Combat F-14 Tomcat Nose Art

Combat F-14 Tomcat Nose Art

F-14B San Antonio Rose

Something cool just popped up (again). Belgian modeler Sylvain Beauvais contacted me to ask about the F-14B named "San Antonio Rose" that flew combat in Afganistan, Iraq, etc. Coincidentally, it turned out that I was having dinner a couple of days after Sylvain’s email with CAPT Dana "Smudge" Potts, USN, Retired, CAG-17 (commander of Air Group 17) and the man who named and flew San Antonio Rose.

Smudge has been a close friend for a very long time, and I was honored to release several decal sets that included various birds he flew during his Navy career. Sylvain was asking me about the 1/32 set we created for San Antonio Rose. Smudge and I got to talking about this jet and he filled me in on a bunch of details about the story behind the naming of this Tom (Tomcat).

P-40E EisenbergIn Smudge’s own words: "After I was selected to be an Air Wing Commander I reflected about the common thread that made my success possible throughout my career: the unwavering support of my bride, Pat. Being an aviation history enthusiast, I wanted to celebrate how important her support was to me, as well as a salute to all of the wives of our air wing.

"Bob Wills penned a 1938 song entitled San Antonio Rose, which has been performed by artists as diverse as Patsy Cline to Clint Eastwood. My wife Pat is a Texan–and San Antonio native–so a Texas yellow rose was the natural choice. Since I am a Fighter RIO and would conduct most of my flights in the F-14, I asked the commanding officer of VF 103 "Jolly Rogers" in my wing, and my staff, to find an artist within the wing who could render the nose art.

F-14B San Antonio Rose Artwork Closeup"I wanted the yellow rose encircled by maroon and white letters (the school colors of our alma mater, Texas A&M). The only other request I had was to use a western style font and the only example I could think of was logo of the San Francisco 49ers (an American football team for you non-Americans!). As it turns out, one of my maintenance master chiefs was a superb artist and rendered it on the jet.


F-14B San Antonio Rose LS Flight"His work exceeded all my expectations and was a matter of pride for me throughout my tenure as CAG. As far as I know the paint was very durable and never touched up. The "Rose" saw combat over Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the Mediterranean and Adriatic. She was a good jet and remains a continuing source of pride and fond memory for both my wife and me."


We created both 1/48 & 1/32 decal sets in my Yellowhammer Decals line for this bird, and actually released TWO decal sets in EACH scale for this jet. How this came about is another interesting story.

As I said, Smudge and I have been buds for a long time. When he was first promoted to Deputy CAG, we created a decal set for the VF 103 CAG bird (this same jet) with his name on the canopy rails. At this point–prior to Smudge’s promotion to CAG–there was no nose art yet painted on. In fact, the artwork was applied to the jet just barely in time for the plane to form the background to Smudge’s assumption of command ceremony at NAS Oceana, which I was priviledged to attend.

At that point, we had accurate–but now outdated–decal sets in 1/48 & 1/32 already on the street. Therefore, I quickly released an "update" decal set which included just the markings that changed when the "Rose" was repainted for the ceremony (and later carried into combat). Initially we sold the related sets separately, but at this point I’ve simply included the "San Antonio Rose" update sheet into the main decal set.

The 1/32 markings for this jet, BuNo 162918, are so large they take up the entire main sheet.

In 1/48 scale, we were able to fit two other Toms in the same multiple-sheet set. In addition to CAPT Potts’ CAG bird, we include the F-14D “skipper’s bird” of VF-213 “Black Lions” flown by CDR Skip King in combat in Afghanistan. This is perhaps the most remarkable Tomcat scheme ever seen, with a huge artistic gray “lion’s head” painted on the nose radome. The third bird is the brightly colored, red-tailed F-14D “skipper’s bird” of VF-31 Tomcatters flown by CDR Paul “Butkus” Haas, as seen in May 2001. Quite a remarkable scheme!

(If you’re interested, the two decal sets are illustrated here; both sets are nearly gone)

1/32: YHD32010 F-14B San Antonio Rose  Add to Goodie Bag


1/48: YHD48020 F-14B San Antonio Rose  Add to Goodie Bag




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