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479th Flying Training Group
479tttw-patch.jpg
479th Tactical Training Wing Patch
Active 1943–2007
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Fighter/Fighter Training
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Moody AFB, Georgia
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1965–1967)

The 479th Flying Training Group (479 FTG) is an active unit of the United States Air Force. Its assignment is with Air Education and Training Command, being stationed at NAS Pensacola, Florida. It was activated on October 2, 2009.

Contents

History

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Lineage

  • Constituted as 479th Fighter Group on October 12, 1943
Activated on October 15, 1943
Inactivated on December 1, 1945
  • Established as 479th Fighter-Bomber Wing on October 15, 1952
Activated on December 1, 1952
479th Fighter-Bomber Group activated and assigned as subordinate unit on December 1, 1952
Redesignated 479th Fighter-Day Wing on February 15, 1954
Redesignated 479th Tactical Fighter Wing on July 1, 1958
Inactivated October 1, 1971
  • Redesignated 479th Tactical Training Wing October 22, 1976
Activated on January 1, 1977
Inactivated July 26, 1991
  • 479th Fighter Training Group activated July 31, 2000
Inactivated June 21, 2007
Activated on October 2, 2009

* Note: The 479th Antisubmarine Group (July 1 – November 11, 1943) flew antisubmarine patrols from several airfields in England using B-24 Liberators as part of AAF Antisubmarine Command during World War II. Despite the unit having the same numerical designation and an earlier date of service, it does not share the linage or history of the 479th Training Group.

Assignments

Los Angeles Fighter Wing, 15 Oct 1943-12 Apr 1944
Attached to: 2d Bombardment (later Air) Division, 15 Sep 1944-22 Nov 1945
Attached to Nineteenth Air Force, March 15 – April 19, 1956

Stations

Components

Groups

  • 413th Fighter: attached November 11, 1954 – October 8, 1957.
  • 479th Fighter: December 1, 1952 – January 11, 1953

Squadrons

  • 1st Liaison: attached April 8, 1953 – c. January 18, 1954
  • 3d Flying Training Squadron 2000–2007
  • 1st Combat Crew Training Squadron Provisional: attached January 3 – June 30, 1962
  • 49th Flying Training 2000–2007
  • 68th Tactical Fighter
Attached December 6, 1965 – May 14, 1968
Assigned May 15 – October 1, 1968
Attached December 6, 1965 – June 14, 1968
Assigned June 15, 1968 – October 30, 1970
  • 434th Fighter (later Fighter-Bomber, later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter)
Attached December 1, 1952 – January 11, 1953
Assigned 1943–1945; October 8, 1957 – October 1, 1971; January 1, 1977 – July 26, 1991
Detached March 15 – c. August 15, 1960; August 11 – December 17, 1961
1943–1945; October 8, 1957 – c. July 20, 1966; 2000–2007
Detached December 7, 1960 – c. April 15, 1961; September 19, 1961 – January 22, 1962; August 3 – December 19, 1962; March 30 – June 23, 1964; October 12 – December 20, 1965; January 1, 1977 – July 26, 1991
  • 436th Fighter (laer Fighter-Bomber, later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter)
Attached December 3, 1952 – January 11, 1953
Assigned 1943–1945; October 8, 1957 – July 15, 1968; October 30, 1970 – March 8, 1971; January 1, 1977 – July 26, 1991
Detached c. August 11 – c. December 11, 1960, c. January 18 – c. April 12, 1962; December 15, 1962 – April 3, 1963; November 15–30, 1963; January 25 – February 17, 1965; July 1 – October 14, 1965
  • 476th (later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter)
October 8, 1957 – September 25, 1968
Detached November 12, 1959 – 2R March 1960; April 8 – August 17, 1961; April 8 – August 10, 1962; January 6 – April 1, 1964; April 7 – July 11, 1968
  • 479th Operations Support Squadron: 2002 - 2007
  • 4452d Combat Crew Training: January 16, 1967 – October 1, 1971
  • 4535th Combat Crew Training: September 25, 1968 – October 1, 1971

Aircraft Assigned

Operational History

World War II

P-38J flying over California.
North American P-51B-5 Mustang Serial 42-7040 from the 434th Fighter Squadron in June 1945. This P-51B was previously assigned to the 361st FG at RAF Bottisham and was a replacement for low-hour P-51s reassigned from the group.

