421st FS Blackwidows F-16 Falcon Model
Fly with the the 421st Fighter Squadron and the Blackwidows 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
The squadron was activated on 1 May 1943, as the 421st Night Fighter Squadron, in Orlando Army Air Base, Florida. After several months of training with Douglas P-70 Havoc night fighters, the squadron was deployed to the Southwest Pacific, arriving at Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, and assumed duty with the 5th Fighter Command, 5th Air Force, in the Southwest Pacific.
However, it was found that the P-70 was not very successful in actual combat interception of Japanese fighters at night. It was issued P-38H Lightnings stock day fighters with no radar or any other equipment for finding the enemy at night. The Lightning pilots would wait until the enemy was over a target and, hopefully, illuminated by the defender’s searchlights. They would then try to pick out the outline of the enemy aircraft and intercept. This method had its dangers since the P-38 was subjecting itself to antiaircraft fire from defenders as well as gunners aboard the Japanese bombers. The squadron received the P-61 Black Widow to replace the P-38s/P-70s in June 1944. The squadron and its detachments moved several times throughout New Guinea providing cover for U.S. Army assault landings, shipping reconnaissance while protecting the various new air bases.
In October 1944, squadron personnel moved to the Philippines, and after bitter fighting, established a camp at San Marcelino Field in February 1945. During the next 6 months, the squadron’s activity was intense aerial combat and bombing missions became an everyday occurrence.
Following the Japanese surrender, the squadron became part of the occupation forces at Itazuke Air Base, Japan. On 20 February 1947, the squadron was inactivated, with 16 victories to its credit.
Fifteen years later, on 8 July 1962, the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated and named a tactical fighter squadron with the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at George Air Force Base, California. It was equipped with the Republic F-105D Thunderchief, a large heavy supersonic fighter-bomber. Once training was completed with the aircraft at George, the squadron and its wing was moved to its permanent duty station, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
At McConnell, the wing took on a NATO commitment, its mission being the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons in case of a war in Europe. For the next two years, the squadron deployed frequently, performing rotational TDY duties at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. In the spring of 1965, the squadron deployed to Pacific Air Forces, spending five months at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. While at Kadena, flight crews rotated to a sister squadron in Southeast Asia enabling squadron members to gain combat experience.
The requirements of the Vietnam War led to the 421st to change its mission from nuclear weapons delivery to that of being a tactical bomber over North Vietnam. From April 1966 to April 1967 the 421st was stationed at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. For the next two years, the squadron was stationed with three different stateside wings, though in name only.
On 23 April 1969, the 421 TFS transferred to Kunsan Air Base, Korea, transitioning to the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II for defense alert. On 21 June 1969, the squadron was transferred to Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, and remained there through October 1972, flying 15,420 combat missions in the F-4D. On 31 October 1972, the unit moved to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, with the 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
At Udorn, the squadron was briefly re-equipped with the RF-4C reconnaissance version of the Phantom, before being equipped with the F-4E, the last and most advanced version of the Phantom. Combat missions continued in Southeast Asia until the cease-fire on 28 January 1973, in Laos until February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August 1973.
The squadron then changed to a training environment and participated in many tactical air exercises. During April 1975, squadron pilots participated in the evacuation of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. In May 1975, the squadron flew in tactical missions associated with the recovery of the SS Mayagüez and its crew.
For its efforts in Southeast Asia, the 421st earned three Presidential Unit Citations, six Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat “V” Devices, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and flies 12 campaign streamers for Southeast Asian duty.
In December 1975, the 388 Wing moved from Thailand to Hill Air Force Base, and by 30 June 1977, the 421st was combat ready with F-4E Phantom IIs. On 29 December 1978, the squadron was reduced to zero aircraft, yet remained with the 388th until June 1980 when they received their first General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. The 421st FS was the second of the Hill units to receive the F-16. New aircraft came straight from the General Dynamics production line at Fort Worth .
After attaining combat readiness in the F-16, the 421 TFS was tasked to provide formal training for pilots transitioning to the F-16. In November 1981, the squadron deployed to Egypt where it trained Egyptian pilots in exercise Bright Star. From 1 July 1982, until 1 January 1983, the 421 TFS had trained pilots from Britain, Egypt, and Pakistan, as well as U.S. pilots. In 1983 the squadron formally became a Replacement Training Unit. Squadron deployment locations in the 1980s included Egypt, Oman, Norway, Italy, Ecuador, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. By the beginning of 1984 the 421st TFS dropped the training role completely leaving the 16th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron as the sole training unit at Hill AFB. During the 1980s the 421st was tasked with conventional air-to-ground and attack. Since the importance of the squadron for this task, newer, updated aircraft came to the squadron that were better designed for the mission than the initial group of F-16s. By 1983 the squadron was completely converted to the block 15 aircraft.
The 421st kept flying with these airframes up until 1990. It was then that they started receiving the upgraded F-16CG Block 40 aircraft the second squadron to do so. With this newer version the squadron was able to conduct its missions with even greater accuracy and also added a night-time possibility to it.
In the early 1990s, the introduction of the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod to the 421st. The squadron started operating this pod in mid 1990 as one of the first USAF squadrons to deploy it in an operational environment. With tensions rising in the Middle East the squadron had to adopt this new weapon system very quickly and had to train in very different scenarios then previously flown in a couple of months time.
On 30 August 1990, the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. On 20 March 1991, the 421st redeployed to its home at Hill Air Force Base after distinguishing itself by flying 1,300 combat sorties (1,200 at night) without any losses or battle damage. Since then, the 421st FS has deployed around the world in support of various operations, including Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, and Noble Eagle.
In August 2002, the 421st transferred all its maintenance personnel to the 388th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron as part of the wing reorganization. The 421st deployed with 388th Squadron’s 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom from May to September 2003.
The 421st and AMU became the first-ever active duty F-16 squadron to deploy to Balad Air Base, Iraq, however the 107th Fighter Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard from Selfridge ANG Base Michigan was the first F-16 squadron to fly out Iraq In 2003. The 421st was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom from August 2004 to January 2005. The squadron flew over 1,300 sorties during its first deployment to Iraq. The squadron then returned to Balad Air Base from May to September 2006 flying 1,400 sorties and 6,400 hours.
On 22 June 2009 a single-seat F-16 from the squadron on a training mission, a nighttime high-angle strafing run, crashed in the Utah Test and Training Range. The pilot, Captain George Bryan Houghton, 28, was killed. A USAF mishap investigation concluded that the cause of the crash was pilot error, finding that Houghton’s inexperience and apparent disorientation during the strafing run caused him to fly the aircraft into the ground.
Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year 2013 due to mandatory budget cuts. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect 1 March when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
Squadrons either stood down on a rotating basis or kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013. This affected the 421st Fighter Squadron with a reduction of its flying hours, placing it into a basic mission capable status from 5 April-30 September 2013. Wiki