VF-142 Ghostriders was a US Navy fighter squadron established on 24th August 1948 as VF-193, it was re-designated VF-142 on 15th October 1963, and disestablished on 30th April 1995.
Fighter Squadron 193 (VF-193) was commissioned on 24th August 1948 and assigned to Carrier Air Group Nineteen. The squadron was equipped with the Vought F4U-4 Corsair. It made two deployments to Korea during the Korean War between 1950 and 1952 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CV-37).
Operation “Crippled Chick”
“A flight of seven Vought-Chance F4U-4 Corsairs slowly circled over Wonsan Harbour. Each pilot in turn glanced at his fuel gauge. With fuel reserves short, they realized that their only option was to bring the fuel-starved birds down onto the deck and ditch them into the icy waters off Wonsan, North Korea.
But this option did not comfort the flight leader or any of his squadron mates. To ditch, they risked injury, and these pilots realized that their squadron, VF 193 from the USS Princeton (CVA 37), would lose half its complement of precious Corsair fighter planes.
After a fruitless afternoon searching for a downed naval aviator near Hungnam, the flight leader’s immediate concern was to find sanctuary for his flight. But they had spent too much time searching for their downed comrade. As they flew over the small task group of American destroyers and minesweepers, they knew they would be quickly plucked from the frigid water of the Sea of Japan by waiting boats.
This option, later described as one that pits you “between the Chinese Dragon and the deep blue sea,” would not be exercised that afternoon. For soon, Radio Yo Do began broadcasting the call “Steak for dinner.” Once he heard those comforting words, VF 193’s flight leader instructed his flight to bank their planes toward a 2,400-foot runway in the middle of Wonsan Harbour.
The fighters landed at half past two on a rainy afternoon on an Allied-occupied island located some four and a half miles off shore in a harbour belonging to the enemy. Although North Korean gunners could have, at any moment, lob hundreds of 76 and 105-mm. shells onto the runway, the pilots knew that their chances of survival were greater on the island than in a yellow life raft.
A small team of Seabees quickly refuelled three of the Corsairs so that they could return to the Princeton that evening. The remaining four were refuelled in the morning before taking off for the aircraft carrier. The Corsairs and their pilots flew off so they could return to battle again.
This was a day of jubilation for the Seabees. They had worked 19 long days to complete the emergency landing strip, dubbed Briscoe Field in honour of the commander of the 7th Fleet. The seven Corsairs of VF 193 were the first planes to make an emergency landing on the strip. ” (From Operation Crippled Chick by Steve Karoly)
In 1953 the squadron transitioned to the McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee. CVG-19 then made two deployments to the Western Pacific aboard the USS Oriskany (CVA-34)Alan B. Shepard Jr, later of NASA was the executive officer. in 1953-54 and 1955 and one on the USS Yorktown (CV-10) in 1957.
In 1958 the squadron then transitioned to the supersonic McDonnell F3H-2 Demon fighter. VF-193 then made four tours with CVG-19 aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), also to the Western Pacific.
In 1963, VF-193 transitioned to the McDonnell F-4B Phantom II. On 15th October 1963 the squadron was re-designated VF-142. From 1953 to 1962 there had been another fighter squadron VF-142. This squadron had been established as United States Naval Reserve squadron VF-791 Fighting Falcons and was re-designated VF-142 after becoming a regular squadron on 4th February 1953. It was again re-designated VF-96 on 1st June 1962.
Between May 1964 and May 1968, the Ghostriders made four deployments to the Pacific on board the USS Ranger (CV-61) and the three other deployments with the USS Constellation (CV-64). During these cruises deployed to the Vietnam War, VF-142 downed two MiG-21’s, one MiG-17 and one AN-2 Colt. This was a result of finding a problem correcting pilots, RIO’s and line service personnel making adjustments to the Radar display that were incorrect which resulted in incorrect closing velocity information being sent to the missiles, this was discovered by an IMA (intermediate maintenance activity) technician and later verified by a Raytheon Tech Rep. Prior to that, success with Sparrow III missiles had not been good. VF 142 was also awarded a Battle Efficiency (E) at that time. In 1969 they transitioned from the F-4B to the F-4J and headed out for a new cruise with the Constellation on August 11th, 1969. VF-142 was awarded the Naval Aviation Safety Award for 1969-1970. In June 1971, VF-142 deployed with the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) for their sixth combat deployment to Vietnam.
In 1974, the Ghostriders deployed to the Mediterranean with the USS America (CV-66) and after their return to NAS Miramar they transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat. On April 1st, 1975, the squadron changed their home base from Miramar to NAS Oceana, leaving Carrier Air Wing 14 for Carrier Air Wing 6. In April 1976 VF-142 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and conducting the first F-14 intercept of a Soviet Tu-95 Bear bomber on April 23rd, 1976. The Ghostriders were awarded the Battle E for their outstanding performance prior to and during the cruise.
