Composite Squadron Thirty-Five (VC-35) was established 25 May 1950 at
NAS San Diego, CA. The squadron was commanded by Cdr. Charles R. Stapler
USN, and equipped with Douglas "AD" Skyraider aircraft. The primary mission
was to provide anti-submarine detachments to attack aircraft carriers. Teamed
with VC-11's AD-3Ws, VC-35 's Skyraiders would provide a hunter-killer capability
to embarked air groups. Additional missions included night strike, electronic
countermeasures (ECM), as well as search and rescue (SAR).
On 25 June 1950, a month after establishment, North Korea invaded South Korea.
Two days later, the United States entered the war and VC-35 's secondary night
attack mission became of primary importance; one that would provide a unique combat
role for pilots and aircrewmen.
VC-35 detachments were called night attack, or VAN teams. With few exceptions,
during the nine years of operations, most teams consisted of four aircraft, six
pilots, and 35 to 43 enlisted men, including twelve aircrewmen. Proficiency in night
and all-weather flying required many months of training for pilots and aircrews at
San Diego, and Fleet All Weather Training Unit Pacific at NAS Barbers Pt., Hawaii.
AD-4N's were provided as the deployable aircraft and would accommodate a pilot
and two aircrewman. The latter were a radar operator and an ECM/ASW operator,
who sat side-by-side in a small fuselage compartment aft of the wing. The AD-4N
was the team aircraft into 1954 when the AD-5N became deployable. On 1 July 1956,
VC-35 was redesignated All-Weather Attack Squadron Thirty Five VA(AW)-35.
Except for the one team shore based at Atsugi, Japan, sixty one VAN teams would
deploy on attack carriers. The first eighteen conducted combat operations in Korea.
Of the sixty-one, forty would deploy as VC-35, and twenty-one as VA(AW)-35, and with
the exception of teams to Midway (CVA-41) and Ranger (CVA-61), all others
deployed on eighteen of our magnificent Essex class carriers.
After the Korean war ended in July 1953, cruises became somewhat routine. Once
the VAN teams joined their air groups, deployments were much the same: proceed to
Hawaii for the ship/air group ORI, and then on to 7th fleet. Most cruises lasted
seven or eight months, and included port calls in Japan, the Philippines, and
By the mid 1950's, carriers converted to the angled deck. Steam catapults, mirror
landing systems, and new aircraft began to provide, at long last, a full
round-the-clock capability for air groups. The escalating cold war brought the mission
of nuclear special weapons delivery to the squadron. In conjunction with the actual
delivery of these weapons, via the "loft bombing" technique, the mission of
long-range, low-level path finding and ECM operations were included. Training
routinely included flight durations of up to 8-9 hours and were often referred to
as "sandblowers" due to their low-level nature. Each pilot of the deployed VAN team
was assigned and fully briefed for the long-range delivery of a weapon to specific
targets. Another mission of the squadron during this era included ASW (anti-submarine)
operations, day or night. The aircraft could be configured with sonobuoy dispenser
and searchlight for this purpose.
With squadrons routinely day and night qualified, and most special missions being
performed by other type aircraft, the mission of VA(AW)-35 was changed to take on the
function of training fleet replacement pilots and aircrewmen, while the
all-weather part of the mission was phased out.
The end of an era came 26 April 1959 when VA(AW)-35 DET Lima sailed with CVG-21
in Lexington (CVA-16) for the western pacific. It was the 61st and last team the
squadron deployed. From May 1950 to June 1959, well over four thousand men had
served with this unique squadron.
On 30 June 1959 the squadron was redesignated Attack Squadron 122 (VA 122),
becoming the Skyraider fleet replacement squadron, and relocating to NAS Lemoore, CA.