For this week’s edition of Burner Friday, we’re taking a little trip to Stingtown – meet the Stingers of Strike Fighter Squadron 113 from Naval Air Station Lemoore. Flying the legacy McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet, the Stingers operate as part of Carrier Air Wing 17, attached to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

The Stingers began life in 1948 aboard NAS North Island (then known as NAS San Diego) as a fighter squadron designated VF-113, and their first whip was the powerful Grumman F8F Bearcat. Just two short years later, the Stingers found themselves flying F4U-4B Corsairs with distinction in combat over Korea.

By 1952 the Stingers had entered the jet age, operating the F9F-1 Panther. In 1955, they were redesignated as an Attack Squadron, VA-113, and transitioned to the Grumman F-9F-8 Cougar. Notably, the squadron had been changing airframes almost every other year, but that changed with the arrival of the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in 1957.

After flying various versions of the A-4s for over a decade, the Stingers picked up the A-7E in 1970, and employed the mighty Corsair II until 1983 when they became a Strike Fighter squadron, and the first in the fleet to be combat ready in the F/A-18 Hornet.

STING 300 taxies back to the line at Eielson AFB during Red Flag-Alaska
STING 300 taxies back to the line at Eielson AFB during Red Flag-Alaska

The Stingers once again made history in 1997, shattering the 100,000 mishap-free hour mark. They’ve since gone on to surpass a 150,000 class-A mishap-free mark, further establishing the First and the Finest as a prominent chapter in the Naval aviation history books. Much of their story has yet to be written however, as they will likely transition to the Super Hornet in the coming years.

In August 2013, we caught up with VFA-113 as they celebrated their 65th anniversary with a trip north to Alaska for the Red Flag 13-3 exercise. Six Stingers jets and 141 personnel deployed to a smoky, hazy Eielson AFB along with the majority of the pointy-nosed assets, and they racked up over 200 hours with 99 sorties.

(Photos by Jonathan Derden)