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On the pages in this chapter we'll be taking a look at all squadrons, units, etc., that were at one time or another associated with the F-8 Crusader. Naturally the US Navy had the most Crusaders in its inventory and thus the largest number of squadrons. You'll find a brief explanation of the US Naval Aviation unit designation system, and short histories of all units involved on this page. On the other two pages the US Marine Corps, NASA, both foreign and the few civil operators are listed. US Navy
US Marine Corps
NACA / NASA
US Naval Aviation units are identified by a variety of letter/numeral designations, indicating their mission and equipment. This designation can also be presented as an abbreviation or acronym, and most units have a nickname. The letter V present in any designation stands for "heavier than air", or to be more precise when it comes to unit designations: "a heavier than air squadron". This dates from the time when balloon and airship squadrons still existed, identified by a Z. The other letters in a unit’s designation denote their mission, but can sometimes be confusing because a letter in one designation doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning in another. The letter F usually indicates "fighter", so a VF is a fighter squadron. But in conjunction with the letter P (for "photographic") the F takes on another meaning and indicates a light squadron: a VFP is a light photographic squadron. Other letters you’ll encounter in the list below are C (for "composite"), S ("anti-submarine"), T ("trainer"), U ("utility"), X ("test and evaluations") and AW (indicating an "all-weather" mission), plus a couple more. Combinations may be used, and yes, it can be quite confusing…
The letters are followed by a hyphen and a numeral or set of numerals, some of which are duplicated several times. In the list you’ll find a VSF-86 and a VT-86, two very different squadrons despite their common numerals and the fact they both flew the F-8 Crusader. So where VCP-61 and VFP-61, to name just another example.
To make matters even more confusing, designations are sometimes changed. This happened frequently up to the late 1950’s when a change of Air Wing assigned to, often lead to a change in designation: VF-43 becoming VF-11 to name just one example. The designation changed, but the squadron remained the same. Even worse, sometimes two squadrons swapped their designations. VF-24 and VF-211 did such thing, just try to figure out what exactly happened from their respective entries below, and you’ll know what I mean with "confusing"…!
Naval Air Reserve squadrons were assigned a high set of numerals (600 and up) initially, but this changed after poor showing by a couple of these units during the so-called "Pueblo-crisis". In 1968 these units were redesignated with a low set of numerals (in almost all cases identical to active fleet F-8 units, but the connection seemed to end there), followed by a letter indicating were the unit was stationed, followed by another single numeral. VF-31B2 was the second reserve unit at NAS Atlanta, VF-31B3, the third reserve unit based there, etc. This was fortunately only a temporary measure. In 1970 the Naval Air Reserves were once again reorganised with the creation of two Reserve Air Wings. Old reserve units were dissolved and new units formed, those belonging to Air Wing Twenty (CVWR-20) assigned the numerals 201, 202, etc., and those assigned to CVWR-30 assigned the numerals 301, 302, etc.
Tailcodes are a means of identifying the Carrier Air Wing a squadron is attached to, or when not attached, the squadron itself. Prior to 1957 single letter tailcodes were used, but at the time when the first Crusaders were introduced to the fleet a two-letter system was introduced. Only one F8U squadron, VF-32, briefly flew with single letter codes on their aircraft's tails. The first of the two letters indicates whether the Carrier Air Wing is part of the Atlantic Fleet (Ax) or Pacific Fleet (Nx). Units not attached to an Air Wing have individual two-letter tailcodes, but units directly attached to an air station (like base-flights or the Naval Air Reserve squadrons prior to 1970) all carry tailcodes comprising of a numeral and a letter, instead of two letters. Finally, training units continue to carry single-letter tailcodes, but these are not featured in the list below.
VC-1 "Blue Alii"
Fleet Composite Squadron One was established at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, on 1 July 1965 when VU-1 was redesignated VC-1. The squadron had several types in service but their primary aircraft were five DF-8A’s and five F-8C’s. The Crusaders were relinquished in favour of TA-4J’s in 1969. VC-1 was finally disestablished in 1992. Tailcode: UA.
VU-1 "Unique Antiquers"
Fleet Utility Squadron One flew five F-8A’s and three DF-8A’s in the early 1960’s from NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, until redesignated VC-1. Tailcode: UA.
VC-2 "Blue Tails"
Established at NAS Oceana, Virginia, on 1 July 1965 when VU-2 was redesignated VC-2, equipped with eleven F-8C’s. The squadron reverted back to flying F-8A’s in 1967, upgrading to F-8K’s in July 1969. Transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk in 1971. Disestablished in 1980. Tailcode: JE.
VU-2 "Blue Tails"
In July 1961 VU-2 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, became the first supersonic Atlantic coast utility squadron with the introduction of the F8U-1. Detachments were established at NAS Jacksonville, Florida ("Det. 33") and NAS Key West, Florida ("Det. Key West"), as well as a detachment maintained at the squadron's original location. NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island ("Det. Quonset Point"). The F-8A’s were replaced by F-8C’s between April and September 1964. Redesignated VC-2 in 1965. Tailcode: JE.
