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434TH FLYING TRAINING SQUADRON

Posted 7/3/2014 Printable Fact Sheet

The 434th Flying Training Squadron, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, along with the 85th FTS, conducts the T-6A Texan II flying training portion of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.

The 434th FTS traces its lineage to the 434th Fighter Squadron, which was activated on Oct. 15, 1943, during a buildup of Army Air Forces.

The squadron was activated at Grand Central Air Terminal, California and it came under control of the 479th Fighter Group. Initial manning consisted of six officers, one warrant officer and 16 enlisted men. Equipped with the P-38 Lightning, pilots trained for combat. The German's called the P-38 the "Gabelschwanzteufel," translated as the fork-tailed or twin-tailed devil, and is believed to be the reason the squadron has two devils on its emblem. In mid-April 1944 they departed California for their base in England and arrived almost a month later.

On May 25, 1944, 11 days after the squadron's arrival in England, pilots flew their first combat mission. In the early hours of June 6, 1944, D-Day, over 120,000 Allied troops neared the French coast. To provide support, over 12,000 aircraft flew cover, interdiction or other support missions. Included in these numbers were 434th pilots, some who flew three missions, returning to base long enough to refuel and rearm. Not until July 29, 1944 did the 434th FS down its first aircraft and the first kill for the group, when 1st Lt. Arthur F. Jeffrey, one of the original six pilots assigned to the squadron, destroyed a Me-163 Komet, a German rocket-propelled interceptor. Over the next nine months, squadron members flew bomber escort missions, attacked air fields and flew other missions as required, including support of beleaguered ground forces around Bastogne, Belgium, better known as the Battle of the Bulge. On April 25, 1945, pilots flew their last combat mission and 1st Lt. Hilton O. Thomas shot down the last aircraft credited to an Eighth Air Force pilot, an Arado 234 Blitz, a German jet-powered bomber. Of the four aces the 479th Fighter Group produced, three came from the 434th FS: Arthur F. Jeffery, Robin Olds and George W. Gleason. As was America's standard practice following a war, rapid demobilization took place and by Dec. 1, 1945, the squadron had returned to the United States and deactivated.

With the start of the Korean War and increased tensions with the Soviet Union, the U.S. started building its armed forces back up. Thus, seven years to the day after the 434th was inactivated the squadron was reactivated, this time as the 434th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. Equipped with the P-51 Mustang, pilots trained for interdiction and close air support missions. By July 1953, the squadron became an all-jet unit and flew the F-86F Sabre, and went supersonic in January 1955 when it started operating the F-100A Super Sabre. The squadron participated in Exercise Safe Brush, at the time the largest joint exercise since the end of World War II, and trained to deliver conventional and nuclear weapons. Four years after the introduction of the F-100A, the 434th received the F-104C Starfighter, a Mach-2 fighter dubbed "The missile with a man in it." At this time pilots started rotating to Spain where they augmented North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces countering the Warsaw Pact and assisted Air Defense Command by sitting alert in the U.S. In 1961, while deployed to Spain, the squadron moved to Bitburg, Germany, during the Berlin Crisis. Shortly after their return to the U.S. in December 1961, all squadron personnel, except two, went to other units.

The 434th remained unmanned until November 1966, at which time it gained the F-4C Phantom II and trained combat crews, both U.S. and foreign. The squadron became operational again in 1969, and in late 1972 crews, without aircraft, deployed to Southeast Asia and flew combat missions over North and South Vietnam. In 1975, the squadron again reverted to an F-4 training squadron, and from April-December 1976, again had all personnel removed.

In January 1977, the now-434th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron moved to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, gained pilots and performed the lead-in fighter training mission, similar to today's introduction to fighter fundamentals. Squadron personnel trained US and foreign pilots, along with weapon system operators, bound for fighter and attack aircraft and also acted as aggressor forces for students in the A-10 Thunderbolt II flying training unit.

On May 3, 1991, the squadron inactivated, before coming back to life Aug. 24, 2012 as the 434th Flying Training Squadron. As before, 434th pilots stand ready to train tomorrow's aviators and Air Force leaders.

(Current as of July 2014)


47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs, 561 Liberty Drive, Suite 3, Laughlin AFB, Texas 78843-5227
Phone: DSN 732-5988, Commercial (830) 298-5988; Fax: (830) 298-5047







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