USS Intrepid (CVA-11) Genoa, Italy November 1961
Robert L. Lawson Collection via Angelo Romano
I enjoy taking a close look at pictures of air groups like the one above, examining the details for items of interest. (Click on it to see a bigger version).
In this case, there were several. Starting at the bottom and working clockwise around the edge of the deck, the side number on the F8U-1E (note the radome for a visual-assist radar provided on this variant) in the foreground consists of two naughts, indicative of its assignment to the air group commander, Cdr J. L. Holbrook. His name and rank are painted on the fuselage side below the canopy sill. However, the airplane has the yellow trim color of the second squadron, in this case VF-33. Later on it became fashionable to have one CAG airplane in each squadron, assigned the side number X00 and trimmed with a "rainbow" of the colors in the air group.
One feature I hadn't noticed on the early F8U-1s was a yaw vane on the nose just ahead of the windscreen (protected by a red cover on these F8Us). It isn't present on later models. It was clearly a vane initially and seems to have changed to a probe before it disappeared.
An F8U-1P, side number 913, is parked next to CAG's airplane. Note that the tail fin is marked with a logo resembling a film strip. It has black stripes bounding a maroon center with white stars. I have yet to get a handle as to when the trim color for the 8th and 9th squadrons became maroon.
The VA-65 AD-6 Skyraiders at the stern of the ship are trimmed in international orange (not red as it sometimes appears to be on some illustrations) as assigned to the 4th squadron. However, I had thought that the AD squadrons were generally the 5th squadron, with the 3rd and 4th squadrons being light attack.
The third squadron, VA-66, appears to be trimmed in dark blue, whereas the standard color was light blue. Note that these appear to be factory fresh A4D-2Ns with dark gull gray anti-glare panels in front of the windscreen. By contrast, the fifth squadron, VA-76, is flying the older A4D-2s, which, having probably come from a Navy depot following overhaul, have black anti-glare panels. Their green trim appears to be both darker and faintly metallic compared to the light green standard, but it should be apparent by now that those were guidelines. The A4Ds from both squadrons still have the gray rudder rather than a white one, which was a subsequent change to the original gray/white scheme.
The F4D Skyrays in the center of the pack are the 1st squadron's, which was assigned red for a trim color. VF-162, however, has trimmed its Fords in black accented with gold stars. Note that the closest one has a refueling probe extending from its left external fuel tank, a kludge unique to the Skyray.
I had thought that the 1st squadron was generally assigned day fighters and the 2nd, all-weather fighters. However, this doesn't appear to be a rule. As it happens, in those halcyon days when new fighter types were being delivered to the fleet almost every year, an air group generally had three fighter squadrons assigned, although only two went out on a deployment. The one left behind was typically transitioning to a new type and not ready for prime time...