The 442d Fighter Wing trains reserve personnel and to operate, maintain and support the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II at combat readiness.
The 442nd Fighter Wing is organized like most Air Force wings. There are three groups and a medical squadron under the wing that are physically located at Whiteman AFB:442d Operations Group
442d Maintenance Group
442d Mission Support Group
442d Medical Squadron
476th Fighter Group, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia (supports the 23d Wing)
710th Medical Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
610th Intelligence Operations Flight, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
For related history, see 442nd Operations Group
The wing was first activated as the 442d Troop Carrier Wing at Fairfax Field, Kansas in June 1949, when Continental Air Command (ConAC) reorganized its flying units under the wing base organization system, which united the flying units and supporting units under a single wing. The wing was equipped with Curtiss C-46 Commandos and Douglas C-47 Skytrains, but also flew trainer aircraft under the supervision of the 2472d Air Force Reserve Training Center. In May 1950 the wing and center moved to nearby Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas. Although the 442d was manned at only 25% of normal strength, its combat group was authorized four squadrons rather than the three of active duty units.
The 442d was mobilized for the Korean war, as were all reserve combat units. This action was effective on 10 March 1951. Along with other Tenth Air Force units, it was activated in the second wave of reserve units being called up. Its personnel were distributed as fillers to other organizations, with Strategic Air Command getting first pick of these mobilizees. The unit's aircraft were distributed to other organizations as well, and the wing was inactivated two days after its call-up.
The 442d was once again activated at Olathe in June 1952, when it absorbed the resources of the 926th Reserve Training Wing, which was simultaneously inactivated. The reserve mobilization for the Korean war, however, had left the Reserve without aircraft, and the unit did not receive aircraft until July 1952.
In 1955, the Air Force reserve presence at Olathe ended when the wing moved to Grandview Air Force Base, Missouri, which had opened as an Air Defense Command base, with the first active duty units moving there in 1954. The wing move occurred in the same year that the Air Force began detaching Air Force Reserve squadrons from their parent wing locations to separate sites. The concept offered several advantages: communities were more likely to accept the smaller squadrons than the large wings and the location of separate squadrons in smaller population centers would facilitate recruiting and manning. As it finally evolved in the spring of 1955, the Continental Air Command’s plan called for placing Air Force Reserve units at fifty-nine installations located throughout the United States. The wing was not impacted by this reorganization until November 1957. At that time, its 305th Troop Carrier Squadron, which had been inactivated in June 1955, was activated at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma to replace the 69th Troop Carrier Squadron, which had moved there earlier.
At the same time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been pressuring the Air Force to provide more wartime airlift and about 150 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars became available from the active force. Consequently, in November 1956 the Air Force directed Continental Air Command to convert three fighter bomber wings to the troop carrier mission, while cuts in the budget in 1957 led to a reduction in the number of reserve squadrons from 55 to 45. This included the inactivation of reserve fighter bomber units. The wing gained the 65th Troop Carrier Squadron at Davis Field, when it was activated to replace the 713th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in November 1957.
In the summer of 1956, the wing participated in Operation Sixteen Ton during its two weeks of active duty training. Sixteen Ton was performed entirely by reserve troop carrier units and moved United States Coast Guard equipment From Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station to Isla Grande Airport in Puerto Rico and San Salvador in the Bahamas. After the success of Operation Sixteen Ton, the wing began to use inactive duty training periods for Operation Swift Lift, transporting high priority cargo for the air force and Operation Ready Swap, transporting aircraft engines, between Air Materiel Command’s depots. By the mid-1950s, it participated regularly in airdrops, airlift and exercises.
The 442d continued training at Olathe and Grandview with the 2472d Center, but in 1958, some cemter personnel were absorbed by the wing. In place of active duty support for reserve units, ConAC adopted the Air Reserve Technician Program, in which a cadre of the unit consisted of full-time personnel who were simultaneously civilian employees of the Air Force and held rank as members of the reserves. The transition to the program was completed in 1959. In April 1959 the wing changed to the Dual Deputate organization, all flying and maintenance squadrons were directly assigned to the wing.
Although the dispersal of flying units under the Detached Squadron Concept was not a problem when the entire wing was called to active service, mobilizing a single flying squadron and elements to support it proved difficult. This weakness was demonstrated in the partial mobilization of reserve units during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. The wing was called to active service for this crisis in October 1961 and continued to remain on active duty until August 1962, during which time the wing completed conversion to the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.
To resolve the mobilization problem, at the start of 1962 ConAC determined to reorganize its reserve wings by establishing groups with support elements for each of its troop carrier squadrons. This reorganization would facilitate mobilization of elements of wings in various combinations when needed. However, as this plan was entering its implementation phase, another partial mobilization occurred for the Cuban Missile Crisis. The formation of troop carrier groups was delayed until January for wings that had not been mobilized. The 935th and 936th Troop Carrier Groups at Richards-Gebaur and the 937th Troop Carrier Group at Tinker were assigned to the wing on 17 January.
