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Attack Squadron TWELVE (ATKRON TWELVE or VA-12), also known as the "Flying Ubangis" or "Clinchers", was an attack squadron of the United States Navy active during the Cold War. From their home port at Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Florida, the squadron made more than thirty major overseas deployments aboard aircraft carriers, primarily flying A-4 Skyhawk and later the A-7E Corsair II, including two combat tours in the Vietnam War.

Attack Squadron TWELVE
VA-12's insignia
Active12 May 1945 – 1 October 1986
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Navy
Nickname(s)Flying Ubangis
Motto(s)Kiss of death
Aircraft flown
AttackA-4 Skyhawk
A-7 Corsair II
FighterF4U Corsair
F8F Bearcat
F2H Banshee
F7U Cutlass


Corsair II of VA-12 Squadron in 1976
Corsair II of VA-12 Squadron in 1976

The squadron was established on May 12, 1945, as Bomber-Fighter Squadron FOUR (VBF-4) and soon after was redesignated as part of the service-wide reorganization of aircraft squadrons as Fighter Squadron TWO (VF-2A) on 15 November 1946. Upon the Navy's return to its pre-1946 system of nomenclature, the squadron was again redesignated, this time as Fighter Squadron TWELVE (VF-12) on 2 August 1948. Fully embracing the attack role, the squadron was given its final designation Attack Squadron TWELVE (VA-12) on 1 August 1955.[1]

During WestPac in 1955, the squadron was part of the Navy's support of the evacuation of the Tachen Islands which were under bombardment by People's Republic of China forces. After returning from this cruise, the squadron re-equipped with the F7U Cutlass and its role was changed from air interception to ground attack with special weapons.[1]

In 1960, VA-12 was part of airwing of the USS Shangri-La when that carrier was deployed to counter Cuban infiltration into Guatemala and Nicaragua. The next year, the squadron returned to the area aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt to support the government of the Dominican Republic.

In 1963 the squadron was deployed in detachments to the USS Essex and USS Intrepid for anti-submarine warfare exercises. In August of the next year, the squadron was again on board the Roosevelt when the carrier was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean in response to trouble between Greeks and Turks on the island of Cyprus.

The squadron saw combat in Vietnam twice, in 1966 and 1970. Later in 1971, the unit relinquished the A-4 for the A-7 Corsair. 1973 and 1974 saw further trouble in the Mediterranean. 1973 saw the Yom Kippur War and 1974 the assassination of the American ambassador to Cyprus. During the 1970s the squadron's home base was at Cecil Field Naval Air Station near Jacksonville, Florida. In 1980, the Iranian hostage crisis saw the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with the squadron on board. The ship remained at sea for 254 days continuously. Trouble in Lebanon flared in 1983, and the squadron supported the peacekeeping force in the country.

On 1 October 1986, the squadron was disestablished, ending 31 years of service as an attack unit, and ten years prior to that as a fighter unit.

Major overseas deployments by Attack Squadron 12[1]
DepartureReturnArea of operationsAircraft carrierAir wingAircraft used
1946 June 281946 July 15Panama Canal transitUSS Tarawa (CV-40)Carrier Air Group FourF4U-4 Corsair
1946 August 11947 April 29Western PacificUSS TarawaCarrier Air Group Four
Attack Carrier Air Group One
F4U-4 Corsair
1948 October 11949 February 21World cruiseUSS TarawaCarrier Air Group OneF8F-1 Bearcat
1951 March 201951 October 6Mediterranean SeaUSS Coral Sea (CVB-43)Carrier Air Group OneF2H-2 Banshee
1952 May 241952 October 11Mediterranean and North AtlanticUSS Wasp (CV-18)Carrier Air Group OneF2H-2 Banshee
1953 June 111953 December 3MediterraneanUSS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42)Carrier Air Group OneF2H-2 Banshee
1954 December 271955 July 14World cruiseUSS Midway (CVA-41)Carrier Air Group OneF2H-2 Banshee
1958 September 21959 March 12MediterraneanUSS Forrestal (CVA-59)Carrier Air Group TenA4D-2 Skyhawk
1960 September 61960 October 20North AtlanticUSS Shangri-La (CVA-38)Carrier Air Group TenA4D-2 Skyhawk
1960 November 41960 November 27Caribbean SeaUSS Shangri-LaCarrier Air Group TenA4D-2 Skyhawk
1961 February 151961 August 28MediterraneanUSS Franklin D. RooseveltCarrier Air Group OneA4D-2 Skyhawk


The squadron was assigned the following aircraft as of the dates shown:[1]

Grumman F6F Hellcat
F6F from 23 May 1945 and F6F-5P from May 1947
Vought F4U Corsair
F4U-1, F4U-1D, FG-1, and FG-1D from 23 May 1945 and F4U-4 from 30 September 1945
Grumman F8F Bearcat
F8F-1 and F8F-1B from May 1947
McDonnell F2H Banshee
F2H-1 and F2H-2 from 1 September 1950
Vought F7U Cutlass
F7U-3 from December 1955
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
A4D-1 from April 1957, A4D-2 from January 1958, A4D-2N (A-4C) from 8 January 1962, and A-4E from 8 March 1965
Vought A-7 Corsair II
A-7E from 1 April 1971

Air wing assignment

The squadron was assigned to the following Air Wings as of the dates shown:[1]

Incidents and accidents

See also


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons.

  1. Grossnick, Roy A. (1995). "VA-12" (pdf). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons. Naval Historical Center. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: Department of the Navy. p. 20.

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