118th Airlift Squadron
|118th Airlift Squadron|
118th Airlift Squadron - Gates Learjet C-21A 84-0124
|Active||31 August 1917-Present|
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||Connecticut Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Bradley Air National Guard Base, Windsor Locks, Connecticut|
|Engagements||World War I
World War II
|118th Airlift Squadron emblem|
The 118th Airlift Squadron (118 AS) is a unit of the Connecticut Air National Guard 103d Airlift Wing stationed at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The 118th is equipped with the C-21A Learjet.
The squadron 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.
World War I 
The 118th Airlift Squadron's origins date to August 1917, when the unit was activated as the 118th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas. After little more than basic individual and unit training at Kelly, the squadron departed by train for the East Coast en route to France. After a brief stopover at Garden City, Long Island, New York, they sailed for Europe on the 13th of January 1918, arriving at St. Maixent, France on the 29th of that month. The squadron, re-designated the 639th Aero Service Squadron in France, was credited with honorable service from January to November, 1918, but as a construction and support unit, it saw no real combat action. The Fleur-de-lis on the post World War II squadron insignia reflects that service in France.
The war ended in November, but the 639th remained in France until May 1919 when it returned to the United States and was demobilized at Mitchell Field, New York, on the 6th of June 1919.
Connecticut National Guard 
The National Defense Act of 1921 provided for a number of National Guard Aviation Squadrons and the 43d Aero Squadron was re-designated as the 43d Division Air Service Squadron.
As a National Guard unit the squadron became a part of the 43d Division, at that time made up of National Guard Troops from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. Since there were no airfields in Connecticut capable of handling military type aircraft, the 118th was initially assigned to the Rhode Island National Guard for duty.
However, after the opening of Brainard Field in Hartford in October 1922, efforts were immediately launched to secure the Air Service unit of the 43d Division for the State of Connecticut. Rhode Island, apparently without a great deal of argument, soon relinquished its claim and the squadron was reassigned to Connecticut as the 118th Observation Squadron, Connecticut National Guard.
When the squadron was officially organized on 1 November 1923, there were some 66 officers and enlisted men officially on board. During the 1920s and 30's, the 118th "grew and prospered". Originally issued with obsolete Curtiss JN-4 "Jennies" left over from World War I, the unit was later equipped with experimental Curtiss OX-12's with rotary engines and a swept-wing design. The squadron, or elements thereof, called up to perform the following state duties: riot control at the textile workers strike at Putnam, CT, in September 1934; and flood relief at Hartford, CT, 19 March-1 April 1936. Conducted summer training at Mitchell Field, NY, or Trumbull Field, CT. Detachments were sent some years to fly spotter missions during the summer training of the 192d Field Artillery Regiment.
The 118th entered the 1940s with war in Europe already a reality and eventual U.S. involvement becoming more and more likely. The 118th was preparing to meet that eventuality. In 1940 the squadron was detached from the 43rd Division to become a part of I Army Corps, Aviation. Simultaneously, plans were being drawn up "for the entire unit to move to Jacksonville, Florida for intensive training over a period of an entire year".
World War II 
In March 1941 the 118th was activated and was assigned to Jacksonville Army Airfield, Florida where it flew antisubmarine patrols over the South Georgia and Florida Atlantic coastline. After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, it moved to Charleston, South Carolina and patrolled the approaches to the Charleston Navy Yard along with the South Carolina Atlantic coast.
With the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command taking over the coastal patrol mission, Third Air Force reassigned the squadron to Tullaholma AAF, Tennessee where it began training in combat reconnaissance and aerial photography and mapping. During 1943 the unit transitioned to combat aircraft (P-49, P-39, A-20, B-25, and finally, the P-51) and was re-designated as the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. The 118th trained with Army ground forces at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Fort Polk, Louisiana as a combat observation squadron.
Deployed to the China Burma India Theater of operations as part of the 23d Fighter Group, the "Flying Tigers." The unit participated in security patrol, close air support, and ground attack missions as part of the 23d Fighter Group.
Following the conclusion of the war, the 118th was officially disbanded.
Connecticut Air National Guard 
The wartime 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was re-designated as the 118th Fighter Squadron, 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 118h Fighter Squadron was bestowed the lineage, history, honors, and colors of the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, and all predecessor units. The squadron was equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts. The squadron was assigned to the Connecticut ANG 103d Fighter Group.
