Happy Independence Day: NAVAIR Bicentennial Schemes

The 1976 Bicentennial celebration these days is probably best remembered for the occasional side-drum Minuteman quarter coin they find in their change.

However, for those who don’t remember or weren’t around, the year saw a host of NAVAIR assets with special livery. The time was a curious crossover from the Navy and Marine Corps, as it was the twilight of Vietnam-era assets such as the A-4, F-8 and F-4, while new warbirds such as the F-14 were coming online.

The below images are from the NHHC Photographic Section, Navy Subject Files, Aviation (120); the National Archives, and the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Enjoy, and stick a feather in your cap, you Yankee.

Bicentennial Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk BuNo 15-4290 of the “Bandits” of VF-126 speeds past Mt. Rushmore, circa March 1976. This Navy photo was published on the front page of the LA Times, as well as other major regional newspapers, the last week of May 1976

F-14A Tomcat BuNo 15-9616 of VF-124 “Gunfighters” Miramar Naval Air Station in Bicentennial colors, April 1, 1976. Of note, the Tomcat had only entered deployable service a three years before and the “Wolfpack” and “Bounty Hunters” of VF-1 and VF-2 had flown CAP over the Operation Frequent Wind evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. PH3 Bruce Gray DN-SC-88-06706

Naval Air Station, Miramar, San Diego, California. A Bicentennial paint scheme on the tail of a Sundowners (VF-111) F-4N Phantom II fighter aircraft (BuNo.15-1510) from USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV 42). Also, note the Shark-Mouthed F-4N still marked with the Coral Sea’s stencil from their 1973 deployment. 428-GX-K-113545

Pacific Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, California. A parked Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four, VX-4, F-4J Phantom II fighter painted for the Bicentennial. 428-GX-KN 24280

A better view of the above Phantom’s tail feathers. 428-GX-K-112653

RF-8G Crusader BuNo 14-6858 of Light Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron 63 (VFP-63) parked on the flight line at Naval Air Station, Miramar, April 1, 1976. The aircraft has been painted in Bicentennial theme PH3 Bruce Gray DN-SC-88-06704

The Marines also got into the act, of course.

A U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell RF-4B Photo Phantom (BuNo 153101) from Marine Reconnaissance Squadron VMFP-3 “Eyes of the Corps” in flight. The plane is painted in US Bicentennial markings. Flying out of El Toro, this plane deployed on USS Constellation the same year with Det RF-10. NNAM

A-6E Intruder VMA(AW) 121 Green Knights Bicentennial scheme NAS Moffett Field April 30, 1977. NNAM

And another 1976 holdover, since you came this far:

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