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461st Flight Test Squadron

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461st Flight Test Squadron

461st Flight Test Squadron

An F-35 Lightning II, marked AA-1, lands at Edwards Air Force Base
Active 12 December 1942 - Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Flight Testing
Part of Air Force Materiel Command
Garrison/HQ Edwards Air Force Base, California
Tail Code "ED"
Engagements Operation Market Garden
Decorations AFOUA
461st Flight Test Squadron emblem
Aircraft flown
Fighter F-35 Lightning II

The 461st Flight Test Squadron (461 FLTS) is a United States Air Force squadron. It is assigned to the 412th Operations Group, Air Force Materiel Command, stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.


The 461 FLTS squadron performs flight testing on the F-35 Lightning II. [1]


World War II

Organized and trained in the Northeast United States by First Air Force. During training was part of the air defense of the northeast, being attached to the New York and Boston Fighter Wings.

Deployed to England aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth and served in combat as part of VIII Fighter Command from October 1943 to May 1945, participating in operations that prepared for the invasion of the Continent, and supporting the landings in Normandy and the subsequent Allied drive across France and Germany. The squadron flew P-47 Thunderbolts until they were replaced by P-51 Mustangs in November 1944. Aircraft of the 461st were identified by a magenta/blue diamond pattern around their cowling, carrying fuselage code "QI".

From October 1943 until January 1944, operated as escort for B-17 Flying Fortress/B-24 Liberator bombers that attacked such objectives as industrial areas, missile sites, airfields, and communications.

Fighters from the 461st engaged primarily in bombing and strafing missions after 3 January 1944, with its targets including U-boat installations, barges, shipyards, aerodromes, hangars, marshalling yards, locomotives, trucks, oil facilities, flak towers, and radar stations. Bombed and strafed in the Arnhem, Netherlands area on 17, 18, and 23 September 1944 to neutralize enemy gun emplacements providing support to Allied ground forces during Operation Market-Garden. In early 1945, the squadron's P-51 Mustangs clashed with German Me 262 jet aircraft. The squadron flew its last combat mission, escorting B-17's dropping propaganda leaflets, on 7 May 1945.

Remained in the United Kingdom during the balance of 1945, most personnel were demobilized and returned to the United States, with aircraft being sent to storage facilities in the UK. The squadron was administratively inactivated at Camp Kilmer New Jersey on 10 November 1945 without personnel or equipment.

Cold War

The 461st Fighter-Day Squadron was re-activated at Landstuhl Air Base, West Germany during Feb 1956, equipped with North American F-100 Super Sabres, being one of the first USAFE squadrons equipped with supersonic jet aircraft. Aircraft carried three black diagonal stripes on tail. Between 1956-1959, it conducted air superiority and general support missions as directed by Twelfth Air Force and, later by United States Air Forces in Europe. It also maintained and trained forces for a limited fighter-bomber capability with basic air to air weapons. Inactivated August 1959 due to budget restraints.

Reactivated on 1 Jul 1977 at Luke AFB, Arizona as a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) for the F-15A Eagle, conducting fighter aircraft aircrew training for pilots. The improved F-15C/D model arrived in 1982 for pilot training. In 1985, as there was no 461st Fighter Squadron during World War II, the Air Force Historical Research Agency consolidated the 461st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron with the World War II 361st Fighter Squadron, giving the squadron a combat heritage and lineage.

In the late 1980s, the F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role version of the F-15C arrived at Luke. The 461 TFTS received the first new F‑15E on 12 April 1988. The 461 TFTS continued to gain aircraft and the first F‑15E transition class (TX) graduated on 24 February 1989. Once qualified the crews were then reassigned to an operational squadron at the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing located at Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina. It was inactivated on 5 August 1994 as part of the phase-down of F-15 training at Luke.

Modern era

The squadron was reactivated at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 2006. It's mission is flight testing aircraft, primarily the F-35 Lightning II.[1]


  • Constituted as 361st Fighter Squadron on 8 Dec 1942
Activated on 12 Dec 1942
Re-designated 361st Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 20 Sep 1944
Inactivated on 11 Nov 1945
  • Consolidated (19 Sep 1985) with 461st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, which was constituted as 461st Fighter-Day Squadron on 30 Dec 1955
Activated on 8 Feb 1956
Re-designated 461st Tactical Fighter Squadron on 8 Jul 1958
Inactivated on 1 Aug 1959
  • Re-designated 461st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 15 Jul 1976
Activated on 1 Jul 1977
Re-designated 461st Fighter Squadron on 1 Nov 1991
Inactivated on 5 Aug 1994
  • Re-designated 461st Flight Test Squadron on 23 Oct 2006
Activated on 27 Oct 2006.



Attached to: 86th Fighter-Interceptor Group, 8 Feb-2 May 1956
Attached to: 36th Fighter-Day Wing, 1 Oct 1956-7 Dec 1957








See also


  • USAF 461st Flight Test Squadron History
  • Martin, Patrick. Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.

External links

  • Captain John Pershing Perrin DFC, 1943/44 361st Fighter Squadron Ace - who died so others might live
  • Wartime air crash. Perrin Memorial
  • John Perrin, Class of '40 The Rutgers Oral History Archives
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