The unit was constituted as the 479th Fighter Group on October 12, 1943 and activated on October 15 at Grand Central Air Terminal, near Long Beach, California. Equipped with the Lockheed P-38F Lightning, the group trained for combat and served as an air defense organization for the west coast as part of IV Fighter Command of Fourth Air Force. It was stationed at Santa Maria AAF, California

Even though the defense of the US west coast initially took priority, it was decided to deploy Lightning squadrons to Britain for heavy bomber escort duty. The 479th was reassigned to RAF Wattisham, England, April–May 1944, and assigned to the 65th Fighter Wing, VIII Fighter Command, Eighth Air Force.

The 479th group consisted of three Fighter Squadrons, (434th (L2), 435th (J2) and 436th (9B)) and the aircraft of the group had no cowling color markings as did other Eighth Air Force fighter groups. 479th lightnings were marked only with colored tail rudders. The initial inventory of P-38s, many of which were hand-me-downs from other groups painted in olive drab camouflage, used geometric symbols on the tail to identify squadrons, white for camouflaged aircraft and black for unpainted (natural metal finish) Lightnings.

The 479th FG escorted heavy bombers during operations against targets on the Continent, strafed targets of opportunity, and flew fighter-bomber, counter-air, and area-patrol missions. Engaged primarily in B-17/B-24 escort activities and fighter sweeps until the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

The group patrolled the beachhead during the invasion. Strafed and dive-bombed troops, bridges, locomotives, railway cars, barges, vehicles, airfields, gun emplacements, flak towers, ammunition dumps, power stations, and radar sites while on escort or fighter-bomber missions as the Allies drove across France during the summer and fall of 1944. The unit flew area patrols to support the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July and the airborne attack on Holland in September.

The 479th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the destruction of numerous aircraft on airfields in France on August 18 and September 5 and during aerial battle near Münster on September 26. The unit continued escort and fighter-bomber activities from October to mid-December 1944. It converted to P-51s between September 10 and October 1, using both types on missions until conversion was completed.

The group participated in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 – January 1945) by escorting bombers to and from targets in the battle area and by strafing transportation targets while on escort duty. From February to April 1945 it continued to fly escort missions, but also provided area patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine in March.

The unit returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey in November 1945, and was inactivated on December 1945. Among the notable pilots of the 479th were its second group commander, Col. Hubert Zemke, with 17.75 confirmed aerial victories and Major Robin Olds, who was officially credited with 12 German planes shot down and 11.5 others destroyed on the ground.

Cold War

On December 1, 1952 the unit was reactivated as the 479th Fighter-Bomber Wing, replacing the Federalized Missouri Air National Guard 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing, which had been brought to active duty during the Korean War. The 479th inherited the F-51D Mustangs of the ANG unit as well as becoming the host wing of George AFB for almost the next 20 years. Its operational squadrons were the 434th, 435th, 436th, and the wing squadrons participated in numerous exercises, augmented air defenses of the West Coast, and deployed overseas to support both USAFE during periods of tension in Western Europe; to Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis and to PACAF during the Vietnam War.

F-100A Era
F-100A-10-NA 53-1562 of the 434th Fighter-Day Squadron.

Initially, the new wing maintained tactical proficiency with the World War II–era F-51Ds inherited from the Air National Guard, then in February 1953 upgrading to the North American F-86H Sabre jet aircraft. The wing was chosen to be the first USAF wing to be equipped with the North American F-100A Super Sabre, receiving its first aircraft in November 1953. The 479th became operationally ready with the F-100A on September 29, 1954.

However, the F-100A had been rushed into service with unseeming haste, often over the objections of Air Force flight crews who found that the Super Sabre had some serious problems that were not being adequately addressed. Disaster struck on October 12, 1954. On that day, veteran test pilot George Welch was carrying out a maximum performance test dive followed by a high-G pullout with the ninth production F-100A (52-5764) when his aircraft disintegrated in midair. Deficiencies were found with the design of the airplane and modifications were made. The F-100A's performance was considered good but there were still some major operational deficiencies which prevented the F-100A from being a really good day fighter. Consequently, the F-100A was never very popular with its flight crews.

