VA-35 Black Panthers A-6E USS Nimitz (156987) Model
Fly with the VA-35 Black Panthers in this handcrafted A-6E Model. Each piece is carved from wood and painted to provide a one of kind piece. Our pieces seek to recreate memories of these glorious aircraft.
Length – 18 inches
Steve Pena “Here is an anecdotal story concerning this bird. On the 69/70 cruise the AQ shop assigned each maintenance crew specific airplane bureau number responsibilities. Gary Olson and I were assigned 501 (152916) and 511 (151811). There was a crew on nights that had the same airplanes. We got to know those airplanes inside and out. Really helped with keeping the weapons system up. During the 1970 standdown for engine v-band clamp issues they took all of the DIANE weapons system boxes out of the 501 and sent them to AIMD and had them tweaked to nominal. They stenciled the boxes “Superbird” and gave them a special serial number “SOB-069″. When the A-6s started flying again they sent 501 out on a special mission to hit a mobile SAM site. The story is that it got a track lock-on at the max 27.5 mile range and hit it on the first pass. After that the plane went on to fly for about a month without even an up gripe on the weapons system. Of course since there was no real maintenance required, they assign our crew to work on other airplanes so it was not a total goof-off period.”
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I
Established as Bombing Squadron THREE B (VB-3B)
on 1 July 1934.
Redesignated Bombing Squadron FOUR (VB-4) on 1
Redesignated Bombing Squadron THREE (VB-3) on
1 July 1939.
Redesignated Attack Squadron THREE A (VA-3A) on
15 November 1946.
Redesignated Attack Squadron THIRTY FOUR (VA34)
on 7 August 1948.
Redesignated Attack Squadron THIRTY FIVE (VA35)
on 15 February 1950. The second squadron to be
assigned the VA-35 designation.
Squadron Insignia and Nickname
There is no record of official approval for the diving black panther nsignia used by VB-3B. However, by mid–1935, the design appeared in Navy documents as
Bombing THREE’s insignia. The diving black panther design has been carried on through the various redesignations of the squadron and is the present insignia for
VA-35. It was officially approved for VA-35 by CNO on 1 October 1957. Nickname: Black Panthers.
Chronology of Significant Events
May 1935: Ranger (CV 4) and her embarked air group, including VB-3B, participated in Fleet Exercise
XVI. This was the first time VB-3B and Ranger participated in a Fleet Exercise.
25 Nov 1935–25 Feb 1936: A detachment from VB-3B, including six BG-1s, was assigned to Ranger’s Cold Weather Test Detachment
and operated aboard Ranger in Alaskan waters.
Apr–Jun 1936: The squadron participated in Fleet Problem XVII.
Apr–May 1937: The squadron participated in Fleet Problem XVIII.
28 May 1937: VB-3B participated in an aerial review celebrating the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Jul 1937: The squadron, embarked in Lexington (CV2), participated in the search for Amelia Earhart
Putnam and Fred Noonan.
Sep 1937: VB-4, embarked in Ranger, visited Lima, Peru, in conjunction with the International Aviation
Conference being held there.
Mar–Apr 1938: The squadron participated in Fleet Problem XIX.
Apr–May 1940: The squadron participated in Fleet Problem XXI. This was the last major fleet problem
conducted before America’s involvement in World War II.
Apr 1942: VB-3, embarked in Enterprise (CV 6), provided escort patrols for the task force which launched
Colonel Doolittle’s B-25 raid against Tokyo. 4 Jun 1942: At the Battle of Midway, VB-3, embarked in Yorktown (CV 5), engaged in its first
combat operations. Yorktown’s first strike included 17 SBD-3’s from VB-3 led by Lieutenant Commander
Leslie. Approximately an hour after launch, VB-3’s aircraft sighted the Japanese Fleet and commenced their dive-bombing attack; the primary target was the carrier
Soryu. Lieutenant (jg) Paul A. Holmberg was the first to drop his 1,000 pounder on the Soryu. His hit was
followed by two more from VB-3’s SBDs. Soryu erupted into flames and eventually sank.
With the Soryu in flames, the other VB-3 SBDs directed their attack against other targets. They attacked a destroyer, the Isokaze, making one hit on
her fantail and “what appeared to be a battleship,” claiming a hit on her stern. All 17 SBDs from VB-3
escaped the attack without a hit and returned to Yorktown. Prior to landing on the carrier, they were
directed to leave the area due to incoming enemy aircraft. All VB-3’s SBDs landed on Enterprise except for
Lieutenant Commander Leslie and his wingman, Lieutenant (jg) Holmberg. These two men, low on fuel, ditched their aircraft along side the cruiser
Astoria and were picked up by the ship’s motor whaleboat. The battle was still not over for VB-3. In late afternoon,
14 of VB-3’s SBDs were launched from Enterprise as part of a strike group ordered to attack
the fourth Japanese carrier, Hiryu. Lieutenant Shumway was in charge of VB-3’s formation. The
strike force located Hiryu and again caught a Japanese carrier in the vulnerable position of having armed and
fueled planes on deck. Direct hits from Shumway’s SBD’s resulted in a torched Hiryu and her eventual
sinking. Several of VB-3’s aircraft suffered heavy damage from attacking Japanese aircraft. However, all but
The original squadron diving panther insignia is one of the oldest squadron insignias in continuous use by a naval aviation
The squadron’s insignia with the scroll and designation added to
the original design. two of VB-3’s aircraft returned to Enterprise. Seventeen
of VB-3’s pilots received the Navy Cross for their action during the Battle of Midway, they were Ensigns
Benson, Butler, Campbell, Cobb, Cooner, Elder, Hanson, Isaman, Lane, Merrill and Schoegel;
Lieutenant (jg)s Holmberg, Sherwood and Wiseman; Lieutenants Bottomley and Shumway; and Lieutenant
Aug 1942: While operating from Saratoga in the South Pacific, the squadron participated in strikes
against Guadalcanal and other enemy installations in the Solomon Islands in support of the occupation of
24 Aug 1942: VB-3 participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, attacking Ryujo, a Japanese light
carrier, and helping to sink her.
