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427th Special Operations Squadron
427thsos-patch.jpg
Patch of the 427th Special Operations Squadron
Active 1944–1945, 1970–1972, Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Night Fighter Operations (World War II)
Special Operations (Vietnam War, Global War on Terrorism)
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1944–1945)

The 427th Special Operations Squadron (427th SOS) is a direct reporting unit of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The unit is assigned to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Contents

Mission

The 427th SOS provides Short Takeoff/Landing (STOL) and tactically qualified crews to support training requirements for the US Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) community. Their customers include the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), The US Army Special Forces Command (USASFC), and the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center (JFKSWCS).

The 427th SOS provides US Army SOF personnel the opportunity to train on various types of aircraft for infiltration and exfiltration that they may encounter in the lesser developed countries in which they provide training. The 427th SOS aircrews must be proficient in smaller types of aircraft in order to familiarize US Army personnel with their characteristics, peculiarities, and capabilities.

History

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Lineage

  • Constituted as: 427th Night Fighter Squadron on January 19, 1944
Activated on February 1, 1944
Inactivated on October 29, 1945
  • Activated and Redesignated as: 427th Special Operations Training Squadron, July 1, 1970
Inactivated July 15, 1972
  • Activated and Redesignated as: 427th Special Operations Squadron (date undetermined)

Assignments

IV Fighter Command
Attached to 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, February 1, 1944
Attached to 62nd Fighter Wing, September 1944
4410th Special Operations Training Group, July 1, 1970 – July 15, 1972

Stations

Detachment: Myitkyina Airfield, Burma, November 13 – December 23, 1944
Detachment: Wujiaba Airport (Kunming), China, December 18, 1944 – August 16, 1945
Elements out of the Kunming detachment operated from
Chengkung, Chinkiang and Nanning during various periods, January–August 1945.

Aircraft flown

Operations history

Emblem of the 427th Night Fighter Squadron, World War II

The 427th Night Fighter Squadron was formed at Hammer Field, California, where they trained. The squadron also flew training missions in the Bakersfield area. With their training as a unit completed, the 427th NFS packed their bags and left California's sunny San Joaquin Valley in mid-July 1944. Initially traveling by ship from the east coast to Casablanca, French Morocco, once the squadrons planes were assembled and checked out, the unit flew east to Cairo, Egypt, where they expected orders for Poltava, Ukraine on the Soviet Eastern Front.

The expected mission of the squadron on the Russian Front was to provide night fighter escort for Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers on "shuttle" missions from their bases in England and Italy to targets in Eastern Europe. However, a Luftwaffe night attack on the Soviet Air Force bases where the bombers landed in Ukraine on June 21, 1944 created mass havoc and destroyed several aircraft on the ground. Although the Germans were unable to repeat the destruction, a re-evaluation of the requirement for "shuttle" missions led to the cessation of the project, and the 427th's orders to Poltava were scrubbed.

Instead, the 427th NFS was to join the four Beaufighter-equipped night fighter squadrons of the Twelfth Air Force in the Mediterranean area. After about a week's stay in Cairo, the air echelon departed and arrived at the 19th Replacement Depot outside of Naples, Italy. Their new assignment was to provide night air defense from Pomigliano, which started upon their arrival on September 3. Their stay was short, as on September 20 the 427th was given orders to relocate to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations and join the Tenth Air Force in India.

Although they were in operation in the Naples area for less than three weeks, the 427th was able to fly a number of missions and had contacts with Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft from northern Italy. On one of these missions, a radar malfunction experienced just before firing range prevented possible destruction of the German aircraft. On the other mission in which contact was accomplished, the attack was cut short when the Naples antiaircraft defenses tried to help and nearly shot down the 427th's P-61.

Arriving in India, the squadron cooperated with the 426th NFS. The 426th, with only four operational Widows, needed additional aircraft for their Chengtu, China operations. A deal was struck between the COs of the two squadrons in which the 427th would give the 426th eight of its twelve aircraft in exchange for the 426th's aircraft at the depot at Karachi, Pakistan, where two were assembled and six were being assembled. At this time the 427th was assigned to Pandaveswar, India.

On November 28 another contingent of the 427th NFS arrived at Myitkyina, North this time. More of the squadron arrived during December, basically by truck over the Ledo Road from their headquarters in India to prepare Myitkyina North as the squadron's new headquarters where they would remain until May 1945.

During December, the 427th's small detachment of three P-61s at Myitkyina South saw all there was of aerial "action." They participated in seventeen combat missions. Three were patrols ordered by higher headquarters, and two were due enemy aircraft in the area.

On December 25, 1944 a detachment of the 427th NFS arrived at Kunming, China, relieving the 426th's detachment, although the bulk of the squadron remained in Burma. During January 1945, they flew patrols over Myitkyina and Bhamo and twelve local tactical interceptions. No enemy aircraft was encountered. Unfortunately for the 427th, one of those misfortunes of war occurred. On January 22 one of its aircraft in the China detachment operating out of Suichwan shot down a US C-87 with a crew of nine. The C-87 was in a prohibited area and made no radio calls, which led to the conclusion that it was hostile.

From this point on, Japanese night flying nearly ceased. More and more the 427th flew night intruder missions. The 427th NFS modified their aircraft to carry a three-tube bazooka-type rocket launcher under each wing. With their rocket-carrying P-61s, they operated against Japanese forces from their bases at Myitkyina in Burma as well as Kunming in China.

The 427th NFS intruder missions started on February 22 with a sweep of the road network south of Lashio, Burma. The squadron flew seven night intruder sorties that month. In mid-March, day and night offensive reconnaissance missions covering Pangkeyhtu/Loi-lem/Ho-pong/Namsang road network. Thirty-three day and night patrols were accomplished that month. Missions staged out of Kunming and Chihkiang were curtailed in April because of a shortage of fuel.

Squadron headquarters moved from Burma to Kisselbarri, near Dinjan, India, in late May The detachment at Kunming China remained there, operating elements from Chihkiang, Cheng¬kung and Nanning until the war's end. Activity increased in July, with the squadron claiming 155 sampans destroyed and fifty-two damaged in addition to numerous warehouses, barges, trains and trucks destroyed. Besides flying day and night intruder sorties, two special medical supply airdrop sorties were flown in a BT-13A aircraft.

On August 13, 1945, the 427th was ordered to move to Liuchow, China. The air echelon flew there immediately while the ground echelon began the movement by road convoy. With the war over, the air echelon was ordered to fly to Yangkai, China, to turn in their aircraft for pickling and start processing home. All aircraft were turned in at Yangkai on August 29 due to cessation of hostilities and preparation for relocation to the United States. The 427th Night Fighter Squadron was inactivated on October 13, 1945.

Cold War

The 427th Special Operations Training Squadron was with Tactical Air Command, being assigned to England Air Force Base, Louisiana on July 1, 1970. It was inactivated on July 15, 1972.

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Northrop P-61 Black Widow--The Complete History and Combat Record, Garry R. Pape, John M. Campbell and Donna Campbell, Motorbooks International, 1991.
  • Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0892010975

External links


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