VF(AW)-3 "Blue Nemesis"
When VC-3 at NAS Moffett Field, California, received F4D Skyrays in 1956 it was redesignated All Weather Fighter Squadron Three. Many different types were used, with F8U-1’s introduced to the squadron somewhere in 1957, but disestablishment soon followed on 2 May 1958. The squadron had a secondary task of training senior squadron pilots on high performance aircraft, and as such it became known as the first "Crusader College". Tailcode: TT.
Air Development Squadron Three, responsible for evaluating naval aircraft and procedures, received its first F8U-1 in December 1956 at NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey. In April 1957 it became the first navy squadron to operate the Crusader, together with the F4D-1 Skyray and F11F-1 Tiger, from an aircraft carrier deck. After initial carrier qualifications VX-3 continued to operate the F8U-1 and later the F8U-2 in projects for the new mirror landing system, Sidewinder and Zuni missiles, in-flight refuelling and aerial tow targets. Disestablished on 1 March 1960. Tailcode: XC, from late 1957: JC.
VC-4 "Dragon Flyers"
Like VC-2, established at NAS Oceana, Virginia, on 1 July 1965 from a redesignated VU-4. The squadron flew F-8B’s, F-8C’s and later F-8K’s. At the end of 1970 all Crusaders but one had been phased out. Disestablished on 30 April 1971. Tailcode: JF.
VU-4 "Dragon Flyers"
Following VU-2’s example, VU-4 received its F8U-1’s in August 1961 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, replaced by the F-8C in May 1964. In July 1964 a permanent detachment ("det. Alfa") was established at NAS Cecil Field, Florida. Redesignated VC-4 in 1965. Tailcode: JF.
VX-4 "Vanguards" / "Evaluators"
VX-4 at NMC Point Mugu, California, was established for evaluating air-launched guided missiles like the Sparrow I, but eventually became responsible for all weapons development. Virtually every Crusader variant was at one time or another employed by VX-4, particularly for Sidewinder and Zuni development. Crusaders were operated into the 1970’s. Disestablished in 1994. Tailcode: XF.
established on 1 July 1965 at NAS Atsugi, Japan, when VU-5 was redesignated VC-5. At about the same time some of its F-8A’s were replaced by four F-8D’s. Two permanent detachments were established at Naha AFB, Okinawa ("det. Alpha") and NAS Cubi Point, Philippines ("det. Bravo"). During the period 2 July through 14 July 1966, VC-5 transferred its entire inventory of eleven F-8D’s to VF-24 in return for fourteen older and worn F-8C’s from the same squadron. The squadron also operated the F-8B, DF-8F and F-8K variants. The last Crusaders were phased out in 1970. Disestablished in 1992 as an A-4 Skyhawk squadron. Tailcode: UE.
VU-5 "Workhorse of the Fleet"
Operating from NAS Atsugi, Japan, VU-5 received five F-8A’s in 1962 to use as high-speed target tugs and adversary aircraft. Redesignated VC-5 in 1965. Tailcode: UE.
Established on 1 July 1965 at NAS Miramar, California, from a redesignated VU-7 with four DF-8A’s and fourteen F-8C’s. No word on the DF-8F’s which VU-7 had, but the DF-8A’s were replaced by (more?) DF-8F’s in early 1966. Four RF-8A’s were received in 1967. The F-8K arrived in 1969 but the squadron was soon after disestablished in 1970. Tailcode: UH.
Utility Squadron Seven initially flew F-8A’s from NAS Miramar, California. In 1965 the squadron had four F-8A’s, fourteen F-8C’s and four DF-8F’s in its inventory. Redesignated VC-7 in 1965. Tailcode: UH.
VC-8 "Red Tails"
Two weeks ahead of other Fleet Composite Squadrons, VC-8 was established at NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, on 18 June 1965 from a redesignated VU-8. The squadron continued to operate the DF-8F until 1973. Tailcode: GF.
VU-8 "Red Tails"
Based at NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, received its first DF-8F on 15 November 1963. Eight DF-8F’s were on hand early 1965. Redesignated VC-8 in 1965. Tailcode: GF.
Established on 1 July 1965 at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when VU-10 was redesignated VC-10. It is unclear whether the squadron at that time still flew F-8A’s or already had converted to the F-8B (which is plausible). In February 1966 the last F-8B was transferred out in favour of F-8D’s, but these were traded in 1968 for older F-8C’s. A year later these were finally replaced by F-8K’s. The Crusader was retired from VC-10’s service in 1974. As the only squadron permanently assigned to NAS Guantanamo Bay, located in Communist held Cuba, VC-10 was required to have fighters stand on alert. No less than twelve Crusaders were at any time on some kind of alert: two aircraft had to be airborne within 2 minutes, another two within 5 minutes, and the other three couples within 15, 30 and 60 minutes respectively. As such the squadron was also known as "Fleet Composite Fighter Squadron Ten", but this VCF-10 designation was never official! Tailcode: JH.
Unofficial VC-10 designation.
