121st Tactical Fighter Squadron F-100 Model
Fly with the Capital Guardians of the 121st Tactical Fighter Squadron in this handcrafted F-100 Super Sabre model. Each piece is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love.
The 121st Fighter Squadron (121 FS) is a unit of the District of Columbia Air National Guard 113th Wing located at Joint Base Andrews, Camp Springs, Maryland. The 121st is equipped with the Block 30 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon.
The squadron is a descendant organization of the 121st Observation Squadron, established on 10 July 1940. It is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II.
Established by the National Guard Bureau as the 112th Observation Squadron and allocated to the District of Columbia National Guard in July 1940. Not organized until April 1941, formed in Washington D. C. without aircraft assigned.
World War II
Unit was ordered to active duty in April 1941 as part of the buildup of the Army Air Corps after the Fall of France. Assigned to Bolling Field, D.C. and equipped with light observation aircraft. Transferred to Third Air Force in September 1941, began flying coastal anti-submarine flights over the South Carolina coastline from airfields in the Columbia area. Moved to First Air Force at Langley Field, Virginia, again engaging in antisubmarine patrols over the Maryland, Virginia and upper North Carolina coasts and the approaches to Chesapeake Bay. Moved to Birmingham, Alabama in October 1942 and inactivated. Squadron personnel being reassigned to other units and aircraft being transferred to other duties.
Reactivated in April 1943 as a liaison and Observation squadron, mission to support Army ground units by flying photo and tactical observation missions, performing battlefield reconnaissance for enemy ground forces, spotting for artillery fire. Was deployed to Twelfth Air Force in Algeria in March 1944, engaging in liaison and courier operations for Headquarters, Army Air Forces, MTO. Equipped with various light observation aircraft, some A-20 Havoc light bombers used for aerial photo-reconnaissance and modified A-24 Banshee dive bombers taken out of combat and modified into RA-24 photo-reconnaissance aircraft.
Reassigned to Fifth Army in Italy in September, engaged in combat reconnaissance and photo-reconnaissance in Italy as part of the Italian Campaign. Elements transferred to Seventh Army in Southern France, performing combat reconnaissance as part of the Southern France Campaign. Elements remained attached to the Ninth Air Force and Sixth United States Army Group during the Rhineland Campaign and the Western Allied invasion of Germany. Remaining elements in Italy as part of Fifth Army advanced north as enemy forces withdrew north of Rome, eventually being stationed near Florence in the spring of 1945.
Returned to the United States at Drew Field, Florida in August 1945. Most personnel were demobilized although unit remained active until being inactivated in Oklahoma in November 1945.
District of Columbia Air National Guard
The wartime 121st Liaison Squadron was redesignated as the 121st Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the District of Columbia Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Andrews Field, Maryland, and was extended federal recognition on 20 October 1946 by the National Guard Bureau. The squadron was equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts and was assigned to 113th Fighter Group, also a DC guard unit and was initially gained by Air Defense Command.
The mission of the 121st Fighter Squadron was the air defense of the District of Columbia, along with southern Maryland and northern Virginia. Parts were no problem and many of the maintenance personnel were World War II veterans so readiness was quite high and the planes were often much better maintained than their USAF counterparts. In some ways, the postwar Air National Guard was almost like a flying country club and a pilot could often show up at the field, check out an aircraft and go flying. However, the unit also had regular military exercises that kept up proficiency and in gunnery and bombing contests they would often score at least as well or better than active-duty USAF units, given the fact that most ANG pilots were World War II combat veterans.
In December 1949 the 121st Fighter Squadron converted from its F-47s to F-84C Thunderjets as the first Air National Guard squadron to be equipped with jet aircraft. It was not to be a happy relationship. During 1950, the 121st had lost four Thunderjets in accidents, and two more to undetermined other causes.
