VF-111

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Fighter Squadron 111
Vfc-111.png
VF-111 squadron patch
Active 10 October 1942 - 19 January 1959
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Aircraft flown
Fighter F4F Wilcat
F6F Hellcat
F8F Bearcat
F9F-2 Panther
F9F-8 Cougar
FJ-3 Fury

Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111), also known as the Sundowners, was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy. Originally established as Fighter Squadron 11 (VF-11) on 10 October 1942, it was redesignated as VF-11A on 15 November 1946, redesignated as VF-111 on 15 July 1948 and disestablished on 19 January 1959. On 20 January, another squadron, VF-111 (1956-95) then assumed the designation until its disestablishment in 1995.[1] In November 2006, VFC-13 Detachment Key West was redesignated as VFC-111, taking on the Sundowner insignia and callsign.

History[edit]

3 distinct Navy squadrons have called themselves ‘Sundowners’. The U.S. Navy frequently has given the same designation to two or more aviation units, leading to lasting confusion. Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation.[2] Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons.

World War II[edit]

VF-11 F6Fs aboard the USS Hornet in 1945

VF-11 was established at NAS North Island California on 10 October 1942 equipped with F4F Wildcats, and on 23 October was on its way to Hawaii. To epitomize its spirit and tactical superiority over the Japanese, the squadron decided it would be called the 'Sundowners' and its insignia depicts two Wildcats shooting down a Rising Sun.

From April to July 1943 VF-11 downed 55 enemy aircraft in aerial combat at Guadalcanal. After return to the U.S. and re-equipping with F6F Hellcats, VF-11 deployed on USS Hornet in October 1944. From then until February 1945 the squadron engaged in strike and air-to-air combat missions resulting in the shoot down of 102 enemy aircraft with dozens more destroyed on the ground. As a direct result of its combat record, the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

VF-11A equipped with F8F Bearcats was assigned to Carrier Air Group 11 (CVG-11) aboard the USS Valley Forge for her world cruise from 9 October 1947 to 11 June 1948

1950s[edit]

VF-111 F9F-2 dropping bombs over Korea, 1951-52

On 9 November 1950, early in the Korean War, Lieutenant Commander William T. Amen scored the first combat jet-on-jet kill in aviation history, downing a Soviet MiG-15 while flying a F9F Panther from the USS Philippine Sea. Two more Korean cruises were made in USS Valley Forge in 1951-52, then USS Boxer and USS Lake Champlain in 1953.

After Korea, VF-111 flew the F9F-8 Cougar and the FJ-3 Fury for three deployments to the Western Pacific aboard the carriers USS Lexington, USS Wasp, and USS Bennington.

VF-111 was disestablished on 19 January 1959.[3]

Sundowner Aces[edit]

  • LT Charles R. Stimpson 16;
  • LT James E. Swope 10;
  • LT Jimmie E. Savage 7;
  • LTJG Horace B. Moranville 6;
  • LCDR Robert E. Clements 5;
  • LTJG Vernon E. Graham 5;
  • LT Henry S. White 5;

Other aces who scored kills with the Sundowners were: LT William N. Leonard, LTJG William J. Masoner, and LTJG John A. Zink.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography
  • Barrett Tillman with Henk van der Lugt. VF-11/111 Sundowners 1942-95. Osprey, UK, 2010