Attack Squadron 146 (ATKRON 146)

VA-146 ĎBlue Diamondsí

 

va-146 blue diamonds insignia patch crest badge attack squadron us navy atkron

va-146 blue diamonds attack squadron atkron us navy a-7 corsair ii

 

STATUS:

established as VA-146 on February 1, 1956

VA-146 redesignated VFA-146 on July 21, 1989

AIRCRAFT:

Grumman F9F-8 Cougar (1956-57)

North American FJ-4B Fury (1957-62)

Douglas A-4C Skyhawk (1962-68)

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7B Corsair II (1968-69)

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7E Corsair II (1969-89)

 

 

DEPLOYMENTS:

January 1957 - July 1957 with CVG-14 aboard USS Hornet (CVA 12)

June 1958 - August 1958 with CVG-14 aboard USS Ranger (CVA 61)

January 1959 - July 1959 with CVG-14 aboard USS Ranger (CVA 61)

May 1960 - December 1960 with CVG-14 aboard USS Oriskany (CVA 34)

November 1961 - May 1962 with CVG-14 aboard USS Lexington (CVA 16)

February 1963 - September 1963 with CVG-14 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

May 1964 - February 1965 with CVW-14 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

December 1965 - August 1966 with CVW-14 aboard USS Ranger (CVA 61)

April 1967 - December 1967 with CVW-14 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

January 1969 - July 1969 with CVW-9 aboard USS Enterprise (CVAN 65)

January 1070 - March 1970 with CVW-9 aboard USS America (CVA 66)

April 1970 - December 1970 with CVW-9 aboard USS America (CVA 66)

October 1971 - July 1972 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

January 1973 - October 1973 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

June 1974 - December 1974 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64)

April 1977 - November 1977 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64)

September 1978 - May 1979 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64)

February 1980 - October 1980 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64)

October 1981 - May 1982 with CVW-9 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64)

January 1984 - August 1984 with CVW-2 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63)

July 185 - December 1985 with CVW-9 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63)

January 1987 - June 1987 with CVW-9 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63)

June 1988 - August 1988 with CVW-9 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68)

September 1988 - March 1989 with CVW-9 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68)

 

images

 

va-146 blue diamonds attack squadron a-7e corsair ii cvw-9 uss kitty hawk cv 63

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1987

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1987

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii cvw-9 uss kitty hawk cv 63

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1987

 

va-146 blue diamonds atkron us navy a-7e corsair ii

A-7E Corsair IIís of VA-146 and VA-147, assigned to CVW-9 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1985

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii

A-7E Corsair IIís (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) - 1985

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii tupolev tu-95 bear-d soviet

A-7E Corsair IIís (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) escorting a Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-D - circa 1984

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Constellation (CV 64) - 1982

 

attack squadron va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii carrier air wing cvw-9 uss constellation cva 64

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) - 1974 (National Naval Aviation Museum)

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair uss constellation cva-64

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) - 1972 (NNAM)

 

a-7e corsair ii va-146 blue diamonds

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) - 1971

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii cvw-9 uss america cva-66

A-7E Corsair II (VA-146 / CVW-9) embarked on USS America (CVA 66) - 1970

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii uss enterprise cvan 65 january 1969 fire zuni rocket

Aircraft burning aboard the U.S. Navy nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVAN 65), 14 January 1969.

The fire started when a Zuni rocket accidentally exploded under the wing of an F-4J Phantom II off Hawaii (USA).

The following explosions blew holes in the flight deck and killed 28 people, wounding 343, 15 aircraft were destroyed.

Among the latter were the depicted LTV A-7B Corsair II from attack squadron VA-146 Blue Diamonds (left)

and an F-4J from fighter squadron VF-96 Fighting Falcons (right).

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-7e corsair ii

undated

 

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-4c skyhawk carrier air wing cvw-14 uss constellation cva 64

A-4C Skyhawk (VA-146 / CVW-14) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) - 1964-65

 

va-146 blue diamonds a-4c skyhawk

A-4C Skyhawk (VA-146 / CVW-14) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) flying in formation with F-8 Crusaders - 1964-65

 

attack squadron va-146 blue diamonds a-4c skyhawk cvw-14 uss constellation cva 64

A-4C Skyhawk (VA-146 / CVW-14) embarked on USS Constellation (CVA 64) flying over USS Kearsarge (CVS 33) - 1964

 

 

attack squadron va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury cvg-14 nas north island california

