VFA - 41 Black Aces

VFA-41 USN Squadron Decal
VFA-41 USN Squadron Decal
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“Fighting Forty-One” began on June 1, 1945 when it was commissioned at NAS ChincoteagueVirginia, flying the Vought F4U-4 Corsair. In July 1948, the squadron was designated Fighter Squadron 3B (VF-3B), only to be re-designated VF-41 in September of the same year


While on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea on August 19, 1981, during a routine combat air patrol mission over the Gulf of Sidra, two Libyan Su-22 “Fitter” aircraft were shot down by Black Aces aircraft. The incident marked the first Navy air combat confrontation since theVietnam War and the first ever for the F-14A Tomcat. It was the first time a variable wing geometry aircraft shot down another variable wing geometry aircraft. 








After having diverted a number of Libyan "mock" attacks on the battle group the previous day, two F-14s from VF-41 "Black Aces", Fast Eagle 102 (CDR Henry 'Hank' Kleemann/LT David 'DJ' Venlet) and Fast Eagle 107 (LT Lawrence 'Music' Muczynski/LTJG James 'Amos' Anderson),were flying combat air patrol (CAP) to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise. While in their CAP pattern, the F-14s detected two Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters taking off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte.

The two F-14s set up for an intercept as the contacts headed north towards them. Only a few seconds before the crossing, at an estimated distance of 300 m, one of the Libyans fired an AA-2 "Atoll" at one of the F-14s, which missed. Then the two Sukhois split as they flew past the Americans; the leader turning to the northwest and the wingman turning southeast in the direction of the Libyan coast. The Tomcats evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire by their rules of engagement, which mandated self defense on the initiation of hostile action. The Tomcats turned hard port and came behind the Libyan jets. The Americans fired AIM-9L Sidewinders; the first kill is credited to Fast Eagle 102, the second to Fast Eagle 107. Both Libyan pilots ejected.

Prior to the ejections, a US electronic surveillance plane monitoring the event recorded the lead Libyan pilot report to his ground controller that he had fired a missile at one of the US fighters and gave no indication that the missile shot was unintended. The official United States Navy report states that both Libyan pilots ejected and were safely recovered, but in the official audio recording of the incident taken from USS Biddle, one of the F-14 pilots states that he saw a Libyan pilot eject, but his parachute failed to open.

Less than an hour later, while the Libyans were conducting a search and rescue operation of their downed pilots, two fully armed MiG-25s entered the airspace over the Gulf and headed towards the US carriers at Mach 1.5 and conducted a mock attack in the direction of USS Nimitz. Two VF-41 Tomcats headed towards the Libyans, which then turned around. The Tomcats turned home, but had to turn around again when the Libyans headed towards the US carriers once more. After being tracked by the F-14s' radars, the MiGs finally headed home. One more Libyan formation ventured out into the Gulf towards the US forces later that day. 



The "Black Aces" are an operational fleet squadron that flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet, and are attached to Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW-9), which are currently deployed aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).
Their radio callsign is "FastEagle" and their tailcode is NG.