VU-10 "Proud Pelicans"
Fleet Utility Squadron Ten received its first F8U-1 in January 1962 while based at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is unclear whether the squadron received F-8B’s before being redesignated VC-10 in 1965. Tailcode: JH.
VF-11 "Red Rippers"
Fighter Squadron Eleven was established on 16 February 1959 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, when F8U-1 equipped VF-43 was redesignated VF-11. On 8 February 1962 VF-11 became the first Atlantic Fleet squadron to receive the all-weather F8U-2NE. In January 1966 however the squadron’s thirteen F-8E’s were traded for nine F-8D’s, anticipating conversion to the F-4B Phantom II. Early July 1966 the last Crusaders were phased out and the squadron moved to NAS Oceana, Virginia. It currently flies the F-14D Tomcat. Tailcode: AB.
Originally established as VF-662, Naval Air Reserve squadron VF-11A1 re-emerged at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB), Maryland, on 27 January 1968 when VF-661, the squadron VF-662 had merged with only a month before, was called to active duty. VF-11A1 acquired VF-661’s F-8B’s when the latter transitioned to the F-8H. Naval Air Reserve reorganisations in June 1970 resulted in VF-11A1 being broken up to form VFP-206 and VFP-306. Prior to that the reserves at NAF Washington had already operated at least one but probably several RF-8G photo-Crusaders. Tailcode: 6A.
VC-13 "Fightin’ Saints"
Established in August 1973 at NAS New Orleans, Louisiana, as one of the Naval Air Reserve adversary squadrons, with aircraft and personnel from the disestablished VSF-76 and VSF-86. Originally flying the F-8H, the squadron soon after transitioned to the A-4L Skyhawk in 1974 and moved to NAS Miramar, California. Currently an F-5 adversary unit at NAS Fallon, Nevada, as VFC-13. Tailcode: UX.
VF-13 "Night Cappers"
On 2 July 1964, Fighter Squadron One Three, the last Atlantic Fleet F-3 Demon squadron, completed transition to the F-8E at NAS Cecil Field, Florida. Two years later the squadron transitioned to the F-8D, and continued this "backward evolution" by transitioning to the F-8C in 1967! The squadron traded in their aircraft once again when they received F-8H’s in 1968 for their final cruise. Disestablished on 1 October 1969. Tailcode: AK, later AJ.
On 9 March 1959, VF-211, flying F8U-1’s from NAS Moffett Field, California, was redesignated VF-24 in a confusing swap of designations. In 1960 the squadron converted to the F8U-2 and moved to NAS Miramar, California, a year later. With their F-8C’s the squadron was highly successful over the skies of Vietnam, claiming four MiG’s during several cruises. Early 1968 saw the introduction of the F-8H, but these were itself replaced by F-8J’s in 1970. VF-24 continued to fly the Crusader until late 1975 when the curtain finally fell and the F-14 Tomcat was introduced, the aircraft VF-24 continues to fly today. Tailcode: NE, later NP.
F-8D equipped VF-111 was briefly redesignated VF-26 at NAS Miramar, California. This only lasted from 1 to 17 September 1964 when the squadron reverted back to its original VF-111 designation. Tailcode: NE.
Late 1968 reserve squadron VF-672 at NAS Atlanta, Georgia, was redesignated VF-31B2. The squadron at that time flew F-8C’s and possibly also F-8A’s. Some F-8L’s arrived in 1969, all the time sharing its aircraft with co-located VF-31B3 and VMF-351. disestablished in June 1970. Tailcode: 7B.
As with VF-31B2, VF-31B3 came into existence when VF-673 was redesignated late 1968. See VF-672 and VF-31B2 for more details. disestablished in June 1970. Tailcode: 7B.
NAS Cecil Field, Florida, based VF-32 became the first fleet fighter squadron to be equipped with the F8U-1 Crusader on 25 March 1957. Transitioned to the F8U-1E in 1959 and the F8U-2N in 1961. In August 1965 the squadron moved to NAS Oceana, Virginia, and converted to the F-4 Phantom II. Currently flying the F-14 Tomcat. Tailcode: K, later AC.
Fighter Squadron Three Three traded in their F11F Tigers for F8U-1E’s in February 1961 at NAS Oceana, Virginia. A year later new equipment arrived in the form of F8U-2NE’s. In November 1964 VF-33’s association with the Crusader ended when the squadron transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II. disestablished in 1995. Tailcode: AF.
With the redesignation of all Naval Air Reserve squadrons in 1968, former VF-932 at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, became known as VF-33W2 on 1 July. The F-8A’s and B’s were shared with co-located VF-931/VF-34W1. Again redesignated as VF-34W2 on 1 November 1968. Tailcode: 7W.
Reserve squadron VF-931 was redesignated as such at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, on 1 November 1968. In 1969 the F-8A’s and –B’s (shared with VF-34W2) were replaced by F-8L’s. Then with the reorganisation of the Naval Air Reserves the squadron was disestablished on 1 November 1970. Tailcode: 7W.
