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86th Fighter Wing (Air National Guard)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

86th Fighter Wing
120th Fighter Squadron - F-51 Mustangs.jpg
F-51 Mustangs of the 120th Fighter Squadron, Colorado Air National Guard, November 1946. The 120th was the first federally recognized Air National Guard unit in the United States.
Active 1943–1946; 1946-1950
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Wing
Role Command and Control
Part of Colorado Air National Guard

The 86th Fighter Wing (86 FW) is a disbanded unit of the United States Air Force, last stationed at Buckley Field, Denver, Colorado. It was withdrawn from the Colorado Air National Guard (CO ANG) and inactivated on 31 October 1950.

This wing is not related to the United States Air Force 86th Fighter Wing that was Constituted on 1 July 1948 and activated in Germany the same day by the United States Air Forces in Europe.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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    31 966
  • Thunderbolt, 1945
  • Locked & Loaded - 133rd Airlift Wing


♪ [fanfare] ♪ This picture was photographed in combat zones By cameramen of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. And by pilots of the 12th Air Force. Who, during missions against the enemy, operated automatic cameras in their planes. Behind the pilot, shooting forward and back. Under the wing. In the wing, timed with the guns. In the wheel well. In the instrument panel, photographing the pilot himself. The commanding general of the United States Army Air Force, General Carl Spaatz, Has asked me to tell you something about this picture. I don't think I could any better than just to read from his telegram to me. Thunderbolt was made in 1944 - ancient history - As made about one fighter bomber group in the Italian campaign. It happens to be an American group, But the same story could well be told of the Royal Air Force groups Which participated so gallantly in the same air offensive. Matter of fact, the story belongs to all men who fought for freedom, And did it a long way from home. Signed, Spaatz. Thank you. [somber music] To the Italian man in the street, or what's left of the street, This is the fulfillment of a promise - The promise of the Fascists to build a 20th century Roman Empire, conceived in tyranny, And dedicated to the proposition that some men were meant to be slaves of other men. Special victims were the children. They saw things not meant for children's eyes. From the air, Italy is more remote. The airman never sees the face of the people, only the face of the country. From the air, you look down at the mountains. Look down, and wonder how our men on the ground ever got through. Mountains and rivers. The Volturno - lot of American blood in that one. Natural barriers - made other campaigns tough too. Exhausted Hannibal's elephants, Caesar's legions. For the airman, the ground war is remote. The only war you really understand is the air war. You can see a pattern to it. Lots of the country, never been touched. Little towns that walk the ridges like tightrope artists, to keep from falling off. This one didn't matter. When something did matter, that was another story. [fanfare] This is how we changed the face of Italy from the air. They boasted Italian trains ran on time - not these. This is what we did to the face of Italy. There's a story behind why we did it, and how we did it. The story starts on an island 60 miles off Italy's coast. The island of Corsica. Corsica. Rugged, primitive, mountainous, malarial. Here, they still remember a local boy who put Corsica on the map 150 years ago. This island part of France was liberated by the French in September '43. But you can still find a few Germans, Left by the way side where they fell, in the shadow of our air drones. Alto Air Base, Sunday morning. Here, Sunday is like Monday, And Monday is like every other day in the week. A working day. The engines wake you at dawn. In your sack, you can hear the crew chiefs pre-flighting their planes. Getting them ready for the day's missions. This is how you live when you're an airplane driver. Fighting an air war, 20 minutes from the Germans in Italy. You're used to it. You've been washing out of your helmet since July of '42. From the Holy Land to Africa, Across the desert, Egypt in El Alamein, To Libya and Tunisia. 1,300 miles. You moved when the infantry moved. Sicily, and Italy, 58 moves in two years. Now, Corsica. This is the best year you ever had! Call it, "The Country Club." [cheery music] When you talk about air power, this is what you mean - You mean "Spanky" Manda. Major Francis S. Manda of Mentmore, New Mexico. Sqaudron Operations Officer. Not a desk job. Got over 170 missions, working for 200. He's 22. You mean Captain Howard Hickok of Ames, Iowa. He's a flight leader. Just had 30 days in the states. Time to get married, then come back. He's 23. Or, in his Italian general's trailer, Gil Wymond, Louisville, Kentucky. Hardly looks old enough to vote, but he's boss of a squadron. He signs his letters "Gilbert O. Wymond, Lt. Col., Air Corps, Commanding. 