expenditures of GBU-38 JDAM, GBU-54v2 Laser JDAM, AGM-65E Laser Maverick (LMAV), and 20mm, while leading the Air Wing with over 2,400 combat flight hours. VFA-213 was also chosen to lead the first Alpha Strike into Syria, leading a multi-national and joint force deep into the heart of ISIS territory in Syria.

      The BLACKLIONS’ demonstration of combat power led to them being selected for the prestigious Battle Efficiency Award (Battle “E”) in 2014, as well as being selected for the 2014 Wade McClusky Award, given to the most outstanding attack squadron in the Navy.

      On 21 January 2017, VFA-213 embarked aboard CVN 77 with the rest of CVW-8 to combat ISIS through Operation INHERENT RESOLVE once again. Over the course of this deployment, the BLACKLIONS were able to set new standards in the war on terror. In just 99 days of combat, they employed 488 air-to-surface munitions and 1300 rounds of 20mm, summing to over 550,000 pounds of ordnance on target with a 100% combat sortie completion rate. During this deployment, CVW-8 employed 1,739 air-to-surface munitions and 2 air-to-air missiles totaling to over 1,800,000 pounds of ordnance.

      During the 2017 deployment, the BLACKLIONS also took part in Exercise SAXON WARRIOR. This exercise allowed the United States and the United Kingdom to enhance their warfighting capabilities in the process of the generation of the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group and the commissioning and IOC of the UK’s first aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

      1950s:
      Fighter Squadron Two Hundred Thirteen (VF-213) was established on June 22, 1955 at NAS Moffett Field, California. The first cruise was aboard USS Bon Homme Richard flying the F2H Banshee. When they returned, they transitioned to the F4D Skyray which they flew for two deployments on USS Lexington. They then transitioned to the F3H Demon, which gave the squadron the capability to fire the newly deployed AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile. VF-213 deployed next for a third cruise aboard USS Lexington.

      1960s:
      In June 1961, VF-213 moved to NAS Miramar, which became their home for the next 36 years. Three years later, in February 1964, VF-213 accepting the first of their new F-4B Phantom IIs.

      Vietnam War:
      In November 1965, VFA-213 joined Attack Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) and made 9 deployments to Vietnam and the Western Pacific aboard USS Kitty Hawk as follows:

      From 17 October 1963 to 20 July 1964, equipped with F-4Bs.

      From 19 October 1965 to 13 June 1966. On 28 April F-4B #150645 was hit by antiaircraft fire over North Vietnam, both crewmen ejected successfully and were rescued. On 18 May F-4B #152257 was hit by antiaircraft fire near the Mu Gia Pass, both crewmen ejected successfully and were rescued.

      From 5 November 1966 to 19 June 1967. On 20 December a squadron aircraft and one from VF-114 shot down two Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) Antonov An-2 with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. On 4 February F-4B #153007 was hit by antiaircraft fire over North Vietnam, both crewmen LT Donald Thompson and LT Allan Collamore were killed, their remains were identified in February 2001.

      From 18 November 1967 to 28 June 1968.

      From 30 December 1968 to 4 September 1969. On 3 July F-4B #153015 was lost, both crewmen ejected successfully and were rescued.

      From 6 November 1970 to 17 July 1971, reequipped with F-4Js.

      From 17 February to 20 November 1972. On 18 June F-4J #157273 was hit by antiaircraft fire, both crewmen ejected successfully and were rescued.

      From 23 November 1973 to 9 July 1974.

      From 21 May to 15 December 1975.

      1970s:
      In September 1976, VF-213 began the transition to the F-14A Tomcat. The first cruise with the F-14 was with CVW-11 aboard USS Kitty Hawk in October 1977. After the Kitty Hawk cruise, the carrier air wing switched to USS America and took part in two Mediterranean cruises in 1979 and 1981.

