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NAF China Lake

Naval Air Facility China Lake, CA.

Point of Contact - Squadron Duty Officer (SDO)

Refer to the CONTACT LIST under "THE ASSOCIATION" drop down menu.

This page is dedicated to
LT Douglas Stuart Mayfield, USN.

Please read about him below.

Patch from E. Mares

1 Jul 1967 - 22 Jan 1992
Patch from G. Verver

22 Jan 1992
Patch from G. Verver
Naval Air Facility (NAF) China Lake was a Subcommand of Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) China Lake. NAF usually had one or more of each aircraft type in the United States Navy inventory excluding some Helo's and recon aircraft. NAF Pilots, Plane Captains, maintenance personnel etc. supported the various aircraft assigned to the Civilian Project Teams. Pilots were assigned to the various projects and flew the planes that supported those projects. Plane Captains usually had a half dozen or so different pilots flying their plane never knowing who would fly until the flight schedule came out in the morning. NAF China Lake line personnel also supported NALF San Clemente. The VX-5 Vampires squadron was an independent command co-located with the Naval Air Facility.

The NAF China Lake Drone Division designed and used this patch in the 50's and 60's. Patch from Tom Herold & designed by Pete Savell.

The Naval Weapons Test Squadron (Dust Devils) sitedat China Lake, was established 8 May 1995.
Patch from G. Verver

22 Jan 1992
Patch from G. Verver

The administrative command of NALF San Clemente was assigned to NOTS, China Lake 01 July 1961.
Patch from G. Verver

  • None

  • NOTS Chronology:
  • 08 Nov 1943 Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake established
  • 30 May 1945 Armitage Field dedicated
  • June 1950 NOTS Inyokern at China Lake
  • March 1955 NOTS China Lake
  • 01 July 1961 the administrative command of San Clemente Island was assigned to NOTS, China Lake
  • 1967 NOTS China Lake and the NOTS Pasadena Annex were separated
  • 01 July 1967 NOTS China Lake and the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Corona, were combined to form the Naval Weapons Center (NWC)
  • 31 Oct. 1977  The Department of Defense directed a significant relocation of the essential mission of the National Parachute Test Range at El Centro, California. The Range had been responsible for RDT&E for parachute systems and for providing common airfield support to aviation units. With today's change, the RDT&E mission was moved to the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California. The airfield support mission remained at El Centro with the existing Naval Air Facility there.
  • 22 January 1992 NWC was disestablished
  • 1992 NAWS was established
  • 1992 reorganization that resulted in the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCDWD)

  • NAF Chronology:
  • __/__/____ established as an independent tenant command of NOTS
  • Dec 1 1976 NAF, China Lake, California was disestablished after more than 30 years, as a separate command, and became part of the Naval Weapons Center.
  • May 8, 1995 Naval Weapons Test Squadron China Lake (Dust Devils) sited at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, was established
  • Naval Weapons Test Squadron China Lake NWTS CO

Air Wings
  • None

  • A4D-1 designation was changed to A-4A
  • A4D-2 designation was changed to A-4B
  • A4D-2N designation was changed to A-4C
  • A4D-5 designation was changed to A-4E

Commanding Officers
  • 1963 - - - - - Capt. Jack W. Hough
  • 1966 - - - - - Capt. Robert R. Yount
  • 1967, 1968 - - Capt. Rodney F. Schall

  • November 8, 1943:
    By the order of the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, Naval Station China Lake is established.
    Operations begun at C-range on air-to-ground firings.

  • 1944:
    Opening of temporary G-1 and G-2 ranges.
    Construction begun on permanent Station facilities.
    Opening of B-1 and B-2 ranges for air-to-ground firings.
    Operations begun at China Lake Pilot Plant.

  • 1945:
    Opening of K-2 range used in rocket terminal-ballistics studies.
    Transfer of operations from California Institute of. Technology to Station personnel.
    Opening of LB range for high-altitude bomb tests.
    Work on explosives begun at Salt Wells Pilot Plant.

  • 1946:
    Dedication of Armitage Field at the Naval Air Facility.

  • 1947:
    Opening of B-4 range for air-to-ground firings against moving targets.

