47th Flying Training Wing

47th Flying Training Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 47th Flying Training Wing

caption= 47th Flying Training Wing Insignia
dates= 15 January 1941 - Present
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
role= Pilot Training
size= Wing
command_structure= Air Education & Training Command
garrison= Laughlin Air Force Base

* World War II: European Campaign (1942-1945)
notable_commanders= Donald G. Cook
The 47th Flying Training Wing (47 FTW) is a United States Air Force pilot training wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, near Del Rio, Texas. It is one of five pilot training units in the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command which conducts joint specialized undergraduate pilot training for the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and allied nation air forces utilizing the T-37B, T-38C, T-6A and T-1A aircraft.


* 47th Medical Group
* 47th Mission Support Group
* 47th Operations Group (Tail Code: XL): 47th Operations Support Squadron : [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0084fts.html 84th Flying Training Squadron] (T-6A) "Panthers": [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0085fts.html 85th Flying Training Squadron] (T-6A) "Tigers": [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0086fts.html 86th Flying Training Squadron] (T-1A) "Rio Lobos": [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0087fts.html 87th Flying Training Squadron] (T-38C) "Red Bulls"
* 340th Flying Training Group (AFRES): [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0096fts.html 96th Flying Training Squadron] (T-38C, T-1A)

*47th Security Forces Squadron "Amistad Defenders" Camp Bucca,886 Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron

Aircraft flown

* T-41, 1972 - 1973
* T-37, 1972 - 2004
* T-38, 1972- present
* T-1A, 1993 - present
* T-6, 2002 - present



* Established as 47th Bombardment Group (Light) on 20 Nov 1940. : Activated on 15 Jan 1941. : Redesignated: 47th Bombardment Group, Light (Night Attack) on 1 May 1946: Redesignated: 47th Bombardment Group, Light, on 22 Aug 1948.
* Established as 47th Bombardment Wing, Light, on 28 Jul 1947. : Organized on 15 Aug 1947. : Inactivated on 2 Oct 1949.
* Activated on 12 Mar 1951. : Redesignated 47th Bombardment Wing, Tactical, on 1 Oct 1955. : Discontinued, and inactivated, on 22 Jun 1962.
* Redesignated 47th Flying Training Wing on 22 Mar 1972. : Activated on 1 Sep 1972


* General Headquarters Air Force (later, Air Force Combat Command), 15 Jan 1941: Attached to Northwest Air District [later, Second Air Force), 15 Jan-14 Aug 1941: 15th Bombardment Wing (Light), 14 Aug 1941
* Fourth Air Force
* IV Air Support Command, 1 Sep 1941 : Attached to IV Bomber Command, 17 Dec 1941-15 Feb 1942)
* Second Air Force, 15 Feb 1942
* Third Air Force: III Bomber Command, 1 May 1942 :: Attached to III Ground Air Support Command, 29 Jun-10 Aug 1942: III Ground Air Support Command, 10 Aug 1942
* Twelfth Air Force: XII Air Support Command, 27 Sep 1942:: 5th Bombardment Wing: Oct - Dec 1942: Moroccan Composite Wing, 31 Dec 1942: XII Air Support Command:: 5th Bombardment Wing: 22 Jan - 18 Feb 1943: Attached to Northwest African Tactical Air Force, 18 Feb-20 Mar 1943: Northwest African Tactical Bomber Force, 20 Mar-1 Sep 1943: XII Air Support Command, 1 Sep-6 Oct 1943: [57th Air Division (United States)|57th Bombardment Wing [Medium] , 6 Oct-10 Dec 1943: XII Air Support [later, XII Tactical Air] Command, 10 Dec 1943-20 Jul 1944: 87th Fighter Wing , 20 Jul-7 Sep 1944: XII Tactical Air Command, 7-15 Sep 1944: XII Fighter Command [later, XXII Tactical Air Command] , 15 Sep 1944-7 Jun 1945): I Bomber Command, 11 Jul 1945
* Third Air Force, 7 Feb 1946
* Tactical Air Command, 21 Mar 1946: Ninth Air Force, 29 May 1946: Twelfth Air Force, 1 Nov 1946-2 Oct 1949:: Attached to 49th Air Division, Operational, l2 Feb 1952 - 1 Jul 1956
* United States Air Forces in Europe: Seventeenth Air Force, 1 Jul 1961-22 Jun 1962
* Air Training Command, 1 Sep 1972
* Air Education and Training Command,: Nineteenth Air Force, 1 Jul 1993-.

