VF-103 Sluggers F-14a (1988) Model
Relive flying one of the greatest Navy fighter jets in this carefully carved and painted F-14a model of the VF-103 Sluggers.
Model is 18 inches in length and has wings that move. It is made of solid wood.
F-103 (the “Sluggers”) was activated on 1 May 1952 and equipped with the FG-1D Corsair. The squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Group 10 (CVG-10) and made a short cruise aboard USS Lake Champlain in late 1952. Thereafter, VF-103 transitioned to the F9F-6 Cougar and adopted the nickname “Flying Cougars”. CVG-10 went aboard USS Randolph for her shakedown cruise following her reactivation to the Caribbean between August and November 1953. The air group was then reassigned to the USS Coral Sea and VF-103 was equipped with the F9F-8B. The carrier was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea between August 1956 and February 1957. This was the last time that VF-103 operated from a straight-deck carrier.
In 1957, VF-103 was one of the first squadrons to transition to the supersonic F8U-1 Crusader, and was renamed “Sluggers”. Once the transition was completed they were teamed up with VF-102 on board USS Forrestal. Prior to the introduction of the Crusader jets, U.S. Navy carrier battle groups were often embarrassed by British bombers during allied exercises as the RAF English Electric Canberras had always been able to make mock attacks on U.S. carriers with impunity. At the time, the U.S. fighters simply could not put up much resistance. During the 1958 Mediterranean cruise, British pilots were surprised when VF-103 tore through their formation of Canberras before they even had a chance to start their simulated attack.
USS Forrestal and VF-103 were deployed to the Mediterranean Sea during the 1958 Lebanon crisis but the crisis had abated before the carrier reached its station. A regular deployment followed between September 1958 and March 1959. Future astronaut John W. Young was a squadron member during this cruise.
VF-103 was reequipped with the F8U-2 (F-8C after 1962) and reassigned to CVG-8, although still assigned to the USS Forrestal. Three other deployments to the Mediterranean followed in 1960, 1961 and 1964-1965. The squadron was reequipped with the F-8E in 1964. The 1964-1965 cruise was significant, as VF-103 flew both the F-8E and the newly introduced F-4B Phantom II. VF-103 would fly the Phantom for 19 years. From 1965 to 1980, VF-103 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW-3). Even longer was the assignment to the USS Saratoga, from 1965 to 1994, since 1984 as part of CVW-17. VF-103 was aboard Saratoga for 15 deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, plus a single one aboard Forrestal in 1982.
VF-103 flew the F-4B until transitioning to the F-4J in 1968. In 1981, the squadron was reequipped with the F-4S.
When North Vietnam launched its Easter Offensive invasion of South Vietnam, USS Saratoga was deployed to the coast of Vietnam to participate in Operation Linebacker. On 10 August 1972, Lieutenant Commander Robert Tucker and Lieutenant Junior Grade Stanley Edens shot down a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 with an AIM-7 Sparrow missile during a night interception. It was the first and only night MiG kill by the US Navy.
In January 1983, VF-103 was among the last fighter squadrons to transition to the F-14A Tomcat. The squadron conducted the first East Coast fighter squadron’s low altitude AIM-54 Phoenix missile shoot a month later. In October 1985, VF-103 and VF-74 participated in the interception of the Egyptian Boeing 737 carrying the Achille Lauro hijackers. During a long range night intercept by VF-74 and VF-103, the 737 was forced to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. The terrorists were taken into Italian custody, tried and sentenced.
VF-103 and the rest of the airwing participated in Operation Attain Document and Operation El Dorado Canyon in the spring of 1986.
In 1989, VF-103 transitioned to the F-14A+ (later redesignated F-14B).
In August 1990 when Kuwait was invaded by Iraq, USS Saratoga was in the Mediterranean and soon joined USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea. VF-103 and VF-74 worked together to develop the fighter tactics which were during the Gulf War. When the war started in January 1991, VF-103 conducted fighter escort for the air wing’s strike packages, reconnaissance and bomb damage assessment and combat air patrols. On the fourth day of the war, while on an escort mission, a VF-103 F-14A+ was shot down by what is believed to be an SA-2 “Guideline” surface-to-air missile. After ejecting from his aircraft, the Radar Intercept Officer, Lieutenant Larry Slade, was captured by Iraqi troops and held in Baghdad as a POW until the end of the war. The pilot, Lieutenant Devon Jones, was able to evade capture and, after eight hours deep in enemy territory, was rescued by USAF Special Operations Forces.
On 1 October 1995, VF-84 was disestablished bringing an end to the Jolly Rogers. Not wanting the Jolly Rogers insignia to fade away from U.S. Naval Aviation, VF-103 requested to do away with their “Slugger” moniker and adopt the Jolly Rogers name and insignia that had been previously used by VF-84.
Also in 1995, VF-103 conducted the fleet feasibility testing of the U.S. Air Force’s LANTIRN targeting pod in a rapid prototyping initiative that led to adoption of the LANTIRN for the Tomcat community. When they deployed with USS Enterprise in the summer of 1996, VF-103 became the first Tomcat squadron to introduce the LANTIRN targeting pod to operational service. The LANTIRN radically improved the F-14’s strike capabilities by providing an autonomous precision strike capability.
In 1997 VF-103 transferred from USS Enterprise to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and set sail to former Yugoslavia in June 1998 in support of NATO operations in Kosovo. In November, the carrier moved to the Persian Gulf in response to aggressive Iraqi posturing