Original 1966 Vietnam War Era Zippo Style Lighter Naval Aviator Attack Squadron 52 KNIGHTRIDERS- By Vulcan
Original Item: Lighters could be customized with regimental cyphers and engravings, and were purchased by GIs returning home as a memento of their military service in the specific theatre of operation.
Excellent vintage ZIPPO style windproof lighter circa 1966 made by VULCAN of Japan.
The design depicts an armored Knight with a fearsome mace riding a large sea turtle. This unique weapon system is superimposed over a target. The Knight portrays the crew of our aircraft; he is the legendary protector of freedom and honor and exemplifies today’s Naval Aviator. The Knight is holding a mace, an ancient and foreboding weapon. In medieval times, the mace was as feared in the hands of a skillful Knight as our modern air-to-ground weapons are today. The mace is an excellent symbol of our powerful striking ability. The Knight with his weapon is riding a large sea turtle. The turtle is the fabled denizen of the sea whose determination, stamina, and navigational abilities are legend. His heavily armored shell and close association with the sea, as well as his always being on the surface of the land or in the sea, aptly symbolize our Navy attack aircraft with their reliability and low level capability. The turtle’s inclusion in the patch is not meant to indicate lack of speed. Unlike his brother the land tortoise, the sea-turtle is a capable and speedy performer when in his element, the sea. The entire weapon system, mace, Knight, and turtle are superimposed over a target. They have arrived at their objective and destruction of the target is inevitable.
Attack Squadron FIVE TWO (VA-52) has had a long and distinguished history as an integral part of Naval Aviation. The squadron's roots can be traced back to shortly after World War II with the commissioning of Reserve Fighter Squadron 884 flying the F4U-4 Corsair. The ""Bitter Birds"" of VF-884 were called to active duty as a result of the Korean conflict, and they conducted their first combat operations in March 1951.
During the command's second combat deployment to Korea, the "Bitter Birds" were redesigned as the active duty squadron VF-144. In February 1953, VF-144 completed its second combat tour, and shortly thereafter transitioned to the F9F-5 Cougar. The ""Bitter Birds"" made two peacetime deployments to the Mediterranean and Western Pacific and transitioned to the F9F-8B Cougar in April 1956. VF-144 made one more WestPac cruise on the USS HORNET (CV-12), and their final deployment bringing the USS RANGER (CV-61) from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleet in August 1958.
On February 23, 1959 VF-144's mission was changed to Attack and the "Bitter Birds" were redesigned as the VA-52 Knightriders. Now flying the A-1J Skyraider (designated at the time as the ""AD-7""), the Knightriders made four deployments to the Pacific aboard USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) prior to making their first combat cruise to Vietnam in 1964. The Knightriders provided air support during the torpedo boat attacks on the USS MADDOX (DD-731), and were involved in the initial retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam following that incident.
VA-52 made two more deployments with the Skyraider to Vietnam before entering the jet age with the advanced A-6A Intruder on 10 November 1967. The Knightriders also made a squadron move to NAS Whidbey Island that same year. The Intruder's side by side seating enhanced its ability to fulfill its primary mission: A true medium-attack, all-weather capability. The Intruder utilized its advanced radar to navigate through mountain valleys at low levels in order to minimize the aircraft's risk from enemy radar-guided missiles. The Intruder could carry a large payload over long distances and deliver its weapons more accurately than ever possible before. On September 7, 1968 VA-51 made its first Vietnam combat deployment with the Intruder aboard the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) with Carrier Air Wing 15. The Knightriders again saw combat in Vietnam during their next two cruises with Carrier Air Wing 11 aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CVA-63). On their second Kitty Hawk cruise the Knightriders flew the improved A-6B and were introduced to the KA-6D tanker.
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