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Carrier Air Group 2
(CVG-2) August 16, 1958

in 1/72 Scale
By Joe Lyons

Carrier Air Group 2 (CVG-2)  headed for Japan
USS Midway (CV-41), San Francisco, 5:00pm August 16, 1958

Photo Copyright  © 1958 by William Larkins


 available online from Squadron.com




This project is a snapshot in time of a mid-‘50s USN carrier air group (before they became wings). I’ve done a number of carrier air groups (e.g., one representative of every type in the group), but never one with this many different aircraft.

The inspiration was a William Larkins photo (reference d and the title photo) taken from a San Francisco bridge on August 16, 1958 looking down on the flight deck of USS Midway (CV-41) as it departs for a Western Pacific Deployment.


CVG-2 Composition

“NE” air group code- reference b (see reference list at the bottom of the page)

VF-211:           F8U-1 Crusader
VF-84:             F3H-2M Demon
VA-63:            FJ-4B Fury
VAH-8:            A3D-2N Skywarrior
VA-65:            AD-6 Skyraider
VAAW-35:      AD-5N Skyraider
VAW-11:         AD-5W Skyraider
VAW-11:         AD-5Q Skyraider
VFP-61:           F8U-1P Crusader
HU-1:              HUP-2 Retriever


The Carrier Air Group (Wing)

The organization of aviation assets on carriers has always represented in one respect, the least efficient way of doing this sort of business. The USAF would call an air group a “composite” wing, and such organizations were for generations anathema to the Air Force. Worse, the air group in addition to being composed of many different types of aircraft with disparate functions, also did composite and composite-type squadrons within the group. In CVG-2, the most visible example of the latter is VA-63, an attack organization stocked with fighters with three separate missions: nuclear weapons delivery, conventional attack, and fighter. VAW-11 brought two varieties of Spad for electronic warfare.  

All of the functions in CVG-2 can be found in a 21st century air group, minus strategic nuclear attack and plus ASW, but with far fewer air craft types; eventually, CVG-2’s many different aircraft types would become unsupportable.  In “the photo” are represented about 160 20mm cannon of at least two varieties, three different jet engines in four versions, one recip engine and six different airborne radars. Pity the CAG maintenance officer.

Nuclear War Fighting

CVG-2 on this date is a representative attack carrier force of the time, particularly the heavy emphasis on nuclear weapons delivery. Two squadrons (VAH-8 and VA-63) have this mission as a primary task, in Heavy Eight’s case, its only task. The AD squadron and the night attack detachment also practice nuclear weapons delivery. One source (reference i) states about 60% of an attack squadron’s resources at the time were dedicated to the nuke stuff. Gull gray and anti-nuke flash white are the obvious manifestations of this preoccupation in the USN.

The mid-‘50s CV air group had evolved in type functionality very little since the post-war air group had coalesced in the period 1945-1950. The basic fighter and attack squadrons were supported and supplemented by various special mission detachments. The latter included photo recce, night attack, early warning, electronic warfare, and helicopter SAR. One significant change from a Korean War air group was the presence of a full squadron of fighters dedicated to all weather/night fighting (VF-84) with the first AAMs in USN service. The squadron had evolved from the four aircraft night fighter detachments present on US carriers since mid-WW II.


The Aircraft of CVG-2 on August 14, 1958


The Fighters

The day fighter is the F8U-1 Crusader, undoubtedly the best day fighter on the planet at that time.  It was equipped with four guns and two ‘winders.

The night fighter is the F3H-2M Demon with a working CW radar for the Sparrow, two guns and also Sidewinder capable. However, the Demon was no world-beater. 

The THIRD fighter type is the FJ-4B Fury, called by some (Marion Carl among others) the best non-afterburning fighter that would ever be built anywhere. In CVG-2, the Furies equipped a VA squadron. Fighters in VA were a dead giveaway at the time for a nuclear delivery mission. Four guns, sidewinder capable, and equipped on Midway with some of the first buddy stores. You never see Crusaders carrying external gas, and the Demon and Fury seldom. The Fury carried 840 US gal of internal fuel, about as much as two Hunter F.4 s {references g and h).

The Demon carried over 1800 gal and the Crusader about 1000 gal. Designed with a huge internal tankage for blue water ops before air-to-air fueling was common, they could get by without it.


The Bombers

The Big Stick on Midway was the A3D-2N, designed to bring a serious nuclear delivery to carriers. AD-6s and AD-5Ns filled out the rest of the bomber community. Plus those Furies. 

Ironically, the great effort to get the Skywarrior capable of lifting the big late-1940s Bomb onto carrier decks was overcome by events. The faster air-refuelable FJ-4B carrying an about as powerful but smaller weapon would prove to be the better delivery system.


Special Mission

The SAR helo, although not in the photo, would have been the HUP-2 Retriever. The AD family was well represented past the straight bombers; the AD-5W and AD-5Q did the electronic work. All of the types mentioned so far are present in the photo, or can inferred to be so (in the case of the Queer Spad) because there was no other competitor in that role afloat at the time. I’m making an educated guess (reference f) that the recce bird was the F8U-1P on what was probably one of its first deployments. If I guess wrong, it would have been the F9F-8P.



The Models



This is the Emhar kit, built straight from the box. This kit, in addition to “the photo,” is the other inspiration for this project. The VF-84 kit decals include the only squadron badge painted on an airplane in the air group, so I didn’t have to try to duplicate it.  Model Master Flat Gull Gray (FS 36440) and someone’s gloss white, both used throughout the project, except for the helo. References c, d and e.  Note the “NE” air group code letters. Yellow trim for the second squadron.




