61st Fighter Interceptor Squadron F-89 Model
Fly with the 61st Fighter Interceptor Squadron in this handcrafted F-89 model. Each piece is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love!
The 61st Fighter Squadron was constituted as the 61st Pursuit Squadron as part of the 56th Pursuit Group at Savannah, Georgia, on 15 January 1941. The squadron immediately began training for its wartime missions under III Fighter Command, rapidly transitioning through the Seversky P-35, Curtiss P-36 Hawk, Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk aircraft. On 7 December 1941, the 61st stepped up to defend the Southeastern United States from anticipated enemy air attack while it converted to the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft and prepared to deploy overseas. In November 1942, P-47 Thunderbolt dive test pilots achieved 725 mph, faster than the speed of sound.
It was redesignated 61st Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942, and deployed to RAF Kings Cliffe (AAF-367), England on 9 January 1943. It was declared operationally ready two months later and flew its first combat missions 13 April. The squadron was given fuselage code “HV” and operated from several RAF stations during the war, flying the P-47C Thunderbolt as an VIII Fighter Command bomber-escort unit initially for B-17 Flying Fortresses and beginning in 1944 for B-24 Liberators attacking enemy targets in Occupied Europe. From 1943 to 1945, the 61st produced 19 aces, the highest of any squadron in Europe, destroying 248 aircraft in the air and 67.5 aircraft on the ground. In 1944, it was recognized as the first fighter squadron in the European theater to score over 100 victories. After the end of the war in Europe, the squadron demobilized in England, and was inactivated as an administrative unit on 18 October 1945.
The squadron was reactivated on 1 May 1946 as a Strategic Air Command escort fighter group, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force at Selfridge Army Air Base, Michigan. Initially equipped with P-47D Thunderbolts, being replaced with long-range P-51H Mustangs, originally developed for Twentieth Air Force bomber escort missions in the Pacific Theater. The mission of the squadron was to provide fighter escort of SAC’s B-29 Superfortress bombers on intercontinental strategic bombardment missions, deploying to Alaska and Europe in this role. In 1947, the squadron was upgraded to Lockheed P-80C Shooting Stars, as SAC introduced the B-50 in the late 1940s. The squadron trained to maintain proficiency as a mobile strike force; including bomber escort mission until transferred from Strategic Air Command to Continental Air Command on 1 Dec 1948.
With the reassignment to ConAC, the squadron began performing air defense missions and being re-equipped with the F-86A Sabre. The squadron was re-designated as the 63d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 20 Jan 1950. In April 1950, the 61st transitioned to the F-94 modified with radar, operated by a RO (Radar Observer) to serve as an All Weather fighter Interceptor.
It was assigned to Air Defense Command 4708th Defense Wing in February 1952. In 1953 the Squadron was relocate to Ernest Harmon AFB in Newfoundland where it became part of the DEW (Defense Early Warning) system. The F-94 all weather fighter interceptors were later replaced with the F-89 all weather fighter interceptors. In 1957 the squadron was relocated to Truax Field. The 61st transitioned to the F-80 Shooting Star and later was the first squadron to fly the F-86 Sabre. The 61st was inactivated on 25 July 1960, at Truax Field, Wisconsin flying the F-102 Delta Dagger.
When the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing took over from the 1st TFW at MacDill AFB, Florida in June 1975, the 61st was reactivated, assuming the assets of the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying the F-4E Phantom II. Its mission was to train pilots and weapons systems officers. Changed equipment to the F-4D in 1978, sending the “E” models to operational squadrons.
In April 1980, the flying mission changed to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. During this conversion the squadron was redesignated the 61st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron which better reflected its training role even though that did not change even from the Phantom days. In April 1989 the squadron began a transition to the F-16C/D bock 30 big inlet F-16