On 1 November 1968 reserve squadron VF-33W2 at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, was after only four months again redesignated as VF-34W2. The F-8A’s and –B’s (shared with VF-34W1) were replaced by F-8L’s in 1969. disestablished on 1 November 1970. Tailcode: 7W.
VF-51 "Screaming Eagles"
Formerly equipped with F4D Skyrays, Fighter Squadron Five One became formally an F8U-1 squadron at NAS Miramar, California, late 1960. On 8 February 1962 the F8U-2NE was introduced to the VF-51, the first squadron in the Pacific Fleet to receive this variant. Several Vietnam cruises followed, between two of these the squadron converted to the F-8H during the summer of 1967. With this variant they had more luck chasing MiG’s than with the other Crusader models they flew, claiming two MiG’s while on their only cruise with the F-8H. Once returned stateside the squadron converted to the F-8J late 1968 or early 1969 but no more MiG’s could be claimed during two more cruises to Vietnam. Late 1970 the squadron began transitioning to the F-4 Phantom II. disestablished in 1995. Tailcode: NF.
VF-53 "Iron Angels"
On 15 October 1963 VF-53 was established at NAS Miramar, California, when VF-141 flying F-8E’s was redesignated. A year later four VF-53 aircraft were involved in what later became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. After four cruises to Vietnam with their F-8E’s the squadron formally transitioned to the F-8J on 31 October 1968. Another two war cruises followed but then the squadron was finally disbanded on 29 January 1971. Tailcode: NF.
Reserve squadron VF-53D2 was established when VF-703 at NAS Dallas, Texas, redesignated as such in June 1969, sharing F-8K’s with sister squadron VF-124D1. disestablished a year later, its assets were used in creating VF-202. Tailcode: 7D.
When Heavy Photographic Squadron Six One (VAP-61) added a light photographic mission to its daily tasks and picked up some F8U-1P’s, it was redesignated a Composite Photographic Squadron on 1 July 1959. At the time the squadron was based at NAS Agana, Guam. A detachment ("det. E") was set up at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines. The photo-Crusaders remained in the inventory exactly two years to the day, when the squadron again became a Heavy Photographic Squadron. disestablished in 1971. Tailcode: SS.
Light Photographic Squadron Six One (VFP-61, not to be confused with VCP-61) based at NAS Miramar, California, received its first F8U-1P in September 1957, eventually operating twenty. The squadron supplied photographic detachments to Pacific Fleet carriers. Redesignated VCP-63 on 1 July 1959. Tailcode: PP.
Also known as the "Boomers" (thanks to their supersonic Crusaders which frequently "boomed" the neighbourhood) or "Yellowtails", NAS Cecil Field, Florida, based VF-62 began transitioning to the F8U-1 on 1 March 1960. Converted to the F-8B in 1962, only to receive factory-fresh F-8E’s during June and July 1963. As with other Atlantic Fleet Crusader squadrons these had to be traded in for F-8D’s in mid 1966, in order to free the air-to-ground capable E-model to Pacific Fleet squadrons who put them to good use over Vietnam. disestablished on 1 October 1969. Tailcode: AK, later AJ.
VFP-62 "Fightin’ Photo"
Based at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, VFP-62 transitioned to the F8U-1P in 1958, supplying Atlantic Fleet carriers with photographic detachments. In 1961 the squadron moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida. VFP-62 was heavily involved in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Remanufactured RF-8G’s replaced the RF-8A’s in 1965. disestablished on 5 January 1968. Tailcode: GA, or the code of the air wing detached to.
VCP-63 "Cameras Unlimited"
When F8U-1P equipped VFP-61 at NAS Miramar, California, added the heavy photographic mission to its daily activities it was redesignated VCP-63 on 1 July 1959. This lasted until 1 July 1961 when the squadron reverted back to the light photographic mission and was redesignated VFP-63. At that time the squadron maintained a detachment at NAS Atsugi, Japan, known as "det. A". Tailcode: PP.
VFP-63 "Eyes of the Fleet"
Light Photographic Squadron Six Three was established at NAS Miramar, California, on 1 July 1961 from a redesignated VCP-63, flying F8U-1P’s. The squadron’s main mission was to provide Pacific Fleet carriers with a photographic detachment. As such it was heavily involved in the Vietnam conflict, from early beginnings right up to the end. Two detachment to other bases were maintained during 1962, one at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines ("det. A") and one at NAS Atsugi, Japan ("det. L"). In 1965 the RF-8A’s were replaced by remanufactured RF-8G’s. When VFP-62 was disestablished in January 1968, VFP-63 took over the responsibilities of Atlantic Fleet deployments also. The squadron’s mission was once again expanded with the decommissioning of VF-124, the F-8 Replacement Air Group, in September 1972, its task of training new Crusader pilots being handed over to VFP-63. To cope with the new demand the squadron added F-8J’s to its fleet. But that was not the first time a fighter version of the Crusader had joined VFP-63’s ranks, in 1969 a couple of F-8H’s had already been used for training purposes. In 1975 there was no more need for fleet F-8 fighter pilots and VFP-63 gave up its RAG duties, but kept on training its own pilots and those of the Naval Air Reserve. Eventually disestablished on 30 June 1982 as the very last fleet F-8 squadron. Tailcode: PP, or the code of the air wing detached to.
