308th FS Emerald Knights F-16
Fly with the the 308th Fighter Squadron and the Emerald Knights again in wooden F-16 model. Each model is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a unique piece you’ll love.
World War II
Initially established under Third Air Force in early 1942 as a fighter squadron at Baer Field, Indiana, flying some antisubmarine patrols in the Gulf of Mexico.
Deployed to the European Theater of Operations in June 1942 without aircraft as its P-40s and P-39s were deemed unsuitable for use against German aircraft in long-range bomber escort duties. Was re-equipped with RAF Supermarine Spitfire Vs and its pilots and technicians spent a two-month period undergoing intensive training in flying and fighting with RAF pilots in the British aircraft from airfields in southeast England. The squadron flew its first combat mission on 18 August 1942, when it attacked enemy positions in occupied France.
Assigned to the new Twelfth Air Force and deployed to Gibraltar in November 1942 as part of the Operation Torch invasion forces, initially operating from former Vichy French airfields in Algeria. Advanced east across Algeria and Tunisia during the North African Campaign, supporting the Fifth United States Army which halted Field Marshal Rommel’s advance on allied positions.
Spitfires from the squadron provided support for Allied Forces as the Invasion of Italy began with the capture of Sicily, and later the landings by Allied forces in Fascist Italy, moving north supporting the Fifth Army during the Italian Campaign. As Allied bomber forces operating from Italy began the strategic bombing of Axis petroleum and communications facilities in central Europe and the Balkans, the squadron was re-equipped with the North American P-51 Mustang to replace the shorter-ranged Spitfire. In August 1944, the P-51’s were involved in the invasion of Southern France. In December 1944, the first destruction of a German jet fighter by a 308th P-51 occurred, eventually operating from the Po Valley in Northern Italy at the end of the European War in May 1945.
By war’s end, the squadron had earned two Distinguished Unit Citations and was involved in eight campaigns The squadron was largely demobilized during the summer of 1945 in Europe, a skeleton force returned to Drew Field, Florida in August, inactivating largely as an administrative unit in November.
Reactivated from elements of several inactivating organizations in Germany in August 1946, Performed occupation duty and operating early-model P-80A Shooting Star jets from former Luftwaffe jet-capable airfields at Giebelstadt and Kitzingen. Returned to the United States in June 1947 without personnel or equipment which remained in Germany.
Assigned to Strategic Air Command at Langley Field, Virginia as a fighter-escort squadron, equipped with straight-winged Republic F-84E Thunderjets. Assigned to Turner Air Force Base, Georgia with mission of long-range escort of Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers, later Boeing B-50 Superfortresses and Convair B-36 Peacemakers as newer aircraft came into operation by SAC.
Relieved from assignment to SAC and made non-operational in 1957 with phaseout of B-36 and end of SAC escort fighter concept. On 1 April 1957 the parent 31 SFW was transferred back to Tactical Air Command and moved to George Air Force Base, California. Trained in tactical air support of ground forces, deploying to NATO bases for operational exercises. Reassigned to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida after the Cuban Missile Crisis, late 1962 to provide air defense of South Florida. On 8 February 1964 the 308th Fighter Squadron flew a non-stop mission from Homestead to Cigli Air Base, Turkey. The 6,600 mile trip required eight in-flight refuelings and set a new record for the longest mass flight of jet aircraft to cross the Atlantic. The flight also led to the wing receiving the Tactical Air Command Outstanding Fighter Wing Award for 1964, the second consecutive year it won that prestigious award.
Was deployed to Southeast Asia, 1964 as part of advisory forces operating against North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front forces in South Vietnam. For its efforts in Southeast Asia from 16 December 1966 to 15 October 1970, the 308th was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. The 308th Fighter Squadron also won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat “V” Device.
Reassigned back to TAC at Homestead in 1970, as part of re-establishment of 31st TFW upon its return from duty in Southeast Asia. Equipped with McDonnell F-4E Phantom IIs. Was deployed to Thailand, July 1972, engaging North Vietnamese forces in northern South Vietnam in response to the communist spring offensive. Returned to the United States in the late fall, 1972. For the next 20 years, performed routine training and tactical deployments from Homestead AFB. At the end of 1986 the squadron and wing changed tail codes from ZF to HS which better matched the squadrons location in Homestead. Upgraded to the General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon in 1988, upgrading to receive Shaw AFB block 25s in August 1990. With the Gulf War build up and the 363rd TFW at Shaw AFB deploying to Saudi Arabia meant no more block 25s were available. With some F-16A/B block 15s still in service for the 308th TFS, it continued to operate both types.
General Dynamics F-16A Block 15Q Fighting Falcon AF Serial No. 83-1080 of the 308th FS, about 1988.
When Desert Storm ended it was decided to convert the 31st TFW to block 40 F-16s instead. Up to this point about ten block 25s had reached the 308th FS and had been pained in ‘Emerald Knight’ markings. They were all sent to other units. Neither of the 31st TFWs other sister squadrons flew the block 25. In March 1991 the 308th began conversion to the block 40 version of the F-16. On 1 October 1991 the word ‘Tactical’ was dropped and unit became the 308th Fighter Squadron. By early 1992 the conversion to block 40 F-16s with the general purpose role was complete.
Moved to Moody AFB, Georgia in late August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew threatened South Florida. It was to be a temporary move to Moody, but Homestead was so heavily damaged it was never re-opened for any of the 31st FW squadrons After destruction of Homestead AFB, was reassigned permanently to the 347th Operations Group at Moody. At this point the ‘HS’ tail code began to be replaced with a ‘MY’ tail code. In fact some block 40 F-16s were delivered right from the factory to the 308th Fighter Squadron’s new home base. It deployed to Saudi Arabia from, March–June 1995 in support of Operation Southern Watch.
On 1 April 1994 the unit reassigned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona where it became a training unit. Training by the 308th FS is not a typical syllabus as the 308th FS is the main training hub for turning out instructor pilots. The ‘Emerald Knights’ mission is to ‘ Train . . . F-16 pilots and deploy combat ready airmen…' The role of training instructor pilots is not exclusive and the 308th FS still has classes of crew which are new to the Viper.
The 308th ranks tenth as the most highly decorated unit in Air Force history among the 152 fighter squadrons that were ever active. With a long and distinguish service record dating from 1942, it has service around the world from Southeast Asia to Europe.
The 308th (“Emerald Knights”, Tailband: Green & White (checkerboard)), flew Block 42 F-16C/Ds conducting F-16 Fighting Falcon crew training for active duty USAF pilots.