36th Wing

36th Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 36th Wing

caption= 36th Wing Insignia
dates= February 1, 1940
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
type= Combat support
command_structure= Pacific Air Forces
garrison= Andersen Air Force Base
nickname= The Fightin’ 36th
motto= “Prepared to Prevail”
notable_commanders= Ronald Keys

The United States Air Force's 36th Wing is the host wing for Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. It is part of United States Pacific Air Forces Thirteenth Air Force. The 36th Wing provides day-to-day mission support to more than 9,000 military, civilian, dependent and retired personnel and 15 associate units on the base.


The 36th Wing's and Andersen Air Force Base's official mission statement is "Provide a U.S.-based lethal warfighting platform for the employment, deployment, reception, and throughput of air and space forces in the Asia-Pacific Region."

More simply, the 36th Wing has three major missions: Operate Andersen AFB via its subordinate 36th Mission Support and 36th Medical Groups; Provide power projection through an attached, rotational bomber force via its subordinate 36th Operations and 36th Maintenance Groups; and provide rapid air base opening and initial air base operation ability via its subordinate 36th Contingency Response Group.

Assisting the 36th Wing in accomplishing this mission is the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, which operates Andersen's air cargo terminal on behalf of Air Mobility Command.


* 36th Operations Group

* 36th Maintenance Group
** 36th Maintenance Squadron
** 36th Munitions Squadron

* 36th Contingency Response Group
** 736th Security Forces Squadron
** 36th Mobility Response Squadron
** 644th Combat Communications Squadron

* 36th Medical Group
** 36th Medical Operations Squadron
** 36th Medical Support Squadron
* 36th Mission Support Group
** 36th Communications Squadron
** 36th Civil Engineering Squadron
** 36th Contracting Squadron
** 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron
** 36th Mission Support Squadron
** 36th Security Forces Squadron
** 36th Services Squadron


The 36th Operations Group is the successor to the United States Army Air Corps 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) established on 1 February 1940 at Langley Army Airfield, Virginia.

The United States Air Force 36th Fighter Wing was established on 2 July 1948 at Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. It was redesignated the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 20 January 1950. In 1952, the wing was bestowed the World War II honors and history of the 36th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group. It was redesignated the 36th Fighter-Day Wing on 9 August 1954; 36th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 July 1958; redesignated 36th Fighter Wing in 1991, inactivated 1 October 1994. Activated and redesignated 36th Air Base Wing on 1 October 1994; redesignated 36th Air Expeditionary Wing in 2004; redesignated 36th Wing on 12 April 2006.

The 36th Wing has been assigned to the following Major Commands:

* United States Army Air Corps
** GHQ Air Force (1940)
** Caribbean Air Force (1941-42)
* United States Army Air Forces
** Sixth Air Force (1942-43)
** First Air Force (1943-44)
** Ninth Air Force (1944-45)
** United States Air Forces in Europe (1945-46)
** Continental Air Command (1946)
** Caribbean Air Command (1946-47)
* United States Air Force
** Caribbean Air Command (1947-48)
** United States Air Forces in Europe (1948-94)
** Pacific Air Forces (1994-Present)


World War II

The 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) was activated on 1 February 1940 at Langley Field, Virginia. Initial training of the group was with the Curtiss P-36 Hawk.

The group was moved to Losey Army Airfield, Puetro Rico in January 1941 where it was equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. In Puerto Rico, the 36th served as part of the defense force for the Caribbean area and Panama Canal, and flew antisubmarine patrols. The group was redesignated the 36th Fighter Group in May 1942 and returned to Morrison Army Airfield, Florida where it trained with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.

From 1942 through 1944, the 36th trained at several airfields in the United States before deploying to RAF Kingsnorth, England in April 1944 as part of Ninth Air Force, serving in combat as part of the European theater. Operational fighter squadrons and fuselage codes were:

* 22d Fighter Squadron (3T)
* 23d Fighter Squadron (7U)
* 53d Fighter Squadron (6V)

With Ninth Air Force, the group operated primarily as a P-47 fighter-bomber organization as part of the 303d Fighter Wing, XIX Tactical Air Command.

Operational missions included strafing and dive-bombing armored vehicles, trains, bridges, buildings, factories, troop concentrations, gun emplacements, airfields, and other targets in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. The 36th FG also flew some escort missions with Eighth Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator strategic bombers.

The 36th participated in the June 1944 D-Day invasion of France in by patrolling the air over the landing zones and by flying close-support and interdiction missions. The group moved to its Advanced Landing Ground at Brucheville, France (A-16) in July, then eastward as ground forces advanced on the continent. Operations supported the breakthrough at St Lo in July and the thrust of U. S. Third Army toward Germany in August and September.

