The 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last was assigned to the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, stationed at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam. It was inactivated on 15 July 1971.
The 615th Bombardment Squadron was activated March 1943 at Ephrata Army Air Base Washington as one of the original squadrons of the 401st Bombardment Group. The initial cadre for the squadron was drawn from the 395th Bombardment Group at Ephrata and the 383d Bombardment Group at Rapid City Army Air Field, South Dakota. The cadre soon departed for Orlando Army Air Base, Florida, where they conducted simulated combat missions with the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics out of Brooksville Army Air Field.
The ground echelon moved to Geiger Field, Washington in May 1943 and to Great Falls AAB, Mount in July. At Great Falls the first combat crews were assigned to the squadron. In the final stage of training the squadrons dispersed with the 615th training at Lewiston Army Air Field.
After completing training the ground echelon left for overseas on 19 October 1943. After staging at Camp Shanks, New York they embarked on the RMS Queen Mary and sailed on 27 October disembarking at Greenock on the Firth of Clyde on 3 November 1943. The air echelon staged for deployment at Scott Field, Illinois then flew to England under the control of Air Transport Command via Newfoundland, Iceland and Scotland.
On arrival in England, half of the 401st group's aircrews were immediately reassigned to the 351st Bombardment Group. The rest of the squadron became part of Eighth Air Force at RAF Deenethorpe. The 615th became part of the 92d Combat Bombardment Wing of the 1st Bombardment Division. Its tail code was Triangle-S.
On 26 November the 615th flew its first combat mission against Bremen, Germany. The 401st group did not suffer the combat loss of an airplane until its ninth mission on 30 December. The squadron operated chiefly against strategic targets, bombing industries, submarine facilities, shipyards, missile sites, marshalling yards, and airfields. On 11 January 1944 the squadron was in the lead group of the 1st Bombardment Division in an attack against aircraft manufacturing facilities at Ochsersleben, Germany. Although the bombers were able to attack, poor weather conditions prevented the division from receiving effective fighter cover. For over three hours the bomber formation suffered more than 400 attacks by Luftwaffe fighters, including air-to-air rocket attacks. Despite these attacks the unit continued its attack and struck a telling blow against German aircraft production for which the squadron was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC).
A little over a month later, on 20 February, the squadron earned its second DUC for an attack on the Erla Maschinenwerke aircraft manufacturing facilities in Leipzig, Germany. Despite fighter attacks and battle damage to the group's planes, 100% of the unit’s bombs fell within 1000 feet of the aiming point. Beginning in October 1944, the unit concentrated its attacks on Axis oil reserves.
In addition to strategic missions, squadron operations included attacks on transportation, airfields, and fortifications prior to the Normandy invasion. On D-Day the 615th attacked Normandy beachhead areas dropping bombs five minutes before troops landed. The following month it provided close air support for the breakthrough at Saint-Lô, it also supported the siege of Brest in August and Operation Market Garden in September. During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945, the unit attacked transportation and communications in the battle area. It supported airborne forces involved in Operation Varsity in March 1945.
The squadron flew its last combat mission on 20 April 1945 against Brandenberg. It had flown 254 combat missions from Deenethorpe airfield. After V-E Day, the squadron flew missions to Linz, Austria to evacuate British and French prisoners of war. It also flew Trolley sightseeing missions at low level, flying ground support personnel over the Ruhr and Frankfurt am Main to see the damage that had been done as a result of their efforts.
The unit was alerted for redeployment to the Pacific Theater and the last plane departed Deenethorpe in early June. The ground echelon sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on the fifth. Upon arrival in the US, personnel were granted thirty days leave, reassembling at Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota, but plans had changed and personnel were either transferred to Boeing B-29 Superfortress units or processed for discharge and the group was inactivated.
Assigned to Air Force Reserve January 1947. Never equipped or manned, inactivated 1949.
Allocated to Tactical Air command, 1957 and reactivated as a Fighter-Bomber, later Tactical Fighter squadron, equipped with F-100 Super Sabres. Performed routine deployments and exercises 1957-1966. Deployed to South Vietnam as part of USAF buildup of forces in 1966, engaging in tactical bombing of enemy targets in South Vietnam AOR. Inactivated in 1971 as part of USAF drawdown of forces in Indochina.Constituted as the 615th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 March 1943
Activated on 1 April 1943
Redesignated 615th Bombardment Squadron
, Heavy ca
. 1 November 1943
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
Redesignated 615th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 27 December 1946
Activated in the reserve on 10 January 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
Redesignated 615th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 30 August 1957
Activated on 25 September 1957
Redesignated 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958
Inactivated on 31 July 1971
401st Bombardment Group, 1 April 1943 - 28 August 1945
Tenth Air Force, 10 January 1947
401st Bombardment Group, 30 September 1947 - 27 June 1949.
401st Fighter-Bomber Wing (later Tactical Fighter Wing), 25 September 1957
834th Air Division, 27 April 1966
366th Tactical Fighter Wing, 16 July 1966
35th Tactical Fighter Wing, 10 October 1966 - 31 July 1971
Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington, 1 April 1943
Geiger Field, Washington, 4 June 1943
Great Falls Army Air Base, Montana, 8 July 1943 - 19 October 1943 (deployed to Lewiston AAF after August)
RAF Deenethorpe (AAF-128), England, 4 November 1943 - 20 June 1945
Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota c. 1–28 August 1945
Brooks Field (later Brooks Air Force Base), Texas, 26 June 1947 - 27 June 1949
England AFB, Louisiana, 25 September 1957
Phan Rang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, 16 July 1966 – 31 July 1971
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943–1945
North American F-100 Super Sabre, 1957–1971