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David Weber


Blue Nemesis

Grey Nights


02 MAY 1949 as VC-3

01 JUL 1956 redesignated VF(AW)-3

01 APR 1963: Decommissioned

Home Ports

02 MAY 1949: NAS North Island, CA. as VC-3

OCT 1949: NAS Moffett Field, CA. as VC-2

01 JUL 1956: NS Moffett Field, CA. as VF(AW)-3

Air Wings

1950s: NORAD


Tailcodes: “NP” through 1956, “TT” from 1956.<


Date Type First Received - - - - - - Type of Aircraft:

APR 1956: Douglas F-4D Skyray

Also flew: F4U-4N, F4U-5N, F4U-5NL, F6F-5N, F3D-2, FJ-3, FJ-3M, F7U-3, AD-2Q, AD-3, AD-3Q, AD-3N, TBM-3E, SNB-5, F9F-6, TV-2, F2H-3, F2H-2N, F3H-2M, F3H-2N, F4D-1, F8U-1.

27 SEP 1956:Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk *

* November 30, 1962

The A4D-1 designation was changed to A-4A

For A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit see lower in this page:


None known with the Skyhawk.

Commanding Officers

Circa 1959: CDR John "Tex" O'Neil.


24OCT to 31DEC 1962: Detachment "Echo" of VF(AW)-3 awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for participating in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

NAS Key West: VFAW-3 was awarded (twice) NORAD’s "best performing unit" trophy for their service in NORAD.


1949: VC-3 was Airpac’s carrier-based night fighter squadron from 1949 through 1 July 1956 when it was redesignated VF(AW)-3. The squadron continued in a unique training role until disestablished on 2 May 1958. On the same day Fleet All Weather Training Unit U.S. Pacific Fleet (FAWTUPAC) was redesignated VF(AW)-3 at NAS North Island, CA. The two units have no connection other than designation and are completely separate organizations for historical and lineage purposes.
VC-3 provided night attack and fighter detachments (or teams) to Pacific Fleet carriers from 1949. The night attack role was transferred to VC-35 in May 1950 with VC-3 becoming a night fighter only outfit out of Moffett Field.
COMPRON-THREE was heavily involved through the Korean War flying Vought Corsairs (mostly F4U-5N and -5NL) on night heckler and night fighter missions. Squadron member LT Guy Bordelon was officially credited with five air-to-air kills during the Korean War, making him the only recognized Navy ace of the war.
After the Korean War VC-3 continued providing night fighter teams to AirPac carriers with F2H-3 Banshees arriving in 1953 to replace the Corsairs. By 1955 night flying was spreading to the rest of the Air Group and dedicated VF(N) units were not required. The final VC-3 team returned home in 1956.
Starting in mid-1954 the squadron became an transition training unit for many of the hot new swept-wing jets entering the fleet. Under legendary CAPT “Jig Dog” Ramage, the Grey Knights provided initial training for aircraft like the Douglas F4D Skyray, McDonnell F3H Demon and Vought F8U Crusader for senior officers headed for fleet duty. It also led “Project Cutlass”, which was the fleet introduction of the radical Vought F7U Cutlass.
Redesignated VF(AW)-3 in July 1956, by 1957 the unit was calling itself the “School of Supersonic Knowledge” and functioning not unlike a replacement squadron which became the blueprint for the RAG system introduced in 1958. With its mission complete the Moffett Field-based VF(AW)-3 was disestablished on 2 May 1958.
The second VF(AW)-3, based at NAS North Island, worked for the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) as an interceptor unit with F3D and F4D (F-6) aircraft. It is a historically distinct squadron and not associated with the first, Moffett Field unit.
Naval Aviation News, June 1958: history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1958/jun58.pdf

1958: VFAW-3 (Fighter Squadron, All Weather), was in the late 1950's the only U. S. Naval element of the North American Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD's duty was to detect aircraft approaching Alaska, Canada, and the Contiguous United States ("CONUS" in "milspeak"), to verify the incoming aircraft against filed flight plans, and aircraft would be "scrambled" to investigate when necessary.

SEP 1956: The first Navy unit on the west coast to receive the A4D-1 Skyhawk for evaluation.

29 MAR 1957: LCdr. Patrick F. Cunningham 32, of Chula Vista, bailed out of his Navy jet fighter (BuNo 139924) over the San Joaquin Valley Friday, touching off a mass rescue operation when he was erroneously believed to have broken his back, Cunningham, flying an A4D Skyhawk on a routine training mission, left his plane at 17,000 feet and suffered shock and minor back injuries upon landing. The rescue involved more than 10 aircraft from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard, two paramedics who parachuted to the scene and an Air Force flight surgeon who was rushed in by helicopter. Long Beach, CA, Press-Telegram, Saturday, March 30, 1957.

Unit Photos

DEC56: NAN photo of a refueling improvement at NAS Moffett Field, fueling a Skyhawk from VF(AW)-3. DEC56 NAN photo.

Off-Duty Photos

No info yet.

A-4 Skyhawk aircraft assigned to this unit:

  • Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk
    • 139922 C/N 11287
      • 27 Sep 1956 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 05 Dec 1957 - FASron-8 - NAS Alameda, CA
    • 139924 C/N 11289
      • 31 Mar 1957 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 31 Mar 1957 - Stricken - Code 1AA1
    • 139934 C/N 11299
      • 23 Nov 1956 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 06 Dec 1957 - FASron-8 - NAS Alameda, CA
    • 139936 C/N 11301
      • 17 Nov 1956 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 17 Sep 1957 - VMA-224 - MCAS El Toro, CA
  • Douglas A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk (Cont.)
    • 139938 C/N 11303
      • 26 Nov 1956 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 17 Sep 1957 - VMA-224 - MCAS El Toto, CA
    • 142205 c/n 11459
      • 22 May 1957 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 01 Nov 1957 - VA-153 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
    • 142216 c/n 11470
      • 21 May 1957 - VFAW-3 - NAS Moffett Field, CA
      • 16 Jul 1957 - VA-93 - NAS Alameda, CA

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