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The following books, magazines, email groups and web sites were used in the course of my research. Of immense value were the various 'Spotter' magazines, BAR & SEAR/AIR especially. Due credit must be given to the staff/correspondents of these magazines who tracked, compiled and produced such excellent magazines, which are sorely missed by many...
Martin, Patrick Tail Code:
The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Geer, James The Republic F-105 Thunderchief: Wing and Squadron Histories
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Logan, Don F-4 Phantom II's of the USAF Reserve and Air National Guard
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Miller, Jay General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon : Aerograph 1
Aerofax Inc.
Francillon, Rene The Air Guard : Aerograph 2
Aerofax Inc.
Hopkins III, Robert Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker : More Than Just a Tanker
Midland Publishing Ltd
Archer, Robert United States Military Aviation : The Air Force
Midland Counties Publications Ltd
Archer, Robert US Air Force : The New Century
Midland Publishing Ltd
Peacock, Lindsay On Falcon Wings : The F-16 Story
Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises
Kinzey, Bert Colors & Markings of the F-4C Phantom II :
Post Vietnam Markings 1974-1984 Vol.3
Aero Publishers Inc/Arms & Armour Press
Kinzey, Bert
Leader, Ray
Colors & Markings of the Recon Phantoms :
USAF RF-4C & USMAC RF-4B Variants Vol.23
Kalmbach Publishing Co/Airlife Publishing Ltd.
Francillon, Rene The United States Air National Guard : World Air Power Journal
Aerospace Publishing Ltd.
Lake, John McDonnell F-4 Phantom : Spirit in the Skies - World Air Power Journal
Aerospace Publishing Ltd.
Donald, David US Air Force : Air Power Directory - World Air Power Journal
Aerospace Publishing Ltd.
Shaw, Robbie US Air Power in Colour Vol. 1
Janes Publishing Company Ltd
Shaw, Robbie F-4 Phantom : Guardian of the Free World
Airlife Publishing Ltd
Scutts, Jerry F-105 Thunderchief : Modern Combat Aircraft Vol.10
Ian Allan Ltd
Thornborough, Anthony
Davies, Peter
F-111 : Success in Action
Arms & Armour Press Ltd
Thornborough, Anthony
Davies, Peter
The Phantom Story
Arms & Armour Press Ltd
Thornborough, Anthony USAF Phantoms : Tactics, Training and Weapons
Arms & Armour Press Ltd
Mast, Geert Vliegend voor de Vrede (Flying for Peace) :
De Amerikaanse Luchtmacht in Europa
de Boer, Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon :4th Edition
Scramble Dutch Aviation Society
Raverstein, Charles Air Force Combat Wings - Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977
Office of Air Force History
Mattiuzzo - Roder - Torcoli Runway Zero - Five : 1954-1992 Cold War at Aviano
Goliardica Editrice S.r.l
  British Aviation Review (BAR) :
Journal of the British Aviation Research Group
Volumes 17-21 (1975 - 1979)
Volumes 28-41 (1986 - 1999)
  South East Air Review (SEAR) : West London Aviation Group
Volumes 19-24 (1980 - 1985)
  AIR : The Journal of West London Aviation Group
Volumes 25 - 31 (1986 - 1992)
  STROBE : Military Aviation Review
Issues 98 - 109 (1996)
  Military Aviation Review
Issues 110 - 157 (1997-2000)
  AIRSHOWS : Midland Counties Publications
Years 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 - 1987
  Smoke Trails : Journal of the F-4 Society
Various Issues
  World Air Power Journal : Aerospace Publishing Ltd
Various Issues
  Wings of Fame ; Aerospace Publishing Ltd
Various Issues
  International Air Power Review : AIRTime Publishing
Various Issues
  Article: CORONET '90 (Airframe, November 1990) Peter Rolt
  Article: Coronet Nighthawk (Aviation News, December 2002) Bob Archer
E-Mail Groups  
  Touchdown News
  F-4Discussion · F-4 Phantom II Discussion Group
  USMILAV · US Military Aviation
  USAF News
Web sites  
  USAF Aviation
  Various USAF/ANG/AFRES Official web sites
  USAF Historical Research Agency
  Air Force Wings and USAF Flying, Space and Missile Squadrons : CD-ROM  
US Air Force Historical Research Agency
Also please note that this is nowhere complete and is an ongoing project. To that end if anyone has corrections or new/additional information, I would be very happy to hear from you. You can contact me by clicking on the 'Send Update' button
(see Updates Page for IMPORTANT info concerning this)
Click to send email
Marked specially for the 'Coronet Bishop' deployment to Manching, Germany in June 1983 are two of the twelve RF-4C's from the 165 TRS, 123 TRW, Kentucky ANG that made the trip across the 'pond'.This was the third visit to Europe by the 165th (they would return once more to Europe in 1986)