In 1978, the Ghostriders changed both ship and air wing as Carrier Air Wing 7 and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) became their new home. In January 1979 they deployed for Eisenhower’s first Mediterranean deployment. They returned to NAS Oceana on July 16th, 1979.
In 1980 they began workups before heading to the Indian Ocean on April 16, 1980. As part of the 7th Fleet, Eisenhower and CVW-7 participated in contingency operations in support of US policy during the Iran Hostage Crisis. From April 16 to December 22, 1980, the Ghostriders were at sea continuously with the exception of one five-day port visit to Singapore. For this deployment the squadron was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal and a Navy Unit Commendation.
Between January 5 and July 15, 1982 yet another Mediterranean cruise was underway. After this cruise the squadron conducted a 4 months training cycle which included detachments to Nellis AFB and NAS Fallon, Nevada. On April 27, 1983, VF-142 departed Norfolk, Virginia for operations in the Middle East. From mid-July until the end of the deployment in December 1983, VF-142 spent all but five days at sea in support of US Marines and multinational peace-keeping forces in Beirut, Lebanon. VF-142’s 32 officers and 205 enlisted men and 12 F-14’s accumulated over 3.200 flight hours and 1500 carrier landings. During this cruise, VF-142 would intercept two Libyan MiG-23’s that were heading towards the carrier group, no weapons were fired.
In 1984, VF-142 had detachments to Nellis AFB, Roosevelt Roads Naval Station and NAS Fallon. In march the squadron set a new standard of excellence by achieving a 6.2:1 kill ratio during the Fleet Fighter Air Combat Maneuvering Readiness Program (FFARP) and captured the CVW-7 ACM shoot-down Trophy for the second year in a row.
On May 7, 1984, the Ghostriders departed Norfolk for training which followed by a visit to Normandy for the D-Day 40th Anniversary celebration. From July 10 to July 19 and again from August 8 to September 7, 1984, VF-142 cruised the Caribbean Islands for a very successful Operation Readiness Exercise. In October the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean for one of its most successful deployments ever. VF-142 flew over 4000 accidents and FOD free hours and dominated the competition for the coveted Battle E award. They returned to NAS Oceana on May 7, 1985, the Ghostriders had a little time home with the loved ones before leaving again on July 18 for the Central American operating area. During this time, they also participated in Ocean Safari, a 3 carrier battle group exercise in the North Atlantic. The squadron finally returned home on September 4, 1985 for an extended turnaround while Ike went into the shipyard for its first overhaul.
After a change of command in April 1987, the squadron left NAS Oceana on May 2 for a CVW-7 weapons training detachment to NAS Fallon. There, the Ghostriders spearheaded what was described as “the best fighter performance ever seen ” by the Commander of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center.
From June 15 to July 23, 1987 the Ghostriders were embarked in Ike for her Shakedown Cruise. Thus began several short sea periods in preparation for their upcoming Mediterranean cruise. The squadron spent five weeks in the Caribbean where they participated in joint service operations with the Venezuelan Air Force. In September and late October, during operations in the Caribbean, the Ghostriders successfully fired 2 AIM-54, 3 AIM-7 and 4 AIM-9 air-to-air missiles. January 1988 saw the Ghostriders once again deployed with Ike. The squadron started the year off on the right foot contributing directly to the success of the first fleet exercise of 1988. The exercise, which also involved USS Forrestal (CV-59) in dual carrier operations, was staged against adversary forces consisting of US Navy and Air Forces assets. The Ghostriders flew around the clock for five days testing their abilities in all aspects of anti-air warfare. Following the exercise, they successfully fired and guided 3 air-to-air missiles.
On February 29, 1988, the squadron departed NAS Oceana for a 6 months Mediterranean deployment with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The cruise was highlighted by the Ghostriders participation in several joint NATO, Air Force and Navy exercises. VF-142 flew overland and over-water missions in several highly successful NATO exercises with Spain, France and Tunisia. The squadron flew over 1200 sorties totalling 2500 hours during a six-month deployment. Following a brief stand down period, VF-142 commenced preparation for the Fleet Fighter Air Combat Maneuvering Readiness Program. After a highly successful FFARP in October and November, the Ghostriders participated in a missile exercise at Roosevelt Roads from December 7 to December 18, 1988. VF-142 fired 2 AIM-54, 3 AIM-7 and one AIM-9 missiles to culminate an extremely successful year of operations.
