479th Flying Training Group

479th Flying Training Group

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 479th Flying Training Group

caption= 479th Tactical Training Wing Patch
dates= 1943 - 2007
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
role= Fighter/Fighter Training
command_structure= Air Education and Training Command
garrison= Moody AFB, Georgia

* World War II: European Campaign (1942-1945)
* Vietnam Service (1965-1967)
The 479th Flying Training Group (479 FTG) is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with Air Education and Training Command, being stationed at Moody AFB, Georgia. It was inactivated on 21 Jun 2007.



* Constituted as 479th Fighter Group on 12 Oct 1943: Activated on 15 Oct 1943: Inactivated on 1 Dec 1945
* Established as 479th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 15 Oct 1952: Activated on 1 Dec 1952: 479th Fighter-Bomber Group activated and assigned as subordinate unit on 1 Dec 1952 : Redesignated 479th Fighter-Day Wing on 15 Feb 1954: Redesignated 479th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 Jul 1958: Inactivated 1 Oct 1971
* Redesignated 479th Tactical Training Wing 22 Oct 1976: Activated on 1 Jan 1977: Inactivated 26 Jul 1991
* 479th Fighter Training Group activated 31 Jul 2000: Inactivated 21 Jun 2007

.* Note: The 479th Antisubmarine Group (1 Jul - 11 Nov 1943) flew antisubmarine patrols from several airfields in England using B-24 Liberators as part of AAF Antisubmarine Command during World War II. Despite the unit having the same numerical designation and an earlier date of service, it does not share the linage or history of the 479th Training Group.


* Fourth Air Force: IV Fighter Command
* Eighth Air Force: VIII Fighter Command:: 65th Fighter Wing
* Tactical Air Command: Ninth Air Force, 1 Dec 1952 :: Attached to Nineteenth Air Force, 15 Mar-19 Apr 1956: Eighteenth Air Force, 1 Oct 1957: 831st Air Division, 8 Oct 1957: Twelfth Air Force, 20 Apr-1 Oct 1971
* Tactical Air Command: Twelfth Air Force, 1 Jan 1977: Tactical Training, Holloman, 1 Aug 1977 - 26 Jul 1991
* Air Education and Training Command: Nineteenth Air Force 31 Jul 2000 - 21 Jun 2007


* Grand Central Air Terminal, California, 15 Oct 1943
* Lomita Flight Strip, California, c. 6 Feb 1944
* Santa Maria AAF, California, c. 8-c. 12 Apr 1944
* RAF Wattisham, England, c. 15 May 1944-c. 23 Nov 1945
* Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, c. 29 Nov-1 Dec 1945
* George AFB, California, 1 Dec 1952-1 Oct 1971
* Holloman AFB, New Mexico, 1 Jan 1977—1991
* Moody AFB, Georgia, 31 Jul 2000 - 21 Jun 2007


* 413th Fighter: attached 11 Nov 1954-8 Oct 1957.
* 479th Fighter: 1 Dec 1952-11 Jan 1953

* 1st Liaison: attached 8 Apr 1953—c. 18 Jan 1954
* 3d Flying Training Squadron 2000-2007
* 1st Combat Crew Training Squadron Provisional: attached 3 Jan-30 Jun 1962
* 49th Flying Training 2000-2007
* 68th Tactical Fighter: Attached 6 Dec 1965-14 May 1968: Assigned 15 May-1 Oct 1968
* 431st Tactical Fighter: Attached 6 Dec 1965-14 Jun 1968: Assigned 15 Jun 1968-30 Oct 1970
* 434th Fighter (later Fighter-Bomber, later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter): Attached 1 Dec 1952—11 Jan 1953: Assigned 1943-1945; 8 Oct 1957-1 Oct 1971; 1 Jan 1977 — 26 Jul 1991: Detached 15 Mar—c. 15 Aug 1960. 11 Aug-17 Dec 1961
* 435th Fighter (later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter): 1943-1945; 8 Oct 1957—c. 20 Jul 1966; 2000-2007 : Detached 7 Dec 1960—c. 15 Apr 1961, 19 Sep 1961-22 Jan 1962, 3 Aug-19 Dec 1962, 30 Mar-23 Jun 1964. 12 Oct-20 Dec 1965; 1 Jan 1977— 26 Jul 1991
* 436th Fighter (laer Fighter-Bomber, later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter): Attached 3 Dec 1952-11 Jan 1953: Assigned 1943-1945; 8 Oct 1957-15 Jul 1968; 30 Oct 1970-8 Mar 1971; 1 Jan 1977 - 26 Jul 1991: Detached c. 11 Aug—c. 11 Dec 1960, c. 18 Jan—c. 12 Apr 1962, 15 Dec 1962-3 Apr 1963, 15-30 Nov 1963, 25 Jan-17 Feb 1965, 1 Jul-14 Oct 1965
* 476th (later Fighter-Day, later Tactical Fighter): 8 Oct 1957-25 Sep 1968: Detached 12 Nov 1959-2R Mar 1960, 8 Apr-17 Aug 1961, 8 Apr-10 Aug 1962, 6 Jan—I Apr 1964, 7 Apr-11 Jul 1968
* 4452d Combat Crew Training: 16 Jan 1967-1 Oct 1971
* 4535th Combat Crew Training: 25 Sep 1968-1 Oct 1971

