Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

VF-11/111 'Sundowners' 1942-95

ISBN: 978-1846034848
Review Date:

VF-11/111 'Sundowners' is in the "Aviation Elite Units" line of Osprey Books. The book lives up to what we have come to expect from Osprey Books: compact yet complete and authoritative with plentiful photographs and color plates to help tell the story. Barrett Tillman is a reliable author with several titles to his credit that primarily cover US Naval aviation. Henk van der Lugt is the official historian for the VF-111 'Sundowners' squadron.

Just as the title suggests, this book chronicles the US Navy Fighting Squadron 11 from creation in 1942, through the Navy reorganization that changed the squadron's designation to Fighter Squadron 111, to their final dissolution in 1995. In these 53 years of existence, the squadron served in three wars, made 17 different carrier deployments, and transitioned through 9 different primary aircraft. The squadron took its nickname 'Sundowners' directly from their initial mission to bring down Japan's Rising Sun while also making reference to an old Navy term meaning a hard worker. They lived up to both meanings.

The squadron's first combat deployment came before there were enough aircraft carriers and Navy air squadrons were regularly flying from airstrips ashore. In VF-11's case, that was Henderson Field on Guadalcanal as part of the "Cactus Air Force." They later deployed aboard USS Hornet (Essex-class) during the Philippine offensive of 1944-45. By the Korean Conflict, VF-11 had become VF-111 and they were flying jet fighters from USS Philippine Sea. It was during this time that VF-111 scored the first ever jet-on-jet aerial victory. The Sundowners completed 6 carrier deployments during the Vietnam era before their final assignment as a Cold War carrier-based squadron.

Tillman and van der Lugt pack a lot of detail into this compact book and each passage almost reads like a paraphrased After Action Report. This makes terrific reading for squadron members or families of squadron members but at over the 120 pages, it becomes a little more detail than what some readers might want to wade through. Being completely chronological with logical chapter breaks, it is easy to skip to a particular period or event that is of special interest. Overall I would rate this as an average book for the average history buff but an exceptional book for a fairly limited audience.

Back to Main | Back to Book Reviews Index

Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
11 Jun 2014 02:59:54 AM

The first successful destruction of a jet by another jet has been credited to Lieutenant Russell J. Brown of the 51st Fighter Wing who, while piloting a USAF P-80C, shot down a MiG-15 over Korea on 8 November 1950. Could it be that VF111 were responsible for the first NAVY jet v jet victory?
2. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
11 Jun 2014 08:15:38 PM

Alan: Not according to the book. The book asserts that later records show that Lt Brown’s “kill” was damaged but was able to return to base. I don’t know whether the USAF historians quite see it this way nor do I know what really happened – I’m just reporting what the book said.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code


Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on VF-11/111 'Sundowners' 1942-95

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945