VSF-76 "Fighting Saints"
Anti-Submarine Fighter Squadron Seven Six was one of the two NAS New Orleans, Louisiana, based squadrons tasked with the mission to provide fighter cover for the ant-submarine carriers. Previously flying early-model A-4 Skyhawks, the squadron transitioned to the F-8H in 1971. In August 1973 VSF-76 and sister-squadron VSF-86 merged and were redesignated VC-13. Tailcode: AW.
VF-84 "Vagabonds" / "Jolly Rogers"
NAS Oceana, Virginia, based VF-84 traded in their FJ-3 Fury’s for F8U-2’s in early 1959, the first squadron to receive this variant. On 15 April 1959 VF-61 "Jolly Rogers" was disestablished with most personnel going to VF-84. A vote was taken and that of "Jolly Rogers" replaced the squadron’s "Vagabond" nickname. The F-8C’s were replaced by F-4 Phantom II’s in 1964. disestablished in 1995, but the squadron’s traditions, markings and nickname have been taken over by VF-103. Tailcode: AG.
This was the other NAS New Orleans, Louisiana, based Anti-Submarine Fighter Squadron. As with VSF-76, the squadron transitioned to the F-8H in 1971 after having flown early-model A-4 Skyhawks. In August 1973 VSF-86 and its sister-squadron merged and were redesignated VC-13. Tailcode: NW.
VT-86 "Sabre Hawks"
Training Squadron Eight Six at NAS Glynco, Georgia, operated a number of F-8A’s during the 1960’s for radar training. Later the AN/APQ-94 fire-control radar was installed in the nose of the squadrons’ T-39D trainers and the Crusaders became obsolete. Tailcode: 4B.
VF-91 "Red Lightnings"
In December 1958 VF-91 began flying the F8U-1 at NAS Miramar, California. These were soon to be replaced by F8U-2’s, arriving in September 1959. Redesignated VF-194 on 1 August 1963. Tailcode: NG.
NAS Cecil Field, Florida, based VF-103 received its first F8U-1’s in late 1957. In June 1959 the squadron moved to NAS Oceana, Virginia, where conversion to the F8U-2 took place. These F-8C’s had to make way for F-8E’s in the summer of 1963. The squadron made only one cruise with these aircraft before transitioning to the F-4 Phantom II mid 1965. Tailcode: AK, from mid 1959: AJ.
F11F Tiger equipped VF-111 at NAS Miramar, California, became the first squadron to be equipped with the F8U-2N in March 1961. From 1 to 17 September 1964 the squadron was briefly redesignated VF-26 but this was short-lived and the squadron reverted back to its original VF-111 designation. After early involvement in the Vietnam war the F-8D’s were slowly replaced by F-8C’s from November 1965 onward, but these were shortly after replaced by F-8E’s, so when VF-111 again sailed for Vietnam in May 1966 it had a full complement of E-model Crusaders. Things got even more confusing after the squadron returned from this cruise and reverted back to the F-8C in late 1966 or early 1967! A detachment ("Detachment 11") was set up to operate as fighter escort from the small anti-submarine carriers, independent from the rest of the squadron. It was an F-8C from this detachment on their second cruise that claimed a MiG on 8 February 1969. While the detachment was still flying F-8C’s the rest of the squadron had already converted to the F-8H in 1968. Transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II in 1971. Tailcode: originally NH, from late 1964: NE, from early 1966: AH, from early 1970: AJ. Detachment 11: AK.
VF-124 "Crusader College"
Fighter Squadron One Two Four came into being when on 11 April 1958 VF-53 (the original VF-53, not to be confused with the VF-53 redesignated from VF-141!) was redesignated VF-124 at NAS Moffett Field, California. The squadron became responsible for training west-coast replacement F-8 pilots. As such it became known as the "F-8 RAG" (Replacement Air Group) and "Crusader College". On 30 June 1961 the squadron moved to NAS Miramar, California. With the introduction of the F-14 Tomcat and the dwindling need for F-8 fighter pilots the squadron turned over the RAG duties to VFP-63 in September 1972 and became the F-14 RAG. As a training squadron VF-124 flew several F-8 models simultaneously, first F8U-1’s, -1B’s and -2’s, then slowly transitioning to a complement of F-8C’s, D’s and E’s. Later older models were retired and when they became available, F-8J’s and H’s were added. Tailcode: NJ.
Reserve squadron VF-701 at NAS Dallas, Texas, was redesignated VF-124D1 in June 1969, flying F-8K’s. disestablished on 1 July 1970 when the squadron’s assets were used to create VF-201. Tailcode: 7D.
VF-132 "Peg Leg Petes"
NAS Cecil Field, Florida, based VF-132 was established on 21 August 1961 as part of the new CVW-13 (Carrier Air Wing Thirteen), flying F8U-2N’s. The squadron was very successful during several exercises but was nevertheless disestablished on 1 October 1962. Tailcode: AE.
