– Motto of VF-111 “Sundowners”
Nowadays, it seems as though every manufacturer is either producing or planning to produce their version of the venerable F-14 Fleet Defense Fighter. So, when Hobby Master jumped into the game earlier this year, several model makers took notice, as did the bulk of the diecast collecting community. Pretty far along now in the production process, we recently received images of their next warbird: one nicknamed “Miss Molly,” and attached to the VF-111 “Sundowners”, then embarked upon the USS Carl Vinson (CV-70) during 1989.
The VF-111 Sundowners was a U.S. Navy fighter squadron flying the F-14 Tomcat until disestablished in 1995. The Sundowner tradition lives on in the form of VFC-111 as an aggressor squadron flying F-5Ns, it was made official in November 2006.
In October 1983 VF-111 returned to NAS Miramar following a world cruise on the maiden deployment of the USS Carl Vinson. The Sundowners accumulated over 1400 landings and 300 flight hours during the cruise.
In 1986 VF-111 accumulated over 7000 accident free flight hours and won the COMFITAEWWINGPAC Third Quarter Safety Award. The squadron earned COMCARGRU 3 and COMCARWING 15 endorsements to receive the ADM Joseph C. Clifton Award which designates the recipient as the best fighter squadron in the Navy.
In the spring of 1986 VF-111 began another busy work-up cycle, completing a successful series of training evolution and exercises in preparation for their June 1988 Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment. VF-111’s seventeen month work-up was capped by a history making event, FLEETEX 88-2, the first time since World War II that a carrier, USS Carl Vinson and a battleship, USS New Jersey operated as a Battle Fleet.
VF-111’s eventful 1988 deployment began in June and ended in December. It included operations in the Northern/Western Pacific, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean, providing support of tanker escorts in the Persian Gulf and included a transit of the Bering Sea, the fourth such transit in four deployments. Interoperability with U.S. and foreign air assets was stressed through exercises with the USAF Alaskan Air Command and Air Forces of Malaysia, Japan and Thailand.
In preparation for another deployment in 1990, VF-111 deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson from September to November 1989 as participants in PACEX 89. This landmark exercise had the Sundowners operating in the Bering Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan as a part of the largest naval exercise since World War II.
Look for “Miss Molly” (HA5213) some time in November.