Bases assigned

United States Army AIr Corps/Force
* McChord Field, Washington, 15 January - 14 August 1941
* Fresno AAF, California, 14 August 1941 - 16 February 1942
* Will Rogers Field, Oklaholma, 16 February - 16 July 1942
* Greensboro AAF, North Carolina, 16 July - 18 October 1942

North African Campaign
* Mediouna, French Morocco, 18 November 1942 - 7 January 1943
* Youks-les-Bains, Algeria, 7 January 1943 - 6 March 1943
* Canrobert, Algeria, 6 - 30 March 1943
* Thelepte, Tunisia, 30 March - 13 April 1943
* Souk-el-Arba, Tunisia, 13 Apr - 1 July 1943
* Soliman, Tunisia, c. 1 - 21 Jul 1943

Postwar Era
* Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina, 11 July - September 1945
* Lake Charles AAFld, Louisiana, September 1945 - 20 October 1946
* Biggs Field, Texas, 20 Oct 1946 - 15 August 1947Italian Campaign
* Malta, 21 July - 1 August 1943
* Torrente Comunelli, Sicily, 1 -20 Aug 1943
* Gerbini, Sicily, 20 August - 24 September 1943
* Grottaglie, Italy, 24 Septermber - 15 October 1943
* Vincenzo Airfield, Italy, 15 October 1943 - 10 January 1944
* Vesuvius Airfield, Italy, 10 January - 22 March 1944
* Capodichino, Italy, 22 March - 25 April 1944
* Vesuvius Airfield, Italy, 25 April - 10 June 1944
* Ponte Galeria, Italy, 10 - 27 Jun 1944
* Ombrone Airfield, Italy, 27 June - 11 July 1944
* Corsica, 11 July - 7 September 1944
* Salon, France, 7 - 18 September 1944

* Follonica, Italy, 18 September - October 1944
* Rosignano Airfield, Italy, October - 11 December 1944
* Grosseto, Italy, 11 December 1944 - June 1945
* Pisa, Italy, June - 24 June 1945United States Air Force
* Biggs AFB, Texas, 15 August 1947 - 19 November 1948
* Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, 19 November 1948 - 2 October 1949
* Langley AFB, Virginia, 12 March 1951 - 21 May 1952
* RAF Sculthorpe, England, 1 June 1952 - 22 June 1962
* Laughlin AFB, Texas, 1 September 1972 - Present

Operational history

World War II

Constituted as 47th Bombardment Group (Light) on 20 Nov 1940, and activated on 15 Jan 1941. Operational squadrons of the group were:

* 84th Bomb Squadron 1941-1949
* 85th Bomb Squadron 1941-1949
* 86th Bomb Squadron 1941-1949
* [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/squadrons_flights_pages/0097ars.html 97th Bomb Squadron] 1941-1946

Initially based at McChord Field, Washington, the group's mission was to perform anti-submarine patrols along the Pacific coast with the Douglas B-18 Bolo its primary aircraft. This was a short-lived mission, however, as after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the group began training for duty overseas when it was assigned Douglas A-20Cs which were taken over by the USAAF from Lend-Lease contracts.

Training at several bases in the midwest and southeast, it was first believed that the 47th would be sent to the South Pacific. However shortly after Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the 47th became the first USAAF A-20 group to participate in large-scale combat in the North African Campaign, being assigned to Twelfth Air Force.

Flying to a former Vichy French Air Force base at Mediouni, French Morocco. the aircrews used ferry tanks on their A-20s to cross the North Atlantic. The group began operations by flying low-level missions against the enemy in North Africa flying its first combat mission from Youks-les-Bains, Algeria on December 13, 1942.

47th Group A-20s provided valuable tactical support to US and British ground forces, especially during and after the allied defeat at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. Though undermanned and undersupplied, the group flew eleven missions on 22 February to attack the advancing Nazi armored columns and thus to help stop the enemy’s offensive-an action which helped save the day, and eventually the Germans were forced back into a small perimeter in Tunisia. For these actions, the group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.

The 47th remained active in combat during March and April 1943 while training for medium level bombardment. In 1943 the group was upgraded to the A-20G, which increased their forward firepower during low-level strafing missions. Moving to Malta, the group participated in the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusa (Operation Corkscrew) in June 1943 and the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in July. The group also bombed German evacuation beaches near Messina in August.