  • 1948:
    Dedication of the Variable-Angle Launcher used for research and development at NOTS.
    Dedication of the Variable-Angle Launcher used for testing underwater ordnance items at Morris Dam.
    Activation of Station Advisory Board.

  • 1950:
    First antitank aircraft rockets of project RAM shipped to Korea.

  • 1951:
    Opening of T-range for rocket proof firing.
    Opening of K-3 range for crosswind firing of rockets.

  • 1952:
    Aircraft Fire-Control System Mk 16 released to the Fleet.
    Opening of Randsburg Wash Test Activities for fuze testing.
    The 2.75-inch FFAR (Mighty Mouse) declared operational.

  • 1953:
    Opening of Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track (SNORT) for captive testing of ordnance items.

  • 1954:
    Opening of G-4 range for high-speed terminal-ballistics studies.

  • 1955:
    Opening of permanent G-1 range for guided-missile free-flight-testing.
    Opening of permanent G-2 range for rocket free-flight testing.

  • 1956:
    The Sidewinder guided-missile system declared operational.
    Aug 21 -- An F8U-1 Crusader, piloted by Commander R. W. Windsor, captured the Thompson Trophy with a new national speed record of 1015.428 m.p.h. over the 15-kilometer course at NOTS, China Lake, Calif. This production model carrier fighter, equipped during its record performance with full armament of 20 mm cannon and dummy ammunition, was the first operationally equipped jet plane in history to fly faster than 1,000 m.p.h.

  • 1957:
    Development completed of the Zuni 5.0 inch rocket.
    Dedication of the Station's new All Faith Chapel.

  • 1958:
    The RAT antisubmarine weapon system declared operational.
    Aug 19 -- In its first successful flight a Tartar surface-to-air missile, fired at the NOTS, China Lake, intercepted an F6F drone.

  • 1959:
    Development completed of the variable-thrust rocket engine.
    The Skyline facility, for testing large solid-propellant motors, completed at China Lake Propulsion Laboratory.
    Zuni rocket put into mass production.
    Polaris static-test facility, Skytop, completed at China Lake Propulsion Laboratory.
    RAPEC (rocket-assisted personnel-ejection catapult) released to the fleet.
    Aug 3 -- The first flight test of the antisubmarine missile Subroc was successfully completed by a launch from a shore installation at NOTS China Lake.

  • 1960:
    Hangar No. 3 completed at the Naval Air Facility.
    BuWeps and OpTEvFor evaluations of the ASROC antisubmarine weapon system successfully completed.
    First successful Polaris firing after underwater launching.

  • 1961:
    in the nation, established.
    Administrative command of San Clemente Island assumed.
    Sixteen Cyclops silver iodide generators dropped into Hurricane Esther, destroying one-third of the cloud wall.
    Dedication of Skytop II, one of the Navy's largest vertical nozzle-down facilities.
    Aug 28 -- NOTS, China Lake reported on tests of Snakeye I mechanical retardation devices which were being developed to permit low altitude bombing with the MK 80 family of low drag bombs. Four designs of retarders (two made by Douglas and two by NOTS) had been tested in flight, on the Station's rocket powered test sled, or in the wind tunnel. One of Douglas' designs had shown sufficient promise that a contract had been issued for a number of experimental and prototype units.

  • 1962:
    Five hundred Capehart housing units completed.
    First successful flight test of a hybrid propulsion system in this country.

  • 1963:
    Jan 29 -- A Walleye television glide bomb, released from a YA-4B, made a direct impact on its target in the first demonstration of its automatic homing feature.
    Balloon carries NOTS astronomer to 82,000 feet altitude in Stargazer gondola.
    President John F. Kennedy, first President to visit Station, sees Naval aerial weaponry demonstration, June 7.
    Gemini space capsule undergoes seat ejection tests.
    HIPEG-"fastest gun"-firing 12,000 rounds per minute, in final checkout.
    Marines leave after 18 years of sentry and range guard duty.
    PROJECT "STORMFURY" NOTS-developed silver iodide generators show effect on storm clouds and Hurricane Beulah.
    Ozonesonde in record balloon ascent, 142,000 feet.
    SHRIKE air-to-surface anti-radar missile in final development stages.

