The mission of the 12th FTW is to provide instructor pilot training in the Raytheon-Beech T-6A Texan II, Cessna T-37 Tweet, the Northrop T-38 Talon and the Beech T-1A Jayhawk jet trainers.
In addition, the wing conducts joint undergraduate navigator training and electronic warfare training in the Boeing T-43A medium-range turbofan jet and introduction to fighter fundamentals in the Northrop AT-38 Talon. It also conducts introduction to fighter fundamentals training in the AT-38.
The wing trains Air Force pilots to be flight instructors at Air Education and Training Command’s four undergraduate pilot training bases and conducts Department of Defense undergraduate navigator training for all Air Force and some Navy personnel in three training programs. The wing also trains Air Force, Navy and other military personnel from more than 20 allied countries.
The 12th Flying Training Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Logistics Group performs contracting, supply and support equipment maintenance. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care
In addition, the 12th FTW provides host-base support to more than 30 Department of Defense units including Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center, and Air Force Recruiting Service.
The 12th Bombardment Group (Light) was activated on 15 January 1941 and Prior to the United States’ entry into World War II the group trained with Douglas B-18 Bolo , B-23 Dragon, and Boeing Stearman aircraft at McChord Field, Washington. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii the 12th patrolled west coast of United States.
In February 1942, the group was redesignated the 12th Bombardment Group (Medium) and moved to Esler Field, Louisiana, where it trained with B-25s for duty overseas. The group moved to North Africa in July and August 1942 and supported the Allied drive from Egypt to Tunisia as part of Ninth Air Force.
From April 1943, it raided enemy-held islands in Mediterranean Sea, including Pantelleria, Lampedusa, and Sicily as part of Twelfth Air Force. In August 1943, the group began to attack enemy targets on Italian mainland. From November until early February, the 12th bombed aerodromes, docks, marshalling yards, bridges, and other targets in Italy, Yugoslavia, and Albania.
In February, March, and April 1944, the 12th was reassigned to Tenth Air Force and was relocated to the China Burma India Theater (CBI) where it flew most of its missions from India and Burma between April 1944 and May 1945, supporting the British Fourteenth Army. When Allied forces at Imphal, India, were threatened by a Japanese offensive, the group delivered ammunition. It began training with Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft in summer 1945 before the war ended.
On return to United States in 1946, it was immediately inactivated.
The 12th Fighter Escort Wing was activated at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, on 1 November 1950 under Captain James Ross and was assigned to the 2nd Air Force. The new 12th FEW was then relocated to Bergstrom AFB, Texas on 1 December to replace the 27th Fighter Escort Group that had just departed for service in the Korean War. As the 12th FEW expanded, the new personnel were obtained from the men of the 27th FEW and the 31st FEW who were not involved with their previous units deployments.
Operational squadrons were:
On 12 December the 559th Fighter Escort Squadron received their first three Republic F-84E Thunderjets, and would have received a fourth, but it crashed en route from Turner AFB to its refueling stop at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The 559th was forced to immediately reject these aircraft as mission capable, as they were fitted with the "solid lobe" J35-A-17B engines which were not deemed robust enough for SAC's extended length missions.
In January 1951 the 559th FES and the 560th FES began sending their pilots to the Matagorda Island Gunnery Range, off the southeastern coast of Texas, for gunnery training. The new 561st did not have any aircraft assigned as yet. The 12th FEG, although man-aging to keep 80% of their aircraft in commission, was experiencing a high rate of bearing and turbine failures with the J35 engines in their Thunderjets.
On April 27 the 12th FEW made its first very long cross-country (XC) mission in the F-84, to visit the 31st FEW at Turner. On the return leg the following day one F-84 was lost over Louisiana, but its pilot bailed out okay.
On June 7 the 12th FEW started a mission to Patterson AFB, Ohio that would result in one of the worst non-combat incidents in history. Eight F-84s were lost, three pilots were killed, two had major injuries, three were "relatively unharmed".
On July 3 and 4 the 12th FEW transferred forty of F-84ES 84Es to Alameda Naval Air Station, California for sea shipment to Korea, and they returned to Bergstrom on aircraft on the night of the 4th. Then, on 12 July all remaining aircraft were transferred across the flightllne to the 27th Fighter Escort Wing that was just returning from Korea.
On 9 July a Warning Order arrived to prepare for a transfer to England. The majority of the 12th FEW's personnel and equip were deployed to RAF Manston, England by 21 July. At Manston, they obtained the aircraft of the 31st Fighter Escort Wing that was now headed back to Turner AFB. In England the wing was assigned to SAC's 7th Air Division, the 12th FEW was tasked them with the defense of Norway in addition to their other missions. The squadrons began rotating to Wheelus AB Libya in September for gunnery practice.
