Military Wiki
47th Flying Training Wing
47th Flying Training Wing.png
47th Flying Training Wing Insignia
Active January 15, 1941 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Pilot Training
Size Wing
Part of Air Education & Training Command
Garrison/HQ Laughlin Air Force Base
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Donald G. Cook
John W. Doucette

T-6As of the 47th Flying Training Wing

The 47th Flying Training Wing (47 FTW) is a United States Air Force pilot training wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, near Del Rio, Texas. It is one of five pilot training units in the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command which conducts joint specialized undergraduate pilot training for the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and allied nation air forces utilizing the T-38C, T-6A and T-1A aircraft.


  • 47th Medical Group
  • 47th Mission Support Group
  • 47th Operations Group (Tail Code: XL)
47th Operations Support Squadron
85th Flying Training Squadron (T-6A) "Tigers"
434th Fighter Training Squadron (T-6A) "Red Devils"
86th Flying Training Squadron (T-1A) "Rio Lobos"
87th Flying Training Squadron (T-38C) "Red Bulls"
96th Flying Training Squadron (T-38C, T-1A)

Aircraft flown

  • T-41, 1972–1973
  • T-37, 1972–2004
  • T-38, 1972–present
  • T-1A, 1993–present
  • T-6, 2002–present


See 47th Operations Group for additional history and lineage information prior to 1947

Cold War


Flightline photo of B-45A-5-NA Tornadoes of the 47th Light Bomb Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Va., before trans-atlantic flight to Sculthorpe, England, in July 1952. Identifiable aircraft are (nearest to farthest) 47-082, 47-089, 47-050, 47-061, 47-058, 47-081, unknown, unknown, 47-059, 47-064, unknown.

KB-50J of the 420th Air Refueling Squadron refueling 2 Republic F-105D's from the 36th TFW, Bitburg AB West Germany.

RB-45C 48-022, 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

On July 28, 1947, the 47th Bombardment Wing was established at Biggs Field, Texas, with the 47th Bombardment Group as its operational unit. The wing became active on August 15, 1947. On February 1, 1948 Biggs was also turned over to SAC, forcing a relocation of the Wing to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana in November. The 47th moved into the jet age in 1949, when the North American B-45 Tornado, bomber replaced the B-26s. The 47th was the first USAF wing equipped with the B-45.

The 47th was inactivated at Barksdale October 2, 1949 as a result of budgetary reductions. However the 84th and 85th Squadrons continued with the B-45's and moved to Langley AFB, Virginia where they were attached to the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

On March 12, 1951, the 47th Bombardment Wing was reactivated at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, with tactical squadrons the 84th and 85th. The Wing was the only Jet-Medium Bomber Wing in the Air Force. The new Wing was assigned to Tactical Air Command.

After becoming proficient in the handling and use of nuclear weapons, moved to RAF Sculthorpe, United Kingdom where it began operations there on June 1, 1952. Operational squadrons of the wing were:

  • 84th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (November 17, 1952 – June 22, 1962) (red tail stripe)
  • 85th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (November 17, 1952 – June 22, 1962) (yellow tail stripe)
  • 86th Bombardment Squadron (B-45A, B-66B) (March 23, 1954 – June 22, 1962) (blue tail stripe)

For nearly three years, the 47th Wing provided an in-place Atomic Air Strike Force to back up NATO Ground Forces in Europe. In England, the wing was attached to the USAFE Third Air Force 49th Air Division, but remained assigned to Tactical Air Command. The wing provided combat crew training and operated USAF Air Crew School (Light Bombardment and Tactical Reconnaissance). Operational missions of the wing were training for tactical bombardment training operations, including participation in exercises and firepower demonstrations in support of NATO.

Owing to the size of Sculthorpe, the wing operated two B-45A jet bomber squadrons (84th and 85th) from Sculthorpe. In March 1954, a third B-45A jet bomber squadron (86th) was assigned to the wing, but operated from RAF Alconbury in order to accommodate the additional aircraft.

From May 1954 to December 1958, the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the 47th Bomb Wing from the 363d TRW. The 19th TRS flew out of RAF Alconbury and flew the reconnaissance version of the B-45 known as the RB-45C. The RB-45s carried the same markings as the B-45, except for an added marking on the wingtip fuel tanks. This marking consisted of two stripes coming back off the top and bottom of the circular Squadron Badge in the appropriate Squadron color near the outside front center of the tank. In 1958, the 19th began to re-equip with Douglas RB-66 Destroyers and its RB-45’s were transferred back to the United States. The RB-66B carried flash bombs in its bomb bay for night photography missions and was equipped with a battery of reconnaissance cameras. The RB-66B could also be fitted with a removable inflight refuelling probe attached to the right side of the forward fuse.

