F-16 Fighting Falcon News

50 TFW's F-16 legacy honored in new display

May 6, 2008 (by Mr. Randy Saunders) - Throughout its history, the 50th Space Wing has been at the forefront of American military power, fielding the country's most advanced weapons systems.

A model of the wing's F-16C flagship, #84-1250 "Ginny" will be part of the display

From the F-51 Mustangs that the wing flew in its first days of activation in 1949, to the F-86 Sabres and the F-4E Phantoms, the 50th has spent its first 30 years setting records and accumulating honors. In its last decade in Germany, the wing would continue this legacy.

The 1980s brought to the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing a new weapon system. On Dec. 30 1981, the wing received the first of United States Air Forces Europe's F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Crews of the wing's tactical squadrons would fly increasingly advanced models of the F-16 for the next ten years. Colonel John M. Davey declared the wing operationally ready in the F-16 in October 1983, making the wing the first combat-ready F-16 unit in USAFE.

As the wing continued to demonstrate its capabilities in its new aircraft, winning competitions and awards, the wing continued to receive upgraded F-16A/B aircraft, and maintaining combat capability with each successive block. By 1986, the upgrades to the F-16 had resulted in the Air Force decision to designate a new series, the F-16C. Again, the 50th TFW was one of the first European units to receive the new aircraft.

During the conversion process, the 50th TFW's maintenance crews earned the USAF Daedalian Award and the Department of Defense Phoenix Award. Next, the 313th won top honors at USAFE's EXCALIBER III competition. And, in September 1988, Captain William Morgan of the 313th Tactical Fighter Squadron was chosen to fly the symbolic two-millionth hour in the F-16.

These accomplishments, however, did not match the wing's record when called to combat. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the wing prepared the 10th TFS to deploy for Operation DESERT SHIELD. Because only one squadron would deploy from the 50th TFW, the wing selected its best air and ground crews, and support personnel to fill out the 10th's ranks.

Departing on Dec. 29, 1990, the wing flew its first combat operations on Jan. 17, 1991, attacking Al Taqaddum airfield near Baghdad. As needs dictated, the 10th TFS moved from airfield attacks and battlefield interdiction to SCUD-busting operations, designed to eliminate the threat to coalition forces posed by Iraq's short-range (up to 800 km depending on variant) SS-1 missile. Combat crews and support personnel returned to Hahn in May 1991 and joined the rest of the 50th TFW in preparations to close the base.

The 50th inactivated at Hahn on Sept. 30, 1991, ending its associated with fighter aircraft and ultimately beginning the next chapter of its legacy as the 50th Space Wing.

"Ginny", a new display in the 50th SW's Heritage Hall will honor the wing's fighter legacy. The display will feature a model of the wing's F-16C flagship, #84-1250, which then 50th TFW Commander, Colonel Clifton C. Clark, named to honor the contributions of the 50th Fighter Group to the allied victory in World War II. General Clark will present a re-conditioned model of "Ginny" and other historic materials to the wing in a ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Building 210 Atrium on May 14, 2008.

Courtesy of Mr. Randy Saunders, 50th Space Wing historian

Additional images:

An air-to-air left side view of USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1250 from the 50th TFW flying alongside a KC-135R Stratotanker before refueling. The F-16C is loaded with BDU-33 practice bombs on January 6th, 1987. [USAF photo by SSgt Fernando Serna]