4709th Air Defense Wing

The 4709th Air Defense Wing is a discontinued United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the 26th Air Division of Air Defense Command (ADC) at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, where it was discontinued in 1956. It was established in 1952 at McGuire as the 4709th 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 52d Fighter-Interceptor Wing, some of which were Air National Guard squadrons mobilized for the Korean War. It also assumed host responsibility for McGuire through its subordinate 568th Air Base Group.

4709th Air Defense Wing
F-86D of the 4709th Air Defense Wing's 332d FIS
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeFighter Interceptor and Radar
RoleAir Defense
Part ofAir Defense Command

In early 1953 it also was assigned two radar squadrons guarding the approaches to New York City and its dispersed fighter squadrons combined with colocated air base squadrons into air defense groups. When Mcguire became a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) base in 1954, the 4709th became a tenant at McGuire. The wing was redesignated as an air defense wing the same year. Starting in 1956, in preparation for the implementation of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) automated air defense system, the 4621st Air Defense Wing was activated at McGuire and attached to the 4709th. Its radar units were transferred to the 4621st and the wing was discontinued in 1956.


The wing was organized as the 4709th Defense Wing at the beginning of February 1952 at McGuire AFB, New Jersey[1] 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 52d Fighter-Interceptor Wing (FIW).[3][4][5] The 2d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS) and the 5th FIS, flying F-94 Starfire interceptor aircraft,[6] were located at McGuire. The federalized 105th FIS was located at Berry Field, Nashville, Tennessee and was flying World War II era F-47 Thunderbolt aircraft.[7] The wing also was assigned another federalized Air National Guard (ANG) squadron, the 118th FIS at Suffolk County AFB, New York, also flying Thunderbolts, which was reassigned from the inactivating 103d FIW.[8] The support elements of the 52d FIW's 52d Air Base Group (ABG) and 52d Maintenance & Supply Group were replaced at McGuire by the wing's 568th ABG[9][10] and air base squadrons were activated at each of the dispersed bases assigned to the wing to support the fighter squadrons at those stations. 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 Northeastern United States.[11]

The stay of the 105th FIS with the wing was brief. In July 1952, it moved to McGhee Tyson Municipal Airport, Knoxville, Tennessee, and the next month as areas of responsibility for air defense were realigned, transferred to the 35th Air Division.[7] In November, the 118th FIS was returned to the Connecticut ANG and its personnel and equipment handed over to the newly activating 45th FIS.[12] A second fighter squadron, the 75th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, flying Sabres, moved to Suffolk County from Presque Isle AFB, Maine in October and was assigned to the wing,[13] while at Sewart AFB, New York, the 330th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, flying F-80 Shooting Star aircraft,[14] was activated and assigned to the wing.[15]

F-94 Starfire being armed with Mighty Mouse rockets

In February 1953, another major reorganization of ADC activated Air Defense Groups (Air Def Gp) at ADC bases with dispersed fighter squadrons. These groups were assigned to the wing and assumed direct control of the fighter 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 568th ABG was redesignated the 568th Air Def Gp[10] and assumed control of the fighter squadrons at McGuire.,[4][5] and the 4700th Air Base Group at Sewart was redesignated the 4700th Air Defense Group and was assigned the 330 FIS.[15][16] A new unit, the 519th Air Defense Group, activated to command the squadrons at Suffolk County.[12][13][17] The reorganization also resulted in the wing adding the radar detection, control and warning mission, and it was assigned two Aircraft Control & Warning Squadrons (AC&W Sq) to perform this mission.[18][19]

In July 1954, McGuire AFB transferred from ADC to Military Air Transport Service and its 1611th Air Transport Wing, which assumed base support functions from the inactivating 568th Air Def Gp.[20] As a result of the group's inactivation, the 2nd FIS and 5th FIS once again reported directly to the wing.[4][5][10]

