46th Test Wing

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46th Test Wing Air Force Materiel Command.png
46th Test Wing.png
Active 1941—1944, 1975-1982, 1992-2012
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Developmental Test and Evaluation
Part of Air Force Material Command
Motto Custos Libertate (Guardians of Liberty) 1942-1944
Support 1975-1983
Proof by Trial 1993-2012
Decorations AFOUA

The 46th Test Wing (46 TW) is an inactive wing of the United States Air Force last based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The wing's 46th Test Group was a tenant unit at Holloman AFB, NM.


The 46 TW executed developmental test and evaluation for Air Force air-delivered weapons, navigation, and guidance systems, command and control systems and Air Force special operations systems.[1]


The 87th Bombardment Squadron

World War II[edit]

The wing was activated as the 46th Bombardment Group (Light) and in 1941, equipped with Douglas A-20 Havoc aircraft.[2] Its operational squadrons were the 50th,[3] 51st,[4] and 53d Bombardment Squadrons,[5] and the 8th Reconnaissance Squadron.[6] Shortly after activation in 1941, the 8th Reconnaissance Sq mission changed and it became the 87th Bombardment Squadron.[6] The 46th participated in maneuvers, including desert maneuvers,[7] and flew anti-submarine warfare patrol and search missions over the Gulf of Mexico in early 1942.[2] It also served as an operational training unit,[2] which involved the use of an oversized parent unit to provide cadres for "satellite groups."[8] In late 1943 the group mission changed to replacement training of individual pilots and aircrews (RTU).[2][8] Just before disbanding, the group began to convert to North American B-25 Mitchells.[3][4][5][6] In 1944, the group was disbanded and its personnel, equipment and functions transferred to the 333d AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Light Bombardment)[9] at Morris Field in a major reorganization of the Army Air Forces in which RTUs were disbanded and training activities given to base units.[10]

Cold War[edit]

In March 1975, 46th Aerospace Defense Wing was activated to replace the 4600th Air Base Wing at Peterson Field, where it took over the personnel, equipment, and of the 4600th and its mission of administering facilities of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), Aerospace Defense Command (ADC), and Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) located on Ent Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, and Cheyenne Mountain Complex, plus various other nearby off-base facilities,[11] which the 4600th wing had been performing from Ent AFB, then from Peterson Field since April 1958.[12] Despite its name, the wing was a "disguised" air base wing.[13] Although the provision of administrative and logistics support was the wing's primary mission, its flying training squadron served NORAD and ADC mission requirements and provided flying training for cadets at the United States Air Force Academy until 1 October 1979,[11] when ADC was inactivated and the wing transferred to the 4th Air Division of Strategic Air Command.[14] In April 1983, the 46th was inactivated and replaced by the 1st Space Wing.[15]

Test Operations[edit]

The 46th was redesignated as the 46th Test Wing and replaced the 3246th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in October 1992.[14] It designed and performed flight and ground developmental tests with uniquely modified aircraft and facilities for conventional weapons and electronic combat systems.[14] The wing also supported other Department of Defense components and numerous allied nations during test and exercises and managed the largest test range in the free world.[14] Weapons systems recently tested by the wing include the Small Diameter Bomb, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Target Void Sensing Fuze, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), and the Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.[16] The wing worked closely with the 53d Wing of Air Combat Command, which performed operational testing of many of the same weapons systems.[16]

In February 2012, the wing relocated its UH-1N helicopters from Eglin to Duke Field in anticipation of a 250 percent increase in helicopter developmental test programs.[17] The wing inactivated on 18 July 2012, with its mission transferring to the 96th Air Base Wing, which was redesignated the 96th Test Wing.[18]


Bombardment Group

  • Constituted as the 46th Bombardment Group (Light) on 20 November 1940[2]
Activated on 15 January 1941[2]
Disbanded on 1 May 1944[2]
  • Reconstituted and consolidated with the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing as the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing on 31 January 1984[14]


  • Constituted as the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing on 10 February 1975[11]
Activated on 15 March 1975[11]
Inactivated on 1 April 1983[11]
  • Consolidated with the 46th Bombardment Group (Light) on 31 January 1984[14]
  • Redesignated 46th Test Wing on 24 September 1992[14]
Activated on 1 October 1992.[14]
Inactivated on 18 July 2012




  • 46th Logistics Group (later 46th Maintenance Group): ca. 8 September 1993 - 18 July 2012
  • 46th Operations Group: 8 September 1993 – 18 July 2012[19]
  • 46th Range Group 11 May 2006 – 18 July 2012
  • 46th Test Group: 1 October 1992 - 18 July 2012[20]


Aircraft and Launch Vehicles Operated[edit]


  • American Campaign Streamer.png
American Theater
Campaign: Antisubmarine

Unit Emblems[edit]



  1. ^ 46th Test Wing Home Page
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 104–105. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  3. ^ a b Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 214–215. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. 
  4. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p.227
  5. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp.220-221
  6. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 299
  7. ^ Abstract, History of 46th Bomb Gp 1941-1944. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  8. ^ a b Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L, ed. (1955). "Introduction". The Army Air Forces in World War II. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. xxxvi. LCCN 48-3657 Check |lccn= value (help). 
  9. ^ See Abstract, History of Morris Field, 1940-1944. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  10. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 7
  11. ^ a b c d e f Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 75. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  12. ^ Abstract, History of 4600th Air Base Wg, Jan-Jun 1971. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  13. ^ Ravenstein, p. viii
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v AFHRA Factsheet, 46th Test Wing. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  15. ^ Abstract, History of 46th Aerospace Def Wg, Jan-Mar 1983. Retrieved 26 June 2012
  16. ^ a b c Eglin AFB Press Release, "46th Test Wing garners Air Force award", 12 December 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2012
  17. ^ DOD Housing Network News Story, The 46th Test Wing’s Hueys relocated to Eglin’s Duke Field, 6 Mar 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  18. ^ AFMC Press Release, "AFMC Prepares for 5-Center Transition", 19 June 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  19. ^ AFHRA Factsheet, 46th Operations Group. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  20. ^ AFHRA Factsheet, 46th Test Group. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  21. ^ AFHRA Factsheet, 40th Flight Test Squadron. Retrieved June 26, 2012
  22. ^ a b c d e f Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 474. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. 
  23. ^ Wilson, Art (2008). Runways in the Sand. Blythe, California: Art Wilson. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-615-21889-2. OCLC 316309702.  LCC D769.85.C21 B598 2008
  24. ^ This was a shared award with 3246th Test Wing
  25. ^ Official Web Site of the Air Force Personnel Services This is a search page for unit awards


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

External links[edit]