The mission of the 118th Fighter Squadron was the air defense of Connecticut. Aircraft parts were no problem and many of the maintenance personnel were World War II veterans so readiness was quite high and the planes were often much better maintained than their USAF counterparts. In some ways, the postwar Air National Guard was almost like a flying country club and a pilot could often show up at the field, check out an aircraft and go flying. However, the unit also had regular military exercises that kept up proficiency and in gunnery and bombing contests they would often score at least as well or better than active-duty USAF units, given the fact that most ANG pilots were World War II combat veterans.
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.
Cold War 
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.
Airlift mission 
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. It is now speculated that the 103d will transition to an MC-12W mission. The primary use of the MC-12W is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, support directly to ground forces.
- Organized as 118th Aero Squadron on 31 Aug 1917
- Re-designated 639th Aero Squadron on 1 Feb 1918
- Demobilized on 6 Jun 1919
- Constituted in the National Guard in 1921 as the 118th Squadron (Observation) and allotted to the state of Connecticut
- Re-designated: 118th Observation Squadron, and organized: 25 January 1923
- Federally recognized and activated on 1 November 1923
- Consolidated with the 639th Aero Squadron and re-constituted on: 20 October 1936
- Ordered to active service on 24 Feb 1941
- Re-designated: 118th Observation Squadron (Light) on 13 Jan 1942
- Re-designated: 118th Observation Squadron on 4 Jul 1942
- Re-designated: 118th Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter) on 2 Apr 1943
- Re-designated: 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 11 Aug 1943
- Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
- Re-designated 118th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to Connecticut ANG, on 24 May 1946
- Extended federal recognition and activated on 7 August 1946
- Re-designated: 118th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 28 Sep 1950
- Federalized and ordered to active service on: 10 February 1951
- Released from active duty and returned to Connecticut state control, 1 November 1952
- Re-designated: 118th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 Dec 1952
- Re-designated: 118th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 May 1956
- Re-designated: 118th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 30 Nov 1957
- Re-designated: 118th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 Sep 1960
- Re-designated: 118th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 12 Jun 1971
- Re-designated: 118th Fighter Squadron, 15 Mar 1992
- Components designated as: 118th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron when deployed as part of an Air and Space Expeditionary unit after June 1996.
- Re-designated: 118th Airlift Squadron, 1 Apr 2008
- Post Headquarters, Kelly Field, 31 August 1917-3 January 1918
- Aviation Concentration Center, 3–13 January 1918
- Replacement Concentration Center, AEF, 29 January-3 March 1918
- II Corps Aeronautical School, AEF, 3 March 1918-March 1919
- Post Headquarters, Mitchel Field, c. 22 May-6 June 1919
- Connecticut National Guard (divisional aviation, 43d Division), 1 Nov 1923
- IV Army Corps, 24 Feb 1941
- 66th Observation (later Reconnaissance; Tactical Reconnaissance) Group, 1 Sep 1941
- III Reconnaissance Command, Oct 1943
- AAF, India-Burma Sector, Jan 1944
- Attached to Tenth Air Force, 14 Feb-c. 12 Jun 1944
- Fourteenth Air Force, c. 12 Jun 1944
- Attached to 23d Fighter Group, c. 16 Jun 1944-c. 15 Aug 1945
- Tenth Air Force, 1 Aug 1945
- Fourteenth Air Force, 25 Aug-7 Nov 1945
- 103d Fighter Group, 7 August 1946
- 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group, 2 March 1951
- 4709th Defense Wing, 6 February 1952
- 103d Fighter-Interceptor Group, 1 November 1952
- 103d Tactical Fighter Wing, 30 Nov 1957
- 103d Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 1 Sep 1960
- 103d Tactical Fighter Group, 12 Jun 1971
- 103d Fighter Group, 15 March 1992 – Present
- 103d Operations Group, 11 Oct 1995–Present
See also 
- 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. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force: World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1982.
- Clay, Steven E. (2011), US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941. 2 The Services: Air Service, Engineers, and Special Troops 1919-1941. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 9780984190140.
- Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
- 118th Airlift Squadron history
- McLaren, David. Republic F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak & Thunder
- The history of the 639th Aero Squadron, United States Army Air Service, 1920