Toilet hanging on a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet’s wing
There are many places where you can imagine finding a toilet but probably you have never considered seeing one under the wing of an aircraft.
That’s what happened with the new F/A-18E Block III Super Hornets showcased by Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (aka VFA-25 ‘Fist of the fleet’) where a toilet has been placed under its wings which is similar to an air-to-ground bomb.
It sounds like a very funny joke, however, this is not something new, it’s a mention of something that happened during the Vietnam War.
According to this article, the story date back On November 4, 1965, when some Vietnamese discovered a very odd object that appeared to have fallen from the sky. It looked like a bomb but it was white like a toilet. It was indeed a toilet.
A VA-25 A-1 Skyraider had dropped the bowl on a mission to South Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. It had come from Dixie Station, a South China Sea aircraft carrier base and CDR Clarence “Bill” Stoddard was the pilot of the aircraft.
Stoddard started making his attack plans as he got closer to his target. According to the Forward Air Control, he read the list of the weapons the aircraft was equipped with, and at the end of the list, he read ‘one codenamed Operation Sani-flush’.
The story of the toilet drop was relayed by Captain Clint Johnson, the pilot of another VA-25 A-1 Skyraider. The toilet was broken and was going to be abandoned at sea anyhow. However, other pilots made the decision to save it, disguise it as a bomb, and then dump it in remembrance of the 6 million pounds of ammunition that the U.S. Air Force had dropped. The Air Control team said that it created a whistling noise as it descended and that it nearly struck the aircraft when it came off. In addition, a video camera mounted on the wing was used to film the drop.
Johnson said, “We got a 1MC message from the bridge, ‘What the hell was on 572’s right-wing?'”, Just as the toilet was being dropped. “There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film”.
Another peculiarity of that mission was that the aircraft was named “Paper Tiger II”, a temporary name just for that one flight while the reason why there’s a letter ‘E’ on the toilet is to denote the unit has been awarded the Battle Effectiveness Award.
The Battle “E” competition is held to improve and assess command and overall Force warfighting preparedness as well as to honor exceptional command performance. The crew’s general readiness to carry out its combat duty is the requirement for the Battle “E” Award.
Anyway, what’s the reason that made the toilet bomb bring back?
A CWO3, member of VFA-25 named Wayne Toth also provided some background information on how the toilet bomb was brought back:
“I am the Gunner in now VFA-25. We had a change of command and decided to replicate it. This time on a brand new BLOCK III Super Hornet”.
“One of my AO3s (AO3 Meagan Rickets) picked up a toilet from the marketplace, and I cut the steal, used Mk 76 lugs, made the tail assembly out of multiple dryer exhausts, and our Corrosion Control made the stickers”.
On September 16, 2022, at Naval Air Station Lemoore, where the replica of a historic toilet was so proudly on display, there was a ceremony to mark the change of command. Commander Mark “IROC” Tedrow, a former Blue Angel, succeeded Commander Kristen Hansen as the pilot of VFA-25 at the event. It was the ideal setting for a lighthearted look back at the squadron’s illustrious past.
This was the opportunity to bring the toilet bomb back.
Photos by Wayne Toth\midwaysailor.com