  • 13 DEC 1968: China Lake Rocketeer

  • 1969
    A4D-1 BuNo 137814 on display:
    China Lake Rocketeer

  • April 3, 1970
    Lt. Gerald Hall was killed when his TA-4F BuNo 153494 rolled inverted on approach and crashed west of the runway during a landing at Richards-Gebaur AFB in Belton, MO. Backseater Leroy Neville ejected safely.
    The blivet (drop tank converted to carry luggage etc.) collapsed and probably jammed the slat… According to other pilots etc. he disliked flying the TA-4 because of the delayed ejection for the front seater.
    Hutchinson, KS Hutchinson News article

  • Septeber 25, 1970:
    A Condor, television-guided air-to-surface missile, was launched by an A-6A at a standoff distance from its target. The aircraft was 56 miles from the target when the missile made a direct impact.

  • 1976:
    Feb 18 -- The night attack weapons system, a modified air-to-surface Maverick missile designed to enhance the performance of night tactical and strike aircraft, scored a direct hit on a moving M-48 tank

  • 1978:
    Aug 3 -- The Naval Air Systems Command reported a major advance in the technology of escape systems. During the summer, the NWC at China Lake successfully tested a vertical-seeking ejection seat. While carrying a dummy crew member, the seat was fired downward from a suspended test module. It traveled downward less than 45 feet before reversing direction and traveling upward; it then parachuted safely to the ground. These tests demonstrated that the vertical-seeking seat would make it possible to safely eject upside down, within 50 feet of the surface, thus greatly increasing the safety envelope of ejection seats.

  • Awards


    China Lake secondary Photo Gallery

    24 NOV 1959:
    A4D-1 137818 at China Lake.
    Official U.S. Navy photo, G Verver.

    Aircraft Survivability A-4A BuNo 139927.
    Aircraft Survivability A-4A BuNo 139927 Jerry L. Reed, head of Code 3014, and John Fontenot, deputy manager of the aircraft survivability program, are shown at left as they joined Robert Hume and Cdr. M. L. Johnson of NAVAIRSYSCOM beneath A-4A Skyhawk BuNo 139927 which was used in a recent test.

    AUG 1961:
    China Lake A4D-2 BuNo 142892, with Padeye dispenser.
    Navy photo from Ray Powell.

    Circa 1962:
    Naval Missile Center A4D-2N BuNo 145073, NMC-073, firing a Bullpup missile at China Lake.
    Navy photo from Ray Powell.

    NAF China Lake 14 MAR 1962:
    TA4D-1 BuNo 139937 after a ZUNI test went awry for Tony Tambini. Flight was to test a fix to address the failure of ripple & single fire at high altitude (35,000 feet). Supposed to be a single fire from each tube, but the Ordie set the pods to ripple fire. At altitude Tony fired a single from one of the pods accompanied by a flash & swoosh as the first ZUNI fired followed by a second flash swoosh and a loud thump as the second went off. The thump was the noise it made as it impacted the bottom of the fuselage under the cockpit. The fix didn't work and the first Zuni ripped the aft end of the ZUNI tube from the pylon and left it pointing in the direction of the cockpit and the second one almost got him. Fortunately the second one ripped the tube further from the pylon severing the umbilical cord between the pylon and the ZUNIs which stopped #3 and #4 from firing. After this 937 was bucking & vibrating heavily which Tony reported to ground control, who told him the aircraft looked fine and as long as he was up there to go ahead with the firing from the tube on the other wing. Well as someone once said, déjà vu all over again. After try #2 - in Tony's own words; "vibrating and shaking violently, the airplane was taking all that I had to maintain control. I radioed my situation to the ground controller and told him that I would try to make it back to the Naval Air Facility. The airplane really didn't want to fly. I felt like I was attached to a giant, violent bronco." Once on the ground A large, black "X" could be seen, etched in the fuselage right under where Tony had been sitting as the two rockets crossed under.
    Photos by Tony Tambini via Gary Verver.

