4708th Air Defense Wing

The 4708th Air Defense Wing is a discontinued United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the 30th Air Division of Air Defense Command (ADC) at Selfridge Air Force Base (AFB), Michigan, where it was discontinued in 1956. It was established in 1952 at Selfridge as the 4708th Defense Wing in a general reorganization of Air Defense Command (ADC), which replaced wings responsible for a base with wings responsible for a geographical area. It assumed control of several fighter Interceptor squadrons that had been assigned to the 56th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, some of which were Air National Guard squadrons mobilized for the Korean War.

4708th Air Defense Wing
F-86D of the 4708th Air Defense Wing's 13th FIS
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeFighter Interceptor and Radar
RoleAir Defense
Part ofAir Defense Command
Garrison/HQSelfridge Air Force Base

In early 1953 it also was assigned nine radar squadrons in the Midwest. Several of these radar squadrons were located in Canada as part of the Mid-Canada Line. At the same time its dispersed fighter squadrons combined with colocated air base squadrons into air defense groups. The wing was redesignated as an air defense wing in 1954. It was discontinued in and its units transferred to the 30th Air Division in 1956.


F-47D of the wing's 47th FIS

The wing was organized as the 4708th Defense Wing the beginning of February 1952 at Selfridge AFB,[1] Michigan as part of a major reorganization of ADC responding to ADC's difficulty under the existing wing base organizational structure in deploying fighter squadrons to best advantage.[2] It assumed operational control and the air defense mission of fighter squadrons formerly assigned to the inactivating 56th Fighter-Interceptor Wing (FIW).[3][4] The 61st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), flying Lockheed F-94 Starfire aircraft, and the 172d FIS, flying World War II era North American F-51 Mustang aircraft were located at Selfridge, while the 63d FIS, flying F-86 Sabre aircraft, was located at Oscoda AFB. The 136th FIS at Niagara Falls Municipal Airport, flying World War II era Republic F-47 Thunderbolt aircraft was also transferred to the wing from the 101st FIW,[5] and the 71st FIS at Greater Pittsburgh Airport, another F-86 unit, was transferred from the 1st FIW.[6] The support elements of the 56th FIW's 56th Air Base Group and 56th Maintenance & Supply Group were replaced at Selfridge by the wing's 575th Air Base Group, and air base squadrons were activated at each of the dispersed locations assigned to the wing to support the fighter squadrons at those stations.[7] The wing's mission was to train and maintain tactical units in a state of readiness to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft attempting to penetrate the air defense system in the Great Lakes area.[8]

61st FIS F-94B Starfire

In July 1952, units at Oscoda AFB were transferred to the 4706th Defense Wing, while in the following month, the 166th FIS, at Youngstown Municipal Airport, where it flew Republic F-84 Thunderjet aircraft was transferred from the 4706th. In November, the federalized Air National Guard (ANG) squadrons were returned to state control. The 136th FIS was returned to the New York ANG and replaced by the 47th FIS, the 166th FIS was returned to the Ohio ANG and replaced by the 86th FIS, and the 172nd FIS was returned to the Michigan ANG, and replaced by the 431st FIS.[9][10] Another F-51 squadron, the 56th FIS, was activated at Selfridge later that month. although it converted to F-86 aircraft by the start of 1953.[11][12]

In February 1953, another major reorganization of ADC activated Air Defense Groups at ADC bases with dispersed fighter squadrons. These groups were assigned to the wing and assumed direct control of the interceptor squadrons at those bases, as well as support squadrons to carry out their role as the USAF host organizations at the bases. As a result of this reorganization, the 575th Air Base Group was redesignated the 575th Air Defense Gp and assumed control of the fighter squadrons at Selfridge, while the 500th Air Defense Group at Pittsburgh and the 502d Air Defense Group at Youngstown controlled the squadrons at these locations.[13] Oscoda AFB (now renamed Wurtsmith AFB),[14] where the 527th Air Defense Group was activated,[15] returned to the control of the wing. Although the 518th Air Defense Group took over operations at Niagara Falls,[15] it was assigned to another wing.[15] The reorganization also resulted in the wing adding the radar detection, control and warning mission, and it was assigned eight Aircraft Control & Warning Squadrons (AC&W Sq) in the United States and Canada to perform this mission.[16][17][18][19][20][21] In November it added an additional AC&W Sq.[21]

