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96th Flying Training Squadron T-38 Talon Model, 1/46 (12″) Scale, Mahogany, USAF, Trainer


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96th Flying Training Squadron T-38

Fly with the 96th Flying Training Squadron again in this wooden T-38 model. Each model is carefully carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love 12 inches

World War II
The squadron was first activated in early 1942 at Harding Field, Louisiana as the 96th Pursuit Squadron,[1] one of the original three squadrons of the 82d Pursuit Group.[2] It soon moved to California where it equipped with Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and began training with Fourth Air Force as the 96th Fighter Squadron. It left California in the fall and sailed for Northern Ireland, where it received additional combat training under Eighth Air Force. A month after the initial Operation Torch landings in North Africa the squadron deployed to Algeria, where it entered combat as an element of Twelfth Air Force.[3]

In North Africa, the squadron flew antisubmarine patrols, bomber escort missions and attacked enemy shipping and airfields, moving its base east through Algeria and Tunisia. As the North African campaign drew to a close, the unit began attacking targets in Italy, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation[1] for its actions on 25 April 1943 during an attack on enemy airfields in Foggia.[3]

In September, the squadron participated in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, during which it was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for a bomber escort mission against marshalling yards near Naples.[1][3] The squadron moved to Italy, where it became part of Fifteenth Air Force as part of the buildup to provide fighter cover for Fifteenth’s heavy bombers.[3] On 10 June 1944 the squadron earned a third Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions during an attack on oil refineries in Ploiești, Romania.[1]

Following the surrender of Germany, the squadron remained in Italy until September 1945, when it was inactivated[1] In the course of the war the squadron destroyed 194 enemy aircraft.[4]

Cold War
In 1947 the squadron was again activated at Grenier Field, New Hampshire, where it was equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs as a Strategic Air Command fighter escort unit.[5] Between April and June 1948 the squadron deployed to Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska, where it practiced rendezvousing with and escorting bombers, intercepting simulated enemy bombers and aerial gunnery.[3] In August 1949 it was transferred to Continental Air Command and its primary role became air defense, but this mission change was brief, for the squadron was inactivated in October.[5]

In late 1952, the squadron, now designated the 96th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, was activated under Air Defense Command (ADC). and assigned to the 4710th Defense Wing. It was stationed at New Castle Air Force Base, Delaware, where it replaced the federalized 142d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was returned to the control of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.[6] The 96th took over the personnel, mission, and Lockheed F-94 Starfire aircraft of the inactivating 142d.[1]

In February 1953, another major reorganization of ADC activated Air Defense Groups at ADC bases with dispersed fighter squadrons. Air Defense Groups were assigned to defense wings and assumed direct control of the fighter squadrons at those bases, as well as support squadrons to carry out their role as the USAF host organizations at the bases. As a result of this reorganization, the 525th Air Defense Group activated at New Castle and the 96th was assigned to it.[7] In July 1953 the squadron upgraded to a newer model of the F-94, which was armed with Mighty Mouse rockets rather than cannon.[8]

In August 1955, ADC implemented Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars.[9] As part of this project, the 525th Air Defense Group was replaced by the squadron’s World War II headquarters, the 82d Fighter Group.[2][7] The 96th was inactivated along with its parent group in early 1958 when ADC ended its operations at New Castle.[1]

Pilot Training
In 1972 Air Training Command replaced its Major Command (MAJCON) controlled flying training units with USAF controlled units (AFCON) units. As part of this program the squadron was redesignated the 96th Flying Training Squadron and activated at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona when its parent 82d Flying Training Wing replaced the 3525th Pilot Training Wing. At Williams the unit trained USAF pilots to fly Cessna T-37 Tweet jet aircraft[5] in the basic phase of the Undergraduate Pilot Training program. The squadron was inactivated in 1993 when Williams closed in the second round of the Base Realignment and Closure program.[3]

In 1998, the 96th Flying Training Squadron was activated in the Air Force Reserve at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas as an associate of the 47th Flying Training Wing. As the reserve associate unit for the wing the squadron trains Air Force Reserve pilots.[5]