Tag Archives: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

The cool “Splinter” paint scheme was inadvertently invented for U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets

“Splinter” paint schemes have become a distinguishing feature of U.S. Air Force Aggressors and later appeared on Iranian F-14s (under the name of Asian Minor II camouflage).

The “splinter” pattern is used to make the fighter jet to which it is applied similar to a Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

Noteworthy, we have recently received an email from Gregory Slusher, a reader of The Aviationist, who explained in a really interesting email how the color scheme was “inadvertently invented” for U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets.

“As a young U.S. Marine Sergent, me and my fellow corrosion control techs inadvertently invented the paint design,” Slusher explains.

“The squadron in question is F/A-18 squadron VMFAT-101 out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. The unit is a pilot training squadron and as such features quite a bit of air-to-air training. With the standard grey paint scheme, rookie Hornet pilots could not distinguish their targets from “friendlies.” My CO tasked our corrosion shop with creating and aggressive paint scheme that would help to aid the young pilots in target ID. It took us a few attempts, but we settled on a randomly placed collection of geometric shapes.”

So, the “splinter” color scheme was not introduced to make the jets similar to their Russian adversaries, just to make them more visible.

Tail number 26 was our prototype, and is obviously not as angular. We were not completely satisfied. Tail number 34 was when we had really hit upon a formula that we and the command enjoyed. Tail number 12 was a desert variant and our favorite of the jets we painted. Initially we did not paint the radome since they are swapped frequently. Later, the shop gained the approval to paint them.”

Splinter F-18 side

Image credit: Gregory Slusher

If you “google” VMFAT-101, you would see much of their work, as it has been photographed quite extensively at air shows, well before other services decided to apply a similar paint scheme to their planes.

Top image: Capt. John “Tank” Voss, USMC via Gregory Slusher


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NASA’s spooky plane on the way back to the U.S. after Tour of Duty in Afghanistan

After completing a BACN deployment at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, one of the NASA’s last two flying WB-57Fs is on its way back to Ellington Field, Texas.

Wearing the typical white color scheme, used to keep a “low profile” and appear similar to general aviation aircraft during its rather clandestine mission, the highly modified Canberra registered N926NA arrived to RAF Mildenhall, UK, from Souda Bay, Crete, on Dec. 2 and left the British airport to Lajes field, Azores, on Dec. 3.

The following picture was taken at Mildenhall by The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock.

The aircraft had deployed to Afghanistan via Lajes on Mar. 5 after performing test activities at Nellis AFB, where the other plane of the same type, NASA 928 has recently conducted some more experimental flights (see below).

According to the information released by NASA, the spooky N926NA (stripped off of all the NASA’s markings) will be back in Houston for maintenance until Feb. 2013, and then leave again on Feb. 28, 2013, on another deployment outside the U.S. (most probably in Afghanistan) until Sept. 30, 2013.


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VMA-211 mourns its Commander as it pushes forward to complete deployment in Afghanistan

Although it suffered the worst hit to enemy fire since WWII, enduring not only the loss of eight AV-8B+ Harrier jets in the Taliban attack on Camp Bastion’s airfiled, Marine Attack Squadron 211 remains fully operational and continues to fly in Helmand province, to provide support to ground troops in Southwest Afghanistan area of operation.

Coalition Forces attend a memorial service in honor of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan Sept. 19, 2012. Raible, commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3D Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was killed in action while repealing an enemy attack on Camp Bastion Sept. 14, 2012.

The insurgent attack that cost the life of the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, and wiped out the majority of the American jump jets operating “in theater”, has not prevented the U.S. Marine Corps unit to fly the daily close air support missions for the infantry battalions or the patrol owerwatch sorties, aimed to spot typical ambush positions.

In fact, on Sept. 26, the squadron received six new airframes, both in the VMA-211 “Avengers” and in the VMA-231 “Ace of Spades” markings, to continue the deployment.

A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier sits on the flight line at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan Sept. 26, 2012. The Harrier was one of six relocated to Camp Bastion to increase the overall readiness level of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 and is painted in memory of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, who were killed during an attack on Camp Bastion Sept. 14, 2012.

One of the aircraft is painted in memory of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, who were killed during an attack on Camp Bastion Sept. 14, 2012.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

U.S Marine Corps F/A-18A Hornet jets deploying to the Middle East

On Sept. 24, 12 U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18A Hornet jets arrived to Morón airbase, in Spain, coming from Lajes, Azores.

Belonging to the VMFA-314 Black Knights, from MCAS Miramar, California, the aircraft arrived in two waves as “Trend 61-66” and “Trend 71-76”.

Although someone speculated they were deploying to Afghanistan, where the U.S. has recently suffered a deadly attack at Camp Bastion’s airfield, where six Harriers were destroyed and two severely damaged, the VMFA-314 Hornets were enroute to an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

An exercise or a build-up in the Libya, Mali region?

Image credit: Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

Commanding Officer of the Harrier squadron decimated at Camp Bastion among the Marines killed in the Taliban attack

The Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 “Avengers” that was decimated on Friday Sept. 14, when a force of insurgents attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand, has not only lost two Marines and eight of the ten AV-8B+ Harrier jets deployed in Afghanistan.

According to UTSanDiego.com, Marine and family sources have confirmed that Lt. Col. Chris “Otis” Raible, commanding officer of the Yuma squadron is among the killed in action of the unprecedented attack that resulted in the destruction of six jump jets and significant damage (possibly beyond repair) to two more Harriers belonging to the VMA-211, the unit he commanded.

The VMA-211 is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Raible led the “Avengers” when the unit, deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012, relocated from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion on Jul. 1 and he’s depicted in most of the images released by the U.S. Marine Corps to give account of the transfer.

Camp Bastion was in close proximity to all the units they supported and this gave the VMA-211 the opportunity to conduct more combat operations and communicate more effectively with the ground combat element.

Unfortunately neither Raible nor the rest of the “Avengers” could predict the attack that cost the U.S. the worst air loss to enemy fire in one day since the Vietnam War, that has rendered the Squadron unable to support the troops in the ground and compelled the Marine Corps to fly the remaining two airframes back home.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps