Saturday, October 11, 2014


Today's installment of 'TWW' is a quickie...

A-4C BuNo.147721 of VA-112 'Broncos' traps aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63)... the date given was January 28th, 1968. Looks like this guy grabbed the four wire... not an 'OK3', but he got 'er back onto the boat AOK... and that's what really matters.

National Naval Aviation Museum

A closer look...

National Naval Aviation Museum

Fade to Black...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paint It Black

Okay, so a more accurately descriptive title for today's installment of 'TWW' would probably be 'Paint it a Couple'a Shades of Green'. But that doesn't quite roll off the tongue as nicely as the title of everyone's favorite Vietnam-era Rolling Stones tune... besides, in certain light and/or at a certain distance, the birds featured here probably did look kinda black instead of green. Oh, and did we mention that the title for today's installment of 'TWW' is somewhat appropriate because it's also the title of everyone's favorite Vietnam-era Rolling Stones tune?

Is there an echo in here? - echo in here? - in here? - here?

Goofiness aside... in late 1965 the U.S. Navy experimented with green camouflage paint, applying it to aircraft from at least three different carriers, Constellation, Enterprise, and Kitty Hawk, which were cruising around near an area that we shall refer to as 'SEA'... Southeast Asia.

Here's a couple'a shots of green-painted A-4Cs from VA-113 'Stingers' aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) as part of carrier Air Wing 11, during a combat cruise which lasted from October 19th, 1965 to June 13th, 1966.

This first image is rather crapola, but is good reference for any artists or modeler types out there in showing how the oil streaking out of the oil breather has removed the green paint from the rear fuselage and inner rear portion of the wings.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Here's a nicer image showing A-4C BuNo.148458 of VA-113 about to trap aboard Kitty Hawk after dropping things that go boom on Victor-Charlie. This particular Skyhawk was retired to the boneyard at Davis Monthan AFB in 1975, but was later purchased by Singapore and re-manufactured by SAMCO (Singapore Aerospace Maintenance Company) as an A-4SU for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

National Naval Aviation Museum

The obvious point of trying out this camo was to make it harder for the enemy to spot our birds over the lush greenery of SEA. After a fairly short period of time, however, it was concluded that the only folks who were having any true difficulty in seeing the airplanes were the deck crew aboard the Navy's flattops during night ops, and that the 'protection' afforded by the camo in combat was negligible. So it wasn't too awful long before the green was removed and gull gray once more ruled the day.

Fade to Gree... errr... Black...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Tinker Toy With an Iron Hand

The A-4 Skyhawk was a true workhorse for the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. The type was in the thick of it from day one, all the way through to the end of the conflict... hauling things that go boom from the U.S. Navy's flattops to select locations in Southeast Asia.

Aside from serving as a plain 'ole bomb truck, the A-4 was also used in the SEAD role. (SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) The average wing-nut is likely familiar with the term 'Wild Weasel'... the moniker of the U.S. Air Force's SAM hunters. Less familiar to some might be the term 'Iron Hand' which, although a joint U.S. Navy / U.S.A.F. venture, is generally considered by many to be the U.S. Navy's equivalent of the 'Wild Weasels'.

Anyhoo, regardless of who was doing the 'hunting', the job was pretty much the same. Send a few jets ahead of a main strike force to flush out the enemy's air defenses... get 'em to light up their radar and then nail 'em with 'anti-radiation' missiles. This would either destroy the radar outright or force the radar operators to shut down for a bit, at which point the hunters, who have hopefully identified the radar and/or missile/gun locations, would move in to close the deal with rockets, CBUs (CBU = Cluster Bomb Unit), or a good 'ole fashioned strafing run, assuming the jets were gun-toters. Once this was done, the main strike force could move in and hit their targets with a somewhat heightened sense of security... and the 'hunters' would stick around until the main force was on its way home.

Hence one of the SAM-hunters' mottos; 'First in, last out'.

Well, now that we've given you a brief and basic outline of an ideal 'Iron Hand' (or 'Wild Weasel') mission, here's a look at an A-4 all gussied up and headin' out 'fersum SAM-huntin'...

National Naval Aviation Museum

And here's a closer look at this jet... 'tis A-4E BuNo.151151 of VA-23 'Black Knights', part of Carrier Air Wing 2 aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43) during a combat cruise that lasted from July 29th, 1966 to February 23rd, 1967. She's armed with two AGM-45 'Shrike' anti-radiation missiles on stations 2 and 4, and two LAU-3 rocket launchers on stations 1 and 5. The LAU-3 was a 19-shot launcher loaded with 2.75-inch FFAR rockets (FFAR= Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket) that could be launched individually, in rapid sequence, or all at once. And she's also got a 20mm Colt-Browning Mk.12 cannon in each wingroot.

All in all, bad news for Charlie.

National Naval Aviation Museum

More A-4s to come!

Fade to Black...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Skyhawks Over 'Nam

Getting sick of A-4s yet??

Good... neither are we...

We continue our series on 'Heineman's Hot Rod' with this super-groovy shot of two VA-192 'Golden Dragons' Skyhawks doing what the A-4 did best... carrying things that go boom from 'point a' to 'point b'.

The photo was taken sometime during VA-192's two combat cruises to Vietnam as part of Carrier Air Wing 19 aboard USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31); the first from January 28th to November 21st, 1964 and the second from April 21st, 1965 to January 13th, 1966. Both jets are A-4Cs, BuNo.147804 in the foreground and 149520 trailing.

National Naval Aviation Museum

A closer look at 147804...

This jet was shot down by ground fire over South Vietnam on June 25th, 1968 while flying with VMA-223. The pilot ejected and was rescued.

National Naval Aviation Museum

And here's a closer look at 149520...

National Naval Aviation Museum

Fade to Black...