F-14A Tomcat "Jolly Rogers" 1/36
Scale: 1/36 scale model
Wing Span: 20.75 inches
Length: 16.25 inches
Strike Fighter Squadron 103 (VFA-103), nicknamed the Jolly Rogers is an aviation unit of the United States Navy established in 1952. VFA-103 flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia (US). The squadron's radio callsign is Victory and it is assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seven.
Insignia and nicknames
VF-103 "Sluggers" original insignia.
The original VF-103 squadron insignia was a cloverleaf, and the aircraft tailfins had a horizontal yellow arrow outlined in black. Later a stylized aircraft darting through the leaf was added, along with a baseball bat. The baseball bat stemmed from an early skipper who often carried one with him. In 1991, VF-103's aircraft used the squadron insignia for tail-art, in place of the bold arrow. When the Sluggers became the Jolly Rogers following the disestablishment of VF-84 (1955-95), they adopted the famous white skull-and-crossbones.
The Jolly Rogers have always displayed some of the most recognizable squadron markings in the world: sinister white skull-and-crossbones on all-black tails, with gold bands wrapped around the tip of the tail fins, and black bands with gold chevrons (known as vagabonds strips from the Crusader days of VF-84) run down the sides of the forward fuselage.
Four distinct U.S. Naval Aviation squadrons have used the name and insignia of the Jolly Roger: VF-17, VF-61, VF-84, and VF-103, since redesignated as VFA-103. While these are distinctly different squadrons that have no lineal linkage, they all share the same Jolly Roger name, the skull and crossbones insignia and traditions. After disestablishment of VF-84 in 1995, the Jolly Rogers name and insignia were adopted by VF-103, which later became VFA-103, the subject of this article. There has been only one squadron designated VF-103.
VF-103 F9F-6 Cougars over USS Coral Sea, 1954.
VF-103 (the "Sluggers") were activated on 1 May 1952 and equipped with the FG-1D Corsair. The squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Group 10 (CVG-10) and made a short cruise aboard USS Lake Champlain in late 1952. Thereafter, VF-103 transitioned to the F9F-6 Cougar and adopted the nickname "Flying Cougars". CVG-10 went aboard USS Randolph for her shakedown cruise following her reactivation to the Caribbean between August and November 1953. The air group was then reassigned to USS Coral Sea and VF-103 was equipped with the F9F-8B. The carrier was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea between August 1956 and February 1957. This was the last time that VF-103 operated from a straight-deck carrier.
In 1957, VF-103 was one of the first squadrons to transition to the supersonic F8U-1 Crusader, and was renamed "Sluggers". Once the transition was completed they were teamed up with VF-102 on board USS Forrestal. Prior to the introduction of the Crusader jets, U.S. Navy carrier battle groups were often embarrassed by British bombers during allied exercises as the RAF English Electric Canberras had always been able to make mock attacks on U.S. carriers with impunity. At the time, the U.S. fighters simply could not put up much resistance. During the 1958 Mediterranean cruise, British pilots were surprised when VF-103 tore through their formation of Canberras before they even had a chance to start their simulated attack.
VF-103 F8U-2s from USS Forrestal
USS Forrestal and VF-103 were deployed to the Mediterranean Sea during the 1958 Lebanon crisis but the crisis had abated before the carrier reached its station. A regular deployment followed between September 1958 and March 1959. Future astronaut John W. Young was a squadron member during this cruise.