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) over NAS North Island, California - 1961 (NNAM)

 

va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury emergency barricade landing uss oriskany cva 34

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) making an emergency landing aboard USS Oriskany (CVA 34) - 1960 (NNAM)

 

va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury cvg-14

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) embarked on USS Oriskany (CVA 34) - circa 1960

 

va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury uss oriskany cva 34

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) embarked on USS Oriskany (CVA 34) - circa 1960

 

attack squadron va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury cvg-14 uss ranger cva 61

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) embarked on USS Ranger (CVA 61) - 1959

 

attack squadron va-146 blue diamonds fj-4b fury uss bennington cva 20

FJ-4B Fury (VA-146 / CVG-14) during carrier qualifications aboard USS Bennington (CVA 20) - 1958 (NNAM)

 

 

va-146 blue diamonds f9f-8 cougar cvg-14 uss hornet cva 12 attack squadron atkron

F9F-8 Cougar (VA-146 / CVG-14) embarked on USS Hornet (CVA 12) - 1957 (NNAM)

 

 

history

The air was filled with great expectations early in the morning of 1 February 1956 as CDR E.V. Davidson prepared to assume command of Attack Squadron 146, the Navy's newest jet attack squadron. In ceremonies held at NAS Miramar, VA 146 was commissioned at 0900 as a unit of Air Group 14. The squadron's original nickname was the Blacktails, which was derived from its assigned color as the sixth squadron of the air group.

Since there were no replacement squadrons at this time, VA 146 started with only a handful of aircraft and began an "in-house" training schedule for the F9F-8 Cougar in the squadron spaces. The squadron's first West Pac deployment began 21 January 1957 as CVG 14, embarked in USS HORNET (CVA 12) and departed from San Diego. Upon the squadron's return in July, the "Blacktails" began transitioning into the new FJ-4B Fury. In May 1958, they flew to Norfolk, Virginia, loaded aboard USS Ranger (CV-61) and made a "Round the Horn" trip to San Diego.

In 1959, the squadron under CDR W.W. Alldredge adopted the Blue Diamonds nickname. In 1960, the Blue Diamonds deployed on West Pac aboard the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) and again in 1961 aboard the USS Lexington (CVQ-16). On 12 May 1962, the squadron moved to their current home in California's San Joaquin Valley - Lemoore Naval Air Station. At that time they transitioned from F4JBs to A4D-2n (A4C) Skyhawk.

VA-146 made its fifth and sixth West Pac cruises aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64). On 5 May 1964. Unknown when they departed, this sixth cruise would mark the beginning of the Blue Diamonds' lengthy combat experience in Southeast Asia. The squadron pilots were called on to aid U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin when they came under attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats. The following two days found the Blue Diamonds launching the initial retaliatory raids into North Vietnam. The Diamond's next six deployments would center around combat operations in Vietnam. The seventh cruise aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) and the eighth aboard USS Constellation (CV-64). Returning from the 1967 Connie cruise, 10 Blue Diamond aviators returned with more than 200 combat missions each.

In December 1968, VA 146 was completely re-equipped with the Navy's newest attack aircraft, the Vought A-7B Corsair II. In January 1969, upon completion of the rigorous training cycle, VA-146 embarked aboard USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) for their ninth West Pac. A near disastrous fire broke out on the ship, destroying several VA-146 aircraft. This caused a two and a half month delay in the cruise while awaiting replacement aircraft and ship repairs. Arriving on Yankee Station in April, the squadron conducted operations until June, returning to Lemoore in July.

In August 1969, VA-146 began the complex task of transitioning to the all-new A-7E, a vastly improved version of the A-7B. The Blue Diamonds embarked on USS America (CVA-66) in January 1970 making them the first fleet squadron to deploy with new aircraft. After six weeks of shipboard operations, the squadron deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, sailing around Africa for Yankee Station. The Blue Diamonds completed eight months of highly successful combat operations, returning to Norfolk via Cape Horn, completing an around the world cruise.

In October 1971, VA-146 returned to CONSTELLATION for their eleventh West Pac cruise and their sixth combat deployment. It was on this cruise that the Blue Diamonds again found themselves at a turning point in history, launching the first retaliatory strikes into North Vietnam since the bombing halt of 1968. Returning to NAS Lemoore in July 1972, the Blue Diamonds commenced a six month shore-based training cycle in preparation for their twelfth West Pac deployment and seventh in combat. Despite the short time available for training new pilots and maintenance personnel, the Blue Diamonds deployed on January 5, 1973 fully combat ready with Carrier Air Wing Nine embarked again on USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64). This cruise would bring to an end the Navy's participation in the Vietnam War. For the deployment, USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) AND CVW 9 were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the last Vietnam combat cruise. Two Blue Diamond Aviators lost their lives during combat over Vietnam, including the tenth commanding officer, CDR Herbert B. Loheed. CDR Loheed was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions. In 1994, CDR Loheed's remains were positively identified, and he was declared KIA.