F-104C Era
Lockheed F-104C-5-LO Starfighter 57-926, 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, about 1960.

Since the F-100A was not considered as a truly effective air superiority fighter, the service life of the type with the USAF was rather brief, most aircraft being phased out of the active USAF inventory beginning in 1958. Beginning in October 1958, the 479th was reequipped with the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. The Starfighter was primarily intended for a nuclear strike, but Tactical Air Command wanted to use it to carry out ground attack missions with conventional weapons.

However the F-104 was not really well-suited to USAF needs, being deficient in range, endurance, and offensive capability. In addition, it lacked true all-weather capability. Out of the total of 722 Starfighters originally ordered for the USAF, only 296 were actually delivered, the remainder being canceled. However the modifications made to the F-104G led to a large number of foreign sales, with the Starfighter metamorphosing from a mediocre air-superiority day fighter into a highly capable multirole all-weather strike fighter. The excellent flying weather in Southern California gave the 479th a new mission to train F-104 pilots from West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Italy during January 1962 – August 1963 as a result of the large foreign sales.

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the 435th TFS deployed to Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, with the 435th TFS deploying to carry out air strikes against targets in Cuba in case an invasion proved to be necessary. Fortunately, the crisis was peacefully resolved.

Vietnam War
F-104s of the 476 TFS on the Da Nang flightline - 1965

The 479th was the only USAF wing to take the F-104C into combat when in April 1965, the 476th TFS deployed to Kung Kuan Air Base, Taiwan. From its base in Taiwan, the squadron began a regular rotation to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam where its mission was to fly MiG combat air patrol (MiGCAP) missions to protect USAF F-100 fighter bombers against attack by North Vietnamese fighters. The effect of F-104 deployment upon NVN and PRC MiG operations was immediate and dramatic. NVN MiGs soon learned to avoid contact with USAF strikes being covered by the F-104s. During the entire deployment of the 476th only two fleeting encounters between F-104Cs and enemy fighters occurred.

As the MiG threat abated, the 476th TFS was tasked with some weather reconnaissance and ground attack missions. A few of these were against targets in North Vietnam, but most of them were close air-support missions against targets in the South under forward air controller direction. The F-104s were fairly successful in this role, gaining a reputation for accuracy in their cannon fire and their bombing and capable of quite rapid reaction times in response to requests for air support. During this period, the 476th F-104s maintained an in-commission rate of 94.7%, a testimony both to the quality of 476th maintenance personnel and to the simplicity and maintainability of F-104 systems. However, an F-104 went down during a sortie 100 nm SSW of DaNang on June 29. The pilot was rescued with minor injuries.

The 436th TFS assumed the 476th's commitment in DaNang on July 11, and the 436th began flying combat sorties the next day. Although a few MiGCAP missions were flown, the majority of the missions were quick-reaction close-air support missions in support of ground troops. On July 23, Capt. Roy Blakely attempted to crash-land his battle-damaged F-104C at Chu Lai. Blakely successfully set his aircraft down gear-up, but died when his F-104 swerved off the runway into a sand dune.

The 436th TFS had a bad day on September 20, 1965. F-104C pilot Major Philip E. Smith managed to get lost while flying an EC-121 escort mission over the Gulf of Tonkin. After several equipment failures and incorrect steering commands, he managed to wander over Hainan Island and was shot down by a pair of Chinese MiG-19s (J-6s). He ejected and was taken prisoner. While the rest of the squadron was out looking for Major Smith, two other F-104s had a midair collision while returning to their base. Both pilots ejected and were recovered unharmed.

A week later, another F-104C was shot down by enemy AAA, and its pilot was killed. After these four losses, the remnants of the 436th were rotated back to George in November 1965.

