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VF-124 Gunfighters


April 1958 - September 1994

Commissioned into existence as VF-53 on the 16th of August 1948 the squadron became VF-124 at NAS Moffet Field on the 11th of April 1958, due to a need for an increased number of flight training squadrons, itself necessary because of intorduction of swept wing fighters into Navy service. As well as VF-53, the new VF-124 incorprated elements from VF-194.
In its new role VF-124 had three missions assigned, initial training of F-8 pilots, bringing them to a standard where they were ready to join a fleet squadron, refresher training for pilots for aviators returning to the Pacific Fleet and providing maintanence training for ground personnel on the F-8 Crusader. This last mission is often overlooked, but was and still is a crucial part of the training provided by a Fleet Readiness Squadron. In addition to these training roles VF-124 maintained its instructor crews as combat ready pilots, in case of national emergency.
After three years at Moffet Field VF-124 moved to NAS Miramar, its home for the rest of its existence. F-8 training continued throughout the years, increasing in tempo as the Vietnam war hotted up With F-14 production beginning in 1970 VF-124 was directed to become the Pacific Fleet FRS for the type and so began to train a cadre of personnel to develop the training program for the aircraft. The F-8 commitment was lost in August 1972, with responsibility for the small number of F-8's left transferred to VF-63. VF-124 received their first F-14A on the 8th of October 1972.
The first two active fleet F-14 squadrons, VF-1 and VF-2, were commissioned days later on the 14th of October, splitting off from VF-124 to become distinct squadrons.
December 1973 saw Marine Corps officers report to VF-124 to start training as instructors. Marine Corps involvement continued until mid 1976, when the Corps finally decided the F-14 was too expensive for its needs, ending their requirement for aircrew trained on the type.
The first set of replacement pilots trained by VF-124 took to sea in December 1974, flying day and night carquals off the deck of USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)
1976, while seeing the departure of the Marine Corps crews, saw the arrival of personnel from the Imperial Iranian Air Force, the F-14's one and only export customer. Initially this was seen as the start of a long term commitment to training for the Shah's air force but with his overthrow three years later this came to an abrupt halt.
The start of a new decade saw the introduction of a new mission for the F-14, that of reconnaissance with the TARPS pod. VF-124 gained the role of teaching new air and ground crew the best ways to operate this equipment.
By December of 1988 VF-124 had trained 1502 aircrew, over 14,400 maintenance personnel and flown for over 153193 hours. Fittingly 1988 saw VF-124 achieve 124 days without any Foreign Object Damage.
With the introduction of the F-14D VF-124 was assigned the role of training air and ground personnel for this type. The first F-14D was accepted by the squadron on the 16th of November 1990, with four of the type undertaking the first fleet F-14D carquals onboard the USS Nimtz (CVN-68) on the 2nd of October 1991.
With the downsizing of F-14 squadrons in the early 1990's it was clear that there was a reduced need for training squadrons, so VF-124 sadly disestablished in September of 1994. All responsibility for F-14 training on all variants now lies in the hands of VF-101.

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F-14A, 1976

F-14A, 1989

All graphics Copyright © Torsten Anft

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