VFA-11

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This article is about a United States Navy fighter squadron. See VF-4 Lightning III for the fictional variable fighter from Macross Flashback 2012 and VF-11 Thunderbolt for the fictional variable fighter from Macross Plus and Macross 7.
Strike Fighter Squadron 11
VFA-11.jpg
VFA-11 Insignia
Active September 1, 1950 – present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Fighter/Attack
Role Close air support
Air interdiction
Aerial reconnaissance
Part of Carrier Air Wing One
Garrison/HQ NAS Oceana
Nickname "Red Rippers"
Colors Red and White
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Aircraft flown
Fighter F/A-18F Super Hornet

Strike Fighter Squadron 11 (VFA-11), also known as the "Red Rippers", are a United States Navy fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA. Their call sign is Ripper, tail code is AB, and they fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Insignia and nickname[edit]

The squadron's original nickname was the Rebel's Raiders; their insignia (used from inception in 1950 to 1959) is unknown. In 1959, the squadron changed designations and adopted the name and insignia of another, recently disestablished, squadron.

The Red Ripper squadron insignia as described by an early member: "The boar's head is taken from the one that graces the label of the Gordon's Gin bottle. The scroll effect under the head is a string of link sausage, a good line of bologna which all members of the squadron were to be adept at 'shooting.' The balls on the shield might be called balls of fire; actually, they were supposed to typify good, strong masculinity. The bolt of lightning was the bar sinister of bastardy. The whole theme was worked into a sort of toast or creed with which the squadron members were to begin and end all good drinking bouts. The official Ripper toast is, 'Here's to us, the RED RIPPERS – a damn bunch of gin drinking, bologna slinging, two-balled, he-man bastards'." In 2011, while on liberty in Bahrain, high ranking authorities declared the toast inappropriate and offensive; the toast was banned shortly thereafter.

History[edit]

Three distinct squadrons have been designated VF-11, and two distinct squadrons have been known as the Red Rippers. The first VF-11 (never known as the Red Rippers) was established in 1942, was redesignated VF-111 in 1948, and was disestablished in 1959. The second VF-11, known as the Red Rippers was established in 1927 and went through numerous redesignations before being disestablished in 1959. The third distinct squadron was established as VF-43 in 1950, was eventually redesignated VFA-11, and is the primary subject of this article. Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation.[1] Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons.

The first Red Rippers[edit]

Early years[edit]

F6F Hellcats from VF-11 launch from USS Hornet in 1945.

The first Navy fighter squadron known as the Red Rippers (the second VF-11) was established as VF-5 on February 1, 1927 at Hampton Roads, Virginia flying the Curtis F6C-3 Hawk. From 1927 to World War II, the Rippers flew several propeller aircraft including the Boeing F3B-1 and F4B-1, the Grumman FF-1 and F3F-1 and also held the following designations (designations tended to change based on the mission; e.g., "S" for scout, "B" for bomber): VF-5S, VF-5B, VB-1B, and VF-4.

1940s[edit]

On March 15, 1941, the Rippers were redesignated as VF-41. During World War II, they supported the Allied invasion of Northwest Africa, downing 14 Vichy French aircraft in the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat.,[2] and conducted air strikes against German forces in Norway in September 1943. The Red Rippers were redesignated VF-4 when they transferred to the Pacific Theatre in August 1943 aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and USS Essex (CV-9).For the fighter-bomber mission the Hellcat was fitted with wingroot pylons, each of which could carry a 1,000 -Ib bomb or a 'Tiny Tim' rocket. Smaller rockets were carried on three zero-length launchers on each wing, as carried on the VF-11 'Red Rippers' aircraft.In the Pacific they flew the first air strikes against Tokyo in the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The Rippers also flew the F8F Bearcat for a time.

In November 1946, the Red Rippers were redesignated VF-1A, and finally as VF-11 on August 2, 1948.

1950s[edit]

After World War II, VF-11 entered the jet age, flying the McDonnell F2H Banshee during the Korean War from the USS Kearsarge (CV-33).

During 1956 the Red Rippers deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and in November 1956, Coral Sea covered the Suez Crisis.

