Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tails Of Independence

Around these parts we like us some color... particularly color as done by US Naval Aviation in the latter half of the 20th century, especially if it's emblazoned on birds that are painted gull-gray and white. So, from back in the colorful glory days of NAVAIR, we bring you some color, courtesy of a few RONs that were assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seven aboard the USS Independence during her Med Cruise from March to October 1977.

From top to bottom, we see:

F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 157309 of VF-102 'Diamondbacks'
F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 155748 of VF-33 'Tarsiers'
KA-6D Intruder BuNo. 15292? of VA-65 'Tigers'
A-7E Corsair II BuNo. 157443 of VA-66 'Waldos'
F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 157305 of VF-102 'Diamondbacks'

US Navy photo - published in 'All Hands', February 1978 via Wiki Commons

Most notable among the five is the A-7; this jet was VA-66's CAG bird. Each squadron from an air wing has one aircraft assigned to the air wing's commander, referred to as the 'CAG bird' or 'CAG jet', and it's almost always the most colorfully decorated aircraft of the squadron. The acronym 'CAG', which means 'commander air group', is actually a holdover from the days when a carrier's complement of aircraft was known as a 'carrier air group'. Why the old moniker was kept we don't know for sure... but our guess is that, as acronyms go, 'CAG' simply rolls off the tongue a bit more smoothly than 'CAW'. Anyhoo, VA-66's CAG bird is notable in this instance because it still carries the special markings applied the previous year for the USA's Bicentennial celebrations and is therefore just a bit more colorful than would otherwise be the case.

Fade to Black...

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