Welcome to the 86th Wing History Page

The 86th Air Division, Nov '60-'68
Virtus Perdurat ~ "Courage Will Endure"

"Mere longevity is a good thing for those who watch life from the side lines."

The 86th Airlift Wing traces its lineage back to the dark days that followed Pearl Harbor, and through distingiushed action during the WWII.
And now after almost 60 years of Air Force service in Germany, no one is likely to accuse the 86th of "watching life from the sidelines."

The 86th got it's humble start at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma not long after being constituted as the 86th Bombardment Group (Light) in January of 1942. During World War II, the 86th initially served in North Africa as a Fighter-Bomber Group, and then became an integral part of ground support for troops during the campaigns in Sicily and mainland Italy. The 86th provided cover for the landings at Salerno, and assisted the Allied advance toward Rome. During the march on Rome, the 86th won it's first of two Distinguished Unit Citations that it would earn during the Second World War. In the summer of 1944, the 86th Fighter Group supported Operation ANVIL--the invasion of Southern France, and the ensuing capture of the great southern French ports of Toulon and Marseilles. Until the opening of Antwerp in December 1944, the supply route from Marseilles was to satisfy over one-third of the Allied logistical needs in northern France. The 86th joined the Allied forces during the final push into Germany and earned it's second DUC before the final surrender of Germany on the 7th of May, 1945. The 86th stayed on in Germany residing briefly in the Schweinfurt area before being transferred, without personnel and equipment, back to the United States in Feb 1946. Eventually being inactivated on 31 Mar 1946.

This was but a brief respite. Before the end of the summer of '46, the reformed 86th Fighter Group was setting up shop in Nordholz, Germany
and would eventually become the longest serving USAF flying wing in Germany.

During the next almost 60 years, the 86th would take on many new guises: Fighter Group, Composite Group, Fighter Wing, Fighter-Bomber Wing, Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Air Division, Tactical Fighter Wing, Fighter Wing (again), Wing, eventually becoming the 86th Airlift Wing that we know today. Along with this variety of hats that the 86th wore, came a variety of missions. Throughout the 50's while assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe, the 86th tasked with providing air defense, primarily in West Germany. In 1960 the role of the 86th expanded when it was redesignated as the 86th Air Division (Defense). During its eight years as an air division, the 86th supervised the improvement of a manual radar system to a semi-automatic air weapons control system while maintaining the operations of 4 Fighter Interceptor Squadrons positioned at different bases throughout central Europe. During the late 60's things changed for the 86th as the American military restructured due in part to operations in Southeast Asia. From Nov 1969 to Jun 1971, it was charged only with tactical reconnaissance, but added tactical fighter operations later in 1971. The 86th's participation in essential air combat tactics training expanded greatly especially when in 1985 the wing began conversion to the F–16 Fighting Falcon. Beginning in April 1991, the wing began deploying to Turkey and supported operations in Southwest Asia to ensure that Iraq complied with treaty terms. Wing aircraft twice attacked Iraqi surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in northern Iraq. On June 1 1992, the 86th was redesignated as the 86th Wing, as it added an airlift mission and began performing special airlift missions with C–12, C–20, C–21, CT–43 and C–135 aircraft. In 1994 the 86th's last F-16 departed Ramstein AB, thereby, completing its transfer from the F-16 aircraft to the C-130 aircraft and the 86th was subsequently redesignated as the 86th Airlift Wing on 1 October 1994.
During it's time in Germany, the 86th would call many places home including: Nordholz, Lechfeld, Bad Kissingen, Neubiberg, Landstuhl, Ramstein–Landstuhl, and Zweibrucken before returning to what would be the home of the 86th for going on 20+ years now--Ramstein AB, Germany. After the post Cold War restructuring of the American military during the 1990's, the 86th's mission changed from the air defense and ground support mission to the airlift mission. A mission in which the 86th and Ramstein AB has been essential to every American military operation undertaken in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The 86th is THE Airlift Arm of American military forces in Europe, and Ramstein AB has become a vital hub in support of virtually all American and many International military and humanitarian operations throughout that region of the world.

As you can see, watching life from the sidelines is something the 86th just doesn't do.

Want to know more about the 86th Wing?
Check out these links


The ancestry and many derivations of the 86th

Major Command and Air Force assignments of the 86th


Where did the 86th hang their hats?

Which units rode with the 86th?


The official US Air Force Historical Research Agency
Organizational History Page for the 86th Wing

The GlobalSecurity.org 86th Webpage


Constituted as the 86th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13 Jan 1942, and activated on 10 Feb 1942.
Redesignated 86th Bombardment Group (Dive) in Sep 1942,
86th Fighter-Bomber Group in Aug 1943, and 86th Fighter Group in May 1944.
Activated in Germany on 20 Aug 1946, and assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe.
Redesignated 86th Composite Group in May 1947, and 86th Fighter Group in Jan 1948.
Established as 86th Fighter Wing, and activated, on 1 Jul 1948.
86th Fighter-Bomber Wing on on 20 Jan 1950, and 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 9 Aug 1954.
86th Air Division (Defense) on 18 Nov 1960.
Inactivated on 14 Nov 1968.
Redesignated: 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 14 Nov 1968;
86th Tactical Fighter Wing on 13 Oct 1969. Activated on 1 Nov 1969.
Redesignated: 86th Fighter Wing on 1 May 1991; 86th Wing on 1 Jun 1992;
86th Airlift Wing on 1 Oct 1994.