VF-141 "Iron Angels"
After flying F3H Demons, VF-141 converted to the F-8E at NAS Miramar, California, in May 1962. Redesignated VF-53 on 15 October 1963. Tailcode: NK.
VF-142 "Fighting Falcons"
In September 1957 VF-142 became the second Pacific Fleet, and the first NAS Miramar, California, based F8U-1 squadron. F8U-2’s replaced the -1’s exactly two years later, but these were swapped for VMF-323’s F8U-1’s in June 1961, awaiting transitioning to the F4H Phantom II. This materialised soon after when VF-142’s pilots were transferred to the newly established VF-132 and the squadron began transition training in the F4H with new pilots. Redesignated VF-96 in 1964, disestablished in 1975. Tailcode: NK.
VF-154 "Grand Slammers" / "Black Knights"
In the spring of 1957 Fighter Squadron One Five Four transitioned from FJ-3 Fury’s to F8U-1’s at NAS Moffett Field, California, and as such became the first Pacific Fleet Crusader squadron. Two years later F8U-1E’s arrived to replace the early-production F8U-1’s which had plagued the squadron with some teething problems. In June 1961 VF-154 moved to NAS Miramar, California, and converted to the F8U-2N. In 1963 the squadron’s nickname was changed into "Black Knights". After one Vietnam cruise when several aircraft were lost the Crusader-era ended for VF-154 in 1965 with the introduction of the F-4 Phantom II. Tailcode: NL.
Fighter Squadron One Six Two said goodbye to their F4D Skyrays at NAS Miramar, California, in April 1962, and converted to the F-8A. Two years later the F-8E was introduced. Three cruises to Vietnam were made with the E-model, during which two MiG’s were claimed (plus two locomotives killed with heat-seeking Sidewinder missiles!). In 1968 the squadron transitioned to the F-8J, followed by the F-8H in late 1969 or early 1970. One cruise to Vietnam was made with each model, both uneventful. After returning from the last cruise, VF-162 was disestablished in December 1970. Tailcode: AH, in 1970: AJ.
NAS Cecil Field, Florida, based VF-174 was chosen as the east coast F-8 RAG (see VF-124) and received their first six F8U-1’s in November 1957. Other responsibilities later acquired were the evaluation of pressure suits and the unique F8U-1T "Twosader", and the training of French Crusader pilots. Several Crusader models were operated: F-8A’s, -C’s, -D’s and –E’s and possibly also the F-8B. On 1 July 1966 VF-174 was redesignated VA-174, traded in their Crusaders for the new A-7A Corsair II and became the Atlantic Fleet A-7 RAG. disestablished as such on 30 June 1988. Tailcode: AB, from 1958: AD.
VF-191 "Satan’s Kittens"
Fighter Squadron One Nine One traded in their F11F Tigers for F8U-1’s at NAS Miramar, California, in June 1960. In 1963 the squadron transitioned to the F-8E and with these it was involved in the Vietnam war from an early stage on, eventually claiming one MiG kill. The F-8J arrived in July 1968 and VF-191 remained loyal to these aircraft right to the very end of front-line F-8 operations. The last cruise ended on 3 March 1976, so did F-8 carrier operations from the smaller "27 Charlie" carriers. In March 1976 conversion to the F-4 Phantom II started, only to be disestablished on 1 March 1978. Reestablished for a short time as an F-14 squadron but again disestablished in 1988 due to budget cuts. Tailcode: NM.
VF-194 "Red Lightnings"
Rightfully regarded as VF-191’s sister squadron, VF-194 came into being when VF-91 was redesignated VF-194 at NAS Miramar, California, on 1 August 1963, flying F-8C’s. Late 1964 saw the introduction of the F-8E in preparation of the first of several Vietnam war cruises. Late 1968 and early 1969 the squadron transitioned to the F-8J, during this period at least one F-8B was used by VF-194 for proficiency training. Together with VF-191 the squadron stayed with the F-8 until the very end. VF-194 too began conversion to the F-4 Phantom II after March 1976, only to be disestablished on 1 March 1978. Reestablished on 1 December 1986 as an F-14 squadron but again disestablished on 29 April 1988. Tailcode: NM.
Under the 1970 reorganisation of the Naval Air Reserve Force, VF-201 was established at NAS Dallas, Texas, from elements of the disestablished VF-124D1, on 25 July 1970. Originally flying the F-8K the squadron began transitioning to the F-8H in December 1970. Converted to the F-4 Phantom II in 1976, currently flying the F-14 Tomcat. Tailcode: AF.
Naval Air Reserve squadron, established at NAS Dallas, Texas, on 25 July 1970 from the assets of disestablished VF-53D2. VF-202 operated the F-8H until arrival of the F-4 Phantom II in 1976. Later transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat but disestablished in 1994. Tailcode: AF.
