415th Flight Test Flight

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415th Flight Test Flight
A 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contractor, performs final checks to the T-38 Talon prior to Lt. Col. Ripley Woodard, 415th Flight Test Flight commander, taking off from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas
Active 3 February 1942 - Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Flight
Role Flight Testing
Part of AFR Shield.svg  Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Randolph Field, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
415th Flight Test Flight emblem 125px
Aircraft flown
Trainer T-38 Talon, T-6 Texan II

The 415th Flight Test Flight (415 FLTF) is a United States Air Force Reserve squadron. It is assigned to the 413th Flight Test Group, Air Force Reserve Command, stationed at Randolph Field, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.


The unit provides flight testing for T-38 Talon jet and T-6 Texan II turboprop trainers carried out at Randolph Field. The unit performs functional check flights, making sure the aircraft are ready to fly after undergoing modifications and repairs.[1]

The 575th AMXS, a unit of the 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, performs T-38 overhauls at Randolph AFB and handles depot maintenance of all T-38s in the Air Force, as well as some Navy T-38s.[1]

The 415th FLTF is a small unit, consisting of seven test pilots, a command support staff NCO in charge and a cadre of other senior NCOs who specialize in aviation resource management and aircrew flight equipment. Every plane - except for those with minor modifications - requires a functional check flight before it's delivered to the field... each FCF lasts about an hour; the unit shuts down the engine and tests all the controls. It takes an un-airworthy aircraft and certifies it for flight.[1]


World War II

File:415th Bombardment Squadron - B-24 Liberator.jpg
"Cornhusker" B-24D-45-CO Liberator s/n 42-40322 415th Bomb Squadron, 98th Bomb Group Shot down over the Ionian Sea by Bf109G's from JG 27/IV while returning from the August 1, 1943 low-level mission to Ploiești, Romania. All 10 crew members were KIA. MACR 178. Photo taken at Tobruk or Benina Airfield, Libya

Established as a B-24 Liberator reconnaissance squadron in early 1942. Engaged initially in antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; redesignated as a heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then transited east across central Africa to Sudan. Lastly the group reformed with the ground echelon which traveled by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with air echelon in British Palestine.[2]

Assigned to the newly formed IX Bomber Command, the squadron operated from airfields in Egypt; Libya and Tunisia supporting the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign. Also staged long-range strategic bombardment of enemy military and industrial targets in Sicily; Italy and the Southern Balkans, including attacking the Nazi-controlled oilfields at Ploiești, Romania.[2]

Re-assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in southern Italy; continuing strategic bombardment raids on Occupied France; Southern Germany; Austria and targets in the Balkans. In the summer of 1944, the squadron participated in the invasion of southern France, assisted in the Soviet advance into the Balkans, and supported the partisans and guerrillas in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries.[3]

The squadron returned to the United States in May 1945; being re-designated as a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomb squadron and began training for deployment to the Central Pacific Area and conduct strategic bombardment raids over the Japanese Home Islands. Training continued until the unit was inactivated at the end of July, its equipment and personnel being merged into the other three squadrons of its host group.[4]

Cold War

The squadron was activated in 1959 as a result of Strategic Air Command phasing out the B-47 Stratojet, and additional squadrons were activated as part of the consolation of Stratojet wings, and the replacement of the B-47 by B-52 Stratofortresses. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. and the squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1962 as part of the drawdown of the USAF B-47 force, with the aircraft were sent to AMARC storage at Davis-Monthan.

Reactivated in 1989 as part of an Air Force Systems Command reorganization at Edwards AFB, California. Assumed F-15 Eagle Test Flight mission evaluating modifications prior to them being sent into the field as changes to the aircraft. Inactivated in 1994 as part of the Cold War drawdown, mission consolidated into the 419th Flight Test Squadron.

Air Force Reserve

Reactivated and reduced from a squadron to a flight organization in 2001 as a T-38 Talon Functional Check Flight organization at Randolph AFB designed to extend the service life of the Air Force's fleet of T-38C Talon aircraft through the year 2020.[5]

Air Combat Command uses the aircraft as a companion trainer to provide pilots additional flying time at a lower cost. Air Force Materiel Command flies the aircraft for test support and flight test training. AETC uses the T-38 as an advanced trainer to train pilots selected to fly fighters and bombers.[5]

AETC is the lead command responsible for sustainment and modernization of all T-38s in the Air Force inventory. The T-38 System Program Office at the Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah, provides primary field support for the aircraft. AFMC has direct operational control of the 415th FLTF mission, while Air Force Reserve Command maintains administrative control of the unit.[5]

In addition to modifying the propulsion system, the Air Force is also involved in a program to upgrade T-38 avionics systems. This upgrade is designed to improve the training capabilities of the T-38 and provide one design/configuration for all training roles envisioned for the system. Once completed, the program will make it easier for pilot trainees to transition from the T-38 to a front-line fighter or bomber aircraft.[5]


415th Flight Test Squadron Emblem
File:415th Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png
World War II 415th Bombardment Squadron emblem

415th Bombardment Squadron

  • Organized as the 25th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942.
Activated on 3 February 1942.
Redesignated 415th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 April 1942
Redesignated 415th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 1 July 1943
Inactivated on 3 July 1945
  • Redesignated 415th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 11 August 1958
Activated on 1 September 1958
Inactivated and discontinued on 1 January 1962
  • Consolidated with the 6515th Test Squadron as the 6515th Test Squadron on 1 October 1992.

415th Flight Test Flight

  • Designated as the 6615th Test Squadron and activated on 10 March 1989
  • Consolidated with the 415th Bombardment Squadron on 1 October 1992
Redesignated 415th Test Squadron on 2 October 1992
Redesignated 415th Flight Test Squadron on 1 March 1994
Inactivated 1 October 1994
  • Redesignated 415th Flight Test Flight on 24 September 2001
Activated in the Reserve on 1 October 2001.








See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Randolph reservists ensure health of T-38 fleet
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rogers, Edith. The AAF in the Middle East: A Study of the Origins of the Ninth Air Force (USAAF Historical Study, No. 108). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  3. Dorr, Robert F. B-24 Liberator Units of the Fifteenth Air Force. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-84176-081-1.
  4. Dorr, Robert F. B-29 Superfortress Units in World War Two. Combat Aircraft 33. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-285-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A longer life: reserve test flight has big role in T-38 upgrade program.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 AFHRA 415th Flight Test Flight Lineage and history

External links