|Image Courtesy of Doug Thorne|
While a squadron known as the 'Grim Reapers' did exist during WWII,
they were disestablished in November 1945. Thus the lineage of the
present squadron only goes back to 1952, when VF-101 was commisioned
at NAS Cecil Field on the 1st of May. Initially the squadron was
equipped with the FG1-D Corsair and it was in this type that they conducted raids during the Korean War.
In late 1952 VF-101 began to receive jet powered F2H-1 Banshee's.
VF-101 deployed with their new mounts to the Mediterrenean Sea, taking part in exercises in Southern Europe and the Middle East.
Another change in equipment came in August of 1956, when VF-101 received the F4D-1 Skyray, their first radar equipped aircraft.
Just under two years later, in April 1958 VF-101 saw a change in role, when it was merged with the Fleet All Weather Training Unit Atlantic and moved from being a deployable unit to the training of all weather fighter pilots, both on the F4D-1 and the F3H-2 Demon. In becoming part of the training structure VF-101 became part of Readiness Attack Carrier Air Wing 4.
June 1960 saw VF-10 enter a new era, when Detatchment "A" was created at NAs Oceana to operate the F4H-1, later F-4B, Phantom II.
By the end of 1962 both the Skyray and Demon had been phased out and in February of 1963 Detatchment "A" was disestablished, F-4 training moving to NAS Key West.
The 1st of May 1966 saw another detatchment formed at NAS Oceana, taking over the roles of training replacement pilots and RIO's in the areas of aerial refuelling, carrier qualification and conventional weapons. The Key West unit concentrated upon air-to-air combat, missile firing and radar intercept techniques.
In August of 1967 VF-101 introduced the second generation of the F- 4, the F-4J, to squadron service. VF-101's administrative command, Readiness Attack Carrier Air wing Four, was diestablished on the 1st of June 1970, with VF-101 shifting to the control of Command Fleet Air Key West, but this move lasted less than a year, the Grim Reapers moving to the control of Commander Fleet Air Norfolk in February 1971. By April of that year the move from NAS Key West was completed, with a detatchment remaining at Key West. VF-101's third change of control happened in July, when they moved under the command of Commander Fighter Wing 1.
January 1976 saw the beginning of VF-101's time with the F-14, when it started training Tomcat air and groundcrew as well as those for the F-4. The first F-14 conversion class began in June to support VF-41 and VF-84 in their move from the F-4N to the F-14A.
1975 and 1976 saw VF-101 pick up the CNO Aviation Safety Awards and in November of '76 the squadron had received its fourth Safety Citation due to 36 continuous months of without air or ground accident.
With the increasing number of F-14 units in the fleet it was decided to form separate units for both F-14 and F-4 training. Thus on the 5th of August 1977 VF-101 was split into two squadrons, VF-101 to continue F-14 training on the East Coast while a new squadron, VF-171, was created to carry on F-4 East Coast training. VF-171 lasted in this role until 1984, when, with the withdrawl of the F-4 from active fleet units it was disestablished.
In 1986 VF-101 completed another 3 years of accident free operations, earning it another Safety Citation.
A third CNO Safety Award was presented to the squadron in March of 1988, this year also saw big changes at VF-101, the squadron being the first to receive the new F-14A+ (now F-14B). The new variant cured the F-14's most serious problem, that of sensitive and troublesome engines, the previous TF-30's being replaced by GE F110's, which offered a 14,600 lbst increase over the F-14A. Even more importantly the F110 improved fuel economy of the F-14B, giving it one third more time on station and sixty percent more range. As well as the engines the F-14B featured an upgraded fire control system, the Hughes AWG- 15F, the ALR-67 Threat Warning and Recognition System, a gun gas purge system, an ARC-182 UHF/VHF radio system, A Fatigue/Engine Monitoring system (FEMS) and a Direct Lift Control/Approach Power Control system (DLC/AFC MOD). The F-14A's wing glove vanes were deleted, as their effect was found to be minimal.
On the 12th of September 1990 VF-101 opened another new door for the F-14, dropping MK-84 2,000lb bombs. In part this and other efforts were motivated by a desire to persuade policy makers to restart F-14 production, but led to the F-14's increasing role as a Strike Fighter rather than a pure air-to-air platform. The present VF-101 weapons training encompasses a whole range of air-to-ground weapons, from iron bombs, cluster munitions, mines, flares, laser guided munitions and air launched decoys as well as air-to-air weapons.
After VF-124 was disestablished in 1994 VF-101 took over its training role, creating a detatchment at NAS Miramar to train crews and ground personnel on the F-14A and D. The aircraft assigned to Miramar all had modex nos in the 200 series, while the Oceana unit used those in the 100 series. As nearly all West Coast F-14 squadrons have now moved to NAS Oceana the VF-101 detatchment has returned there too, moving back in September of 1996. Now all F-14 training, for all three variants is carried out at NAS Oceana, although VF-101 still maintains its NAS Key West detatchment for ACM training.
The future will see VF-101 continuing to train the next generation of F-14 crews, with the training syllabus changing to accomodate the LANTIRN and NVG upgrades that are spreading throughout the fleet.
At first VF-101's markings were similar in style to VF-32, featuring a large central tail band with thinner ones above and below it. However the VF-101 aircraft had their central band in red, with the thinner ones in blue. The 'AD' tailcode was in black, shadowed with gold. The image below shows a VF-101 F-14A in the markings of the late 1970's/early 1980's.
As colour schemes toned down the coloured bands and shadowing of
the tailcode were removed. The early 1980's saw the 'AD' shift to the
rudder, on all over grey aircraft it was in black, but TPS grey aircraft
had it in dark grey. At some point a 'Grim Reaper' was added to the
scheme, showing a scythe armed skeleton swooping down. The squadron
number has varied, at times being seen at the bottom of the rudder and
at others on the under engine strake.
Today VF-101's markings have an enlarged Grim Reaper that fills the entire outer surface of the tail. The tailcode has been moved to the inner surface of the rudders.An example of these markings can be seen below.
|BuNo.||Modex(96)||Type||Modex (Sep 96)||Comments|
|162711||267||F-14A, last F-14A produced|
|162823||N.P.||F-14B||101||Blood red tails, large Grim Reaper (96 Oceana airshow)|
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