103d Airlift Wing
|103d Airlift Wing|
118th Airlift Squadron C-21A Learjet
|Active||24 June 1942-Present|
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||Connecticut Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Bradley Air National Guard Base, Windsor Locks, Connecticut|
|Motto||"Audeo (Dare, Act Boldly, Go With Courage)"|
|Engagements||Mediterranean theatre of World War II|
|103d Airlift Wing emblem|
The 103d Airlift Wing (103 AW) is a unit of the Connecticut Air National Guard, stationed at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Windsor Locks, Connecticut. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command.
During World War II, the Wing's predecessor unit, the 324th Fighter Group, served in combat with Twelfth and Ninth Air Force, primarily in the Mediterranean, African, and The Middle East Theatres. It was a highly decorated organization, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for supporting French forces during the campaigns for Italy and France, 1944–1945.
The 118th Airlift Squadron assigned to the Wings 103rd Operations Group, is a descendant organization of the World War I 118th Aero Squadron, established on 31 August 1917. It was reformed on 1 November 1923, as the 118th Observation Squadron, and is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II.
The "Flying Yankees" of the 103rd Airlift Wing are the third oldest Air National Guard unit in the United States, tracing their lineage back over 90 years of military aviation. They currently fly the C-21A, a twin turbofan engine aircraft and its mission is providing cargo and passenger airlift. The aircraft is the military version of the Lear Jet 35A business jet.
In addition to providing cargo and passenger airlift, 103rd Airlift Wing's C-21 mission is transporting one litter or five ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations.
The 103d Airlift Wing consists of the following major units:
- 103d Operations Group
- 103d Maintenance Group
- 103d Mission Support Group
- 103d Medical Group
- 103rd Air Operations Group
World War II
The origins of the 103d Airlift Wing begin with the 324th Fighter Group, which was constituted on 24 June 1942 and activated on 6 July 1942. Moved to the Middle East, October–December 1942, for operations with Ninth Air Force. Trained for several weeks with P-40 aircraft. While headquarters remained in Egypt, squadrons of the group began operating with other organizations against the enemy in Tunisia. Reunited in June 1943, the 324th group engaged primarily in escort and patrol missions between Tunisia and Sicily until July 1943. Received a DUC for action against the enemy from March 1943 to the invasion of Sicily.
Trained during July–October 1943 for operations with Twelfth Air Force. Resumed combat on 30 October 1943 and directed most of its attacks against roads, bridges, motor transports, supply areas, rolling stock, gun positions, troop concentrations, and rail facilities in Italy until August 1944. Patrolled the beach and protected convoys during the assault on Anzio in January 1944. Aided the Allied offensive in Italy during May 1944, receiving another DUC for action from 12 to 14 May when the group bombed an enemy position on Monastery Hill (Cassino), attacked troops massing on the hill for counterattack, and hit a nearby stronghold to force the surrender of an enemy garrison.
Continued to give close support to ground forces until the fall of Rome in June 1944. Converted to P-47's in July and supported the assault on southern France in August by dive-bombing gun position, bridges, and radar facilities, and by patrolling the combat zone. Attacked such targets as motor transports, rolling stock, rail lines, troops, bridges, gun emplacements, and supply depots after the invasion, giving tactical support to Allied forces advancing through France. Aided the reduction of the Colmar bridgehead January–February 1945, and supported Seventh Army's drive through the Siegfried defenses in March Received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for supporting French forces during the campaigns for Italy and France, 1944–1945.
Moved to the US, October–November 1945. Inactivated on November 1945.
Connecticut Air National Guard
The wartime 324th Fighter Group was re-designated as the 103d Fighter Group, and was allotted to the Connecticut Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Bradley Army Airfield, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and was extended federal recognition on 7 August 1946 by the National Guard Bureau. The 103d Fighter Group was bestowed the lineage, history, honors, and colors of the 324th Fighter Group.
The mission of the 103d Fighter Group was the air defense of Connecticut. It was assigned the 118th Fighter Squadron, equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts. Other support units assigned to the 103d were the 103d Headquarters, 103d Material Squadron (Maintenance), 103d Combat Support Squadron, and the 103d USAF Dispensary.
