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Artifact Friday: A7 Corsair II

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Vought had been a popular military aircraft company since the 1930s producing such popular planes as the F4U Corsair and the SB2U Vindicator.

Prior to 1946, Vought only used radial engines, but with the introduction of the F6U Pirate, the company began producing jet aircraft.

One of their first high-performance jet aircraft was the F-8 Crusader designed as a “gunfighter”, and the last one used like this in the U.S. Navy.

Based on the F-8 Crusader design, Vought (then Ling-Temco-Vought or LTV) came out with the A7 Corsair II. This airplane was created to be a carrier-based fighter-bomber to replace the A4 Skyhawk. The aircraft was considered “ugly” and dubbed “SLUF” or “Short Little Ugly…”, and I will let you come up with the last word!

The museum has an A7B Corsair 11 on display from the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. Its painted markings were assigned to VA-305 on the USS Ranger in the 1970s. This was a strike fighter squadron based first in

Los Alamitos, California between 1970-1971 and then in Point Mugu, California between 1971-1987. The purpose of this squadron was to ensure the combat efficiency and readiness of the Naval reserve squadrons in the state.

VA-305 had two nicknames and insignia. One was the “Hackers” with a silver dagger patch and then the last was the “Lobos” represented by a howling wolf patch. While these are important pieces of information, our A7B’s tail number designates it as part of another squadron. Namely, VA-303 which was another Naval reserve strike fighter squadron based in Alameda, California, and deployed on the USS Ranger as well.

The nickname for VA-303 was the “Golden Eagles” represented by a golden eagle in flight on the insignia.

The tie that binds these squadrons together is the painted triangle insignia on the tail of the aircraft. This is the sign for CVWR-30 which is the abbreviation for Carrier Air Wing Reserve 30. This reserve wing had eight squadrons under it including VA-303 and VA-305 which were both deployed within this reserve wing on the USS Ranger.

Our Corsair 11 served honorably with these reserve units and was then transferred to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

From my perspective, the A7 Corsair II is a highly underrated aircraft, due to the fame of the fighters that came before it, especially the one with its namesake-the F4U Corsair. But despite its being hidden from the spotlight, Corsair IIs had an incredible service record including flying in Vietnam, Operation Urgent Fury, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

They even aided in the development of the F-117 Nighthawk.

In 1993, A7 Corsair 11s officially retired from U.S. military service, although some continued to serve with foreign air forces including Portugal and Greece.

The rest of them were either scrapped or loaned to museums such as our A7B Corsair II!

Our “SLUF” sits in Jet Alley where AAMM has much of her fighter and trainer jet aircraft on display. We hope that you make time to come and see it this weekend!

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