    Circa 1963:
    China Lake NA-4C BuNo 145063, HIPEG gun pods.
    "I was the plane captain for both HIPEG aircraft (137818 & 145063) in 1963 and never walked in front of them after I was told the HIPEGs occasionally fired with no-one in the cockpit. Think they were pulling my leg, but things like that did happen from time to time. Pretty impressive when they all cut loose as each pod fired 66 rounds of 20mm per second."
    Gary Verver.
    Official U.S. Navy from Gary Verver Collection.

    28 FEB 1964:
    NAF China Lake A-4B BuNo 142787
    , Youth reporter David Borelli inspects A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 142787 flown by Lt Jim Kissler and then fired a flare gun.
    Rocketeer photo.

    28 FEB 1964:
    NAF China Lake A-4E BuNo 149969
    , as Lt Del Newhouse escorts Eagle Scouts Charles W. Sadler, 16, (center) and Fred Hulsey, 16, as they look over the Skyhawk.
    Rocketeer photo.

    MAY 1965:
    NAF China Lake A-4B BuNo 142892
    , aircraft & people involved in the Snakeye Weapon System.

    19 NOV 1964: NAF China Lake A-4C BuNo 148524 as it looked (to the best of my recollection) when it arrived at China Lake on 19 November 1964 from Litchfield Park. Copyright artwork by Rich Dann.

    JUL 1965:
    China Lake A-4B BuNo 142787, Rockeye II cluster bombs on an MBR JUL 1965.
    Navy photo from Ray Powell.

    15 OCT 1965:
    China Lake A-4B BuNo 142892, with Snipe missile.
    Navy photo from Ray Powell.

    04 April 1971 A4D-1 (A-4A) Skyhawk BuNo 139927:
    Sequence #1
    Sequence #2
    Sequence #3
    Official U.S. Navy photos, G. Verver collection

    Unknown date:
    NWC China Lake Skyhawk Line. L-R: NA-4C BuNo 145063, A-4E BuNo 152072, unknowns and on the end in hi-vis marking A-4C BuNo 148437.

    NWC China Lake Skyhawk & Crusader Lines. R-L: NA-4C BuNo 145063, A-4E BuNo 152072, unknowns and on the end in hi-vis marking A-4C BuNo 148437. Crusaders L-R are: DF-8F BuNo 143813, DF-8F BuNo 143699 and F-8D BuNo 147057.
    Photos by Art Jensen.

    Circa 1968:
    China Lake hangar #3 circa 1968 with TA-4F BuNo 152848 at right. The Hurricane Hunter is VW-4 tail code MH-4. Unknown A-4 in the foreground.
    Gary Verver Collection.

    China Lake hangar #3 1970 with A-4F BuNo 154172 at right. The Hurricane Hunter is unknown. Photo by Art Jensen.China Lake hangar #3 1970 with A-4F BuNo 154172 at right. The Hurricane Hunter is unknown.
    Photo by Art Jensen

    19 MAY 1974:
    China Lake BuNo 153677 on the ramp.
    Photos by A.R. Krieger, from Gary Verver.

    19 MAY 1974:
    left rear view of NAF China Lake TA-4J Skyhawk BuNo 153677
    in a training squadron paint scheme at Offutt AFB.
    Photo by A. R. Krieger.

    19 MAY 1974:
    left side view of NAF China Lake TA-4J Skyhawk BuNo 153677
    in a training squadron paint scheme at Offutt AFB.
    photo by A. R. Krieger.

    From Verver Collection.

    07 JUN 1963:
    A-4E BuNo 149969 Shrike GM28 & pilot LT Tony Tambini, JFK demo.
    Photo from Tony Tambini, via Gary Verver.

    JUL 1963:
    Line drawing of China Lake A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149969
    as it looked in July 1963 operating from Key West for Project Rainhat.
    Rich Dann.

    A-4C BuNo 147680, Shrike missile & LCDR Jack Sickel circa August 1963. Photo is from John Sickel, Jr.
    A view of an AGM-45A Shrike surface attack anti-radar missile mounted on the wing pylon of China Lake A-4C BuNo 147680.
    Photographer unknown, from Gary Verver.

