VA-106 Gladiators A-4C (1969) Model
Fly off the USS Independence with the VA-106 Gladiators in this A-4C model with 1969 markings. Each model is carefully carved and painted to provide a piece you can proudly display.
The squadrons’s first insignia was approved by CNO on 23 November 1945 and consisted of a skeleton riding a rocket. The skeletons face was white with light green shading and deep purple sockets. He wore a purple sombrero, a magenta shirt with an orange neckerchief, and teal trousers with a light blue cuff and tan boots with brown soles and dark purple stirrups. Around his waist, he wore a brown belt and holster. His hands were white with light green markings. In his left hand he carried a light gray pistol outlined in purple with yellow smoke and in his right hand, he carried a magenta bomb. The squadron’s second insignia, which is the insignia that we proudly display to this day, is a Roman Gladiator helmet and shield. A young LTJG named Bill Bicket serving with Fighter Squadron Sixty-Two (VF-62) designed the insignia in 1951. When LTJG Bicket first displayed his drawings to the squadron, it was immediately accepted and was later approved by CNO on 16 Apr 1952. The shield is dark blue and sits upon a gold background with a dark blue border. The helmet is gold with black markings, a white arrow and stylized wings. Below the shield is a gold scroll that displays the GLADIATOR name in black lettering.
VA-106 Command History
Strike-Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO SIX began as Bomber-Fighter Squadron 17 (VBF-17) at Agana Air Field, Guam on January 11, 1945. One month later, flying F6F-5 Hellcats, VBF-17 embarked onboard USS HORNET (CV 12) to participate in combat operations against the Japanese. Operations included strikes against Tokyo, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa as well as the first major air strikes against the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku.
In late 1946 the squadron moved to NAS Norfolk, VA, was redesignated as Fighter Squadron Six Baker (VF-6B) and began flying the F4U-4 Corsair. Redesignated again in July 1948 as Fighter Squadron 62 (VF-62), the squadron transitioned to F8F Bearcat aircraft. In August 1950 the squadron received F2H Banshee aircraft and moved to NAS Cecil Field, FL. VF-62 officially became the “Gladiators” on April 16, 1952. Combat action in the Korean Conflict came in 1953 from the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN (CVA-39) when the Gladiators were tasked with striking key bridges on the Korean mainland.
The squadron was redesignated as Attack Squadron 106 (VA-106) in March 1955 and received F9F-8B Cougar aircraft later that year. In June 1958 the transition was made to Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawks.
During the ensuing peaceful years the Gladiators participated in various Atlantic Fleet exercises and numerous Mediterranean cruises onboard USS ESSEX (CVA 9), USS SHANGRI-LA (CVA 38) and USS SARATOGA (CVA 60). These years of training concluded on July 17, 1967 as the Gladiators launched into combat over Vietnam from the deck of the USS FORRESTAL (CVA 59). VA-106 returned home in September 1967 for a brief turnaround prior to deploying onboard USS INTREPID (CVA 62) in June 1968. The Gladiators remained on station flying combat missions into Vietnam for over 6 months before returning home in February 1969. The squadron was subsequently decommissioned on November 7, 196 9.
Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) was commissioned at NAS Cecil Field on April 27, 1984, flying the Navy’s newest tactical aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet. In the summer of 1999 VFA-106 moved from NAS Cecil Field to NAS Oceana, VA. As the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, the Gladiators’ mission is to train F/A-18 Replacement Aircrew to support fleet commitments. Every 6 weeks a class of between 8-12 newly-winged Navy and Marine Corps Aircrew begins the 9 month training course in which they will learn the basics of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions culminating in day/night carrier qualification and subsequent assignment to a fleet Hornet squadron.
Since it’s commissioning VFA-106 has earned numerous awards, including the Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Awards.