Aircraft Assigned

* P-38 Lightning, 1943-1944
* P-51 (later F-51) Mustang, 1944-1945, 1952-1953
* F-86 Sabre, 1953-1956
* F-100 Super Sabre, 1954-1959
* F-104 Starfighter, 1958-1967
* F-4 Phantom II,1965-1971.
* T/AT-38A/C Talon, 1977-1991; 2000-2007
* T-6 Texan II 2000-2007

Operational History

World War II

The unit was constituted as the 479th Fighter Group on 12 Oct 1943 and activated on 15 Oct at Grand Central Air Terminal, near Long Beach, California. Equipped with the Lockheed P-38F Lightning, the group trained for combat and served as an air defense organization for the west coast as part of IV Fighter Command of Fourth Air Force. It was stationed at Santa Maria AAF, California

Even though the defense of the US west coast initially took priority, it was decided to deploy Lightning squadrons to Britain for heavy bomber escort duty. The 479th was reassigned to RAF Wattisham, England, Apr-May 1944, and assigned to the 65th Fighter Wing, VIII Fighter Command, Eighth Air Force.

The 479th group consisted of three Fighter Squadrons, (434th (L2), 435th (J2) and 436th (9B)) and the aircraft of the group had no cowling color markings as did other Eighth Air Force fighter groups. 479th lightnings were marked only with colored tail rudders. The initial inventory of P-38s, many of which were hand-me-downs from other groups painted in olive drab camouflage, used geometric symbols on the tail to identify squadrons, white for camouflaged aircraft and black for unpainted (natural metal finish) Lightnings.

The 479th FG escorted heavy bombers during operations against targets on the Continent, strafed targets of opportunity, and flew fighter-bomber, counter-air, and area-patrol missions. Engaged primarily in B-17/B-24 escort activities and fighter sweeps until the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

The group patrolled the beachhead during the invasion. Strafed and dive-bombed troops, bridges, locomotives, railway cars, barges, vehicles, airfields, gun emplacements, flak towers, ammunition dumps, power stations, and radar sites while on escort or fighter-bomber missions as the Allies drove across France during the summer and fall of 1944. The unit flew area patrols to support the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July and the airborne attack on Holland in September.

The 479th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the destruction of numerous aircraft on airfields in France on 18 August and 5 September and during aerial battle near Münster on 26 September. The unit continued escort and fighter-bomber activities from October to mid-December 1944. It converted to P-51s between September 10 and October 1, using both types on missions until conversion was completed.

The group participated in the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945) by escorting bombers to and from targets in the battle area and by strafing transportation targets while on escort duty. From February to April 1945 it continued to fly escort missions, but also provided area patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine in March.

The unit returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey in November 1945, and was inactivated on December 1945. Among the notable pilots of the 479th were its second group commander, Col. Hubert Zemke, with 17.75 confirmed aerial victories and Major Robin Olds, who was officially credited with 12 German planes shot down and 11.5 others destroyed on the ground.

Cold War

On 1 December 1952 the unit was reactivated as the 479th Fighter-Bomber Wing, replacing the Federalized Missouri Air National Guard 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing, which had been brought to active duty during the Korean War. The 479th inherited the F-51D Mustangs of the ANG unit as well as becoming the host wing of George AFB for almost the next 20 years. Its operational squadrons were the 434th, 435th, 436th, and the wing squadrons participated in numerous exercises, augmented air defenses of the West Coast, and deployed overseas to support both USAFE during periods of tension in Western Europe; to Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis and to PACAF during the Vietnam War.