In October 1955, air-to-air refueling versions of the Boeing B-29 bomber known as the KB-29Pwere added to the wing with the addition of the 420th Air Refueling Squadron from Alexandria AFB, Louisiana, which operated out of Sculthorpe. In 1958 the KB-29s were upgraded to the jet-assisted KB-50Js which were specially equipped with two General Electric J47 turbojet engines that enabled the tankers to match the speed of the faster jet fighters during refueling

By 1957, carrying 10,000 personnel the 47th Bombardment Wing was the largest USAF organization in Europe with three bomber squadrons, one recon squadron and one air refueling squadron.

In May 1958, the re-equipment of the 47th Bombardment Wing began with Douglas B-66B Destroyers replacing the B-45As. With this equipment change, the 47th's squadrons was redesignated Bombardment Squadron (Tactical). The wing rapidly converted to the B-66, and by July 1958, the B-45s in the United Kingdom had all been transferred to other bases in Europe and North Africa. Most were junked there and sold for scrap.

On January 10, 1959, the 19th TRS was reassigned to the 10th TRW at Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.

On July 1, 1961, the 47th Bomb Wing was reassigned from Tactical Air Command to the United States Air Forces in Europe.


Douglas EB-66E Destroyer at the 42nd TEWS, 355th TFW, Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, 1968

In 1962 Project Clearwater halted large scale bomber deployments to Britain with Sculthorpe, along with RAF Fairford, RAF Chelveston, and RAF Greenham Common, being turned over to the British Air Ministry. This resulted in the 47th Bomb Wing being inactivated on June 22, 1962.

A number of the B-66B bombers were reassigned to the USAFE 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing which stationed them to RAF Chelveston with the 42nd ECS. These aircraft were modified to the EB-66E electronic countermeasures configuration with the Electronic Counter-Measures tail system replacing the tail turret which was removed. Automatic jamming equipment was fitted in its place. Numerous antennae protruded from the aircraft, and chaff dispensing pods were carried.

The aircraft were subsequently deployed to Thailand during the Vietnam War as electronic warfare aircraft, joining strike aircraft during their missions over North Vietnam to jam enemy radar installations. EB-66C 54-466 was shot down by a North Vietnamese SAM on April 2, 1972. 4 KIA., but the navigator successfully bailed out. His rescue was the famous Bat*21 rescue effort.

With the wing's inactivation the 420th ARS at Sculthorpe was assigned to the 7375th Combat Support Group, a temporary unit at Sculthorpe after its turnover to the Air Ministry. On September 1, 1963 it was reassigned directly to Third Air Force. Problems, however, plagued he unit. With no new spares available cannibalization from the Davis-Monthan AFB boneyard was necessary to keep at least some of the retrofitted aircraft flying. Also many parts started to break simply because of old age. In addition, the tankers were simply too slow to refuel the faster tactical jet aircraft of USAFE. The 420th ARS was inactivated on March 25, 1964 at Sculthorpe when the KB-50Js were declared obsolete.

Pilot training

The 47th Flying Training Wing was reactivated and redesignated at Laughlin AFB, Texas on September 1, 1972, replacing and absorbing the resources of the 3646th Pilot Training Wing at Laughlin AFB. Since its reactivation, the wing has conducted undergraduate pilot training for USAF, Air Force Reserve, and friendly foreign nation air forces. Supported Accelerated Co-Pilot Enrichment Program at numerous locations, 1976–1986. Began airlifter-tanker track pilot training in 1994.

Although its mission today is completely different from its ancestors, the 47 FTW traces its heritage to the 47th Bombardment Group of World War II.


  • Established as 47th Bombardment Wing, Light, on July 28, 1947.
Organized on August 15, 1947.
Inactivated on October 2, 1949.
  • Activated on March 12, 1951.
Redesignated 47th Bombardment Wing, Tactical, on October 1, 1955.
Discontinued, and inactivated, on June 22, 1962.
  • Redesignated 47th Flying Training Wing on March 22, 1972.
Activated on September 1, 1972


Attached to 49th Air Division, Operational, l2 February 1952-
Remained attached to 49th Air Division, Operational, to 1 July 1956





Bases assigned


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

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).