Fighter Squadron (VF) 31 "Tomcatters" is the second oldest fighter squadron operating in the U.S. Navy today; their history dates from the commissioning of the VF-1B Shooting Stars in 1935, flying the Boeing F4B-4. The distinctive VF-31 "Felix the Cat" insignia has been used by the US Navy since 1929, when it graced the fuselage of the VB-2B biplane. Two years later, the Shooting Stars changed squadron designations to VF-6 and switched aircraft to the F3F-2. In July, 1943, VF-6 swapped designations with VF-3, The Felix Cat squadron, and began flying the F6F Hellcat. Both squadrons claimed the Felix mascot and call-sign after the switch, which caused a controversy for the next three years. After a bit of controversy between several squadrons, VF-31 won the rights to the Felix mascot and call-sign. Finally, in 1946, VF-3 became VF-3A, flying the F8F-1 Bearcat, while VF-6 was decommissioned. The Chief of Naval Operations approved the official adoption of the Felix the Cat name and call-sign by VF-3A.
On August 7, 1948, VF-3A became the VF-31 Tomcatters. The original VF-31, "The Flying Meataxes" destroyed 165 Japanese planes in aerial combat, tops among all CVL (light carrier) squadrons. They deployed with USS Cabot, CVL-28, from November, 1943 through September 1944.
The Tomcatters' combat experience includes battles in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as regional conflicts all over the world. In 1972, flying the F-4J Phantom, Tomcatter aircrew shot down a MiG-21 over North Vietnam and distinguished VF-31 as the only Navy fighter squadron to achieve aerial victories in three wars. Through the years the Tomcatters and their predecessors have served on some of the Navy's finest aircraft carriers, including the first, USS Langley (CV-1); the second, USS Lexington (CV-2); and the sixth, USS Enterprise (CV-6). They were aboard USS Enterprise during the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as the Battles of Wake Island, Marcus Island, Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Eastern Solomons. In 1980, VF-31 and USS Saratoga (CV-60) concluded a 24-year period of continuous service together, the longest in naval history.
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