#546 F/A-18C Hornet

F/A-18C Hornet
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£10.00 €11.75 $12.79
43.8 cm x 29.2 cm
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F/A-18C Hornet
164905 '301'
VFA-146, CVW-9
USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
US - Navy
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Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 546 - 164905 '301', F/A-18C Hornet, Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Six, VFA-146, USS Nimitz (CVN-68), CVW-9. Established on 1 February 1956 at NAS Miramar, California VA-146 first flew the F9F-8 Cougar. After returning from its first cruise, the squadron transitioned to the FJ-4B Fury and flew that aircraft from 1958-62 aboard USS RANGER (CV 61), USS ORISKANY (CVA 34), and USS LEXINGTON (CVO 16). In May 1962, the Blue Diamonds moved to NAS Lemoore California and transitioned to the A-4C Skyhawk. While flying the Skyhawk, the Blue Diamonds first saw combat as part of the USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) Battle Group in the Gulf of Tonkin. The squadron made numerous combat cruises during the Vietnam War. At one point squadron pilots had amassed over 200 combat missions each. In 1968, the Blue Diamonds traded in their Skyhawks for the new A-7B Corsair. In January 1970 the squadron deployed onboard USS AMERICA (CV 66) and had the distinction of leading the first A-7E combat strikes in Vietnam. Subsequent deployments aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) during the 1970s saw the Blue Diamonds involved in both combat and readiness exercises. The 1980 cruise with CVW-9 aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) resulted in an impressive list of accomplishments for the Blue Diamonds including flight time records for both a single month and fiscal year, as well as the enviable distinction of setting new safe flying records for all Navy and Air Force A-7 squadrons. In April 1982 VA-146 received the CNO's Safety Award for the second consecutive year. In 1987 the Blue Diamonds made an around the world cruise aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63). The squadron completed its 24th cruise in early 1989 after deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. In spring of 1989, VA-146 was redesignated VFA-146 and began preparing for transition to the multi-role FA-18C Night Strike Fighter. In February 1991 VFA-146 deployed onboard USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) to the Persian Gulf and took part in the final days of Operation DESERT STORM. In November 1991 the Blue Diamonds were awarded the LTJG Bruce Carrier Memorial Award for Excellence in Aviation Maintenance. VFA-146 again deployed to the Western Pacific and Southwest Asia in February 1993. The Diamonds arrived on station in the Arabian Gulf in March and immediately began flying missions in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the United Nations imposed No-fly zone. In September 1993, the squadron won the Bruce McClaren Strike Fighter Derby by posting the best overall and individual scores for the competition. During that same month they flew an unprecedented 60 sorties in a single day to test the surge operations capability of the squadron. The Blue Diamonds completed the year with a "zero/zero" Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency inspection (CTPl). The year 1994 began with the presentation of the 1993 Scott F. Kirby Ordnance Proficiency Award and the 1993 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency Award. In 1995 the Blue Diamonds were again recognized for their outstanding performance by winning the Boola Boola Award for Air-to-Air Excellence. They were only the second FA-18C squadron ever to win the coveted award. In January 1995 VFA-146 began work-ups for WESTPAC 95/96. By March the squadron had received the last of their lot 16/17 FA-18C's, at the time newest and most capable Hornets in the world. The highlight of work-ups was the Carrier Aviation record setting SURGE Operations conducted during FLEETEX 95-2 by CVW-9 and USS NIMITZ (CVN 68). Over a 48 hour period the Blue Diamonds flew 123 sorties and expended 250,000 lbs of ordnance demonstrating the SURGE capability of the Air Wing and Carrier to generate and sustain high sortie rates over an extended period time. On 1 December 1995 VFA-146 deployed on WESTPAC 95/96. En route to the Arabian Gulf the Battle Group took up station off the coast of Pakistan to conduct Operation INSPIRED ALERT 96-1. For several days VFA-146 and CVW-9 flew Strikes and Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) sorties with the Republic of Pakistan Air Force F-16 and MiG-21's. On 22 January 1996 CVW-9 and the NIMITZ Battle Group began conducting over flights of Southern Iraq, enforcing the No-fly Zone as part of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. This was the third deployment in less than five years in which the Blue Diamonds and CVW-9 were to be found in the skies over Iraq enforcing United Nations Resolutions. In early March the NIMITZ Battle Group received new tasking from President Clinton and the National Command Authority. In response to aggressive adversarial posturing by Communist China toward the Republic of Taiwan, the NIMITZ Battle Group along with the INDEPENDENCE Battle Group took up station off the coast of Taiwan in support of their first free democratic elections. For their effort the NIMITZ Battle Group and VFA-146 received the Meritorious Unit Commendation. The highlight of the very successful workup and deployment was the Blue Diamonds winning seven consecutive “Top Hook" Awards. The Blue Diamonds closed out an outstanding year by surpassing 48,000 hours Class "A" mishap free flying and winning, for the second time in four years, the coveted Bruce McClaren Strike Fighter Derby Award, keeping VFA-146 at the top of the Pacific Fleet Hornet community.