VF-154 Black Knights F-8 Crusader (1958) Model
Relive flying off the USS Hancock with the VF-154 Black Knights in this carefully carved and painted F-8 Model. Each model is made of wood and hand painted to provide a unique piece of art that you’ll treasure for many years!
Model is 18 inches in length and has wings that move. It is made of solid wood.
VFB-718 was established on 1 July 1946 as a Naval Reserve squadron at NAS New York in New York flying the F6F Hellcat. Soon they transitioned to the F4U Corsair. The unit went through several designation changes, becoming VF-68A then VF-837.
VF-837 F9F-2B fighters are launched from USS Antietam off Korea.
When the unit was called VF-837 the squadron moved to NAS Moffett Field in California. VF-837 flew a combat cruise in the Korean War of the USS Antietam. By this time they were flying the F9F-2 Panther.
VF-837 returned from their first cruise and started working up for a second cruise. On February 4, 1953 while passing under the Golden Gate Bridge on board the USS Princeton and on their way back to Korea, VF-837 was redesignated VF-154. VF-154 dropped 470 tons of bombs and expended 1,500,000 rounds of ammunition in Korea and on June 15, 1953 VF-154 flew 48 sorties on a single day, setting a record for a Navy squadron. By now the squadron had transitioned to the F9F-5 Panther. During this period until late 1957, the VF-154 insignia was a flaming black panther on a yellow background. In the late 1950s VF-154 flew the FJ-3 Fury.
In 1957 VF-154 transitioned to the Navy’s first operational supersonic carrier aircraft, the F-8 Crusader. The combination of supersonic aircraft and modified World War II small deck, “27-Charley” carriers such as USS Hancock – VF-154’s assigned carrier – was not easy on aircraft or pilots – VF-154 lost a full squadron of aircraft (14) and 20% of its pilots in the process.
In recognition of the new era and aircraft, VF-154 changed its insignia. Because of the new 1,000 mph fighters, the squadron was designated “The Grand Slammers” and a new insignia was designed by squadron pilot, John “Crash” Miottel with the final version drawn by the famous cartoonist Milton Caniff, creator of the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. The new insignia was a silver Crusader knight on a black field with 2 F-8 divisions (4 plane formations) crossing in the background. Because of the patch design, and the arrival of new Crusaders configured for night operations, the squadron unofficially became known as the “Black Knights.” Their official radio call sign was “City Desk”, but virtually every squadron had a local, unofficial (and usually derogatory) call sign, bestowed by the rest of the squadrons at their home base. As a derogatory play on “City Desk”, VF-154’s unofficial call sign was “City Dump”, so all of the squadrons at home base, including the Admiral’s staff, referred to them as ‘The Dumpers’. The Black Knights designation was added to the insignia and the name and insignia remain as VF-154 symbols to this day.
In 1965 the squadron deployed as part of Carrier Air Wing 15 on board the USS Coral Sea to the Vietnam War. Their first combat strikes occurred on February 7 and their combat cruise lasted until November the same year. After that yearly combat cruises followed and VF-154 soon transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II and became part of Carrier Air Wing 2, where it remained until 1980. After a second cruise with the USS Coral Sea, the squadron shifted carrier to the USS Ranger and completing five more cruises to South East Asia.
VF-154 F-4N Phantom II (right) aboard USS Coral Sea
During 1968-69, 1969–70 and 1970–71 WestPac cruises aboard USS Ranger, VF-154 was equipped with the F-4J Phantom II which used the Westinghouse AWG-10 RADAR system. Beginning with their 16 November 1972 deployment onboard USS Ranger, VF-154 participated in some of the last US Navy strikes of the war, they undertook the squadrons final Vietnam cruise, and they were awarded the Clifton Award – recognizing them as the best fighter squadron in the United States Navy.
In 1979 the unit transitioned to the F-4S, the last Navy version of the aircraft, but returned to the F-4N in January 1981. Several cruises with the USS Coral Sea followed, as the carrier did not have strong enough decks to carry the F-14A Tomcat. During this time VF-154 spent 120 days at sea of the coast of Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis until the hostages were formally released into United States custody. Thus VF-154, and sister squadron VF-21, were among the last units to convert to the F-14A. VF-154 finally transitioned to the F-14A in October 1983. Due to their late equipment, the squadron received TARPS capable F-14s from the start. The first cruise with the F-14 was in 1985 on board the USS Constellation as part of Carrier Air Wing 14. Several further cruises on board USS Constellation followed, with one taking place in 1987, during this cruise they operated in the Persian Gulf, intercepting Iranian P-3s and conducting movements in the Gulf of Oman, at the so-called “Gonzo” station.