The 49th Fighter Wing

History of The 49th Fighter Wing

On Aug. 19, 1948, the 49th Fighter Wing activated at Misawa Air Base, Japan. At Misawa,

the 49th conducted training exercises with P-51 and F-80 aircraft as a part of the

occupational forces in Japan. Redesignated the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing on Feb. 1, 1950,

the 49th began operations in Korea in June 1950. The wing was among the first jet fighter

units to operate in the Korean War. The unit participated in every major air campaign while

supporting the United Nations' forces with air interdiction and close air support missions.

One of the most decorated Air Force units in the Korean conflict, the 49th earned two Republic

of Korea Presidential Unit citations and another eight battle honors. Such accomplishments earned

the wing a niche in United States Air Force history.

In 1957, the 49th completed 15 years of continuous service in Asia, moving from Misawa Air Base,

Japan, to Etain-Rouvres Air Base, France. There, under the control of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe

(USAFE), the 49th replaced the inactivated 388th Fighter-Bomber Wing. During its time in France, the

wing converted from the F-86 to the F-100D. In August 1959, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing began a

nine-year stay at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 49th transitioned to the F-105D in 1961 and the

F-4D in 1967.

On July 1, 1968, the 49th arrived at Holloman Air Force Base, becoming the first dual-based tactical

fighter wing. Under the dual-basing concept, the 49th, stationed at Holloman, deployed individual

squadrons periodically to Europe, fulfilling their North Atlantic Treaty Organization commitment.

In 1969, the wing participated in its first dual-basing exercise, Crested Cap I, deploying 2,000

personnel and 72 aircraft to NATO bases in Europe. Also in 1969, the 49th earned the coveted MacKay

Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year," for the redeployment from Germany to Holloman

after Crested Cap II. The MacKay Trophy recognized the 49th for the fastest non-stop deployment of

jet aircraft accomplished by a wing's entire fleet.

In May 1972, the 49th deployed their F-4 aircraft and 2,600 personnel to Takhli Air Base, Thailand.

During this deployment, Operation Constant Guard, the 49th flew more than 21,000 combat hours over

just about every battle zone from An Loc to vital installations in the Hanoi vicinity. During five

months of combat, the wing did not lose any aircraft or personnel -- a testament to the outstanding

training and proficiency of all members of the 49th. The unit officially closed out its Southwest

Asia duty Oct. 6, 1972, receiving an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat

"V" Device for its participation.

On Dec. 20, 1977, the wing began converting from the F-4 to the F-15. The transition was completed

June 4, 1978.

History was made during February 1980, when two pilots from the 49th each flew their F-15s 6,200 miles in just over 14 hours, establishing a record for the longest flight of a single-seat fighter aircraft. The flights required six aerial refuelings, proving the global power of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing.

In July 1980, the wing acquired the commitment of a primary Rapid Deployment Force unit. This tasking, which lasted for a year, required the wing to be ready to deploy its aircraft, crews and support personnel on short notice. The wing served with the Rapid Deployment Force until July 1981, when the tasking was transferred to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

The 49th demonstrated its capabilities in the fall of 1988, winning top honors at the William Tell air-to-air weapons competition. The wing outdistanced the nearest competitor by more than 2,000 points. The 49th won a variety of awards, including the coveted "Top Gun" for best fighter pilot.

In 1992, the 49th underwent a number of transitions. The last F-15 departed Holloman June 5, 1992, ending 14 years of Eagle operations. On May 9, 1992, four F-117 stealth fighters from Tonopah Test Range, Nev.,arrived at Holloman. Also, F-4s returned to Holloman, as part of the 9th Fighter Squadron, in May 1992.

49th Fighter Wing