In 1955, ADC implemented Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars.[22] As a result of this project, the 500th Air Defense Gp was replaced by the 54th Fighter Group (Air Defense), the 502nd Air Def Gp was replaced by the 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense), the 527th Air Def Gp was replaced by the 412th Fighter Group (Air Defense), and the 575th Air Defense Gp was replaced by the 1st Fighter Group (Air Defense).[23][24]

In March 1956, the 4711th Air Defense Wing moved to Selfridge from Presque Isle AFB, Maine and three of the 4708th's AC&W Sqs were assigned to it.[17][20][21] Niagara Falls briefly was assigned to the wing in this realignment.[25] The fighter groups and remaining radar detection and control squadrons of the wing were transferred to the 30th Air Division in July.[16][18][19][20][21][24] With no remaining operational mission, the wing and the 4711th Wing were discontinued in July 1956[1] They would be replaced shortly by the 1st Fighter Wing (Air Defense), which was activated on 18 October 1956.[26]


  • Designated as the 4708th Defense Wing and organized on 1 February 1952
Redesignated as 4708th Air Defense Wing on 1 July 1954
Discontinued on 8 July 1956



  • Selfridge AFB, Michigan, 1 February 1952 – 18 October 1956





  • Col. George S. Brown, 1 February 1952 – ca. 31 March 1952[8]
  • Col. Francis R. Royal, ca. 1 April 1952 – 16 July 1953[8]
  • Col. George B. Greene, Jr., 16 July 1953 – unknown[36]

See also



  1. Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 66.
  2. Grant, C.L., The Development of Continental Air Defense to 1 September 1954, (1961), USAF Historical Study No. 126, p. 33
  3. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947–1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 91. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  4. Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 237, 242. ISBN 0-405-12194-6.
  5. Cornett & Johnson, p. 123
  6. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 118
  7. Cornett & Johnson, p. 85
  8. Abstract, History of 4708th Def Wg, Feb–Jun 1952. Retrieved 25 February 2012
  9. Cornett & Johnson, pp. 123–124
  10. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp.206, 532–533
  11. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p.227
  12. Cornett & Johnson, p.116
  13. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 227, 237, 297–298, 532
  14. Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 611. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
  15. Cornett & Johnson, p. 83
  16. Cornett & Johnson, p. 99
  17. Cornett & Johnson, p. 101
  18. Cornett & Johnson, p. 103
  19. Cornett & Johnson, p. 158
  20. Cornett & Johnson, pp. 163–164
  21. Cornett & Johnson, p. 168
  22. Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, (1956), p.6
  23. Cornett & Johnson, pp. 73, 83, 85
  24. Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 23, 116, 145, 297. ISBN 0-912799-02-1.
  25. Cornett & Johnson, P. 70
  26. Ravenstein, p. 6
  27. AFHRA Factsheet, 1st Operations Group Archived 14 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 March 2012
  28. AFHRA Factsheet, 15th Wing Archived 22 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 3 March 2012
  29. AFHRA Factsheet, 53rd Test & Evaluation Group Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 3 March 2012
  30. AFHRA Factsheet, 412th Test Wing Archived 27 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 3 March 2012
  31. AFHRA Factsheet, 47th Fighter Squadron Archived 13 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 March 2012
  32. AFHRA Factsheet, 56th Training Squadron Archived 14 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 March 2012
  33. AFHRA Factsheet, 61st Fighter Squadron Archived 13 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 March 2012
  34. AFHRA Factsheet, 63rd Fighter Squadron Archived 27 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 March 2012
  35. AFHRA Factsheet, 71st Fighter Squadron Archived 14 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 3 March 2012
  36. Abstract, History of 4708th Def Wg, Jul–Dec 1953. Retrieved 25 February 2012


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

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