Tag Archives: F-18A

America’s Hornet

How about this beautiful Full-Scale Development (FSD) YF-18A Hornet prototype #3 (BuNo 160777) grabbing some deck? I know the scheme isn’t practical, but it is striking.

Official caption: An F/A-18 Hornet aircraft touches down and prepares to tailhook the arresting wire on the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA (CV-66). The aircraft is undergoing sea trials, 11/1/1979

330-CFD-DN-ST-83-09015 Via NARA https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6372739

The first U.S. Navy YF-18A Hornet (BuNo 160775) had only been delivered from the McDonnell Douglas plant at St. Louis, Missouri in October 1978, making the trials aircraft shown above very early indeed. At this time, the Navy still fielded lots of Vietnam-era aircraft including the A-7, A-4, and F-4, which the Hornet was intended to phase out. Heck, there were still a few EA/KA-3B Skywarriors around as well.

As noted by Joe Baugher: 

A total of nine FSD F/A-18As were built. Carrier qualifications began with the third FSD aircraft (Bu No 160777) aboard the USS America (CV-66) on October 30, 1979. These tests went extremely well. Before the carrier qualifications got underway, the Navy had determined that it would no longer be necessary to have distinct attack and fighter versions of the Hornet. The aircraft was deemed sturdy and versatile enough to carry out both jobs, and plans for separate F-18s in fighter (VF) squadrons and A-18s in attack (VA) squadrons were abandoned. The Navy introduced a new type of unit, the strike fighter squadron (VFA) to carry out both fighter and attack missions.

Sadly, while 160775 is preserved at NAWS China Lake, 160777, much like USS America herself, is long gone. Incidentally, “Triple 7” traded in her blue livery for red tips sometime in the 1980s while at Patuxent.

Nonetheless, it will live on forever in vintage Monogram model kits!

 

And away we go

Click to big up

Click to big up

An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) during the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 fly-off. George Washington and its embarked air wing, CVW 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas (Released) 141121-N-TE278-334

A relatively new squadron, the Maces were only stood up in 1967. Originally flying the A-7 Corsair II as VA-27, the Maces conducted over 4,000 combat sorties dropping it like its hot on the North Vietnamese while flying from Constellation and Enterprise on Yankee Station in the 1960s and 70s. Transitioning to the F/A-18A/C in 1991, they picked up the Strike Fighter monicker and used that early Hornet well over Iraq in OIF. They have been flying the much bigger E-model “Rhinos” since 2004.