Writing in the latest edition of The Hook (what, you’re not a member? Right this way then — and there’s associate memberships available for those who support tailhook aviation but haven’t experienced it first hand…yet), Boom Powell (“From the Catwalk”) relays a contributor’s lament about squadron tailcodes and callsigns, citing as examples VMA-255′s tail code of “WI” which, of course in true kind and gentle NAVAIR tradition was morphed into “Wandering Idiots.” The story continues (you really should read it) and Boom, after alluding to an unfortunate nickname for his Vigi squadron (RVAH-6) asks of any other known combinations, unfortunate or otherwise. (Background: Navy aircraft carry a single or double alpha-numeric code (e.g., AG, F, 6F, PR, etc.) on the tail to identify their parent organization (e.g., AG = CVW-7, F = TRAWING 6, etc.). Established by CNO following WW2, the system has remained pretty well intact since, with minor mods along the way. Read more about it here courtesy the Navy History Center.)
Hmm, well, yes, YHS can think of at least one example (naturally). Jumping in the way back machine, we travel back some 30-odd years to the east coast and the E-2C FRS, RVAW-120 as it was known then, whose tailcode was “GE” — an appropriate moniker one would think given the radar parts the company by the same name provided for the mighty war Hummer’s main battery. Alas, with the consolidation of the east coast FRS’ under TACWINGSLANT, RVAW-120 became VAW-120 and lost the GE code (which was “owned” by Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Twelve) and replaced it with “AD,” and one, albeit small, peice of VAW lore was history, or so we thought. For, you see, some number of years later there was a squadron in search of a tailcode… VAW-122, one of the last survivors of the CVW-6/FID team and bearer of CVW-6′s tailcode of AE found to their chagrin that with the disestablishment of CAG 6, the AE code had to go, leaving them with, well, a naked tail.
Now, it being neither fitting ‘nor proper for a squadron, even one bereft of a carrier and airwing they could call home, to be gallivanting about the skies sans tailcode. Like Rudolf and how his infamous nose isolated him from the other reindeer, checking in to center with a vanilla “Navy 602″ left one open to all sorts of jibes from the other reindeer, um, naval aircraft. Even the C-9′s had tailcodes, for pity’s sake…
Whilst pondering this scenario one day, YHS in his position as Steeljaw One had a revelation. Since the squadron was now beholden to CAEWW-12 (aka “The Wing,” and they made d*mn sure we never forgot) and The Wing at one time held “GE” as a tailcode, why not resurrect it for the Steeljaws use? Quick checks of the standing regs and a call back to The Wing (for the Steeljaws were on yet another deployment to fight druggies) confirmed all the above and GE returned to the skies on the tails of E-2s again.

Alas, the budgetary axe eventually fell on both the Steeljaws (’96) and Wing 12 (’05) so it would appear that would be the last time GE will fly on a Hawkeye…

- SJS
P.S. Hey Boom — SH is taken by VMFAT-101…

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