66th Weapons Squadron

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66th Weapons Squadron
66th Weapons Squadron Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II 80-0200.jpg
66th WPS A-10A Thunderbolt II 80-0200
Active 1940 – present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Advanced Close Air Support Training
Part of USAF Weapons School
Garrison/HQ Nellis AFB, Nevada
Tail Code "WA"
Engagements European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
World War II (EAME Theater)
Decorations Streamer PUC Army.PNG
Distinguished Unit Citation (3x)
US Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
French Croix De Guerre Streamer (World War II).jpg
French Croix de Guerre, with Palm
Insignia
66thWeapons Squadron emblem 66th Weapons Squadron - Emblem.png

The United States Air Force's 66th Weapons Squadron (66 WPS) is a United States Air Force Weapons School A-10 Thunderbolt II instructional flying unit, at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

Overview[edit]

Established in 2003, the 66th Weapons Squadron teaches graduate-level instructor courses that provide training in weapons and tactics employment to officers of the combat air forces and mobility air forces. The 66th WPS focuses on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with the climax of the course being the mission employment phase, a two-week staged battle over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Upon graduation, the new weapons officers return to the field to serve as unit weapons and tactics officers, providing advanced instruction and technical advice to their commanders, operations officers, and personnel.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

66th FS P-40Fs take off in North Africa, c. 1942.

Formed as a P-40 Warhawk pursuit squadron in January 1941 as part of the Army Air Corps Northeast Defense Sector (later I Fighter Command) at Mitchel Field, New York. Trained in New England and provided air defense of the northeast after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Was reassigned to the U.S. Army Middle East Force in Egypt, July 1942, becoming part of IX Fighter Command. Took part in the British Western Desert Campaign, engaged in combat during the Battle of El Alamein and, as part of Ninth Air Force, supported the Commonwealth Eighth Army's drive across Egypt and Libya, escorting bombers and flying strafing and dive-bombing missions against airfields, communications, and troop concentrations until Axis defeat in Tunisia in May 1943. The unit participated in the reduction of Pantelleria (May–June 1943) and the conquest of Sicily (July–August 1943).

The squadron supported the British Eighth Army's landing at Termoli and subsequent operations in Italy, being reassigned to Twelfth Air Force in August 1943. It flew dive-bombing, strafing, patrol, and escort missions.

In 1944, converted to P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft and flew interdiction operations in Italy. They moved to Corsica on 30 March 1944 to operate as a separate task force. It flew interdiction missions against railroads, communication targets, and motor vehicles behind enemy lines, providing a minimum of 48 fighter-bomber sorties per day.

Participated in the French campaign against Elba in June 1944 and in the invasion of Southern France in August. It engaged in interdiction and support operations in northern Italy from September 1944 to May 1945.

The 66th flew its last combat mission on 2 May 1945. Remained in northern Italy after the end of the European War, demobilizing throughout the summer of 1945. It was reassigned to the United States in August 1945 without personnel or equipment and was inactivated at the end of August.

Cold War[edit]

66th FWS F-105F Thunderchief 63-8318
66th FWS F-4E Phantom II 68-0400

Reactivated in August 1946 as part of Eleventh Air Force (Later Alaskan Air Command) as part of the air defense forces in the northwest Pacific. Squadron began training new P-51 pilots at Elmendorf Field, Alaska. Later, it was equipped with F-80Bs in March–April 1948, F-80Cs in October–December 1948, F-94Bs in the summer of 1951, and F-89Cs in September 1953. With these aircraft, the squadron provided fighter aircraft defense in support of the Alaska Area until late in the 1950s.

Was reassigned to Oxnard AFB, California in 1957, but was never equipped or manned due to budgetary constraints, inactivated by Air Defense command, January 1958.

Reactivated by Tactical Air Command at Nellis AFB, Nevada in October 1969 Assumed the F-105C/D Thunderchief assets of the provisional 4537th Fighter Weapons Squadron, tail coded "WC". Mission was to perform "Wild Weasel" training for USAF pilots and electronic warfare officers to be deployed to combat missions in Southeast Asia. Squadron aircraft carried tail code "WA" by October 1971, black/yellow checkered tail stripes. Squadron also assumed F-4C Phantom II assets, tail coded "WD" until October 1971, then changed to "WA" as the F-105s. Trained with the F-4s and F-105s until July 1975 and Wild Weasel training and aircraft reassigned to George AFB, California.

Remained in non-operational status until October 1977 when reorganized as an A-10 Squadron, tail coded "WA", black/yellow checkered tail stripes. Performed fighter weapons training with the A-10 until the end of 1981, when inactivated and squadron was reassigned to the USAF Fighter Weapons School, being re-designated as "A-10 Division".

Modern era[edit]

Reactivated in February 2003 as 66th Weapons Squadron (65 WPS), replacing USAF Weapons School A-10 division. Provides USAF Weapons School syllabus support, priority test mission support and road shows that visit various units throughout the CONUS to ACC units for training.

Lineage[edit]

Emblem of the 66th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
  • Constituted 66th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940
Activated on 15 Jan 1941
Re-designated: 66th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (Twin Engine) on 31 Jan 1942
Re-designated: 66th Fighter Squadron (Twin Engine) on 15 May 1942
Re-designated: 66th Fighter Squadron on 1 Jun 1942
Re-designated: 66th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 21 Aug 1944
Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
  • Activated on 15 Aug 1946
Re-designated: 66th Fighter Squadron, Jet on 20 Jul 1948;
Re-designated: 66th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 20 Jan 1950
Inactivated on 8 Jan 1958
  • Re-designated 66th Fighter Weapons Squadron on 22 Aug 1969
Activated on 15 Oct 1969
Inactivated on 30 Dec 1981, assets re-designated A-10 Division, USAF Weapons School
  • Re-designated 66th Weapons Squadron on 24 Jan 2003
Activated and organized on 3 February 2003, assuming resources of A-10 Division, USAF Weapons School

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

References[edit]

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

  • 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.
  • USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

External links[edit]