    19 MAY 1977:
    NWC TA-4J Skyhawk BuNo 152848
    , Hot Line, Armitage Field, China Lake.
    Photo from Naval Aviation Archives (NAVA) Collection, courtesy A. Romano

    16 NOV 1975:
    NAF China Lake A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 149969
    , open House, Armitage Field, China Lake.
    Photo by R. R. Leader, Paul Minert Collection, courtesy A. Romano

    29 JUN 1974:
    NAF A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154172
    , location unknown.
    Photo from Naval Aviation Archives (NAVA) Collection, courtesy A. Romano

    21 MAY 1966:
    A-4 Skyhawk cockpit used for ejection seat tests
    , SNORT demo, Armed Forces Day, China Lake.
    Rocketeer photo by PHAN Jerry Willey.

    21 MAY 1966:
    NAF A-4B Skyhawk BuNo 142777 with 5.0 " ZUNI FFAR pods and a centerline MER with Snakeyes
    , Armed Forces Day, Armitage Field, hangar 3, China Lake.
    Rocketeer photo by PHAN Jerry Willey.

    04APR74: Unknown A-4 at China Lake.

    A-4B, BuNo 142878, at China Lake.

    18JUN74: BuNo 152848 at China Lake with a HARM.
    Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4, Pic 5, Pic 6, Pic 7, Pic 8, Pic 9, Pic 10, Pic 11, Pic 12, Pic 13, Pic 14, Pic 15, Pic 16

    12 FEB 1982:
    Blue Angels TA-4J Skyhawk BuNo 158722
    , on the ramp at NAF China Lake.
    Rocketeer photo.

    04 NOV 1977:
    Foam drips of the wing of the surplus A-4B Skyhawk aircraft
    , aircraft used for the demonstration of the P-16 aircraft carrier fire-fighting vehicle, China Lake.
    Rocketeer photo by Ron Allen.

    23 JAN 1970:
    C. E. (Chick) Walden, one of the principal's involved in the Centers aircraft/survivability program
    , explains impact tests that are conducted at the range to members of the Survivability Working Group as part of a conference that was held at the Center last week, China Lake.
    Rocketeer photo.

    MAR 1979:
    BuNo 152101, an A-4E converted off the production line to the "F" configuration, served as the protype for the "Foxtrot" series of Skyhawks.
    Stephen Miller

    05 NOV 1983:
    China Lake TA-4F BuNo 152848
    Bob Niedermeier

    MAY 1985:
    BuNo 142235 in storage at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake.
    John Freeman

    DEC 1995 NWC China Lake:
    TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152102 (042) in flight over the Sierras with AV-8B Harrier BuNo 163854 (85), A-6E Intruder 155698 (608) and F/A-18C Hornet BuNo 163429 (108).
    TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 152102 (042) in flight over the Sierras.
    AIRFOTO © Joe Cupido.

    JAN 1996:
    137826 at China Lake Area R.
    AIRFOTO © Joe Cupido.

    FEB 1996:
    142892 at the China Lake WSL firefighting area. AIRFOTO © Joe Cupido.

    MAY 1998:
    NAWS 152012 and 154332 (040) at the aircraft compound on the south side of the China Lake airfield AIRFOTO © Joe Cupido.

    08 AUG 2007:
    BuNo 142948 meets a sad ending as a target at China Lake.

    Gary Verver Collection

    NWC China Lake TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154332 with HARM seeker nose in-flight.
    Official U.S. Navy, Gary Verver Collection

    Off-Duty Info
    No info yet.

    This Skyhawk Association Naval Air Facility China Lake website page is posthumously dedicated to:

    Lieutenant Douglas Stuart Mayfield, United States Navy


    Doug Mayfield was a native of Sacramento, California where he was graduated from high school in 1950. After high school Doug enlisted in the United States Navy. A year later Seaman Apprentice Doug Mayfield received a fleet appointment to the United States Naval Academy and was graduated with the 1956 Naval Academy class.
    Following his June 1956 graduation from Annapolis ENS Mayfield chose Naval Aviation and reported to Pensacola, FL.for flight training in August 1956 after which he reported to Corpus Christi, TX for jet training in July 1957.
    After being designated a Naval Aviator, Lieutenant Junior Grade Doug Mayfield served a fleet tour with FAWTUPAC/VF(AW)-3 in Coronado, CA. from 1958 - 1959. VF(AW)-3 F4D-1 and squadron officers photo provided by Mike Mayfield.
    Standing Left to Right: 1) LT Doug Mayfield; 2) unknown; 3)unknown ...
    LTJG Mayfield then served a fleet tour with the VA-113 Stingers in Miramar, CA in 1960. LT Mayfield then served a August 21, 1961 to October 1, 1962 tour with the VA-134 Scorpions in Jacksonville, FL.
    LT Mayfield next attended the United States Navy Postgraduate School at Monterey, California where he was awarded his Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. LT Mayfield reported to NAF China Lake on 29 June 1964 from the Postgraduate School.

    LT Mayfield was assigned duties as a China Lake Project Pilot. At China Lake Lt. Mayfield was elected to a two-year term to the Commissioned Officers Mess Advisory Group. He was also a member of the Community Council. His fellow officers held Mayfield in high esteem - - - "His ability as a Project Pilot was hard to equal. He was an outstanding aviator and officer," a fellow pilot said.

    LT Douglas Stuart Mayfield died Friday, 11 June 1965, when his A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo 148524) crashed while on a photo chase mission over the Naval Air Facility "B" Range. The mission was to film a Walleye test from release to impact using a camera mounted on one of the external racks. This accident was captured on film by ground cameras that also were filming the test. Several China Lake plane captains and project team members viewed the ground camera film and relate the accident: Within seconds of the Walleye striking the intended radar trailer target, Lt. Mayfield's Skyhawk was struck in the starboard wing by debris (a wheel) from the target. The Skyhawk pitched slightly nose up and yawed left and almost immediately the starboard wing broke off. The wounded Skyhawk rolled 360 degrees in the direction of the missing wing and impacted the ground. The entire accident took about 4 to 5 seconds from debris becoming visible in the flight path to the ensuing fireball and large scorch mark on the "B" Range desert surface. When the smoke and dust cleared the only recognizable wreckage was the wing that broke off. Doug was 33 years old and was survived by his wife and three children, a son and two daughters. His father, mother, three brothers and a sister also survived Lt. Mayfield.

    BuNo 148524 came off of the El Segundo assembly line in July 1961 and was delivered to the VA-43 Challengers in Oceana, VA 11 July 1961 which retained custody until 30 November 1963. 524 spent the next year in the Naval storage facility in Litchfield Park AZ from 16 January 1964 to 13 Nov. 1964. NAF China Lake acquired 524 on 30 Nov 1964 and had custody until its destruction 11 Jun 1965. Prior to it's reassignment to NAF China Lake 148524 reportedly had an in-flight accident with some trees and was being flight ferried to O&R when it was involved in a landing accident at Litchfield Park. It is possible that 524 was the VA-43 Skyhawk that was involved in the following accident recounted by John Gabbard... "Seems the pilot (I want to say a LtCdr. but don't know for sure) was on a low-level training flight over Georgia, looked down at his knee board to check for his next point of reference and when he looked up "all I saw was green", his words. There were pine needles a foot or more thick in the intakes, the leading edges were demolished with various pieces of pine tree buried in the wing leading edges, some as large as your forearm. A real mess which was shipped over to Norfolk for O&R. Don't remember if we got that one back."
    Although the rebuilt low flight hour Skyhawk looked "new" when delivered to China Lake, it quickly became a hangar queen as Line Maintenance would not sign the Skyhawk off because of endemic wing cell fuel leaks. After countless de-fueling's, rivet replacements, wing sealant applications it was sent to O&R Alameda which abated, but didn't eliminate the problem. O&R logged a test hop on 21 May 1965 and on 25 May 1965 BuNo 148524 returned to NAF for the last time. Despite the repairs some JP (fuel) continued to seep from the wing.

    Chaplains Robert W. O'Dell, Mark E. Fite, and Edward F. Kane officiated the Memorial Service at the All Faith Chapel in China Lake on June 14, 1965. Funeral services were held June 19, 1965 at the Nauman Funeral home Sacramento, California.

    • Tom Herold
    • Bob Krall
    • Mike Mayfield
    • Gary Verver

page | by Dr. Radut