Korean War activation
With the surprise invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, and the regular military's complete lack of readiness, most of the Air National Guard was federalized placed on active duty. The Connecticut Air National Guard was federalized on 10 February 1951 with the 103d Fighter Group being re-designated as the 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group, and the 103d Fighter-Interceptor Wing being established by Air Defense Command on 2 March 1951. The 118th also being re-designated as a Fighter-Interceptor squadron.
The 103d was assigned to the Air Defense Command Eastern Air Defense Force and moved to Suffolk County AFB, New York on 1 June 1951, flying air defense missions with their F-47D Thunderbolts. On 1 February 1952 the 103d FIW and assigned groups were inactivated by ADC, the 118th FIS being assigned to the 4709th Air Defense Wing at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. It should also be noted that during its period of federalization, the 118th FIS transferred many of its pilots and ground support personnel to Fifth Air Force, where they served in combat in Korea.
The Connecticut Air National Guard was re-activated on 1 November 1952 with the end of the uhits federalization period. The 103d was re-activated as a Fighter-Bomber Wing being Tactical Air Command-gained. However, Air Defense Command remained as a secondary mission.
Upon the 118th's return, the F-47s were sent to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage and the squadron was re-equipped with Very Long Range F-51H Mustangs by TAC with a close air support mission. In January 1953, the 103d received several F-84D Thunderjets for maintenance instruction, and the squadron was fully equipped with the Thunderjet during the summer of 1953.
In the spring of 1955, the F-84Gs were transferred to the Georgia ANG 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, and the 118th converted to F-94B Starfires. The F-94Bs, however, only remained with the 118th for about a year when they were replaced by F-86H Sabre Tactical Fighters in 1957.
The Sabres were then replaced by F-100A Super Sabres during the summer of 1960 and the Wing becoming fully ADC-gained. The F-100As gave way to F-102 Delta Daggers in January 1966 and standing a 24-hour air defense alert. then in 1971 transferred back to Tactical Air Command, becoming an F-100D Super Sabre Group.
From 1971-1979, the 103d flew the F-100 Super Sabres and its mission was close air support and began a NATO comttment, deploying frequently in the 1970s to bases in West Germany to reinforce United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). In 1979, the unit was assigned new A-10 Thunderbolt IIs as part of the as part of the "Total Force" concept which equipped ANG units with front-line USAF aircraft. The USAFE commitment continued, deploying the "Warthog" to bases in West Germany and Italy.
In 1990 the 103d was programmed to receive the specialized Block 10 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon, also referred to as the F/A-16 due to its close air support configuration. The 1990 Gulf Crisis, however, delayed this transition. During Operation Desert Storm, the F/A-16 was battle tested and it was discovered that the Close Air Support F-16 project proved to be a miserable failure. Subsequently, the conversion of the Wing was cancelled in 1993, and the 118th TFS remained an A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support squadron.
Air Combat Command
In March 1992, with the end of the Cold War, the 103d adopted the Air Force Objective Organization plan, and the unit was re-designated as the 103d Fighter Group. In June, Tactical Air Command was inactivated as part of the Air Force reorganization after the end of the Cold War. It was replaced by Air Combat Command (ACC). In 1995, in accordance with the Air Force "One Base-One Wing" directive, the 103d was changed in status back to a Wing, and the 118th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the new 103d Operations Group.
In mid-1996, the Air Force, in response to budget cuts, and changing world situations, began experimenting with Air Expeditionary organizations. The Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) concept was developed that would mix Active-Duty, Reserve and Air National Guard elements into a combined force. Instead of entire permanent units deploying as "Provisional" as in the 1991 Gulf War, Expeditionary units are composed of "aviation packages" from several wings, including active-duty Air Force, the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, would be married together to carry out the assigned deployment rotation.
Subsequently in August 1996, the 118th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy to assume the primary close air support mission of international forces in Bosnia. Other deployments of the 118th EFS were made to augment combat operations during Operations Deny Flight and Precise Endeavor.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Bradley International Airport Air Guard Station by distributing the 103rd's A-10s to the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Municipal Airport Air Guard Station, MA (nine aircraft) and retirement (six aircraft). The wing's expeditionary combat support (ECS) elements would remain in place at Bradley and Bradley would retain capability to support a Homeland Defense mission. By combining the two units into one squadron the Air Force would retain the trained A-10 pilots and maintenance technicians in the area and create an optimum-sized and more effective squadron.
