Desert Storm F/A-18 MiG Killer Unveiled

F/A-18C Hornet BuNo.163508, now freshly-restored, sits on temporary outdoor display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florid following a significant restoration. The aircraft will eventually go on display inside Hangar One alongside a MiG-21 painted to represent the Iraqi Air Force example this aircraft shot down during the first day of the Gulf War in January, 1991. (image via NNAM)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


The National Naval Aviation Museum has just unveiled their recently-restored, combat-veteran F/A-18C Hornet (BuNo.163508) in a place of honor just outside the Blue Angel Atrium at their main campus in Pensacola, Florida. This Hornet is of particular significance, because LCDR Mark “MRT” Fox is credited with shooting down an Iraqi Air Force MiG-21 while flying the aircraft on January 17th, 1991, the opening day of the first Gulf War.
F/A-18C Hornet BuNo.163508 presently sitting outside the Blue Angels Atrium at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. This seems more than fitting, as components from the recently-retired early-model Blue Angels Hornets contributed to this aircraft’s completion. BuNo.163508 will not remain outside for long, of course, as the airframe will become part of a major indoor display about the Gulf War and the specific incident this aircraft was involved in. (image via NNAM)
This aircraft first arrived at Pensacola aboard a flatbed truck back in August 2019, as we reported two years ago HERE. She was in a sorry state of disrepair at the time, and arrived concurrently with the hulk of another U.S. Navy Gulf War MiG-killing Hornet. The latter aircraft is F/A-18C BuNo.163502 in which Lt Nicholas “Mongo” Mongillo shot down a Chinese-made Iraqi Air Force MiG-21. Both aircraft served aboard the carrier USS Saratoga (CV 60) at the time, and their shoot-downs occurred within moments of each other in the same action, marking the only U.S. Navy air-to-air victories during the Gulf War. The images below show how bedraggled both aircraft appeared two years ago, each of them also missing a variety of components.
The restoration team at Pensacola have yet to touch Mongillo’s Hornet, although it does remain in store at the museum. They focused their efforts on BuNo.163508, and sourced a good number of components for this effort from some of the former Blue Angels legacy Hornets which were parted out at Pensacola.
This is how F/A-18C Hornet BuNo.163508 looked at Pensacola earlier this year. While it seems more or less complete, physically speaking, it is clearly a patchwork quilt of other airframes. Note the traces of Blue Angels livery/colors on a number of components, such as the gear doors, fuselage panels, and – most importantly – the wings. (image via NNAM)
The aircraft has been repainted into the same markings she wore while serving with VFA-81 Sunliners off USS Saratoga (CV 60) on that fateful day in January, 1991 when LCDR Mark “MRT” Fox and his flight of four Hornets approached Al Walid Air Base H-3 in Iraq… albeit, she now sports the MiG-victory markings on her nose.
F/A-18C Hornet BuNo.163508, now freshly-restored, sits on temporary outdoor display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida following a significant restoration. Note the Iraqi flag painted on the aircraft’s nose to represent the Chinese-built Iraqi Air Force MiG-21 which she shot down almost exactly thirty years ago.(image via NNAM)
 The aircraft will eventually go on display inside Hangar Bay One alongside a MiG-21 painted to represent the Iraqi Air Force example this aircraft shot down during the first day of the Gulf War in January, 1991. The Hornet will become a centerpiece for the envisioned expansion of the museum’s exhibit focusing upon U.S. Central Command’s Area Of Responsibility (AOR).


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