'The Old Man'." He's 24. [solemn music] Sunday morning, for the 57th Fighter Group, Pre-squadrons a thousand men, another day begins at Alto Air Base. You could close your eyes and see it this way, spread out like a diagram. Been home sweet home for some time. Good steel-mat runway, 150 by 6,000 feet. Tower call sign is "Breakneck." Lots of jokes about that. We share the field with a French fighter group. Don't speak the same language, but we fly the same airplanes against the same enemy. Each lost a man yesterday. We get along. Group Commander Lt. Col. Archie J. Knight, West Point, 1940. He's 27. First mission today is a 65 squadron show. Briefing, right after breakfast. Informal, short, to the point. Park yourself on a bomb crate, and get your escape kit. Enemy money, instructions to get you back through the lines, just in case. The S2 tells you about your target. He doesn't have to draw it for you, you do this every day. Sometimes, two or three times a day. Gil Wymond will lead the show, so he lays out the job. That's a nurse's hat, his girl's. Wears it for luck. Need all you can get. The brass upstairs plans the war. They want something done, you pick up the phone. You do it. Don't always know why they send you out on a mission, don't always care. But, you know there's a reason. A good one. Today, the missions are going out because in Italy Our armies have been stopped cold at the Gustav Line. Of course, the narrowest and most mountainous part of the peninsula. U.S. 5th Army, British 8th Army, stopped for five months. At Anzio, 100,000 men sweating it out. We couldn't move. Stalemate. March 13th, we bombed Cassino, our immediate objective. Good job of bombing, didn't work. Our infantry didn't advance. It was the wrong use of air power. Wrong because we were not taking advantage of the airplane's greatest asset - Its ability to get behind the enemy. That's what the air planners wanted to do - get behind him. Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, commanding all the air in the Mediterranean. British, French, and American. Maj. Gen. John K. Cannon, "Uncle Joe", commanding the 12th Air Force. And Brig. Gen. Gordon P. Saville, 12th Tactical Air Command. The brass upstairs who run the air war. They said, "Let's not hit him here," "Let's hit him here." "Let's isolate the battlefield." "Let's weaken the entire German front." By depriving it of supplies: Fuel, food, ammunition, reinforcements. They called the plan Operation Strangle. This is what we want to do with airplanes - How? Lot of railroads in Italy. This is the enemy. Keep the trains from getting through. Lot of rivers in Italy, and over 700 major bridges. We figured if a train came to one, and it wasn't there, Be kind of tough to get across. Medium bombers got many of the important ones. But bridges are long, narrow targets. Difficult to hit and destroy. Took a lot of trips, bombs, planes, men. We started to use a special weapon - A fighter bomber, the P-47 Thunderbolt. One engine. One man. One bomb on each wing. Extra fuel tanks for range. 65's crew chiefs taxi from the dispersal points. To the end of the runway. Line up the squadron. [propellers whirring] All the pilots have to do is climb in. And take 'em away. If you're a crew chief, you've got your own P-47. Sometimes you think of it as your personal airplane. The pilots, that fellow you lend it to every day. You let him fly around in it, and you expect him to bring it back... In good condition. No bullet holes, or flak holes. After you've been lending your airplane to one pilot for a long time, You get attached to him, too. If you're a pilot, no matter what your rank, or how many hours you've had, What counts here is the combat flying you've done. Unless you've plenty, you're a beginner. You're called a "sprog." And you remain a sprog until you're wise to the tricks of the trade. After you've put a few missions behind you, you become a "sport." Then, with plenty of action, 50 or 60 missions, If you're still around, you're promoted. You become an "old sport." A veteran. The big shots, like Gil Wymond, are called "wheels." No one knows exactly why. This fellow's a wheel too, says so on his plane. Maj. Richard O. Hunziker, of Tucson, Arizona. Got 179 missions. Your crew chief can't go along, so you always like to tell him what you're gonna do. [Narrator speaking throughout] "Got a triple-threat mission today," "Each section's going after a bridge." "I'll come in on a course of about 40 degrees." "Same old thing. Go out there and dodge around and yak yak..." "Dive bomb out of a left-hand turnabout, then carry the bombs right on down." "We're flying top cover on the other two sections while they bomb," "And then we go in ourselves." "Weather's supposed to be CAVU, so maybe we'll have a good show." All set to go, But you don't. You wait. You wait for five minutes. That's the way it's planned. Time to settle down. Relax. You'll be busy later. So if you've got any thinking to do - and who hasn't? Now is the time to do it. [fanfare crescendos] [engines starting] "Here, hold this til I get back." Takeoff is always rough. Thunderbolt's a heavy airplane. Besides, you've decorated it like a Christmas tree. Belly tank, rockets, guns, 500 pound bombs, cameras. "Hello Breakneck, coleader here. We clear to take the runway for a takeoff? Over." "Roger, coleader from Breakneck. You're clear number 1 to take off." "Roger, Breakneck, thank you." The mile of steel runway will shrink