BuNo 147681 Restoral by Tom Rancour of Wasta, SD.
"About 1/3 of my collection is currently on display. It will always be a work in progress. I do most of the work myself as my money earning job allows me time and funds. I always seem to have no trouble finding more stuff. I just purchased a F-104 Starfighter simulator in Texas so a trip south will be coming in the near future.>
Back to the A4, I have the cruise book from the USS HORNET 1965-66 West Pac Cruise. 147681 is shown in it about 6 times with H&MS 15. A total of four A-4C are shown with H&MS-15. They were named Fanny Hill, Polly Adler, KO Sisters and Mame Stover, all ladies of the night. I was able to talk to Ron Huesmann (H&MS-15 controller) and Tom Green (pilot) by using the squadron photos in the cruise book to track them down in California. I also have three original issues of the NAVAL AVIATION NEWS publication that pictured 147681 and had a story about H&MS-15 being temporarily sent over to the USS MIDWAY, hosted by VA-22 Redcocks, and sent inland for ground attack missions. Tom Green (now deceased) said they usually were armed with sidewinders and flew out to meet the Soviet bombers when they flew by the US fleet.
When I purchased 147681 in March 2012, it was lying in pieces in a hanger in Hawkins, TX. Bob Schneider found the cockpit and nose in a scrapyard in Michigan. He traded Humvee parts for it. The wing is off a TA-4J and the tail off another combat A4. I have their BuNu in my records. The guys (mostly A4 vets) assembled the parts and painted it the base grey. I used the cruise book to reproduce the insignia and cut the vinyl stencils on my equipment. I spent almost two weeks applying stencils with Bob painting $478/gallon Dupont Imron paint one color at a time.
I have a J-65 Turbine, tail pipe, Aero 7 centerline bomb rack, 20mm gun fairings, nose radar, instrument panel with some instruments and aero 20 bomb rack components inside my museum. Jack O'malley, an A4 pilot from Hot Springs, SD donated his flight gear with his cruise chest so I have a nice mannequin display also. I am still looking for drop tanks, jato bottles, MK 81 bombs and Sidewinders. I could probably make mockups of sidewinders out of PVC pipe.
If you have any questions, let me know. The squadron and carrier assignments for 147681 are shown on the association's website. I never expected to have the privilege to have an A4 since I am not a non-profit corporation. The military does not loan me anything. If I had known I would own a combat aircraft, I would have built a hanger size building so I could roll the A4 in and out for weather protection. Hail damage and UV exposure is always on my mind.
................ I did spend a lot on military hardware which has paid me back many times over. Publicly displaying the collection has allowed me to meet and talk to men like you whom I would have never met otherwise.
Tom Rancour, Wasta South Dakota.