In November all of the 12th FEW's assets were turned the 123rd Fighter Bomber Wing at RAF Manston when the activated Air National Guard Wing arrived in England ane the personnel of the 12th were returned to Bergstrom. Upon their return to Bergstrom the 12th FEW picked up a pair of the now antique F-84Ds, and started to reequip with F-84Gs as they became available from Republic.
In April 1953 a new program, Task Force 132.4, was started. By the end of the month the Task Force had thirty-nine officers and 123 airmen as-signed. In June this Detachment and the 561st FES was detached from the 12th FEW and sent to Brookley AFB, Alabama for modifications to their F-84Gs to prepare them for nuclear armament delivery. The Task Force also sent a detachment to Indian Springs AFB, Nevada for atomic tests where they remained for six weeks and then returned to the unit, to be monitored for radiation contamination.
Between May and August 1953 the 12th FEW, now designated as the 12th Strategic Fighter Wing pulled a rotational stint at Misawa Air Base, Japan, relieving the 508th SFW, and being relieved in turn by the 506th S. They would return to Misawa for another tour in the air defense role between May and August 1954.
The 12th FEW, redesignated as the 12th Strategic Fighter Wing, would continue with F-84Gs through 1957, with a partial conversion to F-84Fs, while also gaining the 27th Air Refueling Squadron with KB-29Ps in 1955, which continued until 1957. The Wing was inactivated on 8 January 1958.
By 1957 SAC's jet bombers flew so fast and so high that they were virtually immune from fighters. In addition, the World War II concept of groups of bombers attacking an individual target had been replaced by the use of an individual bomber carrying one nuclear weapon to a target, not a formation of them. In addition, the F-84s simply couldn't keep up with them.
The 12th SFW at Bergstrom was deemed no longer necessary, so the wing was transferred to Tactical Air Command on 1 July 1957 and redesignated as the 12th Fighter-Day Wing. It was inactivated on 8 January 1958.
Upon MacDill AFB's transfer to Tactical Air Command in April 1962, the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was reactivated by TAC at the base on 17 April and assigned to Ninth Air Force. Initially, it's only operational squadron was the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
In January 1964 the wing was chosen to be the first Air Force combat wing to convert to the new McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II. It was expanded as follows:
The wing was soon involved in F-4C firepower demonstrations, exercises and, ultimately, the Paris Air Show.
The conflict in Southeast Asia was escalating and throughout 1965 the wing supported PACAF Contingency operations by rotating combat squadrons quarterly to Naha AB in the Ryukyu Islands. The 12th began its permanent deployment to the first Air Force expeditionary airfield at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, South Vietnam on 6 November 1965.
12th TFW Combat squadrons initially scheduled for deployment to Vietnam were the 555th, 557th and 558th TFS. Ultimately, the 559th TFS took the place of the 555th when the squadron was diverted to a second TDY with the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, followed by a re-assignment to the 8th TFW at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Still later the 555th was assigned to the 432d TRW at Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Operational squadrons of the wing at Cam Ranh were:
At Cam Ranh Bay the wing carried out close air support, interdiction, and combat air patrol activities over both Vietnams and Laos. Following the capture of the USS Pueblo, the aircraft of the 391 TFS were assigned to the 558 TFS and sent TDY as a detachment to augment the 475 TFW in South Korea.
On 30 March 1970, as part of the Vietnamization process and phase out of the F-4C, fighter operations at Cam Ranh Bay AB were halted and the 12th TFW was deactivated. The 557, 558 and 559 TFS were deactivated in place and the F-4C's transferred to the Air National Guard.
As a result of the US withdrawals from Vietnam the 37th TFW at Phu Cat AB was inactivated on 31 March 1970. The wing assets remained and were re-designated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing when the 12th TFW was moved without personnel or equipment to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units.
Its attached squadrons were:
On 8 October 1971, the 389th TFS flew its last scheduled combat sortie in Southeast Asia. On 15 October, the 389th TFS was deactivated in place and a name only transfer without equipment and personnel was made of the squadron to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
On 20 October 1971, the 48Oth TFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12th TFW. The final mission was against portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail network in the tri-border area of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and consisted of four F-4Ds with 12 MK-82 LD bombs each.
The 12th replaced, and absorbed resources of, the 3510th Flying Training Wing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in May 1972. The wing became responsible for operation and maintenance of Randolph Air Force Base and operation of the USAF Instrument Flight Center. The Center was responsible also for development, testing, and evaluation of flight instruments and flight instrument systems. From 2 May 1973 - 12 November 1976 the wing provided T-37, T-38, and T-39 pilot requalification training for more than 150 USAF ex-prisoners of war. The wing trained instructor pilots for Air Training Command's undergraduate pilot training program wings and for foreign countries under the Joint Security Assistance Program.
Beginning in 1985, the 12th supported the Accelerated Copilot Enrichment program at various operating locations. The unit designed and fabricated F-16 Falcon aircraft simulation training systems for USAF bases and several NATO nations during 1983 - 1988; after 1986, it undertook similar efforts for the B-1 Lancer bomber program.