Friday, June 7, 2024

June 7, 1973: The Era of the F-100 Super Sabre Begins for the 116th TFW

 By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


F-100D Super Sabres of the Georgia Air National Guard's Tactical Fighter Wing at Dobbins Air Force Base in 1975. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 128th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 116th Tactical Fighter Wing received its first three F-100D Super Sabre fighter bombers on June 7, 1973. The aircraft were flown from Arizona to Dobbins Air Force Base by pilots of the Arizona Air National Guard.

One of the first three F-100D Super Sabres received by the 128th Tactical Fighter Squadron June 7, 1973 at Dobbins Air Force Base. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The arrival of the F-100 represented a return to the fighter interceptor roots for 116th TFW which included the 128th. From 1946 to 1961, the 116th had flown a variety of fighter and interceptor aircraft ranging from the World War II era P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51H Mustang to fighter jets such as the F-84 and F-86. In June 1961, the 116th received its first transports, the C-97 Stratofreighter, and assumed a military air transport mission with the designation 116th Military Airlift Wing. In 1967, the Georgia Air National Guard replaced its Stratofreighters with the C-124 Douglas Globemaster.[1]

Among the aircraft flown by the 116th through the years are the P-47 Thunderbolt, F-84 Thunderjet, P-51 Mustang, F-86L Sabre, C-97 Stratofreighter
and C-124 Globemaster. Georgia National Guard Archives. 
While the 165th Military Airlift Wing retained its C-124s for another year before converting to the C-130,[2] pilots of the 116th began training in T-33s in December 1972.[3] Within a year, the first four pilots of the 128th TFS had completed the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training and Combat Crew Training Courses and qualified in the F-100D.

May 18, 1974 -  Ray Young, photographer for Atlanta's Channel 11, sits in the backseat of an F-100 Super Sabre of the 116th Tactical Fighter Wing at Dobbins AFB.
Ray went aloft to shoot footage for the WXIA-TV Armed Forces Day feature which was shown on three of the station's newscasts.

The 116th Tactical Fighter Wing converted to full combat readiness a year ahead of schedule. In recognition of this achievement, the wing received the first of three consecutive Air Force Outstanding Unit awards in May 1975. Two years later the wing received the highest Management Effectiveness Inspection rating ever awarded by a Tactical Air Force inspection team. Major General Billy Jones, who commanded the 116th TFW prior to his appointment as Georgia’s Adjutant General, lauded the wing for the unprecedented rating.

“The same criteria apply to all USAF active units,” observed Jones following the announcement of the inspection results. “Which makes this achievement even more significant for the 116th which is a part-time unit.” [4]

Major General Billy Jones, Georgia’s Adjutant General, presents the 116th Tactical Fighter Wing with its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award at
Dobbins Air Force Base May 21, 1977.

In October 1978, the 116th replaced the F-100D with the F-105G Thunderchief and assumed the Wild Weasel mission which used sophisticated aerial electronics to negate surface-to-air missile capability[5]. When the last F-100D left the runway of Dobbins Air Force Base May 3, 1979, it closed a six-year chapter of Georgia Air National Guard history. During that time, the 116th flew the F-100D without a single accident or mishap. Major Marvin Horner, assistant aircraft maintenance manager for the 116th TFW credited the 116th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron for the wing’s stellar safety record.

The 116th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintained
the Georgia Air National Guard’s F-100Ds for six accident-free years.

“I think we were the only unit to fly the F-100 for as many years as we did accident free, said Horner in a 1979 interview." [6]


[1] “F-100 Super Sabres Slated for Ga. Air Guard.” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct-Dec 1972, 1.

[2] “Savannah’s 165th MAG Has New Mission Now That C-130s Are In.” The Georgia Guardsman, Jul-Aug 1974, 10-11.

[3] “F-100 Super Sabres Slated for Ga. Air Guard.” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct-Dec 1972, 1.

[4] “116th TFWing is First AF, AFRes or ANG Unit to Get Excellent.” The Georgia Guardsman, January-March 1977, inside Cover.

[5] “Here Come the Thuds.” The Georgia Guardsman, July-Sept 1978, 8.

[6] Beryl Diamond. “Super Sabre Bids Farewell to Dobbins.” The Georgia Guardsman, April 30, 1979, 1.

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