How thanks to its only F-4 MiG kill VF-111 Sundowners became the first fighter unit within the US Navy to claim MiG kills with two different types of aircraft

How thanks to its only F-4 MiG kill, VF-111 Sundowners became the first fighter unit within the US Navy to claim MiG kills with two different types of aircraft

By Dario Leone
Apr 23 2022
Sponsored by: Osprey Publishing
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This victory was claimed three-and-a-heft years after ‘Sundowner’ Lt Tony Nargi had bagged a MiG-21 in an F-8C on Sep. 19, 1968.

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On the afternoon of Mar. 6, 1972, VF-111 ‘Sundowners’ became the first fighter unit within the US Navy to claim MiG kills with two different types of aircraft.

Lt Garry L ‘Greyhound’ Weigand and Lt(Jg) William C ‘Farkle’ Freckleton (In F-4B BuNo 163019) destroyed a MiG-17 during a Force Combat Air Patrol (FORCAP) mission in support of photo-reconnaissance assets sent to overfly Wuang Lang airfield.

As explained by Brad Elward and Peter E Davies in their book US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1972-73, this victory was claimed three-and-a-heft years after ‘Sundowner’ Lt Tony Nargi had bagged a MiG-21 in an F-8C on Sep. 19, 1968.

The unit’s first, and only, F-4 MiG kill did not come easy, for the North Vietnamese jet was flown both aggressively and skilfully by Its pilot. However, outnumbered two to one, the communist pilot was eventually downed thanks to the employment of superior tactics by the two VF-111 crews.

The final moments of the action wore related by Lt Weigand in his post-mission encounter report;

‘I pulled my nose onto the MiG just as he hit the ‘burner. Jim (Lt Jim ‘Yosemite’ StillInger, who was Weigand’s flight leader) came up with “Do you have the MIG?” I rogered that I had him. He said “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”. I was at 480 ft, looking down about 50 ft to the MIG as I squeezed the trigger. After what seemed like hours, the missile came off, did a couple of zig-zags and flew right up his tailpipe. I figured we were about three-quarters of a mile behind him at dead six.

‘The Instant that I squeezed the trigger everything went into slow motion. I saw the missile disappear into the tailpipe of the camouflaged MiG but nothing seemed to happen right away. I was just about to fire another missile when a big piece of debris flew up into the airstream behind the MiG. Then suddenly his whole tail came off, tumbling end over end, and a tremendous gout of black smoke erupted from him. He started into a glide for the ground. I figured I had better check my six, since It had been a long time. I pulled hard right, reversed left, and by that time the MiG had hit the ground. Jim watched him go all the way In, exploding on a hillside. The MiG driver did not eject, probably because he was incapacitated.’

US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1972-73 is published by Osprey Publishing and is available to order here.

VF-111 F-8 Crusader print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-8C Crusader VF-111 Sundowners, AK103 / 146961 / 1968

Photo credit: U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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