|Strike Fighter Squadron 211|
|Active||1 May 1945|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Close air support
|Part of||Carrier Air Wing One|
|Engagements||World War II
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
|Fighter||F/A-18F Super Hornet|
Strike Fighter Squadron 211 (VFA-211), nicknamed the "Fighting Checkmates", is an aviation unit of the United States Navy established in 1945. The squadron is based at Naval Air Station Oceana and is equipped with the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
Insignia and nickname
The squadron logo depicts a character known as "Brutus" holding a rocket, from the original logo for VB-74. Eleven stars are arranged in groups of seven and four to mark the squadron’s numerical designation, "SEVEN FOUR." The shield recalls the squadron’s sixteen-year association with the F-8 Crusader. By tradition, the "Brutus" mascot is painted on an aircraft whenever the Fighting Checkmates spend Christmas away from home. The squadron's call sign is "Nikel".
Three U.S. Navy squadrons have been designated VF-211. The first VF-211 was established as VB-74 in 1945, eventually became VFA-211, and is the subject of this article. The second was established in 1948 and disestablished in 1949. The third VF-211 was established in 1955 and later redesignated VF-24 in 1959.
On May 1, 1945, Bombing Squadron SEVENTY FOUR (VB-74) was established at NAAF Otis Field, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. Their first aircraft was the SBW-4E Helldiver. The squadron soon moved to East Field, NAS Norfolk and deployed on USS Midway (CV-41) on October 31, 1945. In 1946 the squadron became Attack Squadron 1B (VA-1B) and began transition to the AD-1 Skyraider. Two years later the squadron transitioned to AD-2 Skyraider and became VA-24 on 1 Sep 1948. Skyraider aircraft were soon grounded due to engine problems and VA-24 transitioned to the F4U Corsair six weeks before deploying with the USS Coral Sea (CV-43). After the deployment the squadron moved to NAS Oceana and on December 1, 1949 the VA-24 was redesignated Fighter Squadron Twenty Four (VF-24).
VF-24 moved to NAS Alameda and made two back-to-back deployment in support of the Korean War aboard USS Boxer (CV-21) and USS Valley Forge (CV-45). During the Korean War, VF-24 bombed enemy emplacements, rail yards, bridges, warehouses and airfields.
Following their second deployment, VF-24 relocated to NALF Santa Rosa, California, and transitioned to the F9F-2 Panther, the squadron's first jet fighter. In February 1952, VF-24 deployed once again with Boxer to Korea for their third combat tour, which included a strike on Pyongyang on August 29. Upon their return home, VF-24 moved to NAS Alameda.
During the rest of the 1950s, VF-24 flew a number of aircraft, including the FJ Fury, the FJ-3M, the F3H-2M Demon, the F-11F Tiger and the F-8 Crusader at NAS Moffett Field. On 9 March 1959, VF-24 traded air wings, insignia, and designations with the VF-211 Checkmates.
In 1961 the squadron moved to NAS Miramar, which would be the Checkmates home for 35 years. VF-211 made seven deployments during the Vietnam War, and VF-211 had eight confirmed kills in the F-8 Crusader, which earned them the reputation as “The MiG Killers.”
In 1975, VF-211 transitioned to the F-14A Tomcat, deploying with Carrier Air Wing Nine in April 1977 aboard USS Constellation (CV-64). The Checkmates completed numerous WESTPAC deployments aboard Constellation during the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1980 VF-211 added the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System TARPS mission. In 1983, VF-211 changed carriers to the USS Ranger (CV-61). In 1985 they deployed with USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) as Ranger was upgraded to handle F/A-18 Hornets. VF-211 would move to Constellation, Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the following years. In 1986 VF-211 took part in trials of experimental water based camouflage schemes, painting at least four aircraft in temporary schemes that consisted of browns and greys, three different shades of each colour being used. In April 1989, VF-211 upgraded to the F-14A+ (later designated F-14B).
In 1991, VF-211 deployed to support the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, providing air superiority and aerial reconnaissance imagery to coalition forces. In 1992, the squadron had to revert to the F-14A due to the decision to move all F-14Bs to Atlantic Fleet Squadrons. VF-211 would make regular deployments to the Persian Gulf in the 1990s. In 1996, VF-211 became the only F-14 squadron with CVW-9 as VF-24 was disestablished. At the same time, VF-211 moved to NAS Oceana as NAS Miramar was handed over to the US Marines. In 1996 the unit also received LANTIRN capable F-14s and went on cruise in September 1997 in support of Operation Southern Watch, spending four months in the Persian Gulf. VF-211 flew daily sorties over Iraq, enforcing the United Nations imposed no-fly zone, providing aerial reconnaissance imagery and precision strike capability.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Checkmates deployed with Carrier Air Wing NINE, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom combat missions over Afghanistan. In early 2002, the squadron directly supported the three-week-long battle Operation Anaconda. The squadron flew 1250 combat sorties, logging 4200 combat hours and dropped 100, 000 lbs of ordnance and was awarded the VADM “Sweetpea” Allen Precision Strike Award for 2002. On their return home to the US, they transitioned to Carrier Air Wing One aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65).
In 2002 the Checkmates received the Commander Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet, BATTLE “E” for battle efficiency, the Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet GRAND SLAM Award for excellence in Air-to-Air employment, and the Clifton Award for the most outstanding overall performance in battle efficiency and employment. In late 2003, VF-211 deployed for their final F-14 cruise in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying mostly reconnaissance, "show of force" and ground support missions.
After their return to NAS Oceana in 2004, VF-211 began transition to the F/A-18F Super Hornet and was redesignated VFA-211, becoming the first operational East Coast Super Hornet squadron. In 2006, VFA-211 deployed in support of both Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. On September 8, 2006, VFA-211 F/A-18F Super Hornets expended GBU-12 and GBU-38 bombs against Taliban targets near Kandahar. The squadron returned to NAS Oceana on November 18, 2006, after flying hundreds of combat sorties and expending dozens of precision guided weapons in support of ground forces.
In June 2007, VFA-211 and CVW-1 embarked aboard Enterprise to the Persian Gulf.
In early 2008, the squadron transitioned to Block II Super Hornets, equipped with AN/APG-79 AESA radar.
In January 2011, VFA-211 joined CVW-1 onboard USS Enterprise for a deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
- Naval aviation
- Modern US Navy carrier air operations
- List of military aircraft of the United States (naval) / List of US Naval aircraft
- United States Naval Aviator
- Military aviation
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- List of Inactive United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- The Fighting Checkmates Web site
- Strikes Continue; ISAF Air Component Commander Visits Big E
- VF-211 History
- Tony Holmes (2005). US Navy F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Osprey Publishing Limited.