In January 1958, the Rippers reported aboard USS Essex (CVA-9) flying the F2H-4 Banshee. In the Mediterranean, Essex supported the Marines landing in Lebanon on July 15 until the end of August. Essex then transited the Suez Canal, operated with the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and then returned to the East Coast via the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1959, VF-11 moved to NAS Jacksonville and on February 15, the original VF-11 Red Rippers were disestablished, their men and equipment being disbursed to other squadrons and activities.

The second/current Red Rippers[edit]

1950s[edit]

On September 1, 1950, Fighter Squadron 43 (VF-43), known as Rebel's Raiders, was commissioned at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. They moved to NAS Cecil Field on September 18, 1950, and were initially outfitted with new F4U-5N Corsair night fighters. The squadron traded its night fighters for F4U-5s (day fighters) in October 1950. The squadron's first deployment was aboard USS Oriskany (CV-34) to the Mediterranean from April–October 1951.[3]

In February 1952, the squadron transitioned to the F4U-4 and deployed to the Med aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43).[4]

VF-11 F-8 mishap aboard FDR.

In the mid-50s, the squadron transitioned to the F9F-8 Cougar, and later shifted to F2H Banshees. In February 1958, the squadron deployed to the Med in USS Essex (CV-9) with McDonnell F2H-4 Banshees. They provided air cover for landings in Lebanon and were sent through the Suez canal to the Taiwan Straits during the Quemoy-Matsu shelling by the Red Chinese. Upon returning to the states, they were stationed at NAS Jax to be decommissioned on February 15, 1959. On February 16, 1959 (the day after VF-11 was disestablished), VF-43 was redesignated as VF-11 at NAS Cecil Field, the second to be so designated, flying Chance-Vought F-8 Crusaders. They adopted the traditions and insignia of the first Red Rippers (although they do not claim the lineage). (Personal experience - I was there.)

1960s[edit]

The "new" VF-11 transitioned to USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42), where they helped quell the unrest in the Dominican Republic in 1961. VF-11 was the first operational squadron to receive the F8U-2NE, receiving its first aircraft on February 8, 1962.[5]

F-4 Phantoms from VF-11 launch from USS Forrestal (CV-59).

In January 1966 the Rippers traded their F-8Es for F-8Ds. In the Fall of 1966, they moved to NAS Oceana and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom.

The squadron saw its first combat on July 25, 1967 over North Vietnam from USS Forrestal (CV-59). The brief combat period on Yankee Station was cut short when, on July 29, 1967, the Forrestal fire occurred. VF-11 lost 47 men in the catastrophe.[6]

1970s[edit]

The squadron made several Med cruises in the 70s aboard Forrestal. In 1972, the landed an F-4 aboard HMS Ark Royal in a cross deck exercise. On August 20, 1973, the squadron received its first F-4J, beginning the transition from the F-4B.[7]

1980s[edit]

An F-14A from VF-11 intercepting a Soviet Tu-95 in 1985

The Red Rippers transitioned to the F-14 in 1980 and deployed two years later. The squadron’s combat debut occurred in early December 1983 when VF-11 F-14s engaged eight Syrian MiGs over Lebanon and were fired upon by Syrian surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. On December 4, 1983 the squadron flew combat air patrols over a Navy strike force from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), while A-6E Intruders from the KENNEDY attacked Syrian positions in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The strikes were in response to the Syrian SAM and AAA engagements. Two of the twenty-eight strong strike package were shot down, one A-7 from USS Independence (CV-62) and one A-6 from the KENNEDY. The pilot of the A-6 crew died while the B/N was held prisoner by the Syrians for a year before being released. While they were deployed for operations in Lebanon, one aircraft sustained damage from a suspected surface-to-air missile. VF-11 and three other squadrons from CVW-3 and the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY won Battle E's for 1983. VF-11 also won the Safety 'S'. After three cruises with Carrier Air Wing Three and the Kennedy Battle Group, VF-11 and its sister squadron transferred to Carrier Air Wing Six and USS Forrestal (CV-59). In 1985 VF-11 Won the Battle E award as the best fighter squadron in the Atlantic Fleet and the Joseph S. Clifton award as the best fighter squadron in the Navy. They deployed again in 1986, and stayed with CVW-6/Forrestal until its last cruise in 1991, making a total of five deployments.