Ultimately destined to become the very last US F-8 squadron, Light Photographic Squadron Two Zero Six was established on 1 June 1970 at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB), Maryland, as a result of the Naval Air Reserve reorganisations. Together with VF-306 it was formed from the remnants of the former reserve unit at the base: VF-11A1. Usual complement of the squadron was 4 or 5 RF-8G’s. During its 17 years of existence their pilot flew more than 20,000 accident-free hours, a record for any Naval Air Reserve squadron thus far. It was when the last VFP-206 RF-8G was ceremoniously retired on 29 March 1987, the Crusader era for the US military came to an end. With this ceremony VFP-206 was also disestablished. Tailcode: AF.
VF-211 (#1) "Checkertails"
NAS Moffett Field, California, based VF-211 became an early Crusader user when early-production F8U-1’s began arriving in the spring of 1957. On 9 March 1959, VF-211 was redesignated VF-24, and vice versa. Tailcode: NP, from 1958: NE.
VF-211 (#2) "Fighting Checkmates"
In what has probably been the most confusing squadron designator swap in naval history, the "Checkmates" became the second Crusader squadron to be designated VF-211, when on 9 March 1959 the original VF-211 became VF-24, and the original VF-24, flying F11F Tigers from NAS Moffett Field, California, became the new VF-211. F8U-1’s began replacing the Tigers from December 1959 on. In June 1961 the squadron was relocated to NAS Miramar, California. The F-8E replaced the F-8A in February 1964, and with this model VF-211 had a very successful career over the skies of Vietnam, eventually claiming no less than seven MiG’s. VF-211’s Crusaders where the first US fighters to encounter north-Vietnamese MiG’s, scored both the first and last Crusader MiG kills, and eventually ended up as the second best Navy fighter squadron when it came to MiG kills, only passed by VF-96’s F-4 Phantoms who had ten, including five by aces Cunningham and Driscoll. The squadron transitioned to the F-8H early 1968 and the F-8J a year later. The F-8J’s remained long in the inventory, but the curtain finally fell when the squadron began conversion to the F-14 Tomcat in December 1975, which it still flies today. Tailcode: NP.
VF-301 "Devil’s Disciples"
Fighter Squadron Three Zero One was established at NAS Miramar, California, on 1 October 1970 as a result of the reorganisation of the Naval Air Reserves. F-8J’s equipped the squadron but their association with the Crusader was relatively short, F-4 Phantom II’s arrived on 13 June 1974. VF-301 holds the distinction of being the ONLY accident free Navy F-8 unit, during almost four years they accumulated 14,289 accident free flying hours. disestablished in 1994. Tailcode: ND.
Sister squadron to VF-301, established at NAS Miramar, California, on 21 May 1971 as a Reserve squadron flying F-8K’s, soon after supplemented with F-8J’s. VF-302’s association with the Crusader was even shorter than VF-301’s, the squadron transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II in November 1973. disestablished in 1994. Tailcode: ND.
VFP-306 "Peeping Toms" / "Photomasters"
established on the same day and location as sister-squadron VFP-206 (which see), but assigned to the West Coast Reserve Air Wing. Flew RF-8G’s until disestablished in September 1984. Their original nickname was deemed as "politically not correct" and changed to "Photomasters" around 1981. Tailcode: ND.
One of the pre-1970 Naval Air Reserve squadrons flying Crusaders, VF-661 transitioned to the F-8A and F-8B at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB), Maryland, in January 1965. VF-661 shared its aircraft with the co-resident Marine Reserve squadron VMF-321. During the January 1968 "Pueblo-crisis" VF-661 was one of six Naval Air Reserve squadrons called to active duty. The squadron relocated to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, and began trading in their old Crusaders (all F-8B’s by then) for factory-fresh F-8H’s during the second week of August 1968. Assigned to Carrier Air Wing Eight the squadron was in preparation for a cruise aboard the USS Shangri-La. Instead, the Navy decided to stand down the Reserves and VF-661 was released from active duty on 19 September 1968 and disestablished on 11 October that same year. Some reports would suggest that this was because of "poor performance" by the squadrons, but it has been clearly pointed out that neither the squadrons or men involved performed anything below standard. In fact at the time of their release from active duty VF-661 was considered on par with the Navy fleet squadrons. Tailcode: 6A, from 1968: AJ.
Reserve Fighter Squadron Six Six Two at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB), Maryland, transitioned to the F-8B in January 1965. In March 1967 F-8A’s were added to the squadron. Like VF-661, VF-662 too shared its aircraft with the co-resident Marine Reserve squadron VMF-321. The squadron merged with VF-661 in December 1967, but re-emerged a month later, now designated VF-11A1. Tailcode: 6A.
At NAS Atlanta, Georgia, Reserve squadrons VF-672, VF-673 and VMF-351 shared the same aircraft during the 1960’s. First F-8A’s arrived in February 1965, followed by F-8C’s a year later. VF-672 was redesignated VF-31B2 in late 1968. Tailcode: 7B.
See VF-672, redesignated VF-31B3 in late 1968. Tailcode: 7B.