Jan–Jul 1943: VB-3 operated in the South Pacific flying combat sorties against various Japanese-held
islands and providing air cover for American forces.
July 1943: VB-3 and the Saratoga Air Group were relieved by Air Group 12 and boarded HMS Victorious
for transfer to CONUS to reform, arriving at San Diego on 18 August. This ended the air group and VB-3’s
association with Saratoga (CV 3).
Nov 1944: VB-3 conducted combat operations from Yorktown (CV 10) against various targets, including
shipping, in support of the Leyte invasion.
Jan 1945: Combat operations were conducted against targets in Formosa and the Philippines in support
of the Lingayen Gulf landings on Luzon in early January. With Yorktown leading the way, Task Force
38 entered the South China Sea on 10 January. VB-3 struck targets near Saigon and along the Vietnamese
coast, Canton and Hong Kong areas, Formosa and
Feb 1945: VB-3 participated in the first carrier strikes against the Tokyo area, bombing the Kasumiga-ura
Airfield, an air depot 25 miles north of Tokyo, and the Tachikawa Aircraft Engine Plant, located 16 miles west
of the Imperial Palace. Following these strikes, the squadron concentrated its attention on air support for
the invasion of Iwo Jima. This operation was the last combat action for the squadron during World War II.
On 6 March, the squadron transferred from Yorktown to Lexington (CV 16) for transfer to CONUS.
11 Oct 1950: While deployed to the Korean Theater aboard Leyte (CV 32), the squadron launched its first
combat mission since February 1945, striking North Korean targets.
12 Dec 1950: The squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Bagwell, crash-landed in North
Korea and was taken, prisoner.
Jul–Aug 1958: VA-35, along with other squadrons from CVG-3, provided support for U.S. Marines landing
Oct–Nov 1962: VA-35 deployed to McCalla Field, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the Cuban Missile
Crisis. During December, the squadron was embarked in Saratoga (CVA 60).
4 Feb 1965: The squadron’s commanding officer, Commander Richard G. Layser, was killed in an accident.
15 Aug 1965: VA-35 transferred from CVW-3 in preparation for its transition to the A-6A Intruder. This
brought to a close an illustrious career with CVW-3 that began in 1939.
26 Feb 1967: The squadron participated in the first combat aerial mining operations since World War II, when its A-6A Intruders dropped mines in the Song Ca
and Song Giang Rivers of North Vietnam.
1 Oct 1967: During a weapons training deployment to NAS Yuma, Arizona, VA-35 became the first A-6A
squadron to fire the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.
Jan–Feb 1968: While embarked in Enterprise (CVAN
65) and en route to Yankee Station, the carrier was ordered to the Sea of Japan for operations following
the seizure of the Pueblo (AGER 2) by the North Koreans.
12 Mar 1968: The squadron’s commanding officer,
Commander Kollmann, was lost in an operational accident.
17 Sep 1972: While on a mission over North Vietnam the squadron’s commanding officer,
Commander Donnelly, was lost and is still listed as missing in action.
3 Jan 1980: VA-35 departed Naples, Italy, embarked in Nimitz (CVN 68), en route to the Indian Ocean via
the Cape of Good Hope after the U.S. Embassy staff was taken hostage in Tehran, Iran. This was the beginning
of 144 consecutive days at sea for the squadron. 26 May 1981: While on a training exercise aboard
Nimitz off the coast of Charleston, S.C., an EA-6B from VMAQ-2 crashed into parked aircraft while attempting
to land. VA-35 personnel provided firefighting support and assistance to the injured. There were no injuries
to VA-35 personnel. Over 130 members of the squadron received awards for fighting fires and assisting
Jun 1985: Nimitz and VA-35 were ordered to operate off the coast of Lebanon due to the hijacking of
TWA flight 847 by Arab radicals. The carrier and squadron remained on station until the release of the
hostages in the latter part of June.
Feb 1987: VA-35, embarked in Nimitz, operated off the coast of Lebanon after three U.S. citizens were
taken hostage from the American University in Beirut. Jul 1988: VA-35 participated in a firepower demonstration
for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his guest, the Marshal of the Soviet Union.
Sep 1988: While deployed to the North Atlantic aboard Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), the squadron
conducted flight operations from the carrier while in the Vestfjord of Norway.
Aug–Dec 1990: The squadron flew missions in support of Operation Desert Shield, the build-up of
American and Allied forces to counter a threatened invasion of Saudi Arabia by Iraq and part of an economic
blockade of Iraq to force its withdrawal from Kuwait.