This is the Hasegawa F8E kit, backdated to the –1. No ventral fins or afterburner cooling (easy), Esoteric nose for the kit nose (pretty easy), and removal of the Bullpup hump (tedious). Two vice four missiles. Closed canopy and wings unfolded (as are the rest of the air group models).  VF-211 (references c and d), with the “NE” codes. “105” from the references. Red trim on the fuselage for the first squadron and fin checkerboard masked to fit. Various numbers filled out from various decal sheets. 




This is the Emhar kit, built straight from the box. VA-63 markings (references c, d and g) filled out from various decal sheets. Blue trim as befits the third squadron done with lots of masking tape and airbrush.




Hasegawa kit of the “early version” Whale, with resin nose and tail. Basically OOB except for squadron markings. VAH-8 is an exception to the marking rules. Numbered in the 4XX series with International Orange trim as for the fourth squadron, Heavy Eight nonetheless retains its unique “ZD” squadron code. References b and d. Squadron code, orange lightning bolt, serial and “404” decals done via a color laser printer.  




Airfix kit, OOB. Fifth squadron, 507, green trim and “NE” all homegrown or cobbled

from other decal sheets. AD’s are in the “photo,” but no specific markings visible. Markings taken from photo of VA-65 aircraft in reference a.  In Vietnam, the Spad was known as a “two box lunch” airplane when on RESCAP, so no refueling probes were necessary on any ADs in CVG -2.




Monogram A-1E kit, OOB with scratch-built searchlight and APS-31 radar, the latter from an ARII Corsair centerline drop tank.  Drawings used in doing this radar from reference j. I took the marking specifics from a photo in reference c, again using various decal sheets. Maroon trim and 8XX numbers. VAAW-35  “VV” squadron code from an aircraft tucked in among the ‘Saders, in the “photo.”



Monogram A-1E kit, as converted using Falcon radome and solid rear canopy, plus aftermarket engine and cockpit. Vacu-formed forward canopy, opened up. Maroon trim and 7X numbers. VAW-11, “RR.” In the “photo,” but no specific markings visible. Markings are generic for a squadron aircraft from this Pac Fleet warning squadron. Reference c. 


Monogram A-1E kit, converted using a vacu-form copy of the Falcon vacu-form solid rear canopy. All but one outer wing station removed. Added APS-31 radar, drop tank, and outer wing jamming pods. VAW-11, “RR,” maroon trim and 7X numbers. Markings are generic; VAW-11 also owned the Queer Spads at the time. Reference c. Not identifiable in the “photo.”




This is the Hasegawa F8E married to Falcon RF-8G fuselage and upper center wing section. The –G works for a –1P conversion if the other items are omitted as for the straight fighter. The hardest “build” of the lot. Much puttying up of the Falcon parts, the kit nose and canopy and the kit nose wheel well. Not in “photo,” but may be in the F8U lineup on the port deck edge. Markings are generic for squadron (VFP-61). Should have maroon trim, but photos of contemporary VFP-61 aircraft don’t really show it. However, captions say the rudder is red. References c and f.




This is the Mach 2 kit (motto: “No better than we have to be”). Only non-grey/white aircraft. Not visible in photo; marking are generic for HU-1, the Pac Fleet squadron that provided the helo dets. SAR helo color had changed by directive to overall Engine Gray some months prior to the “photo”, so this helo was done accordingly. I confess to not ever having seen a photo of a HUP-mobile so painted. Call it artistic license. References b and c. 




Acknolwedegements and References


Special thanks to Richard Tucker, who supplied some marvelous Douglas drawings of the AN/APS-31 radar pod and its mountings on the AD-5N and AD-5Q. Yes, they were different, although not by much.

Thanks also to William Larkins for the kind permission to use his photograph.




a.                   Doll, T.E., Jackson. B.R., Riley, W.A. (1985). Navy Air Colors. United States Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Aircraft Camouflage and Markings Vol. 2 2945-1985. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. 

b.                  Elliott, H.M. (1991). The Official Monogram US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide Vol 3 1950-1959. Sturbridge, MA: Monogram Aviation Publications 

c.                   Kasulka, D.A. (1985). USN Aircraft Carrier Air Units Volume 2 1957-1963. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. 

d.                  Lawson, R.L. (ed.). (1985).  The History of US Naval Air Power. New York: The Military Press. [“The photo” is on p. 140] 

e.                   Ginter, S. (1985). Naval Fighters Number Twelve McDonnell F3H Demon.  Simi Valley, CA: Naval Fighters. 

f.                    Ginter, S. (1988). Naval Fighters Number Seventeen Vought’s F-8 Crusader Part Two Navy and Marine RF-8 Photo-Recon Squadrons. Simi Valley, CA: Naval Fighters. 

g.                   Ginter, S. (1994). Naval Fighters Number Twenty-Five North American FJ-4/4B Fury. Simi Valley, CA: Naval Fighters. 

h.                   Mason, F.K. (1992). The British Fighter Since 1912. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. 

i.                     Miller, J. (2001). Nuclear Weapons and Aircraft Carriers. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. 

j.                    Richard Tucker (personal communication, August 8, 2002) – AN/APS-31 and the AD-5: Douglas Aircraft Drawings.

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2002 by Joe Lyons
Except Title Image Copyright © 1958 by William Larkins
Page Created 24 October, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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