Reserve Fighter Squadron Seven Zero One at NAS Dallas, Texas, began flying the F-8A in January 1964. VF-701, VF-703, VMF-111 and VMF-112 shared the aircraft, later F-8C’s and –K’s were also used. In June 1969 the squadron was redesignated VF-124D1. Tailcode: 7D.
Sister squadron of VF-701, sharing its aircraft with the other reserve squadrons at NAS Dallas, Texas, until 27 January 1968. On that day the squadron was called to active duty in response to the "Pueblo-crisis". The squadron deployed to NAS Miramar, California where its own F-8A’s soon were traded in for factory-fresh F-8H’s. Scheduled to deploy to Vietnam as the relief unit for VF-111’s Detachment 11, this however never materialised as it became clear that under the given circumstances calling reserve units to active duty was not such a good idea after all (see VF-661). The squadron was released from active duty on 19 September 1968 and returned to NAS Dallas minus the F-8H’s, again sharing aircraft with VF-701 and VMF-112. Redesignated VF-53D2 in June 1969. Tailcode: 7D, early 1968: NR, mid 1968: AH, from September 1968: 7D.
Based at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, reserve squadron VF-931 shared aircraft with co-located VF-932 and VMF-511 during the 1960’s. First F-8B’s were received in 1964, in later years supplemented with some F-8A’s. Called to active duty in January 1968 in response to the "Pueblo-crisis", the squadron moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, on 21 May of that year and began trading in their old Crusaders for factory-fresh F-8H’s. As with VF-661 and VF-703, active duty came to a premature end on 16 September 1968. The squadron returned to NAS Willow Grove without its F-8H’s, and reverted back to flying F-8A’s and –B’s. Redesignated VF-34W1 on 1 November 1968. Tailcode: 7W, during 1968: AJ, after September 1968: 7W again.
Co-located with VF-931 at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, sharing aircraft with VF-931 and VMF-511. Redesignated VF-33W2 on 1 July 1968. Tailcode: 7W.
Fleet Air Gunnery Unit, Pacific
The FAGU provided aerial gunnery training for Navy and Marines pilots, initially from NAAS El Centro, California, but later moved to MCAAS Yuma, Arizona. A small number of F8U-1’s were used by the unit in the late 1950’s before it was disestablished on the grounds that the newly established Replacement Air Groups (like VF-124 and VF-174) could easily take over the FAGU’s responsibilities. Tailcode: TR.
Naval Air Development Center
The NADC at NAS Johnsville, Pennsylvania, was given the primary mission of developing aircraft electronics, armament and pilotless aircraft. At least two F-8A’s and several RF-8A’s including a NRF-8A were employed, some into the 1970’s. Tailcode: none.
Naval Air Test Center
Located at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, the NATC’s main responsibility is to determine an aircraft’s suitability for use with the fleet. In that capacity all Crusader models flew with the NATC, beginning in 1957 through the 1970’s. It was also involved in the Fleet Introductory Program, which trained the first squadron pilots and mechanics when the F8U was first introduced to the fleet. Redesignated NAWC-AD, it is currently engaged in testing and evaluating contemporary and future aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Tailcode: none.
Naval Air Test Facility (Ships Installations)
The NATF(SI) at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, was established with testing catapult and arresting systems as its main responsibility. Several models of the Crusader were employed during the 1960’s, including F-8A’s, -D’s and L’s. Tailcode: none.
Naval Missile Center
Originally designated Pacific Missile Center prior to January 1959, the facility at NAS Point Mugu, California, is responsible for development and refinement of new and existing missile systems. The facility made extensive use of DF-8A’s, -F’s, J’s and –L’s, and a few plain F-8J’s, as target tows and control aircraft for QF-86 target drones. Three RF-8A’s were also employed. Redesignated Pacific Missile Test Center on 26 April 1975, the Crusaders were kept flying a couple of years after the last fleet F-8 fighter was phased out. Tailcode: none.
Naval Test Pilot School
Co-located with the NATC at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, the TPS is regarded as one of the premier schools for future test pilots in the world. The TPS employed several F-8’s during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, including F-8B’s, -K’s and the one-off two-seat TF-8A. Tailcode: none.
Naval Weapons Center
The NWC at China Lake, California, is responsible for research, development, test and evaluation of naval air launched weapons. The NWC used several different models of the Crusader into the 1970’s, including F-8A’s, F-8E’s, DF-8F’s and F-8H’s. Currently redesignated Naval Air Weapons Center – Weapons Division. Tailcode: none.
Pacific Missile Range
Designation prior to January 1959 of the Naval Missile Center (which see).
Pacific Missile Test Center
Designation after April 1975 of the Naval Missile Center (which see). Currently redesignated Naval Air Weapons Center – Aircraft Division.
Seventh Fleet Flying Brothers
Not an official unit, but still worth to mention. In 1959 a weapons conference was held at Clark AFB, Philippines. For this venue the US Seventh Fleet put together a team for the competition called the "Flying Brothers". The team equipped with F8U-1’s but was unable to compete because it turned out to be an air-to-ground competition! Thus the team re-equipped with A4D Skyhawks for subsequent competitions... Tailcode: none.
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