418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron

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418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron
Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter 63-8469.jpg
German Air Force Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter 63-8469, being operated by the 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, 1972
Active 1943-1947; 1957-1958; 1969-1976
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Fighter Training
Garrison/HQ Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
Engagements
  • Asiatic-Pacific Streamer.png
    World War II Asia-Pacific Theatre
Decorations
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines) Streamer.png
    Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
Insignia
Emblem of the 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron - Emblem.png

The 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, being inactivated at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona on 1 October 1976.

The unit was originally formed as the 418th Night Fighter Squadron in 1943. After training, it was deployed to Fifth Air Force and ordered to New Guinea to provide air defense interceptor protection against Japanese night air raids on USAAF airfields. It later served in the Philippines Campaign where in addition to night interceptor missions it also flew day and night interdiction missions against enemy troop movements, brides and other targets of opportunity. It later served in Occupied Japan and Okinawa where it was inactivated in 1947.

During the Cold War, the squadron was briefly activated in the Philippines in 1958, then became an F-104 Starfighter training unit for the West German Air Force at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in the early 1970s.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The squadron was activated on 1 April 1943 at the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, Orlando AAF, Florida. After several months of training with Douglas P-70 Havoc night fighters, the unit was deployed to the Pacific Theater, moving first to Camp Patrick Henry, near Newport News Virginia where they boarded the USS General John Pope, sailing through the Panama Canal to Milne Bay, New Guinea.[1]

42-39588 at McGuire Field, Mindoro, Philippines. Aircraft assigned to the second commanding officer of the 418th, Major William B. (Bill) Sellers (on right). Aircraft was named after his wife Alice Ruth.

In New Guinea, the squadron was assigned to Fifth Air Force and initially stationed at Dobodura airfield in November 1943. It was the first dedicated night interceptor squadron assigned to the Pacific Theater. However, it was found that the P-70 was not very successful in actual combat interception of Japanese fighters at night[2] and after a short time, Fifth Air Force modified some Lockheed P-38F Lightnings in the field as single-seat night fighters by fitting an SCR540 radar with yagi antennae on the nose on both sides of the central nacelle, and above and below the wings. The Lightnings were much more successful than the P-70s, and Lockheed sent field representatives to new Guinea to study the modified aircraft for a new production model (P-38M) which it began producing in 1944.[3]

As the fortunes of war progressed, the squadron moved west along the northern coast of New Guinea, moving to several advance airfields on the island throughout 1943 and 1944. In September 1944, the squadron was re-equipped with P-61 Black Widows and moved to Morotai Island in the Dutch East Indies where they engaged enemy aircraft. In the East Indies, additional B-25 Mitchells and P-38s were assigned, using the B-25s for night intruder operations, P-61s for night fighter operations and the P-38s for searchlight cooperation operations. In November the squadron moved to the Philippines, arriving on Leyte on 14 November.[1]

The unit was attached frequently to different units throughout the war, and remained in the Philippines until July 1945 when it moved to Okinawa. From Kadena Airfield, the unit attacked a wide range of enemy targets on Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and along the east China coast. Its first mission against targets on the Japanese Home Islands took place on 28 July when it attacked targets on Kyūshū and also in the Shanghai area of enemy controlled China.[1]

After V-J Day, the 418th NFS moved briefly to Atsugi Airfield, Japan during October 1945 where it was part of the occupying forces. It returned to Okinawa on 15 June 1946, conducting training operations until 20 February 1947 when the unit was inactivated. Its assigned personnel, aircraft and equipment were transferred to the 4th Fighter Squadron (All Weather).[4]

Cold War[edit]

The squadron was briefly activated by Thirteenth Air Force at Clark Air Base, Philippines in late 1957. It was programmed to be an F-100A Super Sabre daylight air superiority squadron, however no record of any aircraft actually assigned to the unit can be found. The squadron was inactivated on 1 July 1958 due to overall budget reductions in the Air Force.[5]

On 1 October 1969 the squadron was again reactivated, by Tactical Air Command under the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing (TFTW) at Luke AFB, Arizona. It assumed the personnel and equipment of the provisional 4518th Combat Crew Training Squadron, which had been flying West German Air Force TF-104G Starfighters at Luke AFB since 1964.[6] The training was in support of Foreign Military Sales, and the squadron operated twin-seat trainers with USAF markings and serial numbers, although the planes were produced in Germany by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm )MBB) under licence and owned by the German government.[7]

F-104G production ended with the delivery of the last aircraft by MBB in 1973 to the squadron, the last German Air Force students graduated in the summer of 1976, The squadron was inactivated on 1 October and was replaced by an F-4F Phantom II training squadron.[4][7]

Lineage[edit]

418th Fighter-Day Squadron
World War II 418th Night Fighter Squadron emblem
  • Established as 418th Night Fighter Squadron 1 April 1943
Inactivated 20 February 1947
  • Re-designated 418th Fighter-Day Squadron on 6 December 1957
Activated on 10 December 1957
Inactivated on 1 July 1958
  • Reactivated as 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 15 October 1969
Inactivated on 1 October 1976[4]

Assignments[edit]

Attached to 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, 17 July – 26 September 1943)
Attached to: First Air Task Force, 22 November 1943
Attached to: 308th Bombardment Wing, 1 February 1944
Attached to: 310th Bombardment Wing, c. 15 May 1944
Attached to: Thirteenth Air Force, 10 November 1944
Attached to: 310th Bombardment Wing, 26 December 1944-30 January 1945
Attached to: 308th Bombardment Wing, c. 30 July 1945
Attached to: 310th Bombardment Wing, 22 October-10 November 1945
Attached to: V Bomber Command, 10 November 1945-20 March 1946
(Upon inactivation, personnel and equipment reassigned to 4th Fighter Squadron (All Weather)

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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

  1. ^ a b c Northrop P-61 Black Widow—The Complete History and Combat Record, Garry R. Pape, John M. Campbell and Donna Campbell, Motorbooks International, 1991.
  2. ^ Baugher Douglas P-70
  3. ^ Baugher, Lockheed P-38M Lightning
  4. ^ a b c d e f Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 
  5. ^ AFHRA 418th Fighter Squadron (Day)
  6. ^ Starfighters in Arizona
  7. ^ a b Baugher Lockheed F-104G Starfighter

External links[edit]