© Peter Doll/Via Chris Knott
Deployments to Europe by United States Air Force Fighters (including ANG and AFRES) have been a common feature since 1970*. The aim of this article is to chronicle in detail these many and varied deployments made to Europe since 1970. The article covers the following aircraft types and USAF commands:
F-4, F-15, F-16, F-100, F-105, F-106, F-111, F-117, A-7, A-10, EB-57
Tactical Air Command /Air Combat Command;Pacific Air Force Command;
Alaskan Air Command; Air Defense Command; Air Force Systems Command
Air Force Reserve/Air Force Reserve Command;Air National Guard
As can be seen, I have decided to leave out all Strategic Air Command deployments to Europe, for the obvious reason that they didn't operate fighters (even though the FB-111 should have been included, and might be at a later date). For the same reasons Military Airlift Command assets (and TAC/ACC assigned transports/tankers) are also not covered. (That subject being near on impossible to cover fully!!!). Also missing are any stop-over's in Europe made by aircraft and units deploying to the Middle-East (including ‘Southern Watch’ deployments/re-deployments)
* Of course CONUS based units and aircraft started deploying to Europe well before 1970. Maybe at a later date I will start to include the 1960’s deployments. If anyone has any information concerning these, I would be interested in hearing from you.
A brief introduction to some of the names and operations mentioned throughout this article follows.
In 1968 the United States needed to reduce their forces stationed in Europe. An agreement was made with the UK and Germany that allowed the United States to remove 35,000 troops and 96 aircraft back to CONUS (CONtinental United States) but for them to return annually to Europe to exercise. The US Army portion of this was named REFORGER (the REturn of FORces to GERmany), while the USAF portion was called 'Crested Cap' (originally named ‘Heavy Draw’). ‘Crested Cap’ represented a plan to return four complete fighter squadrons (These were the 49 TFW’s 7th,8th & .9th TFS at Spangdahlem and the 417 TFS at Hahn) to the United States. Squadrons brought back to the United States were still aligned with their bases in Germany. These units were known as 'dual-based squadrons'. The first ‘Crested Cap’ took place between 15 January – 4 April 1969 when the entire 49th TFW deployed from Holloman AFB back to Spangdahlem AB. In 1977 the wing ceased its "dual-base" commitment to NATO and changed to an air superiority mission and were replaced by the 4th TFW.
Coronet Fife Patch from 1976 . Image/Patch curtesy of Mark Knivet
Initiated in 1975 the ‘Coronet’ series of deployments brought TAC, ANG and AFRES Fighter units to Europe for two-week periods (sometimes shorter or longer) to exercise their long range deployment capabilities and to familiarize themselves with the European theatre of operations (and weather!). From 1979 the ‘Coronets’ came under the ‘Checkered Flag’ programme, which required the units to deploy once every three years. 'Checkered Flag' was initiated to provide realistic deployment training and was terminated in 1997. When the units deployed to Europe they CHOP (CHange of OPerational control) at 10 degrees W. longitude. They then came under the command of the U.S. commander at EUCOM (EUropean COMmand).
Starting in 1972, the 67th and 363rd TRWs began deploying annually to Europe for two-week exercises under the Creek Bee programme (1972-74) and from 1977 to 1989 under the programme ‘Salty Bee’ These deployments rotated annually (with a couple of exceptions) between Aviano AB, Italy, Zweibrücken AB, Germany and RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom.
336 FS/4 FW Patch from ONW deployment in 1999
With the inactivation of the NAS Keflavik based 57th FS on 1 March 1995, the air intercept mission at Iceland was taken over by ACC and ANG fighter units on a 90 day rotational basis. This is a still ongoing operation.
No explanation of this is probably needed. Obviously these operations mainly occurred outside Europe and therefore are excluded from this article, but a few aircraft/units did deploy to Europe in association with this operation and are included.
This was a Combined Task Force (CTF) charged with enforcing the no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq and monitoring Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council resolutions 678, 687, and 688.
ACC, ANG & AFRC Fighter units deployed on 45/90 day rotational deployments to Incirlik AB, Turkey.