Northrop F-89 Scorpion, flown by the 4709th Air Defense Wing in 1956

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.[21] As a result of Project Arrow, the 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense)[22] replaced the 518th Air Def Gp at Suffolk County and the 329th Fighter Group (Air Defense)[23] replaced the 4700th Air Def Gp. Because Project Arrow called for fighter squadrons to be assigned to their traditional group headquarters, the 2nd and 5th FIS at McGuire AFB moved to Suffolk County AFB and were replaced at McGuire by the 332d FIS[24] and the 539th FIS, which moved from other ADC bases and took over their personnel and aircraft.[25][26]

In preparation for the implementation of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system, the 4621st Air Defense Wing (SAGE) was organized at McGuire in the Spring of 1956 and assigned to the 26th Air Division.[27] It was initially attached to the 4709th Air Defense Wing and two squadrons programmed for the SAGE system were assigned to the 4709th as well,[19][28] until the 4621st Wing assumed the mission of the 4709th wing in October,[13][18][24][25][28][29] and the 4709th was discontinued shortly thereafter.[1] Because areas of responsibility were changing with the implementation of SAGE, Dover AFB, Delaware's 46th FIS, flying Starfires had been transferred to the wing from the 4710th Air Defense Wing in March,[29][30] as was a second squadron activated at Dover later that month, the 98th FIS, flying F-89 Scorpion aircraft.[7][31]


  • Designated as the 4709th Defense Wing and organized on 1 February 1952
Redesignated as the 4709th Air Defense Wing on 1 September 1954
Discontinued on 18 October 1956




  • 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense)[32]
Suffolk County AFB, New York, 18 August 1955 – 1 March 1956; 8 July 1956 – 1 October 1956
  • 329th Fighter Group (Air Defense)[33]
Sewart AFB, New York, 18 August 1955 – 8 July 1956
  • 519th Air Defense Group
Suffolk County AFB, New York, 16 February 1953 – 18 August 1955
  • 568th Air Base Group (later 568th Air Defense Group), 1 February 1952 – 8 July 1954
  • 4700th Air Defense Group
Sewart AFB, New York, 20 September 1954 – 18 August 1955



  • McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 1 February 1952 – 1 October 1956



  • Col. Charles B. Downer, 1 February 1952 – unknown[11]

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. pp. 85–86. 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. p. 14. ISBN 0-405-12194-6.
  5. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 34
  6. Cornett & Johnson, p. 113
  7. Cornett & Johnson, pp. 121–122
  8. Cornett & Johnson, p. 122
  9. Abstract, History of 52nd Maint & Supply Gp, Oct 1951 – Feb 1952 (retrieved 25 February 2012)
  10. Cornett & Johnson, p. 85
  11. Abstract, History of 4709th Air Def Wg, Feb–Jun 1952 (retrieved 25 February 2012)
  12. Maurer (ed.), Combat Squadrons, p. 202-203
  13. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 274
  14. Cornett & Johnson, p. 126
  15. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 407
  16. Cornett & Johnson, p. 88
  17. Cornett & Johnson, p. 82
  18. Cornett & Johnson, p. 156
  19. Cornett & Johnson, p. 167
  20. 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. 414. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
  21. 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
  22. Factsheet, 52nd Operations Group Archived 28 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 26 February 2012)
  23. Factsheet, 329th Armament Systems Group Archived 4 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 26 February 2012)
  24. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 410
  25. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 646
  26. Cornett & Johnson, pp. 127, 131
  27. Abstract, History of 26th Air Div, Jul 1956 – Dec 1956 (retrieved 25 February 2012)
  28. Cornett & Johnson, p. 166
  29. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 204
  30. Cornett & Johnson, p. 115
  31. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 327
  32. AFHRA Factsheet, 52nd Operations Group Archived 28 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 3 March 2012)
  33. AFHRA Factsheet, 329th Armament Systems Group Archived 4 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 26 February 2012)
  34. AFHRA Factsheet, 2nd Fighter Squadron Archived 7 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 7 March 2012)
  35. AFHRA Factsheet, 5th Flying Training Squadron Archived 13 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 7 March 2012)
  36. AFHRA Factsheet, 45th Fighter Squadron Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 12 March 2012)
  37. AFHRA Factsheet, 75th Fighter Squadron (retrieved 3 March. 2012)


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

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