VA-146 returned to NAS Lemoore in October 1973 after a ten month absence and their first peacetime operations in eight years. Following a rigorous eight month training cycle, the Blue Diamonds returned to the CONSTELLATION for their thirteenth West Pac cruise. This cruise was again to see history made when the Blue Diamonds were the first attack squadron to launch escort aircraft from a carrier in the Persian Gulf. In this time frame, the Blue Diamonds were an integral part in the joint CENTO exercise MIDLINK '74 in the Indian Ocean operation area.

VA-146 returned to Lemoore in December of 1974 and launched into an ambitious training cycle. In 1975, the Blue Diamonds won their fifth and sixth consecutive Silver Bombs at Fallon and Yuma Weapons Deployments. From June 1976 through March 1977 the Diamonds made five work-up periods on the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64). On April 12, 1977, VA-146 deployed on its fourteenth West Pac deployment in a 20 year period. During June 1977, the Blue Diamonds were based ashore out of NAS Cubi Point with CVW-9 as the "Swing Wing" while USS Constellation conducted Anti-Submarine Warfare. The Diamonds returned home in November 1977.

VA-146 would spend only 11 months ashore before returning to sea again on September 26 1978 aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64). The Blue Diamonds enjoyed port calls in Korea, Japan, and Cubi Point where they conducted COPETHUNDER exercises with the Air Force. On March 7, 1979, just as the Diamonds were preparing for the journey home, violence in the country of Yemen prompted President Jimmy Carter to order the USS Constellation to set sail for the Indian Ocean. A total of 47 days were spent operating in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Their presence in the area caused a halt to the violence and the middle of April found the ship heading south toward Diego Garcia and the equator. After a short stop in the Philippines, the Diamonds returned to Lemoore with a 23-plane flyby on 17 May 1979, marking the end of their fifteenth West Pac deployment.

The return to Lemoore found the Diamonds with 12 new A-7E's with the new state of the art FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Receiver). VA-146 was tasked with evaluation of the new system and development of new tactics for it use. On February 26, 1980 the Blue Diamonds deployed again on the USS Constellation (CV-64). CVW 9 visited Hawaii and the Philippines on the way to the Indian Ocean. For the next 110 days, VA-146 operated near the coast of Iran in support of U.S. interests in the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Afghanistan Invasion. This sea period (110 days) set a new record as the longest continuous at-sea period for any West Coast carrier since World War II.

On 25 April 1980, VA-146 was named the safest A-7 squadron in combined Navy-Air Force history by surpassing all previous records for accident-free flight operations at 36,175 hours. Continuing their record setting performance the Blue Diamonds completed fiscal year 1980 with 7555.4 flight hours establishing yet another record. The return to Lemoore included port visits to Singapore and Korea. The Blue Diamonds also participated in some multi-national exercises including Rim Pac '80 and Merlion '80.

VA-146 deployed in October 1981 on their sixteenth West Pac cruise. In July 1983 the HARM was introduced to the fleet. January 1984, the Diamonds began their seventeenth West Pac and first with the Harm aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).

A 14-year association with Carrier Air Wing 9 was broken in 1983 when VA-146 was reassigned to Carrier Air Wing Two. Upon their return from a West Pac in August 1984, the Diamonds were reassigned to CVW-9. CVW-9 and USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) made two more deployments, which culminated in the 1987 World Cruise, which brought the carrier back to the East Coast for entry into the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). In September 1988, the Blue Diamonds and CVW-9 embarked in USS Nimitz (CVN-68) for their twentieth Western Pacific deployment. The highlight of this cruise was operations in the Sea of Japan during the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

In the spring of 1989, VA-146 was re-designated VFA-146 and transitioned to the multi-role F/A 18C Night Strike Fighter. The Blue Diamonds were the first fleet squadron to receive this new version of the Hornet.

 

source: VFA-146 website

 

patches

 

va-146 blue diamonds patch insignia crest badge attack squadron us navy atkron a-7 corsair

 

 

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