F-4 Era
McDonnel-Douglas F-4E 66-382, 1970

In December 1965, the wing began transitioning to the F-4 Phantom II, and gained two new squadrons (68th, 431st), both equipped with the new F-4D model. The F-4D was an improved version of the F-4C, which had been deployed to South Vietnam the previous April. In February 1966, the wing began F-4 replacement pilot training and reassigned the 435th TFS with its F-104Cs to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. The F-104 remained with the 434th and 436th squadrons until early 1967 when they also were replaced by F-4Ds and the Starfighters were reassigned to the 198th TFS of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The F-104Cs replaced that unit's elderly F-86H Sabre fighter-bombers. The 435th was then rotated back to George AFB from Thailand and also re-equipped with Phantoms.

During the Vietnam War, the 479th became the premier F-4 Fighter training wing of the USAF, and F-4D pilots appeared in Southeast Asia for the first time in May 1967. From the spring of 1967, the F-4D gradually began to replace the earlier F-4C in combat over the skies of Vietnam. The first F-4D MiG "kill" took place on June 5, 1967, when crewmen Maj. Everett T. Raspberry and Capt. Francis Gullick shot down a MiG-17 near Hanoi. Since the pilot and the WSO operated as a well-integrated team, both of them were credited with a kill when they scored one.

Along with the USAF fighter pilot training, the 479th began training foreign personnel in F-4 operations and maintenance in March 1969, as they had done in the early 1960s with the F-104. Pilots were trained from Israel, Iran, Japan, and West Germany. In 1969 and 1970, F-4C and early model F-4E aircraft were used by the 4452d and 4535th Combat Crew Training Squadrons.

With the American withdrawal from its South Vietnamese bases in 1971, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was reassigned from Phan Rang Air Base to George. Under a program where combat wings from the Vietnam War were retained in order to preserve and honor their combat heritage, the 479th was inactivated with the 35th absorbing the personnel, equipment and aircraft of the 479th on October 1, 1971.

Flying Training Era
Northrop AT-38B-55-NO Talon AF Serial No. 64-13172 of the 434th TFTS/479th TTW.
T-38Cs of the 479th Fighter Training Group
Holloman AFB

The 479th was reactivated as 479th Tactical Training Wing on January 1, 1977 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, flying the Northrup AT-38 Talon. The 479th TTW's mission was to provide Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) training for pilots assigned to fly the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Operational squadrons of the wing were:

  • 416th Tactical Fighter Training (March 14, 1979 – September 1, 1983)
Redesignated 433d TFTS (September 1, 1983 – November 15, 1991) (grey stripe)

All 479th TTW aircraft carried the "HM" tail code. The LIFT program was sharply cut back in 1991, with the training mission and aircraft being consolidated under the 586th Flight Training Squadron.

Moody AFB

The unit was reactivated as the 479th Flying Training Group at Moody AFB, Georgia on July 30, 2001 as an Air Education and Training Command unit. The group's activation was part of an effort to increase pilot production due to a pilot shortage throughout the Air Force. Its mission at Moody was to conduct primary Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training. The group consisted of three training squadrons. These were :

These aircraft all carried the Tail Code "MY". The 49 FTS and 435 FTS conducted an advanced pilot training and the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) course for recently winged USAF Navigator/Combat Systems Officers en route to Weapons System Officer (WSO) assignments in the F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and recently winged pilots en route to the F-22, F-15C, F-15E, F-16, and A-10. The 3d FTS provided basic pilot training.

As a result of BRAC 2005, the 479th FTG was inactivated on July 21, 2007. Its aircraft and equipment were redistributed to other AETC units.

NAS Pensacola

The 479th was reactivated at Naval Air Station Pensacola on October 2, 2009. It will use T-6A Texan IIs and T-1A Jayhawks to train Combat Systems Officers (Electronic Warfare Officers/Weapons System Officers).

References

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

Notes

Bibliography

  • Fairfield, Terry A. The 479th Fighter Group in World War II: in Action over Europe with the P-38 and P-51. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-76432-056-4.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Martin, Patrick. Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History, 1994. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
  • McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1-88058-831-5.
  • Pace, Steve. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (Warbird History). Motorbooks International, 1992. ISBN 0-87938-608-8.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-91279-912-9.
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links


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