Attack Squadron 42 (United States Navy)
|Attack Squadron 42|
|Active||September 1, 1950 – September 30, 1994|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Close air support
Attack Squadron 42 (VA-42) was a United States Navy attack squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. VA-42 was known as the "Green Pawns" (1950–1992) and the "Thunderbolts" (1992–1994); and has evolved several times throughout its history that dates back to 1950. 
VA-42 was established on September 1, 1950 the squadron was designated Fighter Squadron 42 (VF-42). The unit was redesignated (VA-42) on November 1, 1953 the squadron designation remained the same until it was disestablished on September 30, 1994.
"Green Pawn" nickname
The insignia for VA-42, the "Green Pawn", was originally approved by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for Bombing and Fighting Squadron 75 (VBF-75) on October 28, 1946. When VBF-75 was redesignated VF-4B on November 15, 1946, the insignia was carried over for use by Fighting Squadron 4B (VF-4B).
On September 1, 1948 VF-4B was redesignated Fighting Squadron 42 (VF-42). This squadron continued to use the Green Pawn insignia until it was disestablished on June 8, 1950. When a new Fighting Squadron 42 (VF-42) was established on September 1, 1950 they adopted the Green Pawn insignia that had been used by the former VF-42. In 1953 the insignia was carried over to VA-42 following its redesignation from VF-42.
The Green Pawn insignia is a simple, uncluttered and highly recognizable design. The symbol of the pawn was chosen because it has the most potential power of any piece on the chess board. The pawn is canted at a 45 degree angle inside a shield design. It is also said that the aircrews said they were called the Green Pawns for two reasons: it was the Fleet Replacement Squadron (Responsible for training new aircrew and aircraft maintainers; thereby, they were green, or new); and their squadron was a pawn which could be pushed around by the fleet and the senior commands.
Colors are as follows: green pawn; background of the shield is white outlined in green; and the scroll is white outlined in green with green lettering.
In 1992 the name and insignia was changed to "Thunderbolts" and the old logo of [then recently disestablished A-6 fleet squadron, VA-176 ]. On the insignia was a dark blue background, a maced fist and lightning bolt held by the fist. Interestingly, the stars in the background, still were shown in the count of 1, 7, and 6 [these were separated by the parts of the insignia].
Chronology of significant events
- October 20 – November 15, 1951: During training operations in the Caribbean, the squadron operated aboard three different carriers. They departed from Norfolk, Virginia aboard USS Midway (CVB-41) and then transferred to Wright (CVL 49) while the ships were off the coast of Puerto Rico. A couple of days later the squadron was transferred to USS Cabot (CVL-28) while operating at sea.
- January–April 1956: The squadron operated aboard the Navy’s first super carrier, USS Forrestal (CVA-59), during her shakedown cruise.
- October 1956-June 1957. Operated aboard USS Bennington CVA 20 with the 7th Fleet. Squadron flew from Oceania, VA to San Diego, CA for redeployment exercise. Members became Golden Shellbacks in June 1957.
- October 24, 1958: The primary mission of VA-42 was changed to the training of fleet replacement pilots in the AD (A-1) Skyraider. The training involved all-weather flight training, low-level navigation flights, simulated special (i.e., nuclear) weapons training flights, conventional weapons training flights, and day and night carrier qualifications.
- February 19, 1959: VA-42 graduated its first AD Skyraider replacement pilot.
- March 9, 1959: With the acquisition of the T-28B aircraft, VA-42’s instrument instructors used this plane to conduct all-weather flight training for the light attack community.
- November 10, 1962: VA-42 pilots flew three A-1H Skyraiders from NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, to Rota, Spain, via Lajes, Azores. The squadron claims this was the first trans-Atlantic flight conducted by A-1H Skyraiders.
- February 1, 1963: VA-42 became the first fleet squadron to receive the A-6A Intruder. The squadron also initiated the Fleet Introduction Program for the all-weather A-6A. VA-42’s new mission was the training of A-6A Bombardier/Navigators, also known as B/N's, as well as its pilots. It was also responsible for conducting the A-6A Fleet Replacement Aviation Maintenance Program which trained maintenance personnel.
- June 12, 1963: The Green Pawns received the first A-6A (bureau number 149939) with a complete weapon system, thereby permitting the initiation of weapon system indoctrination flight training program for VA-42’s instructor pilots and bombardier/navigators.
- September 3, 1963: Formal flight training in the A-6A fleet replacement program began with the convening of Class 1-63. This training was for VA-75 pilots and bombardier/navigators.
- September 8, 1963: The squadron’s last A-1H Skyraider (bureau number 135324) was transferred. This brought to a close the training of A-1 replacement pilots by VA 42. VA-42 still maintained one A-1E and two T-28Bs for use in propeller instrument training.
- October 14, 1963: The Green Pawns conducted the first fleet night arrested landings and catapult launchings with the A-6A aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59).