      1980s:
      In December 1981, VF-213 added a new mission as they began training with the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) and in September 1982, VF-213 deployed aboard USS Enterprise. During Indian Ocean operations, the squadron achieved a new milestone by flying the longest Tomcat flight from a carrier on a 1,775-mile (2,857 km) TARPS mission.

      On 24 January 1986 they deployed with USS Enterprise to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, where VF-213 often intercepted Soviet and Indian aircraft. During this deployment, tensions between the U.S. and Libya escalated, necessitating the decision to move USS Enterprise through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea. Upon arrival in the Gulf of Sidra CVW-11 aircraft flew patrols for two months, although encounters with Libyan aircraft were rare. The ship transited the Strait of Gibraltar and around the Cape of Good Hope before continuing onto Perth, Australia and across the Pacific to their home port.

      1988 saw VF-213 flying cover over reflagged oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and participating in Operation Praying Mantis. In 1990 VF-213 and the rest of the air wing switched aircraft carriers to USS Abraham Lincoln. The first cruise on USS Abraham Lincoln was a six-week transit from NAS Norfolk to NAS Alameda, via Cape Horn.

      The squadron won the "BOOLA BOOLA" award in March 1989 for their professional completion of all missile test firings. In late 1989, VF-213 and CVW-11 went around the world on USS Enterprise for a WESTPAC deployment ending at NAS Norfolk for refurbishment.

      1990s:
      The squadron deployed to WestPac on USS Abraham Lincoln in May 1991 in support of UN sanctions against Iraq. VF-213 flew combat air patrol and TARPS missions, recording the devastation of Kuwait oil fields. In 1993, VF-213 became the sole F-14 squadron on Abraham Lincoln. That same year, VF-213 flew in support of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.

      Kara Hultgreen, the first qualified female F-14 pilot in the US Navy, was assigned to VF-213, and on 25 October 1994, her F-14 crashed while on approach to USS Abraham Lincoln. Both she and her RIO ejected, but only the RIO survived.

      The 1995 WestPac cruise again saw the squadron flying over the skies of southern Iraq. In 1996, VF-213 moved to USS Kitty Hawk for the 1996–1997 WESTPAC deployment. During this deployment VF-213 fired twenty six AIM-54 Phoenix and six AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, including one event where six planes launched twelve Phoenix missiles. These mass firings were conducted to reduce the numbers of older Phoenix missiles in inventory, as they were being removed from service.

      After the 1997 cruise, VF-213 moved from NAS Miramar to NAS Oceana and transitioned to the F-14D Super Tomcat, becoming the fourth F-14 squadron to receive the D model.

      In 1998 they moved to USS Carl Vinson, and began work-ups for their next cruise. During the 1998-1999 deployment, VF-213 was the first squadron to fire an AIM-54C Phoenix with the aircrew on night vision goggles. Two months into the deployment, VF-213 participated in Operation Desert Fox, which was the Navy's largest combat evolution since the Gulf War. This successful deployment included the longest combat line period in over 25 years. F-14Ds from VF-213, as well as the rest of the embarked carrier air wing aboard USS Carl Vinson, joined other US air assets in the final strikes of that operation. Highlights of the cruise included the execution of 19 strikes, dropping 20 laser-guided bombs, supporting 11 combined strikes, flying 70 missions, and logging 230 combat sorties, including 45 reconnaissance missions imaging more than 580 targets.

      On 5 January 1999, two F-14Ds on patrol over Iraq were directed to intercept two Iraqi MiG-25s south of the "no fly zone". The Tomcats fired two AIM-54 missiles, the first ever Phoenix combat-launch by the US Navy. The Iraqi jets turned north and the missiles fell short of their targets. VF-213/CVW-11 returned home in the spring of 1999.

