VA-146 Blue Diamonds
4 inch patch
On 1 February 1956 Attack Squadron 146 (VA-146) became the Navy’s newest jet attack squadron at NAS Miramar. Since there were no fleet replacement squadrons at this time, VA-146 started with only a handful of aircraft and began an “in-house” training regime in various models of the F9F Cougar. Their first deployment was aboard USS Hornet in 1957. In September 1957, the squadron transitioned to the FJ-4B Fury, deploying twice aboard USS Ranger prior to 1960.
On 17 January 1960, VA-146 Furys participated in a coast to coast non-stop cross country flight.
The squadron deployed Furys aboard USS Oriskany and USS Lexington.
In May 1962 the squadron moved to NAS Lemoore, and transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk in June 1962. The squadron’s first Skyhawk deployment was to the Western Pacific aboard USS Constellation.
From June to September 1964, while operating from USS Constellation off Yankee Station, VA-146 participated in photo reconnaissance missions over Laos. The squadron’s A-4C Skyhawks were used to provide tanker and rocket-armed escort support for the photo reconnaissance sorties over Laos and South Vietnam. During this time, VA-146 aircraft also flew night sorties in support of DESOTO Patrol operations (the collection of signal intelligence) conducted by American destroyers operating in international waters off the coast of North Vietnam). In response to North Vietnamese torpedo boat attacks against USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy on 2 August 1964, VA-146 participated in Operation Pierce Arrow, retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnamese targets which resulted in the sinking or damaging of 8 torpedo boats, and marked the first use of the A-4 in combat.
On 29 June 1966, a 28-plane strike of VA-146 and other CVW-14 aircraft flying from USS Ranger struck the Haiphong Petroleum storage complex, the first American strike against this complex.
In December 1968 under the instruction of VA-125, VA-146 transitioned to the A-7B Corsair II. The squadron received its first A-7 on 4 June 1968 and deployed aboard USS Enterprise on 6 January 1969. Shortly after deployment in September 1969, the squadron upgraded to the A-7E.
In April 1970, the squadron embarked aboard USS America at NS Norfolk for her extended combat deployment to Vietnam, returning in December 1970. In December 1971, VA-146 became the first Navy squadron to use a laser-guided bomb (LGB) in combat. In May 1972 the squadron’s A-7Es conducted night mining missions to North Vietnamese rivers. On January 5, 1973, VA-146 headed west with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) embarked again on USS Constellation. This cruise would bring to an end Navy’s participation in the Vietnam War. For the deployment, USS Constellation and CVW 9 were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
In November 1974, while aboard USS Constellation, VA-146 operated in the Persian Gulf, the first time in 26 years that an American carrier had entered and operated there.
In early 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. In February 1980, VA-146 made the first Pacific deployment with the new Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system installed on the A-7. During the 1980 deployment aboard USS Constellation, the squadron spent 110 days at sea, the longest continuous at-sea period for any West Coast carrier since World War II.
In 1983 the squadron was tasked with fleet introduction of the HARM missile system, and their 14-year association with CVW-9 was broken when VA-146 was reassigned to Carrier Air Wing 2. Upon their return from a WestPac deployment aboard USS Kitty Hawk in August 1984, the squadron was again reassigned to CVW-9. In September 1988, VA-146 embarked aboard USS Nimitz for a Western Pacific deployment. The highlight of this cruise were operations in the Sea of Japan during the 1988 Summer Olympics.