474th Tactical Fighter Wing

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474th Tactical Fighter Wing
474thtfwemblem.jpg
474th Tactical Fighter Wing emblem
Active 1952 – 1989
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Fighter
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam
Commanders
Notable
commanders
James B. Davis
Chuck Horner

The 474th Tactical Fighter Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada where it trained combat-ready aircrews and maintained a rapid-reaction capability to execute fighter attacks against enemy forces and facilities in time of crisis. During its operational lifetime, the 474th was engaged in combat operations during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The 474th TFW was inactivated on 30 September 1989.

History[edit]

429th TFS F-16A Block 10A 79-0380 at Nells
429th TFS F-4D Phantom - 66-7587 about 1979
428th Tactical Fighter Squadron General Dynamics F-111A 67-065 Nellis AFB NV Flying over Nevada in 1969 after its return from Thailand
430th TFS F-111 67-0113i at Nells
Maintenance on 430th FBS/474th FBG F-84Gs at Taegu Air Base, 1954.

Activated in Japan and moved the same day to South Korea with tactical components to begin combat operations. Tactical components were detached on 1 April 1953, while the rest of the wing reduced to "paper" status, a condition which prevailed until the wing inactivated in 1954.

Activated in the United States in October 1957 and until mid-September 1964 maintained proficiency in tactical fighter operations, deploying components, aircraft, and crews on a global basis in support of NATO, PACAF, AAC, and other organizations. Deployed three squadrons to southeastern United States during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The entire wing, except for a deployed squadron in Southeast Asia, reverted to "paper" status on 15 September 1965, the single detached squadron being reduced to "paper" status upon its return to the United States.

On 20 January 1968 the wing was reassigned to Nellis AFB, giving the base an operational Tactical Fighter Wing, assigned to Twelfth Air Force.[1] With the move to Nellis, the 474th Combat Support Group became the base operating host unit.

The 474th became the first USAF operational wing equipped with the General Dynamics F-111.[2] In early 1968, the Air Force decided to rush a small detachment of F-111As to Southeast Asia under a program known as "Combat Lancer". Six 428th TFS F-111As were allocated to the Combat Lancer program, and departed Nellis AFB for Takhli RTAFB on 15 March 1968. By the end of that month, 55 night missions had been flown against targets in North Vietnam, but two aircraft had been lost. 66-0022 had been lost on March 28, and 66-0017 on March 30. Replacement aircraft had left Nellis, but the loss of a third F-111A (66-0024) on April 22 halted F-111A combat operations. However, the aircraft remained poised for combat, but they saw little action before their return to the USA in November.[2]

It turned out that the three F-111A losses were not due to enemy action but were caused by wing and tail structural defects. One of the Combat Lancer crashes had been traced to a malfunction of the aircraft's tail servo actuator. These losses caused a storm of controversy in the United States, with Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire denouncing the F-111A as an unsafe and defective plane. However, the Air Force and General Dynamics remained hard at work trying to fix the problems with the F-111A. The 428th TFS of the 474th TFW reached an initial operational capability in the spring of 1968. Modifications to the F-111 took a lot longer than expected, and the Wing was not fully operational until July 1971.[2] In December 1968, Tactical Air Command activated the 4527th Combat Crew Training Squadron (Tail Code "ND" as a dedicated F-111 pilot training squadron at Nellis. The provisional squadron performed lead-in training for experienced pilots in the F-111, it was made an Air Force squadron in October 1969, being re-designated as the 442d Tactical Fighter Training Squadron.[3]

The 474th returned to Takhli RTAFB in September 1972. Three F-111A squadrons (the 428th,429th and 430th) participated in the Linebacker II aerial offensive against North Vietnam. They flew bombing missions against targets in North Vietnam and Laos in the midst of the monsoon season. They flew without RB-66E electronic countermeasures escort aircraft or KC-135 tankers. On 8 November 1972, they flew 20 strikes over North Vietnam in weather that grounded other aircraft. Four F-111As could deliver the bomb loads of 20 F-4s. The 428th,429th and 430th TFS flew some 4000 combat missions with excellent success rates in hitting targets even when visibility was near zero. Only six aircraft were lost in action.[2]

The 430th TFS returned to the 474th TFW Nellis on 22 March 1973 assuming a replacement training unit mission, while the 428th and 429th were assigned to the newly transferred 347th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho on 30 July 1973. With the end of hostilities in Southeast Asia, the 474th's mission was to train combat-ready force of aircrews and maintained a rapid-reaction capability to execute fighter attacks against enemy forces and facilities in time of crisis.[2]

In 1975, the 428th and 429th were reassigned to the wing, again being equipped with F-111As. In August 1977, the F-111 aircraft and crews were transferred to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and the 474th Wing absorbed the F-4D Phantom II aircraft, crews, and resources of the inactivating provisional 4474th Tactical Fighter Wing at Nellis in April 1977.[1] The Phantoms had a relatively short life, being replaced with new F-16A Fighting Falcons, as part of "Operation Ready Switch". The 474th was the third USAF wing to receive Fighting Falcons. It received its first Block 1/5 F-16A/Bs in November 1980, later operated Block 10 F-16A/Bs.[2][4]

The wing conducted routine Tactical Air Command training and deployments from Nellis with the F-16s, retaining the Block 10/15 models until September 1989, when the wing was inactivated, the F-16As no longer being considered as front-line aircraft. Instead of re-equipping the wing, the F-16As were transferred to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons, and the three squadrons resurfacing as EF-111A Raven Electronic Warfare Squadrons with the 27th Operations Group (27th Tactical Fighter Wing) at Cannon AFB, New Mexico.[1]

Lineage[edit]

  • Established as 474th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 25 June 1952
Activated on 10 July 1952
Inactivated on 8 November 1954
  • Activated on 8 October 1957
Redesignated 474th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 July 1958
Inactivated on 30 September 1989.

Assignments[edit]

Attached to: Fifth Air Force, 10 July 1952 – 1 April 1953
Attached to: 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 April 1953 – 8 November 1954
Attached to Seventh Air Force, ADVON, c. 27 September 1972—c. 23 March 1973

Components[edit]

Re-designated: 442d Tactical Fighter Training Squadron: 15 October 1969 – 31 July 1977

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

  1. ^ a b c Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  2. ^ a b c d e f Thornborough, Tony (1993), Osprey Aerospace, 1993. F-111 Aardvark--USAF's Ultimate Strike Aircraft ISBN 1-85532-259-5
  3. ^ NCWE F-111 page
  4. ^ Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.

References[edit]

  • Futrell, Robert Frank (1983) The United States Air Force In Korea, 1950–1953, Maxwell AFB, Alabama Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-71-4
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • [1] Air Force Historical Research Agency