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Fighter Squadron 194
VF-194 insignia
Active 26 March 1952 - 1 March 1978
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Type fighter squadron
Nickname "Red Lightnings"

Fighter squadron VF-194 Red Lightnings was an aviation unit of the United States Navy. It was established in 1952 and disestablished in 1978. It was reactivated for a short time again between 1986 and 1988.

Squadron lineage[edit]

The US Navy does not recognize the tradition of squadrons once they have been disestablished. Therefore, even if there is a squadron with the same designation and nickname, it is officially a totally new squadron.[citation needed] Three different squadrons have been designated VF-194 since 1948.

VF-194 Main Battery (1950-1955)[edit]

The first VF-194 was established on 15 July 1948 as VF-153 Thundercats, flying the Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat. On 15 February 1950 the squadron was redesignated VF-194 and changed its nickname to Main Battery. In 1951 this VF-194 transitioned to the Douglas AD-2 Skyraider which it flew through various marks until being equipped with the Grumman A-6 Intruder in 1966. As an attack squadron it was redesignated VA-196 on 4 May 1955. It was finally disestablished on 21 March 1997.

VF-194 Yellow Devils (1955-1958)[edit]

On 18 May 1955 a second VF-194 was established, nicknamed the Yellow Devils. It was equipped with the McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee and made a single deployment to the Western Pacific on the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVA-33) from August 1957 to April 1958 as part of Air Task Group 3 (ATG-3). Only eight days after the end of this deployment VF-194 and ATG-3 were disestablished on 10 April 1958.

VF-194 Red Lightnings (1952-1977, 1986-1988 & 1992)[edit]

The U.S. Navy fighter squadron VF-194 was established as VF-91 on 26 March 1952 and equipped with the Grumman F9F-2 Panther. The squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Group 9 (CVG-9) and made its first deployment on the USS Philippine Sea (CVA-47) from December 1952 to August 1953 to Korea and the Western Pacific. In 1954 the squadron exchanged their Panthers for the swept wing Grumman F9F-6 Cougar. Between 11 May 1954 and 12 December 1954 VF-91 circumnavigated the world aboard the USS Hornet (CVA-12). From February to June 1956 VF-91 made its next deployment on the USS Kearsarge ((CVA-33)) as part of CVG-5, this time equipped with the F9F-8 Cougar.

The F9F-8s were replaced by the North American FJ-3 Fury in 1957 and the squadron made a Western Pacific cruise aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) between September 1957 and April 1958.

In 1959 VF-91 transitioned to the Vought F-8C Crusader and made three deployments aboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) between 1960 and 1963.

On 1 August 1963 VF-91 was redesignated VF-194 and reassigned to Carrier Air Wing Nineteen. Between 1964 and 1973 VF-194 made eight deployments to the Vietnam War, two aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) (1964, 1965/66), two aboard the Ticonderoga (1966/67, 1967/68) and the last four aboard the Oriskany. During these deployments the squadron flew the F-8E from 1965 to 1968 and then the F-8J. After the end of the US involvement in Vietnam in 1973, VF-194 made another two cruises to the Western Pacific aboard the Oriskany. VF-194 and its sister squadron VF-191 were the last US Navy fighter squadrons equipped with the F-8 Crusader.

When the Oriskany was retired as the last active Essex-class carrier, VF-194 received the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom in 1976. Together with VF-191 the squadron was reassigned to Carrier Air Wing Fifteen. However, after only one deployment aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) the squadron was disestablished on 1 March 1978.

On 1 December 1986 a new VF-194 was established, which claimed the unit's name and markings. After training with VF-124 the squadron was due to deploy on board the USS Independence (CV-62) flying the Grumman F-14A Tomcat as part of CVW-10. However, VF-194 was disbanded on 30 April 1988, before the cruise could take place.

In early 1992 the USN planned to reactivate VF-194, along with VF-191, as the first two active F-14D Super-Tomcat (See Grumman F-14 Tomcat) squadrons. Initially planned to be based at NAS Miramar Ca and part of Carrier Air Wing Fourteen, the idea was scrapped when Congress declined to upgrade the entire F-14 fleet to the D model and limited the F-14D purchase to 55 aircraft (28 new air frames and 27 re-manufactured F-14A air frames). Instead two east coast F-14A squadrons (VF-11 & VF-31) were tapped to transition to the F-14D, CVW-14 and NAS Miramar in late 1992.


See also[edit]