      2000s:
      After the September 11 attacks, USS Carl Vinson with CVW-11 was the first carrier battle group on station in the North Arabian Sea, preparing for attacks against Afghanistan. On 7 October 2001 during a CVW-11 strike, VF-213 dropped the first bombs of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) on an SA-3 site near Kabul International Airport. VF-213 also conducted reconnaissance, utilizing their TARPS pods, and also provided laser weapon guidance for F/A-18 Hornets and GPS weapons coordinates for Hornets and USAF strike aircraft. During the ten weeks VF-213 were supporting OEF they flew over 500 combat sorties, over 2600 combat flight hours and expended 435,000 pounds of ordnance and provided reconnaissance with their TARPS pods. VF-213 was also the first F-14 unit to use its internal 20 mm cannon in combat during the Battle of Mazar e Sharif VF-213 received the 2001 Commander Naval Air Pacific Fleet Battle "E", Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Safety "S", Clifton Award and the Commander Fighter Wing Atlantic Golden Wrench for their performance in 2001.

      After the 2001 cruise ended in 2002, VF-213 changed air wings from CVW-11 to CVW-8. On March 22, 2003, VF-213 deployed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt to the Mediterranean Sea in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the war VF-213 would fly 198 strike, combat air patrol and ground forces support missions, delivering 102 laser-guided bombs and 94 JDAM bombs.

      VF-213 was paired up with VF-31 for the 2005-2006 final F-14 Tomcat cruise on board USS Theodore Roosevelt. During the cruise, VF-213 and VF-31 received ROVER upgrades to their aircraft, enabling them to transmit real-time images from their LANTIRN sensor to ground operators. VF-31 and 213 collectively completed 1,163 combat sorties, and dropped 9,500 pounds of ordnance during reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support missions in support of OIF.

      On 10 March 2006, VF-213 returned to NAS Oceana after the final F-14 cruise. All 22 Tomcats flew together in a wedge formation over NAS Oceana.

      VF-213 began their transition to the F/A-18F Super Hornet in April 2006 and was re-designated VFA-213 on 2 April 2006. VFA-213 was the first Super Hornet squadron to fly AESA-equipped Super Hornets. VFA-213 became the first squadron to receive Dual-Cockpit Cueing System for both pilot and weapon systems officer, retrofitted with an aft cockpit Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), on May 18, 2007.

      On 13 May 2008 an F/A-18F from the squadron operating from USS Theodore Roosevelt accidentally dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb three miles (4.8 km) outside of the Pinecastle bombing range near the Ocala National Forest. The bomb explosion started a wildfire which burned 257 acres (1.04 km2) of vegetation. No one was injured in the blaze, but the emergency response cost $342,946. A Navy investigation determined that technical misunderstandings and crew fatigue contributed to the mishap. The two crew members of the jet were later returned to flying status after a board review.

      VFA-213, along with CVW-8 and USS Theodore Roosevelt, participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 08-4 Operation Brimstone off the coast of North Carolina between 21 and 31 July 2008. The British carrier HMS Ark Royal, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima with associated units, the Brazilian Navy frigate Greenhalgh, and the French submarine Améthyste also participated in the event.

      On 8 September 2008, VFA-213 and the rest of CVW-8 deployed on board USS Theodore Roosevelt on a regularly scheduled deployment. On 4 October the Roosevelt Carrier Group arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, the first visit by a US aircraft carrier since 1967 and three days later the carrier left Cape Town. CVW-8 and CVN-71 supported Operation Enduring Freedom and flew more than 3,100 sorties and dropped more than 59,500 pounds of ordnance while providing close air support for ISAF-forces in Afghanistan.

      On 11 May 2011, the squadrons of CVW-8 embarked on USS George H.W. Bush's maiden deployment, scheduled to conduct operations in the US 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations.

      On 27 January 2018, VFA-213 departed on a combat deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), embarked onboard USS George H. W. Bush. From 10 February 2017 to 9 March 2017, the command conducted OIR combat operations from the Mediterranean Sea. VFA-213 resumed combat operations on 23 March 2017 from the Persian Gulf until 22 May 2017.


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