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Heavy Attack-Tankers

Heavy Attack-Tankers

During the Korean War, patrol activity was stepped up again with several Reserve units being called up and then redesignated active squadrons. By the end of the war, there were six VP (Patrol) squadrons and two Fleet Air Support squadrons here.

In 1955, VP-29 returned from deployment to the Pacific and was redesignated Heavy Attack 2, or VAH-2, the first heavy attack squadron on the West Coast. Later that year, it moved to San Diego to transition to the A-3D Skywarrior.

In December 1956, the first A-3D Skywarrior was delivered to Whidbey to be flown by VAH-4. VAH-8 was commissioned here on May 1, 1957.

In July 1957, Heavy Attack Wing 2, VAH-2 and Heavy Attack Training Unit, Pacific, were transferred from NAS North Island, California, to NAS Whidbey Island to form the nucleus of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet heavy attack program.

VAH-6 came up from North Island on Jan. 15, 1958, and became the first heavy attack unit to deploy to the Far East with the A-3D.

By the end of 1958, heavy attack squadrons outnumbered patrol by 5 to 4. That number continued to grow with the commissioning of VAH-10 on May 1, 1961, and the transfer of VAH-13 here from Sanford, Florida. All flew the Skywarrior.

The “whales” were the backbone of attack aviation until the arrival of the A-6A Intruder in August 1966. VAH-8 was decommissioned on Jan. 17, 1968; VAH-2 and 4 changed homeport to NAS Alameda on Sept. 13, 1968, and on Nov. 1, 1968, they became Tactical Electronic (VAQ) squadrons 132 and 131, respectively.

Patrol squadrons began to leave in early 1965; VP-47 went to Moffett Field and VP-17 to Barbers Point.

In July 1969, the patrol community appeared to be reviving with the delivery of the P-3 Orion as a replacement for the P-2. That September, VP-2 and VP-42 were deactivated.

On March 1, 1970, VP-1 moved to NAS Barbers Point, ending patrol operations by active forces at NAS Whidbey Island. This also brought Fleet Air Wing 4 to an end on April 1, 1970.

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