Superscale 48-834: A-7E Corsair II

Units: VA-97




Scott Van Aken

This is a 'one aircraft' sheet and shows an A-7E from the USS Coral Sea in 1980 (I believe) getting ready to participate in the ill-fated Iran Hostage Crisis of the time. If you recall, MC-130s and RH-53s were sent in to spring the captives from imprisonment in Tehran, Iran. During a fuel stop at a clandestine location in the Iranian Desert, a helo and C-130 collided, destroying them both. The mission was called off and the troops who were to assault the embassy where they were held were then loaded on the remaining aircraft and flown out of Iran. It was a real mess.

Standing by to help with any air strikes needed were the USS Coral Sea and the USS Nimitz. There was a special mission mark of a broad orange band with two smaller black bands that was to be placed on the upper and lower surfaces of the outer starboard wing on those planes taking part in the operation. I've only seen these markings on the A-7Es of VA-97 and VA-86 as well as the F-4s of VMFA-323. If anyone has any images of other aircraft from these two ships that were so painted, I'd be most interested to see them. I was based on Diego Garcia at the time and that is where the RH-53s and C-130s were based just prior to being sent off on their mission. The RH-53 squadron left its mine sweeping sleds and most of its squadron members on D.G. They went home to new helos. The MC-130s were under armed guard the entire time they were there so I knew something was up, just not exactly what.

This sheet is for the CAG bird of VA-97 during that time. It includes the wing stripes should you wish to use them. A full suite of data markings and insignia is also provided.  Just for the sake of interest, below is a photo of the Nimitz with some of her VA-86 A-7s sporting these wing markings. They don't seem to be applied to any other aircraft or squadron. (Photo courtesy US Navy)

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