The last "aggressor" days of VF-74 Be-Devilers F-14 Tomcats


By Dario Leone
Sep 26 2017
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VF-74 Be-Devilers F-14B Tomcats proved to be an extremely effective aggressor, providing capabilities akin to those of the Su-27 and MiG-31

The interesting photos in this post show Devil 100 and Devil 101, two F-14B Tomcats from VF-74 Be-Devilers, painted in a cool aggressor camouflage scheme with colours simulating Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and MiG-31 Foxhound fighters.

Noteworthy this paint scheme was designed for deployment to the Red Flag exercises with the USAF at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB).

The Be-Devilers received the first F-14A Tomcat in June 1983.

On Aug. 11, 1988 VF-74 became the first fleet squadron to receive the F-14A+ (later designated F-14B) with arrival of Devil 101.  According to the site HOME OF M.A.T.S., by the end of the year the transition was complete and the squadron leader, CDR Gus Grissom, along with RIO LTJG Bob McGee, became the first crew to launch an AIM-54A Phoenix from the new F-14A+.

The Be-Devilers last cruise took place in 1992 and saw the squadron flying in support of the United Nations aid to the former republics of Yugoslavia.

VF-74 F-14B Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-14B Tomcat VF-74 Be-Devilers, AA101 / 162919 / 1993

In fact as usual after returning from cruise the squadron went straight into workups for the next, deploying onboard USS Constellation (CV-64) for her shakedown cruise after emerging from SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) and conducting carrier qualifications on USS Saratoga (CV-60).

However August 1993 saw the decision to deploy only one F-14 squadron (in the form of the then VF-103 Sluggers, the Be-Devilers sister squadron) onboard ‘Sara,’ as the non-TARPS (Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System) squadron VF-74 were left on the beach and moved from CVW-17 to the direct command of Commander Fighter Wing Atlantic.

Although not cruising VF-74 continued their reputation for excellence, taking up an aggressor role and working with various Navy and Air Force squadrons. The aircraft were painted in Su-27 style camouflage, each aircraft featuring a slight variation on the scheme. The F-14B proved to be an extremely effective aggressor, providing capabilities akin to those of the Su-27 and MiG-31.

On Jan. 20, 1994, Cmdr. John Morrow became VF-74’s last commanding officer and oversaw the last months of the Be-Deviler’s existence and led them to on their final deployment to NAS Roosevelt Roads in February. The det saw seven air-to-air missiles fired, a 100% success rate.

The last "aggressor" days of VF-74 Be-Devilers F-14 Tomcats

Sadly VF-74 Be-Devilers disestablished on Apr. 30, 1994 after 50 successful years of service.

Photo credit: PH2 Bruce Trombecky / National Archives

Artwork courtesy of

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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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