to nothing under you. Halfway down, by the tower, you'll be committed. That means you can't slam on the brakes and stop. Once you're committed, you usually go up. First pair - Wymond and Gustafson. [propeller whirrs] First pair off. Second pair taxis out - Goss and Burgess. Made it okay. Manda and Richardson. Smith and Atwood. C'mon, get her up. Hickok and Morrow. Last pair - Welbes and Hunziker. The squadron is airborne. Over Corsica, then out to sea on the deck. Sixty miles east to Italy. Flying from Corsica, you go only sixty miles, And you're 150 miles behind the German front. Turn again, on that castle. Now you're heading north, into the mountains. Leader section, red section, black section. Formation flying, a game of follow the leader. The squadron leader, he navigates, makes the decisions. Doesn't tell you what to do, does it? You follow, wing tip to wing tip. He turns, you turn. He climbs, you climb. Climbing still, to 10,000, through the clouds. Getting close. Start looking for the target. Stuck down there in one of those ravines. All look alike. Wingman, he's back. Keep the formation spread out. There's a checkpoint, that road. Follow it down to the river. Your first bridge should be down there... somewhere. There it is, pass over it. Come back and attack from the opposite direction - One of the tricks you've learned. Leader section goes into loose-string formation - One plane behind the other. Then, Wymond peels off. The rest of the section follows at 2-second intervals. Last man goes in. No bomb sight in a P-47. Pilot does his own aiming. Bomb bursts from the planes ahead. Couple of misses. Direct hit. Hope your aim is good. Drop your bombs. Pull out. They black you out for a second, blood drains from your head. But you're young, it comes back fast. You're all right now. Leader section re-forms. Top cover. Watches red section bomb. A miss. Another miss. A hit. Black section goes down. Straddle the target. Concussion should do the trick. No more bombs. Still got plenty of gas, plenty of ammo. Go on the prowl. Ease down on the deck. See what you can find. Railroad tracks. Following tracks. Not a bad way to find a train. You spot one, kick her over. Give it a few squirts, might kill somebody. [intermittent gunfire throughout scene] Bust the locomotive first. Train can't move now. Let's see what's in those boxcars. Twelve of you, you'll all criss-cross in. Everybody takes a few passes. Try the cars one at a time. Might be something interesting in them. Usually is. Got a burn nicely now. Take another pass, for luck. [gunfire] [explosion] Strafing spreads the squadron over the sky. Every man his own general. Looks like we're out of trains. Lighthouse out there... wonder if I've got any ammo left? Yep. Radio station... blow out a few tubes. Somebody in that field, don't know who they are... No friends of mine! [gunfire] CRA vehicles parked in that farmyard. More in back. Must be a headquarters. Houses around look kind of suspicious... Might be something in them. Nothing in that one. Nothing in that one. Could be wrong. Nothing in - [explosion] Ah. What do you know. Back at Alto, no one is sweating out 65 Squadron. 66 is taking off. No one will sweat them out either. There are too many missions. Nine for the day. When you don't fly, you've got things to do. Try to make some sort of life for yourself. In trying, you've improvised an American community. Step off the field, you're in Corsica. Step back on, you're in America. This is part of the war too, the endless detail of living. The dust is a problem. Dust is good for the laundry business. Hand laundry. Branches everywhere. Community laundry. Three day service. And, for the rugged individualist, Water supply, Pump, Heating unit, Washing machine. The sergeant used to sell these in New Orleans. He's keeping his hand in. The barber shop. And, for the next customer, always something to read. Never more than a year old. Bus line. Lunch time special. And, for the intellectually-minded, it's time for the more serious things, Like practicing your yo-yo. ♪ ["Yankee Doodle"] ♪ If there's anything you want, don't ask for it. Build it. Build as though you'll be here forever, Knowing you may get orders to move tomorrow. 66 found this canyon, made it their living area. Nobody said they couldn't. Nobody says you can't have a house, build it. Nobody says your squadron can't have a beach club, build one. Nobody says you can't dam up a river, make a swimming hole. This American community has everything. When you come off your shift and somebody else is carrying the ball, You try to relax. Enjoy yourself. In danger a couple hours a day. Rest of the time, you're out of it. Beach club's a busy place. So is the Mediterranean. Mussolini once called it "Mare Nostrum", Our Sea. But that was yesterday. The yachtsman. An old wing tank and a few odds and ends make quite a boat. The crew chiefs scrounge parts. Scrounge is polite for steal. Scrounge them from wrecked Jerry planes, banged-up Italian cars. Old parachutes for sails. They use only the best quality junk. Sometimes when you can get a PX ration of beer, you drink it. Then, you look like this. Alto's the best deal you ever had. "The Country Club", lot of laugh, lot of sun. Your American community has everything... [somber music] Except the things you really want. There are times you'd rather be flying, than waiting around killing time. Guess when you're flying, you don't have that feeling of the day, the week, the month slipping by. Slipping by and leaving you standing still. These are your years, years to get started. Find yourself, your job, profession. Get married, kids, home of your own. These are the years that count. So, you have your picks. To give and receive affection. In return for affection? C-rations, bug powder. As always, in affairs of the heart, Some have peculiar tastes. 