United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 Jul 1948
2d Air Division, 10 Oct 1949
Twelfth Air Force, 7 May 1951
United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 Jan 1958
Seventeenth Air Force, 15 Nov 1959
United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 Jul 1963
Seventeenth Air Force, 1 Sep 1963
United States Air Forces in Europe, 20 May 1965
Seventeenth Air Force, 5 Oct–14 Nov 1968
Seventeenth Air Force, 1 Nov 1969
316th Air Division, 14 Jun 1985
Seventeenth Air Force, 1 May 1991–1 Mar 1996
Third Air Force, 1 Mar 1996-present


Will Rogers Field, Okla, 10 Feb 1942
Hunter Field, Ga, c. 20 Jun 1942
Key Field, Miss, c. 7 Aug 1942-19 Mar 1943
La Senia, Algeria, c. 12 May 1943
French Morocco, 3 Jun 1943
Tafaraoui, Algeria, 11 Jun 1943
Korba, Tunisia, 30 Jun 1943
Gela, Sicily, 20 Jul 1943
Barcelona, Sicily, 27 Aug 1943
Sele Airfield, Italy, 22 Sep 1943
Serretella Airfield, Italy, 12 Oct 1943
Pomigliano, Italy, 19 Nov 1943
Marcianise, Italy, 30 Apr 1944
Ciampino, Italy, c. 12 Jun 1944
Orbetello, Italy, c. 19 Jun 1944
Corsica, c. 12 Jul 1944
Grosseto, Italy, c. 17 Sep 1944
Pisa, Italy, 23 Oct 1944
Tantonville, France, c. 20 Feb 1945
Braunschardt, Germany, c. 18 Apr 1945
Schweinfurt, Germany, Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946
Bolling Field, DC, 15 Feb-31 Mar 1946
Nordholz, Germany, 20 Aug 1946
Lechfeld, Germany, c. 1 Dec 1946
Bad Kissingen, Germany, 5 Mar 1947
Neubiberg AB, Germany, 12 Jun 1947
Landstuhl (later, Ramstein–Landstuhl; Ramstein) AB, Germany, 21 Aug 1952–14 Nov 1968
Zweibrucken AB, Germany, 1 Nov 1969
Ramstein AB, Germany, 31 Jan 1973-present


45th: 1947-1948.
311th: 1942-1943.
525th (formerly 309th): 1942-1946; 1946-.
526th (formerly 310th): 1942-1946; 1946-.
527th (formerly 312th): 1942-1946; 1946-1947, 1948-.

7th Special Operations
31 Jan–15 Mar 1973 (detached)
17th Tactical Reconnaissance
12 Jan 1970–31 Jan 1973
32d Fighter-Interceptor
8 Apr 1960–1 Nov 1968
38th Tactical Reconnaissance
attached 16–30 Jan 1973
81st Tactical Fighter
attached 12 Jun–14 Jul 1971, assigned 15 Jul 1971–15 Jan 1973
151st Fighter-Interceptor
25 Nov 1961–11 Jul 1962
197th Fighter-Interceptor
25 Nov 1961–11 Jul 1962
417th Tactical Fighter
1 Oct 1978–15 Sep 1987
434th Tactical Fighter
attached 30 Sep–12 Dec 1961
435th Tactical Fighter
attached 22 Sep 1961–14 Jan 1962 and 4 Nov– 12 Dec 1962
436th Tactical Fighter
attached 12 Jan–12 Apr 1962
440th Fighter-Interceptor
attached 1 Jul 1954–7 Oct 1955, attached 10 Aug 1956– 7 Mar 1958,
assigned 8 Mar 1958–1 Jan 1960

476th Tactical Fighter
attached 12 Apr–8 Aug 1962
496th Fighter-Interceptor
attached 1 Jul 1954– 7 Oct 1955, attached 10 Aug 1956–7 Mar 1958,
assigned 8 Mar 1958–1 Nov 1968

512th Fighter-Interceptor
(later, 512th Tactical Fighter)

24 Mar 1958– 1 Jul 1959; 14 Jun 1985–1 May 1991
513th Fighter-Interceptor
25 Apr 1958–8 Jan 1961
514th Fighter-Interceptor
15 May 1958–Jan 1961
525th Fighter-Interceptor
attached 22 May 1957–7 Oct 1955, attached 10 Aug 1956–Mar 1958,
assigned 8 Mar 1958–1 Nov 1968

526th Fighter-Interceptor
(later, 526th Tactical Fighter)

attached 22 May 1954–7 Oct 1955, attached 10 Aug 1956–7 Mar 1958,
assigned 8 Mar 1958–1 Nov 1968, assigned 31 Jan 1973–22 Sep 1975,
assigned 14 Jun 1985–1 May 1991

527th Fighter-Interceptor
attached 22 May 1954–7 Oct 1955

Det, 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
attached 18 Mar– 1 Apr 1976
Det, 127th Tactical Fighter Wing
attached 1–13 Nov 1975
Det, 178th Tactical Fighter Group
attached 9–25 Oct 1975
Det, 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron
attached 25 Oct–3 Nov 1962


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