418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron

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The 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, being inactivated at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona on 1 October 1976.

The unit was originally formed as the 418th Night Fighter Squadron in 1943. After training, it was deployed to Fifth Air Force and ordered to New Guinea to provide air defense interceptor protection against Japanese night air raids on USAAF airfields. It later served in the Philippines Campaign where in addition to night interceptor missions it also flew day and night interdiction missions against enemy troop movements, bridges and other targets of opportunity. It later served in Occupied Japan and Okinawa where it was inactivated in 1947.

During the Cold War, the squadron was briefly activated in the Philippines in 1958, then became an F-104 Starfighter training unit for the West German Air Force at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in the early 1970s.

The squadron was activated on 1 April 1943 at the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, Orlando AAF, Florida. After several months of training with Douglas P-70 Havoc night fighters, the unit was deployed to the Pacific Theater, moving first to Camp Patrick Henry, near Newport News Virginia where they boarded the USS General John Pope, sailing through the Panama Canal to Milne Bay, New Guinea.

In New Guinea, the squadron was assigned to Fifth Air Force and initially stationed at Dobodura airfield in November 1943. It was the first dedicated night interceptor squadron assigned to the Pacific Theater. However, it was found that the P-70 was not very successful in actual combat interception of Japanese fighters at night and after a short time, Fifth Air Force modified some Lockheed P-38F Lightnings in the field as single-seat night fighters by fitting an SCR540 radar with yagi antennae on the nose on both sides of the central nacelle, and above and below the wings. The Lightnings were much more successful than the P-70s, and Lockheed sent field representatives to new Guinea to study the modified aircraft for a new production model (P-38M) which it began producing in 1944.

As the fortunes of war progressed, the squadron moved west along the northern coast of New Guinea, moving to several advance airfields on the island throughout 1943 and 1944. In September 1944, the squadron was re-equipped with P-61 Black Widows and moved to Morotai Island in the Dutch East Indies where they engaged enemy aircraft. In the East Indies, additional B-25 Mitchells and P-38s were assigned, using the B-25s for night intruder operations, P-61s for night fighter operations and the P-38s for searchlight cooperation operations. In November the squadron moved to the Philippines, arriving on Leyte on 14 November.

This page was last edited on 10 June 2017, at 21:55.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/418th_Night_Fighter_Squadron under CC BY-SA license.

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