The VF-Database (Beta)
This is a test version of a searchable database that covers events of historical significance for every U.S. Navy fighter squadron since 1919, including information on squadron lineage, name and designator changes. For now, the project covers fixed-wing aviation squadrons that at some point had a primary fighter (that is, an air-to-air) mission (what the Navy historically has called "VF"). VF squadrons operated such storied aircraft as F4Fs, F6Fs, F-4s, F-8s, and F-14s. Today, the VF squadrons are no more, but their traditions and in some cases their lineages live on in the strike-fighter squadrons ("VFAs") that replaced them.
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Don't know where to start? The Tomcatters are the Navy's second oldest squadron, and over time there were a lot of different units designated VF-43. The squadron with the lineage ID VF-23 (1948) had an interesting and varied career. Many former VF units now operate F/A-18 aircraft.
What's a "lineage ID"?

The "lineage ID" is the unique database identifier that I've assigned to each squadron for its entire service life. A squadron keeps the same lineage ID even if it changes its squadron designator, nickname, aircraft, or mission. The only event that "closes" a lineage ID is the formal "disestablishment" of a squadron, which signifies the retirement of the unit and the end of that particular lineage. If a new squadron with the same designator and/or name is later organized, it will get a new lineage ID signifying its new start. All lineage IDs take the following form: "designator at establishment (year of establishment)" (e.g., VF-1 (1972)).

The use of the lineage ID permits us to track a particular squadron's service record through the Navy's often very confusing history of organizing its aviation forces. For example, the squadron known as VF-53 was formed ("established") in 1948, and has the lineage ID of VF-53 (1948). Later, even after this unit changed its designator to VF-124 and adopted the name "Gunfighters," it retains the [VF-53 (1948)] lineage ID that permits us to trace its pedigree back to its origin. This also allows us to distinguish this particular squadron from the "earlier" squadron that was also designated "VF-53" and enjoyed a very brief existence in early 1945 (lineage ID VF-53 (1945)).

How do I use the database?

To use this database, start with a general text search on squadron designator (i.e., the official alphanumeric designator for the aviation unit, such as VF-1, VF-6, etc.) or on nickname (e.g., "Pacemakers", "Jolly Rogers", "Diamondbacks", etc.). This search will retrieve all record items with the search string, including the lineage ID for the unit to which the record pertains. To learn more about that unit (including other names that it may have had through its history), return to this page and search on the lineage ID alone (be sure to enter it exactly). You can also search on aircraft type (e.g., to identify all VF squadrons that operated the F-4B at any point).

What were the sources for the database?

The primary sources for the database are the Naval History and Heritage Command's various naval aviation materials, the most significant of which was the official Navy list of fighter squadron lineage. These basic materials were supplemented by various other sources (including the Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons Vol. 1 and individual squadron histories), plus various news items and other materials that I've collected on more recent developments. In general, I started with the official sources and updated a lot of material by hand.

Please note: the database is incomplete. There are still a lot of blanks in a lot of places that I'm still filling in, particularly with respect to nicknames for pre-1970 squadrons and dates that certain aircraft types were introduced. The WWII materials still need a lot of work. If you have any information, updates, or corrections for the database, please feel free to contact me at the email link at the bottom of the page.

Will you cover communities other than VF?

I would like to, but I don't know exactly when. This project is essentially my first experiment with MySQL and PHP, and I'd like to explore the concept for the VF Database more fully before expanding the scope of its coverage.