The aircraft that were at the Rota Naval Station in the 1970s and 1980s

The Air Arm of the Spanish Navy in old photographs of the US National Archives

The presence of the US Navy at the Rota Naval Station has provided interesting images to the United States National Archives.

The 'Isaac Peral' S-81 sails for the first time with another Spanish Navy submarine
The meaning of the different colors of the flight personnel on warships

Searching in those archives I have been able to find a series of photos of the Air Arm of the Spanish Navy taken in the 1970s and 1980s. You can see them below.

A Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King of the 5th Squadron. Photo taken on January 5, 1977 in Rota. The SH-3D carries the old dark blue color scheme used by Spanish Navy helicopters at the time. The helicopter carries two weapons mounts and an Aérospatiale AS-11 air-to-surface missile alongside the port landing gear nacelle. The SH-3s have served in the Spanish Navy from 1966 to 2022. The latter units have been superseded by SH-60F Oceanhawk.

The SH-3D Z.9A-7, later reregistered as the HS.9-07. Photo taken on January 1977 in Rota. Built in 1972 (with cn 61-499), it was a second-hand example that had been operated by the US Navy. It was delivered to the Spanish Navy on July 2, 1973, being decorated with the dark blue scheme and the label "Marina" (which would be changed to "Armada" a few years later).

An Agusta Bell AB-204B (the Z.8-2 / 003-2) of the 3rd Squadron. Photo taken on January 5, 1977 in Rota. Behind the helicopter are two USAF strategic transport aircraft: a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter (left) and a Lockheed C-5A Galaxy (background). This helicopter was later re-registered as HU.8-2(EC) and HA.8A-2(EC). After being used by the Spanish Navy, it was transferred to the Spanish Army Airmobile Forces (FAMET). The Spanish Navy received four AB-204s in 1965 (perhaps that's why the unit's emblem is four cats, since "Cat" is the radio callsign for this Squadron). They carried anti-submarine warfare equipment, being able to carry AS-11 and AS-12 missiles, Mk.44 torpedoes and M-200 rocket launchers (one of the latter can be seen in the photo). In 1974 they began to be replaced by the current Squadron helicopters, the AB-212.

A frontal view of the AB-204B Z.8-2. Photo taken on January 5, 1977 in Rota. They can be seen on the sides from the helicopter the M-200 rocket launchers, each capable of launching 19 2.75-inch Mk.4 rockets.

A Bell 47G-2 Sioux of the defunct 1st Squadron (the Z.7-6 / 001-6). Photo taken on the 5th of January 1977 in Rota. Behind it we see the SH-3D Z.9A-7, which we talked about above. In 1954 the Spanish Navy received their first Bell 47, a model that was in service until 1987. The Bell 47 was the first helicopter to land on a ship of the Spanish Navy on May 8, 1955, specifically in the RR-19 roadstead tugboat in the waters of the Pontevedra Estuary. The Bell 47 served as a training helicopter at the former Helicopter Application School, located at the Naval Military School in Marin.

A Hughes 369HM Cayuse of the 6th Squadron, the Z.13-5 / 006-5. Photo taken on January 5, 1977 in Rota. Behind it we see a US Navy KA-6D Intruder tanker (152939/AB-532, of the VA-34 "Blue Blasters", deployed aboard the USS Enterprise CVN-65 aircraft carrier) and a McDonnell Douglas fighter USAF F-4E Phantom II (el 74-0648, cn 4799). The 6th Squadron unit began receiving the first of a total of 14 Cayuses in 1972. 50 years later they are still active.

An AH-1G Huey Cobra attack helicopter (Z.14-08 / 007-8, cn 21127) of the defunct 7th Squadron. Photo taken on January 10, 1975 in Rota. Behind it appears a US Navy Boeing Vertol HH-46A Sea Knight rescue helicopter (cn 151911). The first AH-1Gs were delivered to the Spanish Navy in September 1972. The last active ones were withdrawn from service in March 1987. Currently the helicopter in the photo is on display at the San Fernando Navy NCO School (Cádiz), being the only specimen preserved by the Spanish Navy. In the photo, the helicopter carries an M-200 rocket launcher (with capacity for 19 Mk.4 2.75-inch rockets) and an M-35 20-mm rotary cannon.

A Hawker Siddeley AV-8S Harrier (the VA.1-1 / 008-1) of the defunct 8th Squadron. Photo taken on January 5 of 1977 in Rota. Nicknamed "Matador" in Spain, the Spanish Navy received 12 fighters of this type (10 single-seaters and 2 two-seaters). They were purchased in 1973 and the first received in 1976. They were withdrawn in 1996 and sold to the Thai Navy.

Another image of the AV-8S Harrier VA.1-1. Photo taken on January 5, 1977 in Rota. In this photo A LAU-10 rocket launcher can be seen on the external underwing mount, capable of holding four 127mm ZUNI rockets. In the background to the right are two US Navy transport planes: a Grumman S-2 Tracker and a Convair C-131F Samaritan, the latter with the word "ROTA" in its drift. On the left, behind the Harrier, is the tail of a Cessna C-150L with US civil registration number N17063.

The AV-8S Harrier VA.1-10 / 01-814 flying near the aircraft carrier "Dédalo" R01, then flagship of the Spanish Navy. Photo taken on January 6, 1988 in the Mediterranean Sea. Two Harriers from the 8th Squadron and an SH-3 Sea King of the 5th Squadron appear on the flight deck of the "Dédalo". The photo was taken by LCDR John Leenhouts when he was flying his A-7 Corsair II attack aircraft of the now-defunct US Navy VA-46 Vought, embarked on the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66).

An aerial image of the "Dédalo" aircraft carrier. Photo taken on January 6, 1988 in the Mediterranean Sea by LCDR John Leenhouts, like the previous photo. On the flight deck of the "Dédalo" appear four Harriers from the 8th Squadron, an SH-3 Sea King from the 5th Squadron and two AB-212 from the 3rd Squadron.

Another image of the "Dédalo" in the same pass. Photo taken on January 6, 1988 in the Mediterranean Sea. This aircraft carrier began its operational life in 1943, serving in the US Navy during World War II under the name USS Cabot (CVL-28). She was withdrawn from service in 1955 and ceded to Spain in 1967, being the first aircraft carrier of the Spanish Navy. She was decommissioned in 1989. Veterans of the USS Cabot attempted to turn her into a museum ship, but due to lack of funds She was auctioned off and scrapped in 2002. Part of her island and her flight deck are preserved at Naval Base Pensacola, Florida.

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