- March 12, 1964: The squadron’s last T-28B was transferred, and the instrument training program for fleet A-1 pilots came to an end. Two days later, their last Skyraider, an A-1E, was transferred.
- March 13, 1964: VA-75 became the first fully trained fleet A-6A squadron ready for deployment following successful completion of VA-42’s fleet introduction program on the A-6A.
- December 15, 1964: VMA-242 became the first Marine Corps squadron to complete transition training in the A-6A and qualify for fleet deployment with the Intruder.
- January 28, 1968: With the acquisition of the TC-4C aircraft, VA-42 was able to provide more training on airborne radar operation for A-6A bombardier/navigators. The new aircraft was equipped with a complete A-6A cockpit console and weapon system, multiple bombardier/navigator stations, plus ECM equipment, and other radar operational capabilities.
- November 1968: VA-42’s A-6A pilot training syllabus was modified to include lessons learned from the Intruder’s employment in combat. The new tactics phase included air combat maneuvering and Sidewinder missile shoots, while conventional weapons training was made more realistic.
- November 12, 1969: With the acquisition of the updated Intruder, the A-6B, in June 1969, the squadron developed a new training syllabus for the A-6B Standard ARM aircraft and a detachment from VA-165 became the first to complete this course of instruction on November 12, 1969.
- November 21, 1969: The squadron assumed the duties of providing A-6 orientation training for Air Intelligence Officers reporting to fleet A-6 squadrons. Lieutenant(jg) Erickson became the first Air Intelligence Officer to complete the training on November 21, 1969.
- October 1, 1971: When COMMATWING ONE was established on October 1, VA-42 was reassigned from COMFAIRNORFOLK to this command, and VA-42’s Commanding Officer, CDR Andrassy, was also assigned as Commander of Medium Attack Wing One, making him dual-hatted.
- January 5, 1973: VA-42’s Commanding Officer, CDR Zick, was relieved of his duties as COMMATWING ONE by CAPT Turk ending the dual-hatted role of the squadron’s commanding officer.
- 1980: Lieutenant (jg) Beth Hubert was trained as an A-6 Intruder pilot by the Green Pawns and became the first woman naval aviator to qualify as an A-6 pilot.
- January 1982: VA-42 implemented a training program for the Harpoon weapons system.
- June 1982: A VA-42 pilot became the first female naval aviator to make an arrested landing in an A-6 during carrier qualifications on Lexington (AVT 16).
- October 19, 1992: Name and insignia officially changed to "Thunderbolts" and old insignia of VA-176.
- September 30, 1994: officially disestablished.
- Home ports
Location Assignment Date
- NAAS Oceana September 1, 1950
- NAS Jacksonville September 19, 1950
- NAAS Cecil Field June 9, 1951
- NAAS Oceana (later NAS*) August 27, 1951 NAAS Oceana redesignated NAS Oceana on April 1, 1952.
Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
- F4U-September 4, 1950
- AD-September 4, 1953
- AD-4L October 1953
- AD-November 6, 1953
- AD-4N December 1953
- T-28B March 9, 1959
- A-6A February 1, 1963
- TC-4C January 28, 1968
- A-6B June 1969
- A-6C 1971
- A-6E December 2, 1971
- KA-6D 1976
Major overseas deployments
Depart Return Airwing Aircraft Area of Ops
- March 6, 1951 – June 8, 1951 AirDet CVL 48 F4U-4 Med
- December 1, 1952 – May 19, 1953 CVG-6 CVA 41 F4U-4 Med
- November 30, 1954 – June 18, 1955 ATG-181 CVA 15 AD-6 Med
- October 12, 1956 – May 22, 1957 ATG-181 CVA 20 AD-6 WestPac
- June 9, 1958 – August 8, 1958 ATG-181 CVA 11 AD-6 NorLant
Air Wing assignments
Air Wing Tail Code Date
- CVG-6 C September 1, 1950
- ATG-181* I July 24, 1956
- CVG-8 AJ August 14, 1958
- RCVG-4† AD October 24, 1958
- COMFAIRNORFOLK‡ AD May 1, 1970
- COMMATWING ONE AD October 1, 1971
- VA-42 had operated as part of ATG-181 prior to July 1956.
However, ATG-181 was not assigned a tail code letter until July 24 1956. Prior to July 1956 VA-42 still carried the tail code for CVG-6 even though it deployed as part of ATG-181. † RCVG-4 redesignated RCVW-4 on December 20, 1963. ‡ On June 1, 1970, RCVW-4 was disestablished. The AD tail code that had been allocated to RCVW-4 and its assigned squadrons continued to be used by the squadrons that had been in RCVW-4. VA-42 continued to use the AD tail code for its aircraft.
MUC Meritorious Unit Commendation
Inclusive Dates Covering Award
- January 1979 – December 1981
- October 1, 1986 – September 30, 1988
- History of the United States Navy
- List of inactive United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
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