Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's in a name?

The other day Juvat had a post about inertia over at Sarge's Place. It's a great post. If you have not yet done so, you should immediately hie yourself over there and enjoy it. Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back. If the aliens don't get me.
A scene from Mars Attacks, a very fine documentary film.
In the comments Juvat noted that one of his favorite aeroplanes is the North American F-86 Sabre, America's first real jet-powered dogfighter, scourge of the Korean skies and undisputed master of the MiG-15.
An F-86 Sabre at Oshkosh, depicting the jet Major John Glenn flew in combat.
He also noted that he'd previously been unaware that the Sabre started out as a navy jet, the straight-winged FJ-1 Fury.
An FJ-1 Fury, USS Boxer, 1948. Source. You can really see the Mustang in this jet. Do visit the link. I think you'll like it!
I could spend hours, days, weeks, months and more writing about the Mustang/Fury/Sabre. But I won't put you kind readers through that hellish experience. Instead, I'll share a few images from the 1957 USS Forrestal (CVA-59) cruisebook. FID's very first deployment, and one that featured my future squadron, VF-84, in their one and only deployment in the FJ-3M Fury.
Look at the maw on that beast! The J-65 had a lot more mass flow than the J-47.
On the cat.
Send it! Flight deck refueling before Grapes were Grapes.
The "M" in FJ-3M stood for "missile." In this case the then fairly new AIM-9 Sidewinder. Another Navy invention. Unlike the Air Force's AIM-4 Falcon, the Sidewinder actually worked. Ahem!
Briefing in Ready Five. Can you identify the swept wing Roosky jet picture pinned to the cork board?
Form for the photog.
Low power turn in the aft hangar bay.
Dry suit.
Start 'em up!
VF-84 Vagabonds, USS Forrestal, 1957.
"I can't get the radar to work." {for Sarge... ;)}
The squadron lineage is rather confusing. In 1957 VF-84 was the "Vagabonds," and the "Jolly Rogers" were still VF-61. They'd previously been VF-5B, and before that, VF-17, but always the Jolly Rogers. But VF-61 was disestablished in 1959, and VF-84 lobbied CNO to take on the Jolly Roger name and traditions. In 1960 the approval came through, and the Vagabonds became the Jolly Rogers, complete with the skull and "Bones." The new VF-84 kept the yellow stripe with black chevrons From the Vagabonds, so the Jolly Rogers went forward with both. The colors on the stripe were later inverted.

Oh, and the VF-84 Vagabonds were VA-86 to start with, and switched to VF-84 when the "Sidewinders" stood up. But the Sidewinders couldn't shoot sidewinders, because they flew the A4D. The Vagabonds, who had been VA-86, shot sidewinders, because they were fighters. Later, however, VA-86 got sidewinders when they went to the A-7. They were still light attack, though, and VF-84, who had almost been Sidewinders at one time, were still fighters...


  1. Just had to mention the AIM-4 dincha?

    (And of course they couldn't get the radar to work. I wasn't there to assist. Of course, I was only four at the time.)

    Great post. Trying to track a Navy squadron's lineage can be vexing.

    For instance, VF-84 stood down in 1995 and now VFA-103 carries on the name "Jolly Rogers" (same insignia to boot, only now it says "Fighting 103" not "Fighting 84." I have a 103 t-shirt, they were on Ike when The Nuke was on Ike.)

  2. You Air Force guys woulda known I was a poser if I'd let that one go by!

    Still amazing that they could take some vacuum tubes, a cavity magnetron, colored wires, chewing gum and cusswords and make a gun radar that worked.

    I fondly remember VF-103 as the Sluggers. I'm sure there are former VF-61 guys who fondly remember VF-84 as the Vagabonds. When you're living it, you tend to think of things as permanent. Until you rack up enough hours to realize that the youthly view of the world is a bit, er, incomplete...

  3. I'm not sure that any AIM-9 prior to the P actually "worked". And the P was kinda iffy. Lima's and Mikes (and I assume current models) on the other hand....

    Well, the saying in the Eagle was "An AIM-9L can make any 2Lt lethal"

  4. I read this on the small screen of a Dell notebook. Looking at the Russkie , it has a certain Su-7 quality to it. Interesting how the line is Mustang/Fury/Sabre/Fury.

    1. I think you're right on the SU-7.

      It took months to design and field aircraft back then. Today it takes decades and billions and we end up with crap.