On 30 August 1950 the squadron lost a single Republic F-84 Thunderjet during a routine weather training mission of two aircraft. After passing southbound near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the F-84C exploded in mid-air at tree height, left a large crater in a field, and scattered wreckage over 3 acres (1.2 hectares) of the Hilbert cornfield near the Maryland intersection of the Harney and Bollinger School roads. Along with small parts of the aircraft, a few remains of the pilot were recovered; and the element leader in the lead F-84, 1st Lt. William L. Hall, reported “Alkire had not radioed of any difficulty before the explosion.”
Korean War activation
121st Fighter Squadron Republic F-84C Thunderjet 47-1499, about 1950
With the surprise invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, and the regular military’s lack of readiness, most of the Air National Guard was called to active duty, including the 121st, which was activated on 1 February 1951. The 121st Fighter Squadron became an element of Air Defense Command (ADC) and was redesignated as the 121st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. The squadron was joined in the 113th Fighter-Interceptor Group by the Delaware ANG 142d Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons, also equipped with F-84Cs, and the Pennsylvania ANG 148th Fighter Squadron equipped with World War II era F-51D Mustangs at Spaatz Field, Reading.
ADC moved the 113th group and its parent 113th Fighter-Interceptor Wing from Andrews AFB to New Castle Air Force Base, Delaware, where they replaced the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and group, which deployed to the Pacific, but the squadron remained at Andrews. The squadron mission was the air defense of the Delaware Bay and the Delmarva Peninsula.
In September 1951 the squadron converted to airborne interception radar equipped F-94B Starfires with partial all-weather capabilities. ADC’s was experiencing difficulty under the existing wing base organizational structure in deploying its fighter squadrons to best advantage. In February 1952, the 113th wing and group were inactivated and replaced by the regional 4710th Defense Wing. The squadron remained assigned to the wing until it was released from federal service in November 1952 and its mission, personnel, and equipment reassigned to the 95th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which activated the same day.
With its return to District of Columbia control, the 121st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was re-equipped with propeller-driven F-51H Mustangs and resumed its air defense mission of Washington, D.C. It was not until 1954, with the phaseout of the Mustang and the requirement by Air Defense Command that its interceptor squadrons be equipped with jet-powered aircraft that the squadron was upgraded to postwar-era F-86A Sabres that had been refurbished and reconditioned before being received. In August 1954, the 121st began standing daytime air defense alert at Andrews, placing two aircraft at the end of the runway with pilots in the cockpit from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. This ADC alert lasted each and every day until the end of October 1958
Despite the reconditioning, the F-86A Sabres were weary and required a considerable amount of maintenance to keep in the air. In 1955, the 113th sent them to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB and received F-86E Sabres from active-duty ADC units that were receiving F-89 Scorpion interceptors. In 1957, the F-86H was already being phased out of active service with the USAF, being replaced by the F-100 Super Sabre, and the 121st received F-86H Sabres in late 1957.
North American F-100C 54-1807 about 1965
121st Tactical Fighter Squadron F-105D 58-1173 after an air refueling.
In late 1958, the gaining command for the 113th was changed from Air Defense Command to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and the mission of the wing was changed to tactical air support, although the air defense of Washington remained as a secondary mission. The Sabres were phased out in 1960 with the receipt of relatively new F-100C Super Sabres from active duty units receiving the F-100D model. The Super Sabre was a major improvement over the F-86H and it gave the wing a major increase in capability as well as it entering the supersonic age.
In January 1968, a new crisis, the seizure of the American ship USS Pueblo by North Korean forces, and again the 113th was called to active duty. The wing was activated to federal service, and its personnel were assigned to Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina as a filler unit while the base’s permanent unit, the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing was deployed to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. At Myrtle Beach AFB, the federalized NJ ANG 119th Tactical Fighter Squadron joined the 121st TFS on active duty. However, not all wing personnel were sent to Myrtle Beach, as personnel were spread throughout the United States, Taiwan, Korea, and South Vietnam.