Apollo Soucek (February 24, 1897 – July 22, 1955) was a vice admiral in the United States Navy, who was a record-breaking test pilot during 1929-1930, served in World War II, and was commander of Carrier Division Three during the Korean War, ending his career as Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics.
Soucek was born in Lamont, Oklahoma. He was the son of Johann “John” Soucek, who had been born in Ovčáry, Bohemia (then part of the Austria-Hungary, now in the Czech Republic), but had emigrated to the United States at the age of 7 with his family. Arriving in June 1875 aboard the Norddeutscher Lloyd ship SS Ohio, the family—Mathias, Maria, and their six children—first settled in Nebraska, then moved to Kansas, before taking part in the Cherokee Strip Land Run in 1893, and settling in Medford.
Soucek entered the United States Naval Academy in 1918 and served with the rank of Midshipman aboard the battleship Missouri (BB-11) during World War I. He was commissioned as an Ensign on 3 June 1921. He then served aboard the Mississippi (BB-41). In February 1924 Soucek reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training, qualifying as a Naval aviator in October. He was assigned to the Navy's first aircraft carrier Langley (CV-1) in November, and served as Assistant Flight Officer of Observation Squadron 2. In January 1925 he transferred to the Maryland (BB-46) to serve as Assistant Navigator and Junior Aviation Officer of Observation Squadron 1. In May 1927 he was assigned to the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, before transferring to the Bureau of Aeronautics in July to serve in the Power Plant Design Section.
Flying the Wright Apache, Soucek set a series of flight altitude records. On May 8, 1929, he set the world altitude record for landplanes by flying to the height of 39,140 feet (11,930 m), and on June 4, he set the altitude record for seaplanes, also in an Apache, reaching the height of 38,560 feet (11,750 m). On June 4, 1930, Soucek flew an Apache landplane equipped with a 450 horsepower (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine to a height of 43,166 feet (13,157 m) over Naval Air Station Anacostia, regaining the world record he had held in 1929. Soucek was decorated with Distinguished Flying Cross for these flights.
In June 1930 Soucek returned to sea duty serving as Squadron Flight Officer of Fighter Squadron 3 on the carrier Lexington (CV-2), and as Gunnery Officer and Executive Officer of Fighter Squadron 3 aboard Saratoga (CV-3). In June 1932 he returned to the Naval Aircraft Factory to serve as Assistant to the Superintendent of the Aeronautical Engineering Laboratory. From June 1935 he served as Hangar Deck, Flight Deck, and Senior Watch Officer aboard Ranger (CV-4), returning to the Lexington in June 1937 to serve as the Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron 2. Soucek went back to the Bureau of Aeronautics in May 1938 to serve as Assistant to the Chief of the Personnel Division.
World War II
In May 1940 he was assigned to Yorktown (CV-5) as Navigator, moving to the Hornet (CV-8) on 20 October 1941 to serve as Air Officer. Soucek was appointed Executive Officer in 1942, and served in that capacity during the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on 18 April. Soucek served in this capacity aboard Hornet during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. He was later decorated with
Silver Star for his efforts during this battle.
In January 1943 was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations in the Pacific Fleet. From July 1943 he served as Chief of Staff and Aide to the Chief of Naval Air Intermediate Training Command and Deputy Chief of Naval Air Training, based at NAS Pensacola. Soucek was decorated with Legion of Merit with Gold Star for service in this capacity. In March 1945 he was
appointed Officer-in- Charge of the fitting-out of the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42), becoming the first commander on her commissioning on 27 October 1945.
From January 1946 he commanded Carrier Division 14, and from August was commander of Fleet Air Wing 1. On 15 July 1947 he was appointed commander of the Naval Air Test Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. From 1949 he served as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Aviation Plans, and Director of the Aviation Plans and Program Division. He spent most of 1951 in London as U.S. Naval Attaché for Air, before serving in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from November until February 1952, when he was appointed commander of Carrier Division 3/Task Force 77, flying his flag aboard Boxer (CV-21), supporting operations in the Korean War. Rear admiral Soucek received Distinguished Service Medal for his service in Korea.
On 18 June 1953 Soucek was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, however in February 1955 he became ill, quitting his post on March 4, and was transferred to the Retired List on 1 July. He died of a heart attack on 19 July 1955, at the age of 58, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on 26 July.
On 4 June 1957 Naval Air Station Oceana was officially named Apollo Soucek Field.
The Vought F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought’s manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and Brewster-built aircraft F3A. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured, in 16 separate models, in the longest production run of any piston-engine fighter in U.S. history (1942–53).
The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft but its difficult carrier landing performance rendered it unsuitable for Navy use until the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm overcame the carrier landing issues. The Corsair thus came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marines. The role of the dominant U.S. carrier based fighter in the second part of the war was thus filled by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair’s first prototype in 1940. The Corsair served to a lesser degree in the U.S. Navy. In addition to its use by the U.S. and British, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the French Naval Aviation and other, smaller, air forces also used the Corsair until the 1960s. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II, and the U.S. Navy counted an 11:1 kill ratio with the F4U Corsair.
After the carrier landing issues had been tackled, it quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter-bomber of World War II.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air wings.
The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hard points, including air-to- air missiles, air-to- ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record. The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown by pilots who attained ace status in the 20th century.
The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). Phantoms remain in frontline service with five countries. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft. As of 2017, nearly 60 years after its introduction, the F-4 remains in service with Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. The aircraft has most recently seen service against the Islamic State group the Middle East.
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an American, twinjet, mid-wing all-weather attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the United States Navy and Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined Douglas A-1 Skyraider. As the A-6E was slated for retirement, its precision strike mission was taken over by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat equipped with a LANTIRN pod. From the A-6, a specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6, was developed.
The cockpit used an unusual double pane windscreen and side-by- side seating arrangement in which the pilot sat in the left seat, while the bombardier/navigator sat to the right and slightly below. The A-6’s wing was very efficient at subsonic speeds compared to supersonic fighters such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which are also limited to subsonic speeds when carrying a payload of bombs. The wing was also designed to provide good maneuverability with a sizable bomb load.
A-6 Intruders first saw action during the Vietnam War, where the craft were used extensively against targets in Vietnam. The aircraft’s long range and heavy payload (18,000 pounds or 8,200 kilograms) coupled with its ability to fly in all weather made it invaluable during the war.
During the Gulf War in 1991, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps A-6s flew more than 4,700 combat sorties, providing close air support, destroying enemy air defenses, attacking Iraqi naval units, and hitting strategic targets. They were also the U.S. Navy’s primary strike platform for delivering laser-guided bombs.
The Intruder’s large blunt nose and slender tail inspired a number of nicknames, including “Double Ugly”, “The Mighty Alpha Six”, “Iron Tadpole” and also “Drumstick”.
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform into the 1990s. The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions. The F-14 Tomcat was designed as both an air superiority fighter and a long-range naval interceptor, which enabled it to both serve as escort attack aircraft when armed with Sparrow missiles and fleet air defense loitering interceptor role when armed with Phoenix missiles. It features variable geometry wings that swing automatically during flight. For high-speed intercept, they are swept back and they swing forward for lower speed flight. It was designed to improve on the F-4 Phantom’s air combat performance in most respects.
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy’s active fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976.
The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air
missiles and air-to- surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.
Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Low-rate production began in early 1997 with full-rate production starting in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006; the Super Hornet serves alongside the original Hornet. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which has operated the F/A-18A as its main fighter since 1984, ordered the F/A-18F in 2007 to replace its aging F-111C fleet. RAAF Super Hornets entered service in December 2010.