The group supported the British Eighth Army during the invasion of Italy in September. Moving to Italy as part of the Italian Campaign, the group assisted the Allied advance toward Rome, Sep 1943-June 1944 at the battles of the Bernhardt Line, Monte Cassino, and Operation Shingle. The 47th began flying numerous night intruder missions after June 1944, and supported the invasion of Southern France from bases in Corsica and also in France during August-September 1944.

Returning to Italy, the group attacked German communications in northern Italy, Sep 1~4-April 1945. Received a second DUC for performance from 21 to 24 Apr 1945 when, in bad weather and over rugged terrain, the group maintained operations for 60 consecutive hours, destroying enemy transportation in the Po Valley to prevent the organized withdrawal of German forces.

After January 1945, the 47th received some new Douglas A-26Cs which flew alongside its A-20s during the last four months of the war for specialized night attacks. The group flew support and interdictory operations attacking such targets as tanks, convoys, bivouac areas, troop concentrations, supply dumps, roads, pontoon bridges, rail lines, and airfields. The A-26 was regarded as being the USAAF's best twin-engined bomber, and plans were being made for the conversion of the 47th to the type.

The 47th Bombardment Group returned to the United States in July 1945 and was reassigned to Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina. Its mission was to prepare for redeployment to the Pacific Theater for night pathfinder operations against Japan. Its black-painted A-26Cs were equipped with radar however the surrender by Japan in August, 1945, cancelled all redeployment plans.

Postwar era

With the closing of Seymour Johnson in August 1945, the group was reassigned to Lake Charles AAF, Louisiana and was fully equipped with the Douglas A-26 Invader (renamed B-26 in June 1948). The A-26 was selected as the standard light bomber and night reconnaissance aircraft of the postwar USAAF, primarily as the main offensive light bomber of the Tactical Air Command which was created in 1946 out of the remnants of the wartime 9th and 12th Air Forces. At Lake Charles, the unit trained in night tactical operations, conducted firepower demonstrations, and participated in tactical exercises.

The group was moved Biggs Field, Texas in October 1946 when Lake Charles became a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. At Biggs, the Group was reduced from four to three tactical squadrons when the 97th Bombardment Squadron was deactivated. On 28 July 1947, the 47th Bombardment Wing was established, with the 47th Bombardment Group as its operational unit. The wing became active on 15 August 1947.

On 1 February 1948 Biggs was also turned over to SAC, forcing a relocation of the Wing to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana in November. The 47th moved into the jet age in 1949, when the North American B-45 Tornado, bomber replaced the B-26s. The 47th was the first USAF wing equipped with the B-45.

The 47th was inactivated at Barksdale 2 October 1949 as a result of budgetary reductions. However the 84th and 85th Squadrons continued with the B-45's and moved to Langley AFB, Virginia where they were attached to the 363d Tactical Reconnasance Wing.

Cold War

On 12 March 1951, the 47th Bombardment Wing was reactivated at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, with tactical squadrons the 84th and 85th. The Wing was the first and only Jet-Medium Bomber Wing in the Air Force. The new Wing was assigned to Tactical Air Command.

After becoming proficent in the handling and use of nuclear weapons, moved to RAF Sculthorpe, United Kingdom where it began operations there on 1 June 1952. Operational squadrons of the wing were:

* 84th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (17 November 1952 - 22 June 1962) (red tail stripe)
* 85th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (17 November 1952 - 22 June 1962) (yellow tail stripe)
* 86th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (23 March 1954 - 22 June 1962) (blue tail stripe)

For nearly three years, the 47th Wing provided an in-place Atomic Air Strike Force to back up NATO Ground Forces in Europe. In England, the wing was attached to the USAFE Third Air Force 49th Air Division, but remained assigned to Tactical Air Command. The wing provided combat crew training and operated USAF Air Crew School (Light Bombardment and Tactical Reconnaissance). Operational missions of the wing were training for tactical bombardment training operations, including participation in exercises and firepower demonstrations in support of NATO.

Owing to the size of Sculthorpe, the wing operated two B-45A jet bomber squadrons (84th and 85th) from Sculthorpe. In March 1954, a third B-45A jet bomber squadron (86th) was assigned to the wing, but operated from RAF Alconbury in order to accommodate the additional aircraft. From May 1954 to December 1958, the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the 47th Bomb Wing from the 363d TRW. The 19th TRS flew out of RAF Alconbury and flew the reconnaissance version of the B-45 known as the RB-45C. The RB-45s carried the same markings as the B-45, except for an added marking on the wingtip fuel tanks. This marking consisted of two stripes coming back off the top and bottom of the circular Squadron Badge in the appropriate Squadron color near the outside front center of the tank. In 1958, the 19th began to re-equip with Douglas RB-66 Destroyers and its RB-45’s were transferred back to the United States. The RB-66B carried flash bombs in its bomb bay for night photography missions and was equipped with a battery of reconnaissance cameras. The RB-66B could also be fitted with a removable inflight refuelling probe attached to the right side of the forward fuse.

