50th Tactical Fighter Wing History

50th TFW patch

The 50th Tactical Fighter Wing was originally constituted in 1940 and activated on January 15, 1941, as the 50th Pursuit Group(Interceptor)at Selfridge Field, Michigan. During the war years, the wing took part in the aerial invasion of Normandy on June 6-7, 1944, and was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations and five Battle Honors for its participation during the air war over Central Europe. After World WarII, the wing returned to the United States and was inactivated in 1945. Shortly after the formation of NATO in 1951, the construction of Hahn Air Base began. Negotiation with the French to obtain bases in their zone of occupation began in 1951 and approximately 1,280 acres of land were acquired for the construction of what is now Hahn Air Base. The 7356th Air Base Squadron was the first US Air Force unit to arrive at Hahn AB in Spetember 1952. It was their task to prepare the base to receive the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing (redesignated the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing July 8, 1958). On January 1,1953, the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing was activated and assigned to Tactical Air Command. In August of that same year, the wing officially moved from Clovis AFB, NM, to Hahn AB, Germany, with F-86 Sabrejets. The assigned aircraft squadrons which accompanied the wing were the 10th, 81st and 417th Fighter Bomber Squadrons. In 1956, the wing moved to Toul Rosieres AB, France. The 7425th AB Group held responsibility for Hahn AB and provided support for the 461st Fighter Day Squadron, 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and Headquaters 38th Tactical Missile Wing. During 1956, the 461st, a component of the 36th TFW, was incativated ab´nd the 7425th Group was renamed the 50th AB Group. During 1857-58, the wing converted to F-100 aircraft in addition to remaining in readiness condition during the Lebanon crisis. It was not until September 1959 that the wing returned to Hahn AB from France with the 10th and 81st TFSs. Between 1965 and 1966, Hahn witnessed the phaseout of the local detachment of the 38th TMW and preparations for conversion from F-100 to F-4D aircraft. During 1968, the 417th TFS assigned to the 50th TFW and stationed at Ramstein AB was redeployed to Mountain Home AFB, ID, as part of project CRESTED CAP. That project provided for the redeployment of specified US European Air Force units to the United States on a semi-permanent basis. Not long after leaving Europe, the 417th returned to Hahn in January 1969 to participate in excercise CRESTED CAP I, the first in a series of excercises designed to test the mobility of NATO committed fighter squadrons based in the United States under simulated wartime conditions. Also during 1968, the 496th FIS, stationed at Hahn AB since 1956, was officially assigned to the wing. In 1970, the 496th exchanged its F-102 aircraft for F-4E aircraft and was redesignated as a Tactical Fighter Squadron while retaining its Air Defense Mission. Acticities for 1976 and 1977 included an aircraft realignment throughout USAFE that resulted in Hahn losing all the F-4Ds that were assigned to the 50th TFW. Those D-Models were, however, replaced by F-4E. Hahn gained another flying unit and additional aircraft as the 313th TFS was activated and assigned to the 50th effective November 15, 1976. In addition, beginning January 10, 1977, Hahn became the site of a USAFE´s version of the Production Oriented Maintenance Organization - the Tactical Air Force Aircraft Maintenance System. In 1980, the wing was selected to the the first USAFE wing to receive F-16 Fighting Falcons, replacing the F-4E Phanton II. The first F-16 operational aircraft arrived at the 50th TFW on December 30, 1981, and was assigned to the 313th TFS. In June 1982, the 313th passed its Limited Operational Readiness Inspection and became the first F-16 mission-ready fighter squadron in USAFE. Hahn said good-bye to the F-4 Phantom at the end of June and officially welcomed the USAFE F-16s to NATO during a ceremony July 9. 1982. In September 1982 all fighter sqaudrons were deployed to Spain or Ramstein AB to prepare for the installation of the BAK-14 arresting barrier. The project was completed in October, when an F-4 from Spangdahlem AB successfully encountered the barrier. In July 1983, the 50th TFW, after two long years of transitional status, passed its NATO Tactical Evaluation and became fully mission-capable flying the F-16. In October 1983, the wing participated in Gunsmoke ´83 - the biennial Air Force-wide tactical gunnery and bombing competition at Nellis AFB, NV. The 50th TFW swept the competition, walking away as overall winners, took first place in the 30-degree dive bomb area, and first and second place in the 200-foot level bomb category. A Hahn pilot came in second for the Top Gun Award ( Capt. Ed "Furball" Furtado, 313th TFS ) and the 50th munitions load crew placed third overall in the loadeo contest. The wing received notification in March 1984 that it had received the Air Force Oustanding Unit Award. The 50th also ste an Air Force record at the Rapid Runway Repai Olympics at Ramstein AB, Germany, in March 1984, with a time of 11 minutes and 24 seconds. In 1985 and 1986, the 313th TFS was presented the USAFE Commander-in- Chief trophy as the command´s most outstanding flying squadron in the previous year, being the first squadron ever to receive this award twwo years in a row. During October 1985, the wing nearly repeated the previous Gunsmoke triumph at Gunsmoke ´85 , solidly taking second place only two points behind the winner. The 50th TFW also captured the overall Top Gun Award ( Capt. Mark "Fredhog" Fredenburgh, 313th TFS ). In 1986 and 1987, the 50th TFW´s maintenance complex was selected as the winner of the USAF Daedalian Maintenance Award and received the Department of Defense Phoenix Award for 1986. The wing was again selected to receive the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of July 1, 1985 through June 1, 1987. Early in 1987, the 50th TFW completed its transition to the F-16C/D models. In the late 80s, wing personnel continued to train and perform in an outstanding manner during Local Salty Nation, local Nuclear Surety and Major Accident Response Excercises. Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm put that training to the test. In December 1990, the 10th TFS and the 10th Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployed to the Persian Gulf. These members of the 50th TFW played a vital role in the successful campaign to liberate Kuwait. The squadron remained deployed to support Operation Provide Comfort. Members of the 10th TFS began to return to Hahn AB in May 1991. Many other Hahn personnel also deployed to support Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Proven Force and Provide Comfort. Those who remained at Hahn also played important roles in support of the Gulf conflict.

Please check out the Hahn Air Base Historical Highlights


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Editor: Martin Aguera
Copyright 1998 by Martin Aguera
This page was last updated on 4/14/98

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