1990s[edit]

An F-14 Tomcat from VF-11 aboard the USS Forrestal (CV-59).
VF-11 F-14 tail markings

In January 1992, VF-11 and VF-31 moved to NAS Miramar and transitioned to the F-14D Tomcat. VF-11’s F-14As were transferred to VF-24 and VF-211.

In February 1994, VF-11 and CVW-14 deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), in support of Operation Southern Watch. The Red Rippers returned to NAS Miramar on August 15.

In the Fall of 1994, VF-11 acquired Night vision goggles requiring substantial changes to the F-14's internal and instrument lighting.

In 1995, VF-11 received upgrades to their mission computers, providing air-to-ground ordnance capability. VF-11 sent their first aircrews to Forward Air Controller school in September 1995. Also in 1995, VF-11 was aboard Carl Vinson when she visited Hawaii for the 50th anniversary of V-J Day (Victory over Japan.)

In May 1996, CVW-14 deployed with Carl Vinson in support of Operation Southern Watch. On August 31 the Iraqi army attacked the town or Irbil in northern Iraq and several SAM missiles were launched against U.S. aircraft. The United States responded with Operation Desert Strike by attacking targets in the southern no-fly zone with cruise missiles launched from B-52s escorted by VF-11 Tomcats. Carl Vinson left the Gulf on October 1.

Upon return from deployment, VF-11 moved to NAS Oceana as the US Marines took over Miramar. At the same time, VF-11 transitioned to the F-14B and changed air wings to Carrier Air Wing Seven.

In 1997, VF-11 was awarded the Battle E and Clifton Awards as the squadron celebrated their 70th Anniversary. Also that year, VF-11 received the LANTIRN infrared targeting pod and dropped their first GBU-16 laser-guided bomb.

In February 1998, the Red Rippers deployed from Norfolk with CVW-7 aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) on its Maiden voyage/world deployment. They supported Operation Southern Watch, travelled to Australia and Pearl Harbor before the carrier arrived at its new home, Naval Air Station North Island.

2000s[edit]

A VFA-11 F/A-18F Super Hornet performing evasive maneuvers during an air power demonstration, April 2007.

VF-11 made a deployment in 2000 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Seven hours after the September 11 terrorist attacks, VF-11 emergency sortied all squadron aircraft aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) to support Operation Noble Eagle.[8]

They deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in early February 2002, and employed the first JDAM bombs from F-14s in combat on March 11, 2002.[9]

In 2004 VF-11 deployed for the last time with the F-14 aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73) in support of Iraqi Freedom. During that cruise, VF-11 F-14s participated in the bombing of Fallujah during a 48-hour period between April 28 and 29.

On April 20, 2005, VF-11 delivered the last of their F-14s to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.

The squadron reported to VFA-106 for F/A-18 Super Hornet transition training, completing on November 5, 2005.

In May, 2006, VFA-11 deployed to the Caribbean Sea supporting the Partnership of the Americas for two months as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen.

VFA-11 shoulder patch

VFA-11 transferred to Carrier Air Wing Three and deployed with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in November 2007 to the Persian Gulf.[10] VFA-11 and the rest of CVW-3 returned home on June 4, 2008.

The Squadron recently swapped CVW's, Changing from Carrier Air Wing Three to Carrier Air Wing One.

2010s[edit]

In January 2011, VFA-11 joined CVW-1 onboard USS Enterprise for a deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq6-1.htm
  2. ^ Barrett Tillman, 1995, Wildcat Aces of World War 2 Oxford Osprey Publishing, p.91
  3. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/sqdhist/vfa/vfa-11/1950.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/sqdhist/vfa/vfa-11/1952.pdf
  5. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/sqdhist/vfa/vfa-11/1959-1965.pdf?bcsi_scan_54F62DAEA9067ADF=0&bcsi_scan_filename=1959-1965.pdf
  6. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/sqdhist/vfa/vfa-11/1967.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/sqdhist/vfa/vfa-11/1973.pdf
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Red Rippers, The - Wings of Gold Fall 2002
  10. ^ - Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Deploys
  11. ^ Lessig, Hugh, "Enterprise Carrier Group To Deploy Next Week", Newport News Daily Press