1989 began with an air-to-air gunnery detachment to NAS Key West. April was spent preparing for and then deploying with Ike for a week of Independent Steaming Exercises. Following a brief port visit to Norfolk, Ike and her air wing departed to take part in the highly successful exercise Solid Shield 89, along with thousands of personnel from the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Army.
After returning from Solid Shield, the squadron began transitioning to the F-14B, receiving its first new aircraft on March 24, 1989. The F-14B, with much more powerful engines and several avionics upgrades, represents a long awaited update to the Tomcat. The Ghostriders and their sister squadron, the VF-143 Pukin’ Dogs, were the Navy’s first squadrons to fly the FFARP, conduct air wing strike exercises at NAS Fallon and became the first to deploy with the new F-14B.
The squadron deployed on the March 8, 1990, to the Mediterranean for 6 months deployment once again with Ike. Ghostriders aircrew engaged many NATO aircraft in exercise Dragon Hammer 90, and the new F-14Bs proved to be superior performers. The Ike transited the Suez Canal on August 8 in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Ike and Airwing 7 were the first to arrive and took up station in the Red Sea in support of Operation Desert Shield. The first ever Red Sea battle group was well protected under the watchful eyes of the F-14B flying combat air patrol. The squadron exceeded 2300 flight hours and logged over 1200 arrested landings in their new Tomcats. The Ghostriders maintenance did an outstanding job in maintaining the new systems, and the squadron completed 1227 of 1229 assigned sorties. With a conflict in the Persian Gulf brewing, the Ghostriders took a short break after returning, but quickly got back on an accelerated turnaround schedule in case the need arose for more carriers in the Middle East.
In October 1990, the squadron got in a quick at sea period for some carrier refresher. From the end of November to the end of December saw the squadron completing the most successful FFARP ever with an 11.5:1 kill ratio. This earned the squadron the FFARP trophy for 1990. The Ghostriders quickly resumed full training as the crisis in the Middle East loomed. The squadron combined regular turnaround training with constant carrier qualification readiness to provide a ready asset. After the crisis passed the next deployment was finally set for September 1991. The Eisenhower departed Norfolk on September 26, 1991 for 6 months deployment to the Persian Gulf. While acting as a deterrent to regional aggression, the Ghostriders participated in many joint and multi-national exercises throughout the 6 month in the region. On the way home, the Ike was tasked to be the focal point of Teamwork 92, a large multi-national exercise in the North Atlantic.
After a brief break that followed their 6 month’s deployment, the Ghostriders returned to full speed preparing for their transition to the USS George Washington (CVN-73). The newest carrier in the fleet welcomed CVW-7 in the early fall of 1992 and quickly got underway with a six-week shakedown cruise.
Early 1993 saw the Ghostriders excel once again in FFARP against adversaries of VF-43. With the new emphasis on using Tomcat in an air-to-ground role, the Ghostriders developed an entirely new syllabus for FFARP which incorporated the F-14B as self-escorted strike-fighters. The squadron then spent several weeks in the Spring flying as adversaries for the US Air Force Weapons School in Nevada. While in this detachment at Nellis AFB, the aircrew continued to train as strikers by dropping live Mk-80 series bombs and the first Rockeye delivery of a fleet F-14. The Ghostriders pushed into the Summer of ’93 with a brief at sea period for carrier training and integration with the other squadrons of CVW-7. Immediately following, the squadron completed the newly developed air-to-ground intensive AARP training. The new syllabus emphasized the latest in F-14B strike tactics. The Ghostriders deployed in May, 1994, on board USS George Washington (CVN-73) for a six-month cruise. Their work included peace keeping operations over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. For their exceptional work they were awarded the Battle “E” and Golden Wrench. In the climate of budget cuts and air wing re-organization, VF-142 was disestablished in April 1995.
Latest Calibre Wings Model Announcements.
Calibre Wings have just announced their next model releases. These are likely to sell out at the manufacturer very quickly just like their first releases did in a matter of weeks. Flying Tigers allocation of the first two releases is now down to only single figures on each model. Model collectors are eagerly awaiting the pre-production painted photos of these and they are expected soon. As soon as I have them I will update Flying Tigers website. When theses models have sold out, I will take them off the website, but rest easy… those of you that have already pre-ordered their models will receive them. These are available Exclusively from Flying Tigers in the U.K. !
The latest models are now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Please click on the images or links below to go straight to the model of your choice.
Updated Hobbymaster photos.
I have updated the following model photos on the website. The complete gallery images can be viewed by clicking on the images/ links below.
Newsletter of Squadron History Fighting Falcons VF-96 and Randy “Duke” Cunningham is available to view by clicking HERE.
New Models added to Website
I have added the following models to the Flying Tigers Website. More will be added over the weekend… so keep your eyes peeled ! Please click on the photo of the model of your choice to go straight through to the website page.
That’s all for this week.
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