479th Flying Training Group [479th FTG]
The 479th Flying Training Group activated on July 30, 2001 at Moody AFB, GA, 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.
It is tasked with conducting primary Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training.
As of mid-2000, the 479th FTG and its three squadrons, the 49th, 435th, and the 3rd Flying Training Squadrons, were scheduled to have 67 T-38Cs and 40 (or possibly 49) T-6As assigned to them, as well as about 500 personnel. IFF classes were scheduled to begin in November 2000 and the SUPT classes in June 2001.
Along with the transitions and activations scheduled for the year 2001, the group's AT-38Bs were also scheduled to receive an advanced avionics package and instruments to use the Global Positioning System satellites. They will be redesignated as T-38Cs.
The 479th FTG was originally constituted as the 479th Fighter Group on 12 October 1943 and activated on 15 October 1943 at Grand Central Air Terminal, CA, flying P-38 and P-40 aircraft. During that time, it trained for combat and served as an air defense organization.
It transitioned to the P-51 aircraft in 1944, relocating in May of that same year to England, and was assigned to Eighth Air Force. From May 1944 to April 1945, it escorted heavy bombers during operations against target on the Continent, strafing targets of opportunity, and flying fighter-bomber, counter-air, and area-patrol missions. It engaged primarily in escort activities and fighter sweeps until the Normandy invasion in June 1944, when it patrolled the beachhead during the invasion.
The unit 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. It also flew area patrols to support the breakthrough at St Lo in July and the airborne attack on Holland in September.
The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the destruction of numerous aircraft on airfields in France on 18 August and 5 September and during an aerial battle near Munster on 26 September. The 479th continued escort and fighter-bomber activities from October to mid-December 1944, converting to P-51s during this period. It participated in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945) by escorting bombers to and from targets in the battle area and by strafing transportation targets while on escort duty.
It then flew escort missions from February to Arpil 1945, but also provided area patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine River in March before returning to the US in November 1945, where it inactivated on 1 December 1945 at Camp Kilmer, NJ.
Redesignated as the 479th Fighter-Bomber Group, it activated 1 December 1952 at George AFB, CA, operating the F-51. It later transitioned, in 1953, to the F-86; and in 1954, to the F-100.
It was redesignated as the 479th Fighter-Day Group in February 1954, and later redesignated as the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing. It inactivated on 1 October 1971.
The 479th was reactivated as 479th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 January 1977 at Holloman AFB, NM. While assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, the group provided the Lead in Fighter Training (LIFT) Program for pilot and navigator training graduates. It last inactivated on 15 November 1991.
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