Here’s Why A Toilet Is Hanging On A Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet’s Wing
This isn’t the first time a ‘killer commode’ found its way onto a ‘Fist Of The Fleet’ squadron aircraft.
Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 25, better known as VFA-25 'Fist Of The Fleet,' showcased one of their new F/A-18E Block III Super Hornets with a very unique store hanging under its wing — a toilet with an air-to-ground bomb-like empennage.
There has to be a good story behind this Wile E. Coyote setup, right?
Of course there is.
The Naval Air Station Lemoore-based unit has a rich history that dates back to World War II when the then VA-25 flew Avenger torpedo-bombers in the Pacific. The unit's illustrious combat record was further built upon in Korea and then in Vietnam, flying the giant piston-powered A-1 Skyraider close air support aircraft. This is when the famed toilet-bomb came into existence.
A wonderful account of the bizarre contraption's origins comes from Midwaysailor.com, a fantastic site you should absolutely browse. It reads:
On November 4, 1965, CDR Clarence W. Stoddard, Jr., Executive Officer of VA-25 'Fist of the Fleet,' flying A-1H Skyraider Bu. No. 135297, NE/572, from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway, carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type..... it was a toilet!
Also unique to this mission is the fact that this aircraft was named "Paper Tiger II" (a temporary name used for just this one flight.)
The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965.
"I was a pilot in VA-25 on the 1965 Vietnam cruise.
572 was flown by CDR C. W. "Bill" Stoddard. His wingman in 577 (which was my assigned airplane) was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII.)
The flight was a Dixie Station strike (South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC [Forward Air Controller], he ended with "and one code name Sani-Flush." The FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane. It made a great ready room movie.
The FAC said that it whistled all the way down.
The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard. One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it. Our checkers maintained a position to block the view of the air boss and the Captain while the aircraft was taxiing forward. Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "What the hell was on 572's right wing?"
There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film. CDR Stoddard was later killed while flying 572 in Oct. 1966. He was hit by three SAMs over Vinh."
The 'E' seen on the toilet denotes the unit has been awarded the Battle Effectiveness Award. You can read more about this achievement here.
So, now that we are done with the history lesson, I am sure you are wondering what circumstances brought back the 'Fist Of The Fleet' toilet-bomb.
CWO3 Wayne Toth, a member of VFA-25, who shared his photos with us for this article, also gave us a little background on how the toilet-bomb was brought back to life:
I am the Gunner in now VFA-25. We had a change of command and decided to replicate it. This time on a brand new BLOCK III Super Hornet.
One of my AO3s (AO3 Meagan Rickets) picked up a toilet from [the] marketplace, and I cut the steal, used Mk 76 lugs, made the tail assembly out of multiple dryer exhausts, and our Corrosion Control made the stickers.
The change of command ceremony occurred on September 16 at Naval Air Station Lemoore where the historic toilet recreation was so proudly displayed. During the ceremony, Commander Mark "IROC" Tedrow, a former Blue Angel, took over as skipper of VFA-25 from Commander Kristen Hansen. It was a perfect place for a fun callback to the proud history of the squadron.
And that is how the famous toilet-bomb was reborn.
Great job to Toth and his squadronmates for putting the historical commode back under the wing of a 'Fist Of The Fleet' aircraft after all these years – we congratulate both Tedrow and Hansen on their achievements.
Now, if we can only get a video of this thing being dropped — or maybe dumped is a better term — that would be great!
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com
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