The group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations on 1 September 1944 when, in a series of missions, the group attacked German columns south of the Loire in order to disrupt the enemy's retreat across central France to Dijon. In October, the group moved into Belgium to support U. S. Ninth Army.

The 36th Fighter Group participated in the Battle of the Bulge during December 1944 and January 1945 by flying armed reconnaissance and close-support missions. Aided U. S. First Army's push across the Roer River in February 1945. Supported operations at the Remagen bridgehead and during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March.

The group received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for performance on 12 April 1945 when the group, operating through intense anti-aircraft fire, relentlessly attacked airfields in southern Germany, destroying a large hangar and numerous aircraft.

By V-E Day, the group was based at Kassel/Rothwesten airfield, Germany (ALG R-12), where it remained until February 1946 as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe Army of Occupation. In February, the group was transferred, without personnel or equipment to Bolling Field, Washington, D.C where the groups fighter squadrons were inactivated.

Postwar Years

On 15 October 1946, Headquarters, 36th Fighter Group was transferred to Howard Army Airfield, Panama Canal Zone as part of the Panama Canal defense forces. In Central America, the group conducted air defense training missions for the next two years initially with P-47's. The group upgraded to jet aircraft in December 1947 with the arrival of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star.

On 2 July 1948 the United States Air Force 36th Fighter Wing was activated at Howard Air Force Base. The former USAAF 36th Fighter Group became the operational component of the new Air Force wing. Active squadrons of the 36th were:

* 22d Fighter Squadron (F-80A/B, Red color band)
* 23d Fighter Squadron (F-80A/B, Blue color band)
* 53d Fighter Squadron (F-80A/B, Green color band)

Cold War

As a result of the Berlin Blockade and other Cold War tensions in Europe, the 36th Fighter Wing was reassigned to USAFE. The squadron was assigned to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base West Germany on 13 August 1948, being the first USAFE unit to be jet-equipped with the Lockheed F-80 "Shooting Star". At Fürstenfeldbruck tactical operations included air defense, tactical exercises, maneuvers, and photographic reconnaissance. In May 1949, the wing formed the Skyblazers aerial demonstration team, which it controlled until August 1952, and again from October 1956 to January 1962 when it was disbanded.

On 20 January 1950, the wing was redesignated as the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing (FBW) when 89 Republic F-84E "Thunderjets" arrived. Existing USAFE bases in West Germany, however, were deemed very vulnerable to an attack by the Soviet Union, given their proximity to East Germany and other Warsaw Pact nations. Negotiations with other NATO nations were made to build new bases west of the Rhine River. The F-80s were sent back to CONUS to equip Air National Guard units. In addition to its primary installation at Fürstenfeldbruck, the wing controlled Oberpfaffenhofen AB, West Germany, December 1949-February 1950.

The 36th FBW remained at Fürstenfeldbruck until 1952 when it was reassigned to the new Bitburg Air Base, in the Eifel mountains west of the Rhine River. Throughout the summer, elements of the 36th FBW moved into Bitburg, with the wing officially arriving in November 1952. Under various designations, the 36th would remain at Bitburg for the next 40 years.

In August 1953, the North American F-86F "Sabre" was introduced to the wing, replacing the F-84s. In August 1954, the wing was redesignated as the 36th Fighter-Day Wing.

In 1956, the wing received the North American F-100 "Super Sabre," marking the first time a wing in USAFE flew supersonic jets. On 15 May 1958, the 36th FDW was redesignated as the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), with its squadrons redesignated as Tactical Fighter Squadrons, because its missions had now grown to include delivery of tactical nuclear weapons.

In May 1961, the wing received the Republic F-105 "Thunderchief". Formal USAFE acceptance of the Mach 2 fighter-bombers was held at the Paris Air Show on 3 June 1961. Deliveries of the F-105D model were completed in 1963, and the 36th carried on its Cold War mission of tactical nuclear weapons delivery. Twice in the early 1960s when Cold War tensions were elevated due to the 1961 Berlin Wall crisis and 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis the 36th TFW rose to a high level of alert.

By 1966 the Thud was being phased out of NATO, being replaced by the McDonnell F-4D "Phantom II". The tactical nuclear deliver mission, still necessary, was being eclipsed by the ability of ICBMs and the primary mission of the 36th TFW changed to Tactical Air support of NATO ground units in West Germany. By December 1966, all the 36th TFW Thuds had been ferried Stateside for combat crew training duties at McConnell AFB, Kansas, or on to warfighting glory in Southeast Asia after stateside refurbishment.

In September 1969, the 36th TFW took responsibility for Spangdahlem Air Base West Germany until December 1971.