F-100A Era

Initially, the new wing maintained tactical proficiency with the World War II-era F-51Ds inherited from the Air National Guard, then in February 1953 upgrading to the the North American F-86H Sabre jet aircraft. The wing was chosen to be the first USAF wing to be equipped with the North American F-100A Super Sabre, receiving its first aircraft in November 1953. The 479th became operationally ready with the F-100A on 29 September 1954.

However, the F-100A had been rushed into service with unseeming haste, often over the objections of Air Force flight crews who found that the Super Sabre had some serious problems that were not being adequately addressed. Disaster struck on 12 October 1954. On that day, veteran test pilot George Welch was carrying out a maximum performance test dive followed by a high-G pullout with the ninth production F-100A (52-5764) when his aircraft disintegrated in midair. Deficiencies were found with the design of the airplane and modifications were made. The F-100A's performance was considered good but there were still some major operational deficiencies which prevented the F-100A from being a really good day fighter. Consequently, the F-100A was never very popular with its flight crews.

F-104C Era

Since the F-100A was not considered as a truly effective air superiority fighter, the service life of the type with the USAF was rather brief, most aircraft being phased out of the active USAF inventory beginning in 1958. Beginning in October 1958, the 479th was reequipped with the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. The Starfighter was primarily intended for a nuclear strike, but Tactical Air Command wanted to use it to carry out ground attack missions with conventional weapons.

However the F-104 was not really well-suited to USAF needs, being deficient in range, endurance, and offensive capability. In addition, it lacked true all-weather capability. Out of the total of 722 Starfighters originally ordered for the USAF, only 296 were actually delivered, the remainder being canceled. However the modifications made to the F-104G led to a large number of foreign sales, with the Starfighter metamorphosing from an mediocre air-superiority day fighter into a highly capable multirole all-weather strike fighter. The excellent flying weather in Southern California gave the 479th a new mission to train F-104 pilots from West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Italy during January 1962 - August 1963 as a result of the large foreign sales.

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the 435th TFS deployed to Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, with the 435th TFS deploying to carry out air strikes against targets in Cuba in case an invasion proved to be necessary. Fortunately, the crisis was peacefully resolved.

Vietnam War

The 479th was the only USAF wing to take the F-104C into combat when in April 1965, the 476th TFS deployed to Kung Kuan Air Base, Taiwan. From its base in Taiwan, the squadron began a regular rotation to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam where its mission was to fly MiG combat air patrol (MiGCAP) missions to protect USAF F-100 fighter bombers against attack by North Vietnamese fighters. The effect of F-104 deployment upon NVN and PRC MiG operations was immediate and dramatic. NVN MiGs soon learned to avoid contact with USAF strikes being covered by the F-104s. During the entire deployment of the 476th only two fleeting encounters between F-104Cs and enemy fighters occurred.

As the MiG threat abated, the 476th TFS was tasked with some weather reconnaissance and ground attack missions. A few of these were against targets in North Vietnam, but most of them were close air-support missions against targets in the South under forward air controller direction. The F-104s were fairly successful in this role, gaining a reputation for accuracy in their cannon fire and their bombing and capable of quite rapid reaction times in response to requests for air support. During this period, the 476th F-104s maintained an in-commission rate of 94.7%, a testimony both to the quality of 476th maintenance personnel and to the simplicity and maintainability of F-104 systems. However, an F-104 went down during a sortie 100 nm SSW of DaNang on June 29. The pilot was rescued with minor injuries.

The 436th TFS assumed the 476th's commitment in DaNang on 11 July, and the 436th began flying combat sorties the next day. Although a few MiGCAP missions were flown, the majority of the missions were quick-reaction close-air support missions in support of ground troops. On July 23, Capt. Roy Blakely attempted to crash-land his battle-damaged F-104C at Chu Lai. Blakely successfully set his aircraft down gear-up, but died when his F-104 swerved off the runway into a sand dune.

