THE F-86 ERA (1955 - 1956)

Shortly after the 465th FIS was redesignated as the 318th FIS, this black and yellow tail flash replaced the yellow backed - red lighting bolt design on the squadron F-86D's as shown here on s/n 53-1020.


After a large series of unit relocations and deactivations in the early 1950's the Air Defense command created a program named "Project Arrow" that would reactivate and realign historically significant units within the command. On 18 August 1955, the project was in full swing involving more than 50 wings, groups and squadrons throughout the ADC, including the 318th and units at McChord AFB.


Under Project Arrow the 318th FIS would be redesignated as the 74th FIS at Presque Island AFB, the 318 designator would move to McChord and rejoin the 325th Fighter Group replacing the F-86D equipped 465th FIS. The 325th Fighter Group itself was a part of the Project Arrow reorganization after being deactivated and replaced by the 4704th Air Defense Wing on 6 February 1952, which itself was replaced by the 567th Air Defense Group on 16 February 1953, which had a presence at McChord until the 325th's reactivation on 18 August 1955. After the Project Arrow Reorganization, the 325th would regain two of its WWII squadrons (317th & 318th), both equipped with North American F-86D Sabre Dogs.


In front of three of their F-86Ds, members of the 465th FIS spell out the new designation of their squadron in August of 1955.


After standing up in the F-86D on 18 February 1953 at McChord after the transfer of the 318th to Greenland, the 465th FIS proved to be one of the better F-86 units scoring very well during live fire deployments. Continuing the high tempo of its predecessor, the 318th prepared for their annual rocket training at Yuma Firing Center, AZ. Units at McChord have always prove formable at this assignment, with the 317th setting scoring record during their last deployment to Yuma. Wearing their newly painted tail flashes, 22 318th F-86D set down in Yuma on 3 January 1956, which, at the time, was the largest deployment of fighters from one squadron. Three weeks later, the squadron returned to McChord from a nearly "perfect" deployment.


In late 1956, the 325th Fighter Wing began a conversion into the sleek Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. During the 317th conversion, pilots and maintenance crews nearly set an aircraft utilization record in January of 1956. Each of their remaining 11 F-86s (which numbered five by the end of the month) averaging a little over 47 hours of flying time per aircraft in a 31-day period, 28 hours being the norm. The leading squadron that year flew at a rate of 53 hours with a full complement of aircraft. During that very busy period, the Green Dragons met all of their training goals in the F-86 and preformed the 317th alert commitment, all of this while preparing for a conversion of their own! The units last F-86D (53-1046) left the squadron on 11 March 1957.

Next page: The F-102 Era (1956 - 1960)