By 1976 a major modernization of USAFE was necessary. The Soviet Union's new generation of MiG and Sukhoi fighters made NATO military planners anxious. Indeed, intelligence reports about the MiG-25 left little room for comfort; the performance of this latest Russian combat aircraft was far superior to any NATO aircraft. The twin-engined MiG-25 reached speeds of over 3,000 km/h even at high altitude (over 70,000 feet) and it could be armed with radar-guided AA-6 Acrid air-to-air missiles. When the Soviets stationed large numbers in the Soviet Union and later in the GDR, NATO had to address this problem.

The solution was provided by the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Just like the MiG-25 it has two powerful engines and a double tail fin. The 23 aircraft for the first operational squadron (23d TFS) with the 36th TFW left Langley AFB on 27 April 1977 for a mass Atlantic crossing. Over the following months the aircraft for two other squadrons (22nd TFS and 53rd TFS) arrived. The 36th TFW's full strength of 79 fully-operational F-15As was reached in December 1977. In 1980 more advanced F-15Cs and F-15Ds would replace the original F-15As.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the 36th TFW conducted routine training missions however the outbreak of the 1990-19 Gulf War put the F-15s of Bitburg into the heart of the conflict. The 36th TFW's pilots and aircraft performed magnificently in Operation Desert Storm. Not a single F-15 aircraft was lost in combat during the war. On 13 March 1991, the deployed squadrons of the 36th TFW returned in victory.

The celebration was brief, however, as the 36th TFW deployed back Incirlik Air Base, Turkey to support Operation PROVIDE COMFORT. Between the 5 April and the 25 May 1991, the 36th TFW flew 285 sorties over Iraq. Just as before, not a single aircraft was lost in Iraq due to hostile fire.

On 1 October 1991 the wing was redesignated as the 36th Fighter Wing when the objective wing concept was implemented.

Post Cold War Era

The 525th Fighter Squadron was inactivated 31 March 1992 as part of the initial post Cold-War drawdown.

Bitburg Air Base was part of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (or BRAC) process that saw the drawdown of many military facilities in a series of post-Cold War force reductions. In July 1993, HQ USAFE announced the closure of Bitburg Air Base and the pending inactivation of the 36th Fighter Wing.

* The 53d Fighter Squadron was inactivated 1 February 1994. It was transferred without personnel or equipment to the 52d Operations Group (52d FW) at Spangdahlem Air Base.
Note: Some aircraft transferred to 22d Fighter Squadron and 53d FS inactivated 31 March 1999 as part of Air Force-wide reorganization to enlarge F-15 squadrons from 18 to 24 aircraft.

* The 22d Fighter Squadron was inactivated 31 March 1994. It was transferred without personnel or equipment to the 52d Operations Group (52d FW) at Spangdahlem Air Base.

On 1 October 1994 the 36th Fighter Wing was officially deactivated and the final 36th Wing Commander, Brigadier General Roger E. Carleton, presented Bitburg Air Base to the German government.

1994 to present

The Wing was reactivated without personnel or equipment at Andersen AFB, Guam the same day as the 36th Air Base Wing, a non-flying organization taking over as the host unit. The former host unit, 633d Air Base Wing was inactivated in keeping with the Air Force Chief of Staff's policy of keeping the most highly decorated and longest serving Air Force units on active duty.

In September 1996, the wing provided around-the-clock forward-deployment support to Air Combat Command B-52s during their Operation Desert Strike missions over Iraq, and began hosting more than 6,600 Kurdish evacuees during the 8-month humanitarian assistance mission, Joint Task Force Pacific Haven.

In 2004, the 36th Air Base Wing was temporary redesignated the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing. In March 2006, the wing was redesignated the 36th Wing. The change in the wing’s official designation was meant to better aligns Andersen with its mission statement: “To provide a U.S.-based lethal warfighting platform for the employment, deployment, reception, and throughput of air and space forces in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In February 2007, the 36th Operations Group was reactivated as a permanent subordinate unit to the 36th Wing, replacing the temporary 36th Expeditionary Operations Group.

See also

* RAF Kingsnorth
* Howard Air Force Base
* Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base
* Bitburg Air Base


* Air Force Historical Research Agency, 36 Wing [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/wings_groups_pages/0036abw.asp]
* Air Force Historical Research Agency, 36 Operations Group [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/wings_groups_pages/0036og.asp]
* ArmyAirForces.Com 36th Fighter Group [http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=58]
* Endicott, Judy G., "USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995". Office of Air Force History
* Freeman, Roger A., "Airfields Of The Ninth, Then And Now", 1994
* Maurer Maurer, Air Force Combat Units Of World War II, Office of Air Force History, 1983
* Martin, Patrick, Tail Code: The Complete History Of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings, 1994
* Rogers, Brian, "United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978", 2005
* USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to Present [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html]

External links

* [http://www.andersen.af.mil 36th Wing’s Official Website]

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