66 Squadron heading out. 65 Squadron heading home. A meeting in the air comes and goes fast. 65 leader section, one plane light. When you re-formed after strafing, you noticed it. Nobody saw it happen. Maybe he spun in, maybe he bailed out. You'll think about it later. Now you're waiting for that first sight of home. That's Sirago Air Base. That's Bavenco. You're on your own street. Alto's first turn to the left, three fields down. Keep your formation tight. When you fly over those other outfits, you want to look good. Show them how it's done. Alto. Home. You come in low, and peel up. You peel up to reduce speed. Space the planes 20 seconds apart for landing. Second and third flights go on past the field. They'll circle back when the first flight is down. Drop your gear. Second flight peels up. Third flight'll circle again. This is all the flying the ground crews see. You like to give them a kick. Sometimes you're tired, land them rough. [tires skid] It's embarrassing. The colonel's not happy about the flak holes. New airplane, his crew chief will be mighty sore. And how will you explain this away? Then, after the interrogation, you relax. Grab off some doughnuts and coffee. Jive with the Red Cross girl who meets every mission, And fly the show all over again on the ground. Wymond goes back to work at being a colonel, Missing in Action report to sign. A telegram from the war department has to start somewhere. By mid-April, every rail line in Italy was blocked. We drew a line of interdiction across the country. No train could move south of it. South of it, the railroad system was dead. But the German had to keep the supplies moving. Still had highways. He took to the roads. So we took to the roads. [gunfire] This is what the Germans fear most - You don't blame them. This is the way Rommel got it. He isn't the only one. [gunfire] When you clobber a highway, you burn plenty of ammo. [gunfire] Cyclic rate of fire - 800 rounds a minute. You've got eight guns, 106 bullets a second. Rockets. Those aren't just trucks and Germans. You're stopping ammunition before it's fired on the 5th Army front. And you're doing it 200 miles behind that front. In the weeks that followed, from Corsica to Italy was like a trip to the corner drug store. You could do it in your sleep. We averaged 8-9 missions a day, at the 57th. The French flew about as many. Lafayette Escadrille. The 324 from the 86th over in Italy. The 79th next door. It was good to look up and watch them go by. But there were other things. There were those pillars of smoke. Never knew when you'd see one. That's a wreck. A P-47's cooking, and there's a man in it. With a hit like this, there's nothing to do. Let him burn, and stay clear of the exploding ammo. Keep on landing. You have to. No place to park up there. Why did it happen? Engine cut out for a second, 200 yards from the runway. 200 yards from home. Flight damage might have caused it. You'll never know for sure. All you know is the sum of a war is expensive. You wish that people back home could at least see it. We kept up the pressure. And by the beginning of May, the roads were practically closed. If one man on a motorcycle appeared on a highway by day, He was a dead pigeon. The German took to the sea. Two months after we started, The strangle was on. The Germans had barely enough supplies for two weeks. That's when our ground forces attacked. Allied troops took Cassino. We linked up with a beachhead at Anzio. And in three weeks, we're in Rome. ♪ [fanfare] ♪ The men on the ground pushed north. And as they moved up, they saw what had been done to help them - 10,000 enemy vehicles destroyed or damaged. In every town they took, no marshalling yard. How many German tanks went out of business because of the gasoline these trains never carried? They advanced, and they saw the bridges. How many German shells were never fired because they couldn't get across the rivers? The ground forces exploited their breakthrough. In plain language, they shot and killed Germans. And they ate up the country. Almost 250 miles in one non-stop offensive. The ground forces won a battle, but they still had a war to fight. And you were still flying missions. Up from first light to last light. Only the coming of darkness would stop you. Only the coming of darkness would bring the last missions home to Alto. Then the long work day would end. Some men hit the sack early. And some spent another quiet evening at the club. Col. Wymond's Country Club for Airplane Drivers. ♪ [To the tune of "Little Brown Jug"] Party party have a good time, ♪ ♪ Stay in bed til half-past nine, ♪ ♪ Sit around at the pub, ♪ ♪ Colonel Wymond's Country Club ♪ ♪ Ha ha ha, you and me, ♪ ♪ Little brown jug, how I love thee, ♪ ♪ Ha ha ha, you and me - ♪ ♪ [fanfare] ♪