In April 2008, the 103d became an Airlift Wing. Its new missions now include; a bridge mission flying C-21A Learjets supporting JOSAC VIP airlift, counter drug operations in the U.S., Central America, South America and the Caribbean, A Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility (CIRF) for TF-34 engines used on A-10 attack aircraft and an Air Operations Center (AOC) responsible for Command and Control operations during wartime.
Sometime between FY 2012 and 2014, the 103d was programmed to receive the new Joint Cargo Aircraft, the C-27 Spartan. However, the Air Force has recently announced the end of the C-27 Spartan program, eliminating the aircraft from Air National Guards units. The C-21 Learjet aircraft continue to operate out of Bradley however it is now speculated that the 103d will transition to an C-130 mission. In September 2013 the unit received eight C-130H Hercules aircraft that are the first aircraft of this type to serve the 103rd airlift wing
- Constituted as: 324th Fighter Group on 24 June 1942
- Activated on 6 July 1942
- Inactivated on 7 November 1945
- Re-designated 103d Fighter Group and allotted to Connecticut ANG on 24 May 1946.
- Extended federal recognition and activated on 7 Aug 1946.
- Re-designated: 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group, 28 Sep 1950
- Federalized and ordered to active service on: 10 February 1951
- Established as: 103d Fighter-Interceptor Wing, extended federal recognition on 2 March 1951
- 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group assigned as subordinate unit
- Inactivated on: 6 February 1952
- Released from active duty and returned to Connecticut state control, 1 November 1952
- Re-designated: 103d Fighter-Bomber Wing and activated, 1 November 1952
- Group re-designated 103d Fighter-Bomber Group
- Re-designated: 103d Tactical Fighter Wing, 30 Nov 1957
- Group re-designated 103d Tactical Fighter Group
- Re-designated: 103d Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 1 Sep 1960
- Group re-designated 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group
- 103d Fighter Interceptor Wing inactivated, 12 June 1971, Group remained active
- Re-designated: 103d Tactical Fighter Group, 12 Jun 1971
- Re-designated: 103d Fighter Group, 15 March 1992
- Wing re-designated 103d Fighter Wing and re-activated 11 October 1995
- Group re-designated 103d Operations Group and assigned as subordinate unit
- Re-designated: 103d Fighter Wing, 11 October 1995
- Re-designated: 103d Airlift Wing, 1 Apr 2008
- I Fighter Command, 6 July 1942
- Attached to: Philadelphia Fighter Wing, 6 July – 8 October 1942
- Ninth Air Force, December 1942
- Attached to: Royal Air Force Middle East Command, December 1942-25 October 1943
- Attached to:XII Air Support Command, 8 May – 20 October 1945
- Connecticut Air National Guard, 7 August 1946-10 February 1951
- Gained by: Continental Air Command
- Eastern Air Defense Force, Air Defense Command, 10 February 1951-6 February 1952
- Connecticut Air National Guard, 1 November 1952
- Gained by: Tactical Air Command
- Gained by: Boston Air Defense Sector, Air Defense Command, 1 September 1960
- Gained by: 35th Air Division, Air Defense Command, 1 April 1966
- Gained by: 35th Air Division, Aerospace Defense Command, 19 January 1968
- Gained by: 21st Air Division, Aerospace Defense Command, 1 January 1970
- Gained by: Tactical Air Command, 12 June 1971
- Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992
- Gained by: Air Mobility Command, 1 April 2008-Present
- World War II
- 314th Fighter Squadron: 6 July 1942 – 7 November 1945
- 315th Fighter Squadron: 6 July 1942 – 7 November 1945
- 316th Fighter Squadron: 6 July 1942 – 7 November 1945
- Connecticut Air National Guard
- 103d Fighter-Interceptor (later Fighter-Bomber, Tactical Fighter) Group, 28 September 1950-11 October 1995
- Re-designated: 103d Operations Group, 11 October 1995-Present
- 118th Fighter (later Fighter-Interceptor, Fighter Bomber, Tactical Fighter, Fighter, Airlift) Squadron, 7 August 1946-6 February 1952; 1 November 1952 – Present
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
- Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
- 118th Airlift Squadron history
- A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
- Maurer, Maurer.