In October 1955, air-to-air refueling versions of the Boeing B-29 bomber known as the KB-29Pwere added to the wing with the addition of the 420th Air Refueling Squadron from Alexandria AFB, Louisiana, which operated out of Sculthorpe. In 1958 the KB-29s were upgraded to the jet-assisted KB-50Js which were specially equipped with two General Electric J47 turbojet engines that enabled the tankers to match the speed of the faster jet fighters during refueling

By 1957, carrying 10,000 personnel the 47th Bombardment Wing was the largest USAF organization in Europe with three bomber squadrons, one recon squadron and one air refueling squadron.

In May 1958, the re-equipment of the 47th Bombardment Wing began with Douglas B-66B Destroyers replacing the B-45As. With this equipment change, the 47th's squadrons was redesignated Bombardment Squadron (Tactical). The wing rapidly converted to the B-66, and by July 1958, the B-45s in the United Kingdom had all been transferred to other bases in Europe and North Africa. Most were junked there and sold for scrap.

On 10 January 1959, the 19th TRS was reassigned to the 10th TRW at Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.

On 1 July 1961, the 47th Bomb Wing was reassigned from Tactical Air Command to the United States Air Forces in Europe.


In 1962 Project Clearwater halted large scale bomber deployments to Britain with Sculthorpe, along with RAF Fairford, RAF Chelveston, and RAF Greenham Common, being turned over to the British Air Ministry. This resulted in the 47th Bomb Wing being deactivated on 22 June 1962.

A number of the B-66B bombers were reassigned to the USAFE 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing which stationed them to RAF Chelveston with the 42nd ECS. These aircraft were modified to the EB-66E electronic countermeasures configuration with the Electronic Counter-Measures tail system replacing the tail turret which was removed. Automatic jamming equipment was fitted in its place. Numerous antennae protruded from the aircraft, and chaff dispensing pods were carried.

The aircraft were subsequently deployed to Thailand during the Vietnam War as electronic warfare aircraft, joining strike aircraft during their missions over North Vietnam to jam enemy radar installations. EB-66C 54-466 was shot down by a North Vietnamese SAM on Apr 2, 1972. 4 KIA., but the navigator successfully bailed out. His rescue was the famous Bat*21 rescue effort.

With the wing's deactivation the 420th ARS at Sculthorpe was assigned to the 7375th Combat Support Group, a temporary unit at Sculthorpe after its turnover to the Air Ministry. On 1 September 1963 it was reassigned directly to Third Air Force. Problems, however, plagued he unit. With no new spares available cannibalization from the Davis-Monthan AFB boneyard was necessary to keep at least some of the retrofitted aircraft flying. Also many parts started to break simply because of old age. In addition, the tankers were simply too slow to refuel the faster tactical jet aircraft of USAFE. The 420th ARS was deactivated on 25 March 1964 at Sculthorpe when the KB-50Js were declared obsolete.

Pilot training

The 47th Flying Training Wing was reactivated and redesignated at Laughlin AFB, Texas on 1 September 1972, replacing and absorbing the resources of the 3646th Pilot Training Wing at Laughlin AFB. Since its reactivation, the wing hss conducted undergraduate pilot training for USAF, Air Force Reserve, and friendly foreign nation air forces. Supported Accelerated Co-Pilot Enrichment Program at numerous locations, 1976-1986. Began airlifter-tanker track pilot training in 1994.

Although its mission today is completely different from its ancestors, the 47 FTW traces its heritage to the 47th Bombardment Group of World War II.

See also

* 5th Air Division


* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977, Office of Air Force History, 1984
* Endicott, Judy G., USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Office of Air Force History
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]
* [http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/baugher_us/ Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia Of Military Aircraft (A-20, A-26, B-45, B-66, KB-50)]
* [http://www.tactankers.com/tactanker_420.htm 420th Air Refueling Squadron]
* [http://www.laughlin.af.mil Laughlin Air Force Base web site]

External links

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