VA-81 Sunliners A-4c 1973 USS Kennedy
Fly with the Sunliners of VA-81 in this handcrafted A-4c with 1973 markings. Each model is carefully carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love. 18 inches
The squadron was originally established as Attack Squadron 66 (VA-66) on 1 July 1955. On the same day, they were redesignated Fighter Squadron 81 (VF-81), an all-weather fighter interceptor squadron flying the F9F-8B Cougar. Their first deployment was with CVG-17 in late 1956 aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Suez Crisis. In 1958 VF-81 made a deployment as part of Air Task Group 181 (ATG-181) aboard USS Lake Champlain to the Mediterranean Sea. In the next year VF-81 went to sea with ATG-182 to the North Atlantic aboard USS Intrepid.
On 4 March 1959 VF-81 was re-equipped with the A4D-2 Skyhawk and redesignated attack squadron VA-81 on 1 July 1959.
VA-81 was assigned to CVG-8 and made five deployments to the Mediterranean Sea aboard the USS Forrestal between 1960 and 1966.
From October 1961 to February 1962, a detachment of VA-81 Skyhawks deployed to the North Atlantic embarked on USS Essex. The detachment was provided air cover for Antisubmarine warfare units embarked on USS Essex with their AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. The detachment was the first jet unit to function as part of an antisubmarine killer force.
In April 1963 the squadron transitioned from the A-4B (A4D-2) to the A-4C Skyhawk.
In 1966 and 1967, ‘VA-81 was deployed with CVG-8 to the Mediterranean, this time aboard USS Shangri-La. For the 1967/68 deployment aboard the same carrier, the squadron flew the A-4C.
In 1969 VA-81 A-4Cs made a single deployment to the Mediterranean aboard the USS John F. Kennedy as part of CVW-1, operating for a time off the coast of Libya following the 1969 Libyan coup d’état.
In February 1970, the squadron won the Navy Battle “E” for East Coast A-4 squadrons. In May 1970, VA-81 transitioned to the A-7E Corsair II and was reassigned to CVW-17.
Between 1971 and 1982 VA-81 made eight deployments to the 6th Fleet aboard USS Forrestal.
In December 1972, the squadron’s A-7Es conducted cross-deck operations with the British carrier HMS Ark Royal.
From July to August 1974, VA-81 operated from USS Forrestal in the vicinity of Cyprus following the coup and subsequent Turkish invasion. Surveillance and cover missions were flown by the squadron during the crisis.