The 436th TFS had a bad day on 20 September 1965. F-104C pilot Major Philip E. Smith managed to get lost while flying an EC-121 escort mission over the Gulf of Tonkin. After several equipment failures and incorrect steering commands, he managed to wander over Hainan Island and was shot down by a pair of Chinese MiG-19s (J-6s). He ejected and was taken prisoner. While the rest of the squadron was out looking for Major Smith, two other F-104s had a midair collision while returning to their base. Both pilots ejected and were recovered unharmed.

A week later, another F-104C was shot down by enemy AAA, and its pilot was killed. After these four losses, the remnants of the 436th were rotated back to George in November 1965.

F-4 Era

In December 1965, the wing began transitioning to the F-4 Phantom II, and gained two new squadrons (68th, 431st), both equipped with the new F-4D model. The F-4D was an improved version of the F-4C, which had been deployed to South Vietnam the previous April. In February 1966, the wing began F-4 replacement pilot training and reassigned the 435th TFS with its F-104Cs to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. The F-104 remained with the 434th and 436th squadrons until early 1967 when they also were replaced by F-4Ds and the Starfighters were reassigned to the 198th TFS of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The F-104Cs replaced that unit's elderly F-86H Sabre fighter-bombers. The 435th was then rotated back to George AFB from Thailand and also re-equipped with Phantoms.

During the Vietnam War, the 479th became the premier F-4 Fighter training wing of the USAF, and F-4D pilots appeared in Southeast Asia for the first time in May 1967. From the spring of 1967, the F-4D gradually began to replace the earlier F-4C in combat over the skies of Vietnam. The first F-4D MiG "kill" took place on 5 June 1967, when crewmen Maj. Everett T. Raspberry and Capt. Francis Gullick shot down a MiG-17 near Hanoi. Since the pilot and the WSO operated as a well-integrated team, both of them were credited with a kill when they scored one.

Along with the USAF fighter pilot training, the 479th began training foreign personnel in F-4 operations and maintenance in Mar 1969, as they had done in the early 1960s with the F-104. Pilots were trained from Israel, Iran, Japan, and West Germany. In 1969 and 1970, F-4C and early model F-4E aircraft were used by the 4452d and 4535th Combat Crew Training Squadrons.

With the American withdrawal from its South Vietnamese bases in 1971, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was reassigned from Phan Rang Air Base to George. Under a program where combat wings from the Vietnam War were retained in order to preserve and honor their combat heritage, the 479th was inactivated with the 35th absorbing the personnel, equipment and aircraft of the 479th on 1 October 1971.

Flying Training Era

Holloman AFB

The 479th was reactivated as 479th Tactical Training Wing on 1 January 1977 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, flying the Northrup AT-38 Talon. The 479th TTW's mission was to to provide Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) training for pilots assigned to fly the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Operational squadrons of the wing were:

* 416th Tactical Fighter Training (14 March 1979 - 1 September 1983) : Redesignated 433d TFTS (1 September 1983 - 15 November 1991) (grey stripe)
* 434th Tactical Fighter Training (red stripe)
* 435th Tactical Fighter Training (blue stripe)
* 436th Tactical Fighter Training (yellow stripe)

All 479th TTW aircraft carried the "HM" tail code. The LIFT program was sharply cut back in 1991, with the training mission and aircraft being consolidated under the 586th Flight Training Squadron.

Moody AFB

The unit was reactivated as the 479th Flying Training Group at Moody AFB, Georgia on 30 July 2001 as an Air Education and Training Command unit. The group's activation was part of an effort to increase pilot production due to a pilot shortage throughout the Air Force. Its mission at Moody was to conduct primary Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training. The group consisted of three training squadrons. These were :

* 49th Flying Training Squadron (AT-38C)
* 435th Flying Training Squadron (AT-38C)
* 3rd Flying Training Squadron (T-6 Texan II)

These aircraft all carried the Tail Code "MY". The 49 FTS and 435 FTS conducted an advanced pilot training and the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) course for recently winged USAF Navigator/Combat Systems Officers en route to Weapons System Officer (WSO) assignments in the F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and recently winged pilots en route to the F-22, F-15C/D, F-15E, F-16, and A-10. The 3d FTS provided basic pilot training.

As a result of BRAC 2005, the 479th FTG was inactivated on 21 July 2007. Its aircraft and equipment were redistributed to other AETC units.


* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
* McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1880588315.
* Pace, Steve (1992). Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Motorbooks International, 1992. ISBN 0879386088.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

See also

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