VF-51 Screaming Eagles F-9F
A beautifully 16 inch solid wood F-9f Panther of the VF-51 Screaming Eagles! Each model is carefully carved by master craftsmen and then meticulously painted to give a perfect piece of art!
Until its disestablishment, VF-51 was the oldest fighter squadron in continuous service with the Pacific Fleet. VF-51’s roots are traced back to 1927 when the Screaming Eagles insignia could be seen with the VF-3S Striking Eagles which flew the Curtis F6C-4.
In October 1947, the Screaming Eagles became the first Navy squadron to enter the jet age with delivery of the North American FJ-1 Fury; the squadron used this fighter to conduct the USN’s first operational all-jet aircraft carrier landing at sea on 10 March 1948 aboard USS Boxer. After transitioning to the Grumman F9F-2 Panther, VF-51 became the first squadron to take jets into combat and score the first air-to-air kills in the Korean War. Future astronaut and first man to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, was also a Naval Aviator in VF-51 during this period.
The Grumman Panther was the primary US Navy and USMC jet fighter and ground-attack aircraft in the Korean War. The Panther was the most widely used U.S. Navy jet fighter of the Korean War, flying 78,000 sorties and scoring the first air-to-air kill by the U.S. Navy in the war, the downing of a North Korean Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter. F9F-2s, F9F-3s and F9F-5s, as rugged attack aircraft, were able to sustain operations, even in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. The pilots also appreciated the air conditioned cockpit, which was a welcome change from the humid environment of piston-powered aircraft.
Despite their relative slow speed, Panthers also managed to shoot down two Yak-9s and seven Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s for the loss of two F9Fs. On 3 July 1950, Lieutenant, junior grade Leonard H. Plog of U.S. Navy’s VF-51 flying an F9F-3 scored the first U.S. Navy air victory of the war by shooting down a Yak-9.
The first MiG-15 was downed on 9 November 1950 by Lieutenant Commander William (Bill) Amen of VF-111 “Sundowners” flying an F9F-2B. Two more MiG-15s were downed on 18 November 1950.
On 18 November 1952, Lt. Royce Williams of VF-781, flying off the USS Oriskany destroyed four MiGs in a single, 35-minute combat. This unique feat has remained little-known, due to the involvement of National Security Agency (NSA) – the existence of which was then top secret – in planning the mission. Following intelligence provided by the NSA, the MiGs had been intercepted during a series of air strikes against the North Korean port of Hoeryong, across the mouth of the Tumen River from the major Soviet naval base at Vladivostok. After losing contact with his wingman, Williams found himself alone in a dogfight with six MiG-15s; when he was able to land on Oriskany, his Panther was found to have sustained 263 hits from by cannon shells or fragments, and to be beyond repair. Williams’ victories were even more notable in that all four MiGs were flown by Soviet Naval Aviation pilots: Russian sources confirmed Williams’ claims, 40 years later, stating that the pilots lost were Captains Belyakov and Vandalov, and Lieutenants Pakhomkin and Tarshinov.
Future astronaut Neil Armstrong flew the F9F extensively during the war, even ejecting from one of the aircraft when it was brought down by a wire strung across a valley, in 1951. Future astronaut John Glenn and Boston Red Sox all-star baseball player Ted Williams also flew the F9F as Marine Corps pilots.
Panthers were withdrawn from front-line service in 1956, but remained in training roles and with U.S. Naval Air Reserve and U.S. Marine Air Reserve units until 1958. The Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team used the Panther for four years, beginning in 1951. The Panther was the Blue Angels’ first jet. Some Panthers continued to serve in small numbers into the 1960s. From September 1962 surviving operational Panthers were redesignated F-9 within the new combined US tri-service designation system.