World War II

Activated as an intermediate echelon organization for Fifth Air Force in late 1943.

From May 1944 to August 1945, it operating as a command and control echelon with various groups that were attached for brief periods in the Southwest Pacific Area. After the end of hostilities, the wing became responsible for establishing and operating an aircraft warning system in the Philippine Islands.

All personnel and equipment transferred to the 64th Fighter Wing on 15 February 1946 and the unit became an administrative unit. Inactivated on 15 March 1946.

Air National Guard

Allocated to the Colorado Air National Guard for command and control origination for units in the Rocky Mountain region (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico) of the United States. Extended federal recognition and activated on 3 July 1946.

At the end of October 1950, the Air National Guard converted to the wing-base (Hobson Plan) organization. As a result, the wing was withdrawn from the Colorado ANG and was inactivated on 31 October 1950. The 140th Fighter Wing was established by the National Guard Bureau, allocated to the state of Colorado, recognized and activated 1 November 1950; assuming the personnel, equipment and mission of the inactivated 86th Fighter Wing.


  • Constituted as 86th Fighter Wing on 19 November 1943
Activated on 1 December 1943
Inactivated on 15 March 1946.
  • Allotted to the Colorado ANG on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition and activated on 3 July 1946
Inactivated, and returned to the control of the Department of the Air Force, on 31 October 1950
  • Disbanded on 15 June 1983


Attached to: 308th Bombardment Wing, 16 January – 15 March 1946.


World War II

Colorado Air National Guard



 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 June 2017, at 20:25
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