The wing also flew overseas missions, particularly to the Far East and Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1971, the wing began phasing out the C-124 and by 1972, had fully transitioned to the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. In 1975, the wing's gaining command shifted from Tactical Air Command (TAC) to Military Airlift Command (MAC) as part of a USAF-wide shift of tactical airlift assets between the two major commands.
The 442d flew humanitarian and mercy missions on numerous occasions in addition to worldwide airlift operations until conversion, in June 1982, to a fighter mission with the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. The 442d again returned to the operational control of TAC and in October 1982, the wing was inactivated while its 442d Tactical Fighter Group continued to train on the new aircraft. In February 1984, the wing was once again activated as the 442d Tactical Fighter Wing and trained for A-10 fighter operations, including close air support, anti-armor, battlefield air interdiction, and combat search and rescue missions.
In 1992, as part of another USAF-wide reorganization, TAC was inactivated and the 442d was renamed as the 442d Fighter Wing under the newly established Air Combat Command. With the pending closure of Richards-Gebaur due to Base Realignment and Closure action, the wing began relocation of its home base to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri in 1993, completing the move by 1994.
On a recurring basis from December 1993, the wing deployed personnel and aircraft to Aviano Air Base, Italy, to participate in operations over Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also deployed personnel and aircraft to Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch, in September and October 1998.Established as the 442d Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 10 May 1949
Activated in the reserve on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 10 March 1951
Inactivated on 12 March 1951
Activated in the reserve on 15 June 1952
Redesignated 442d Troop Carrier Wing
, Heavy on 8 May 1961
Ordered to active service on 1 October 1961
Relieved from active duty on 27 August 1962
Redesignated 442d Air Transport Wing
, Heavy on 1 December 1965
Redesignated 442d Military Airlift Wing
on 1 January 1966
Redesignated 442d Tactical Airlift Wing
on 29 June 1971
Inactivated on 1 October 1982
Redesignated 442d Tactical Fighter Wing on 21 November 1983
Activated in the reserve on 1 February 1984
Redesignated 442d Fighter Wing
on 1 February 1992
Tenth Air Force, 27 June 1949 – 12 March 1951; 15 June 1952
Fifth Air Force Reserve Region, 1 September 1960
Ninth Air Force, 1 October 1961
Twelfth Air Force, 1 February 1962
Fifth Air Force Reserve Region, 27 August 1962
Central Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969
Fourth Air Force, 8 October 1976 – 1 October 1982
Tenth Air Force, 1 February 1984 – present
442d Troop Carrier Group] (later 442d Operations Group): 27 June 1949 – 12 March 1951; 15 June 1952 – 14 April 1959; 1 August 1992–present
507th Tactical Fighter Group: 20 May – 25 July 1972
916th Troop Carrier Group: 1 July 1963 – 8 January 1965
917th Troop Carrier Group: 1 July 1963 – 5 February 1965
926th Tactical Airlift Group (later 926th Tactical Fighter Group): 1 July 1972 – 1 January 1978; 1 February 1984 – 1 July 1987
930th Tactical Fighter Group: 1 July 1987 – 1 August 1992
932d Troop Carrier Group (later 932d Military Airlift Group): 1 October 1966 – 1 April 1969
934th Tactical Airlift Group: 1 April 1978 – 1 October 1981
935th Troop Carrier Group (later 935th Air Transport Group, 935th Military Airlift Group, 935th Tactical Airlift Group): 17 January 1963 – 1 November 1974
936th Troop Carrier Group (later 936th Air Transport Group, 936th Military Airlift Group, 936th Tactical Airlift Group): 17 January 1963 – 30 June 1974
937th Troop Carrier Group (later 937th Military Airlift Group: 17 January 1963 – 5 February 1965; 21 April 1971 – 20 May 1972
Squadrons65th Troop Carrier Squadron: 16 November 1957 - 14 April 1959
303d Troop Carrier Squadron (later 303d Tactoca; Airlift Squadron, 303d Tactical Fighter Squadron, 303d Fighter Squadron): 14 April 1959 – 17 January 1963; 1 November 1974 – 1 October 1982; 1 February 1984 – 1 August 1992
304th Troop Carrier Squadron: 14 April 1959 – 17 January 1963
305th Troop Carrier Squadron: 14 April 1959 - 17 January 1963
Fairfax Field, Kansas, 27 June 1949
Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas, 27 May 1950 – 12 March 1951
Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas, 5 June 1952
Grandview Air Force Base (later Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base), Missouri, 3 April 1955 – 1 October 1982
Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri, 1 February 1984 - 31 March 1994
Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, 1 April 1994 – present