Dates of operation were:
Operation Provide Comfort 6 April 1991 - 24 July 1991
Operation Provide Comfort II 24 July 1991 – 31 December 1996
Operation Northern Watch 31 December 1996 – 30 April 2003
Joint UN/NATO Operations to enforce a no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
ACC, ANG & AFRC Fighters deployed to Aviano AB, Italy on rotational basis. These operations eventually lead to Allied Force/Operation Noble Anvil (see below).
Dates of operations were:
Operation Deny Flight 12 April 1993 – 20 December 1995
Operation Decisive Edge January 1996 – December 1996
Operation Deliberate Guard December 1996 – 20 June 1998
Operation Allied Force was a NATO contingency response aiming at ensuring full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199 (Sept. 23rd 1998). Operation Noble Anvil was the American component of this NATO action to promote regional stability, cooperation and security, in support of the international community. ACC and ANG Fighter (along with USAFE) units deployed to bases in Italy, Hungary, Turkey and Germany. Flew combat missions over Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Dates of operation were:
23 March 1999 – 10 June 1999
As a tool to keep their units at the cutting edge competitions have been a feature of the USAF for sometime. Various competitions have been held in Europe and attended by USAF/ANG/AFRES Fighters. These include the NATO ‘Best Focus’ Reconnaissance meets, Tactical Fighter Meets & RAF Bombing Competitions of the 1970’s.

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Deployment - (Exercise Name)
Deployment code name assigned, followed by Main exercise the unit took part in, if known (other known exercises will be listed in 'Further Info'). If no name was assigned then 'NOT ASSIGNED' is used, if a name was probably assigned then 'UNKNOWN' is used and finally when it could be either the 'UNKNOWN or NOT ASSIGNED' is used!
Deployment Base (Country)
The main base the deployment deployed to (If known). Followed by Country. On the rare occasions that the deployment moved from base to base then the arrival base will be used.
Deployment Dates
Dates of deployment. Dates are used in this order:
1) Actual dates the the unit arrived at location and departed from location. (When aircraft arrived/departed on various days then the earliest arrival/latest departure date will be used (any exceptions to this will be noted in 'Further Info')
2) Official USAF dates of deployment, again if this is the case it will be noted in 'Further Info'
3) Dates they departed from/arrived back to/from CONUS. Again this will be noted in 'Further Info'
Wing or Group /Squadron (Base/Command)
The unit deployed: Wing (Group if applicable) followed by Squadron (If applicable or known). Followed by units home base and major command. (note: Unless noted the Squadron applies to the crews/personnel deployed and not necessary the aircraft, many squadrons deployed with aircraft normally assigned to other squadrons of the wing (especially during the 1970's), a good example of this is the various Crested Cap deployments where say the 8 TFS was the designated deploying squadron but the 24 F-4s comprised 7 TFS, 9 TFS and 417 TFS assigned aircraft.
Aircraft type (Number Deployed)
Aircraft type(s) deployed followed by number of aircraft deployed if known.
Tailcode (colour)
Assigned two letter unit code followed by tailband colour carried by deployed aircraft. Used when all or majority of aircraft so marked. Exceptions will be noted in
XX Individual Wing/Squadron tailcode
- No Tailcode carried/assigned
Deployed Aircraft Serials (Color) [Notes]
List of known serial numbers of aircraft deployed.
USAF serial number (fiscal year - 4 digit serial format)
Note applicable to particular aircraft, see 'Further Info'
Tail stripe colour of each aircraft (or known ones) if different from
Two letter colour code is used:
Tail stripe colour not known, used only when the majority of others are known.
Further Info
Additional info concerning the deployment and notes applicable to the other sections. Red text is used to denote missing or conflicting info.
An article of this size and detail would not have been possible without the generous help of the following gentleman.
Ashley Annis Bob Archer Luca Araniti Keith Bilverstone Keith Briggs Marcel van Beek Martin de Boer Michael Beier
Mike Bursell Steve Bricker Sergio Bottaro Steve Butler V.J. van den Berg Phil Camp Ian Crane R.Damstra
Lee DeHaven Steve Donald Peter Doll Erik op den Dries Bob Evans Henrik G. Elstorp Paul van den Elsaker Erik Frikke
Rolf H Flinzner Mick Freer Stuart Freer Peter Foster Steve Gensler Malcolm Gault Don Gilham Edwin de Greeuw
Sergio Gava P.J. van Gemert Alan Howarth David Hedge Ian Hampshire Joris Heeren Martin Herbert Steve Hill
Tom Hildreth Paul van den Hurk Tim Hunter Fred Jansen Jan Gunnar Jørgensen JAS Jens Jenson Gerhard W Joos
Kevin Jackson Martien Jacobs K. