Aviation Historian 3
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J.Winchester - Broken Arrow
Skyhawk “402” of VA-56 catches the wire on the Tico in February 1964, just before the carrier departed for its 1964 WestPac tour and the Champions’ first Vietnam combat cruise. The unit wore NF tailcodes from June 1956 until July 1966, when the unit joined Carrier Air Wing 9 and changed to NG tailcodes.
A VA-56 Skyhawk on the Tico’s No 2 elevator, from which Webster and his A-4E fell. The elevator projected some 40ft (12,2m) from the carrier’s port side, a yellow diagonal line being painted 18ft (5·5m) from the edge of the hangar deck, marking where the aircraft must come to a stop.
Plane Captain George Floyd poses beside what is believed to be A-4E BuNo 151022, the aircraft in which Doug Webster was lost on December 5, 1965. Taken the year before the accident, this photograph shows the Skyhawk when it was numbered “406” and was the regular mount of VA-56 officer Lieutenant Job O. Belcher.
A quartet of VA-56 “Scooters” during an exercise. Curiously, the example furthest from the camera is uncoded and without the unit’s distinctive rudder flash. The A-4E introduced the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J52 engine as well as greatly improved avionics, including a toss-bombing computer.
Pilots of VA-56 pose beside a Skyhawk during a weapons training exercise at NAS Fallon, Nevada, just before the unit’s deployment aboard the USS Ticonderoga in 1965. Webster is not among the group.
The USS Ticonderoga departs Hawaii for its WestPac on October 9, 1965. Ranged forward are Douglas Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks and Vought F-8 Crusaders, with Douglas A-3 Skywarriors and a sole Grumman E-1B Tracer of VAW-11 ranged aft. It was on this tour that Lt (jg) Doug Webster was lost along with Skyhawk “472”.
The Tico is accompanied by replenishment-at-sea (RAS) ship USS Mount Baker off the coast of California in September 1965, shortly before the carrier’s departure for Hawaii and the Far East. One of the Skyhawks ranged on the forward and angled decks may well be “472”.
A view from the bridge of the Tico of the USS Constellation beyond the Skyhawks of VA-56 at San Diego in 1966, after the Tico’s return to home waters.
Douglas A-4E Skyhawks of VA-56 - “The Champions”. The unit, whose badge comprised a boomerang and black electron rings, received its A-4Es in June 1963 and converted to Vought A-7B Corsair IIs in January 1969.
Skyhawk “401”, BuNo 150030, of VA-56 flies over the Sierra Nevada mountain range straddling California and Nevada, in 1964. The unit’s home port when not at sea was NAS Lemoore, California, the Champions having moved in when the base was opened in the summer of 1961 - before that the unit’s land base was NAS Miramar.
The USS Ticonderoga departs Hawaii for its WestPac on October 9, 1965. Ranged forward are Douglas Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks and Vought F-8 Crusaders, with Douglas A-3 Skywarriors and a sole Grumman E-1B Tracer of VAW-11 ranged aft. It was on this tour that Lt (jg) Doug Webster was lost along with Skyhawk “472”.
The USS Ticonderoga departs Hawaii for its WestPac on October 9, 1965. Ranged forward are Douglas Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks and Vought F-8 Crusaders, with Douglas A-3 Skywarriors and a sole Grumman E-1B Tracer of VAW-11 ranged aft. It was on this tour that Lt (jg) Doug Webster was lost along with Skyhawk “472”.
The USS Ticonderoga departs Hawaii for its WestPac on October 9, 1965. Ranged forward are Douglas Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks and Vought F-8 Crusaders, with Douglas A-3 Skywarriors and a sole Grumman E-1B Tracer of VAW-11 ranged aft. It was on this tour that Lt (jg) Doug Webster was lost along with Skyhawk “472”.
The USS Ticonderoga departs Hawaii for its WestPac on October 9, 1965. Ranged forward are Douglas Skyraiders, A-4 Skyhawks and Vought F-8 Crusaders, with Douglas A-3 Skywarriors and a sole Grumman E-1B Tracer of VAW-11 ranged aft. It was on this tour that Lt (jg) Doug Webster was lost along with Skyhawk “472”.