The 492d Fighter Squadron is a combat-ready F-15E Strike Eagle squadron capable of executing strategic attack, interdiction, and counter air missions in support of United States Air Forces in Europe, United States European Command, and NATO operations. It employs the full array of air superiority and surface attack munitions to include the most advanced precision-guided weapons in the USAF inventory. The squadron is capable of deploying to any theater of operations in the world.
Activated as a Southeastern Air District Army Air Corps training squadron, equipped with a variety of second-line aircraft, both single and twin engine, preparing its pilots and maintenance crews for eventual combat. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the squadron flew antisubmarine patrols from, March–April 1942. Resumed aircrew training, many of the group's members went on to serve in squadrons stationed in Europe and the Pacific theaters.
Eventually coming under the AAF III Fighter Command in 1944, trained replacement pilots with P-47 Thunderbolts, Converted in January 1944 to an operational fighter squadron with the end of RTU training. Deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to the IX Fighter Command in England, March 1944.
Almost immediately after their arrival, the squadron began a rigorous training program, flying dive-bombing, glide bombing, night flying, low-level navigation, smoke laying, reconnaissance, and patrol convoy sorties. Over the next two months, the number of sorties steadily increased and the squadron flew its first combat mission on 20 April 1944—an uneventful fighter sweep of the occupied French coast.
Assisted the Normandy invasion by dropping bombs on bridges and gun positions, attacking rail lines and trains, and providing visual reconnaissance reports. Moved to France in mid-June 1944, supporting ground operations of Allied forces moving east across northern France throughout the war: primarily providing support for the United States First Army. Eventually was stationed in Occupied Germany on V-E Day.
On 5 July 1945, the squadron arrived in Laon, France. After a few weeks back in France the squadron received orders to return to the US. With many of the members separating at port, those remaining set up the headquarters at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina and were programmed for deployment to Okinawa to take part in planned Invasion of Japan. Training discontinued after Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the sudden end of the Pacific War.
Two months later on 7 November 1945, the squadron inactivated as part of the massive postwar draw down.
Reactivated in 1952 as a NATO Fighter-Bomber squadron assigned to France. Equipped initially with F-84G Thunderjets, upgraded in 1954 to F-86F Sabre aircraft. conducted operational readiness exercises and tactical evaluations. Honing bombing and gunnery skills. The squadron frequently deployed to Wheelus AB, Libya for training.
Then in late 1956 the squadron upgraded to the F-100D Super Sabre. However the nuclear-weapon capable F-100 caused disagreements with France concerning atomic storage and custody issues within NATO, resulting in a decision to remove Air Force atomic-capable units from French soil. On 15 January 1960, the squadron and its host 48th TFW moved to RAF Lakenheath, UK.
Between 1960 and 1972 the squadron's F-100 fleet maintained its readiness by participating in a number of USAFE and NATO exercises training to react to possible aggression from the Soviet Union. They underwent a series of NATO tactical evaluations. The squadron conducted several deployments to Turkey, Italy, Spain, and across the United Kingdom.
Beginning in late 1971 the squadron started its conversion to the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II, with the aircraft being transferred from the 81st TFW at RAF Bentwaters. The conversion to the F-4D took several years, with the last F-100 departing in August 1974. With the arrival of the Phantoms, the F-4s adopted a common tail code of "LK". This tail code lasted only a few months as in July and August 1972 the 48th TFW further recoded to "LN".
The F-4's service with squadron was short as operation "Ready Switch" transferred the F-4D assets to the 474th TFW at Nellis AFB Nevada. The 474th sent their General Dynamics F-111As to the 347th TFW at Mountain Home AFB Idaho, and the 347th sent their F-111Fs to Lakenheath in early 1977. Unlike the previous F-4 transition, the F-111 change took place quickly and without any significant problems. Almost immediately after changing aircraft, the squadron began a series of monthly exercises and deployments that took the Liberty Wing to Italy, Iran, Greece, and Pakistan.
The 494th also participated in Operation El Dorado Canyon, the air raid on Tripoli, Libya on 14 and 15 April 1986. It flew combat missions in Southwest Asia from, January–February 1991 as part of Operation Desert Storm.
In the midst of the organizational changes, the squadron switched aircraft again, exchanging the F-111s for the F-15E Strike Eagle in early February 1992. This continued to add to the previous 50 years of flying the air-to-ground mission with one of the most capable multi-role/air-to-ground jets in the current Air Force inventory.
The squadron participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya in March 2011, along with numerous deployments to Southwest Asia supporting Air Expeditionary units as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The Bolars participated in a short deployment to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in November 2015 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Accompanied by 493d Fighter Squadron, the F-15s were sent to enforce the sovereign air space of Turkey.
While stationed at Chaumont Air Base, France, the Madhatters were seen wearing berets. Upon being relocated to England the squadron adopted the bowler hat, a traditional English hat with a rounded crown. The tradition of wearing the bowler hat has continued to present day despite the lack of official uniform regulations authorizing such wear. Despite the usual spelling of the "bowler" hat, the squadron has garnered the nickname "Bolars" among the USAF fighter community.
The practice of adopting the headgear indicative of the various geographic regions the Bolars are sent to has been continued. In Turkey, each deployed Bolar had a blue fez hat.Constituted as the 55th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated 55th Bombardment Squadron
(Dive) on 28 August 1942
Redesignated 492d Fighter-Bomber Squadron
on 10 August 1943
Redesignated 492d Fighter Squadron
, Single Engine on 30 May 1944
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
Redesignated 492d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 25 June 1952
Activated on 10 July 1952
Redesignated 492d Tactical Fighter Squadron
on 8 July 1958
Redesignated 492d Fighter Squadron
on 1 October 1991
48th Bombardment Group (later 48th Fighter-Bomber Group, 48th Fighter Group), 15 January 1941 – 7 November 1945
48th Fighter-Bomber Group, 10 July 1952
48th Fighter-Bomber Wing (later 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, 48 Fighter Wing), 8 December 1957 (attached to 48th Fighter Wing [Provisional] 2 September 1990 – 15 March 1991, 7440th Composite Wing, September–December 1991)
48th Operations Group, 31 March 1992–present
World War II
Operation El Dorado Canyon
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Allied Force
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Northern Watch
Operation Inherent Resolve