Genesis of the Red Dart - 1964


wingsFrom beginning to end, the Red Dart Era seems to have covered the period 1960 to mid-1969, although the Red Dart painted on the aircraft had different meanings and appearances during that time.

In 1960 the first Red Dart appeared on I Boat. Dick Knott says that, to his best recollection, a First Class Ordnanceman on the crew named Ken Simpson liked the insignia of the Chrysler Automobile Corporation so much that he thought a variation of it would look good on the squadron aircraft, more particularly the Skipper’s. (Ken Simpson is believed to have retired as LCDR (EDO) and his whereabouts are unknown.)

He painted the forward pointing Red Dart under the cockpit on the white portion of the nose section for all to see. It looked elegant there and everyone thought it added a proper touch to the squadron’s aircraft, so it wasn’t long before all squadron aircraft sported the added insignia. Don Florko, who was also a member of the Skipper’s crew, remembers essentially the same story, and adds that the insignia was painted on the airplane before telling CDR Durham about it, and that the design had no particular significance other than to instill a uniqueness and special recognition to the squadron aircraft. The Red Darters became PATRON FOUR FIVE’s nickname as the dart became more recognized as belonging to VP-45.

p5mThe Red Dart was carried over to the P-3 when the squadron transitioned at NAS Jacksonville in 1964. It remained on the aircraft, essentially unchanged until the squadron deployed to Sangley and U-Tapao to fly Market Time Ops under the command of CDR W. H. Saunders III in December 1968.

Bill Saunders kindly took care of writing the history of the Red Dart redesign and of submission to OPNAV for us. "… Shortly after we deployed, we had a squadron contest to design a new patch to reflect our mission and aircraft. One of our First Class Metalsmiths from Airframes came up with the design that (appears) on the front of the West Pac Cruise Book. A committee selected his design and he was awarded a $75 Bond.

We proceeded with the necessary paperwork to get the new patch approved, which meant a very slow procedure through all operational and administrative commands. We got back enthusiastic and positive approval endorsements from everyone from parent Wing, WingsLant, AirLant, CinCLant, and ComASWForLant over a several month period. After CinCLants approval the only one left was CNO or OpNav approval, so we went ahead and bought patches and plaques in Japan and everyone in the squadron put on the new patches. About 90% were enthusiastic supporters of the new design but 10% (mostly old boat squadron people) hated to see the Pelican go?

The design, incidentally, reflected Red Darters ASW Around the World by the Red Dart starting in JAX and circling the Globe; the red dartOrion constellation reflected the P.3 Orion, and we requested approval to return to JAX from deployment via a continued Westward flight to JAX. (This was disapproved because of the problems with stopover and refueling spots on the way.) About 10 days prior to the end of the deployment I received a letter from OpNav which I assumed was our final official approval. Upon reading the letter, which was from the Heraldry Section of Op 05 and signed by a GS-15 Heraldry Expert civilian, I learned that he decided the Red Dart Around The World was too reminiscent of orbital flight and not appropriate for an ASW squadron, and therefore disapproved the patch!!

After some research, I learned that this civilian ran, and had run, the heraldry section for a long time and was given free rein by p3 red dartthe military sections of OpNav to be the Go-No-Go on all patch designs.

I was so mad. I tore the letter up and didn’t say a thing to anyone until just before I completed my tour as C.O. The incoming new XO, Steve McArdle, bought my house and I told him what had happened. Meanwhile. Wing ELEVEN in JAX, WingsLant in in Brunswick and COMASWFORLANT in Norfolk all displayed the new plaque, as well as Lockheed in their ASW Pubs.

I understand Steve McArdle wrote CNO during his tour and asked what the officially recognized patch for VP45 was, and of course the Pelican surfaced again. For about 1/2 years of VP-45 history, the Red Darters Around The World was in use!"
"So goes the tale...."

WebMaster Note: The Red Dart remained on the squadron aircraft through the transition to P-3C's in 1972 and at least through 1979. If anyone can provide any additional info on this let me know. I also do not know who the author of this story is

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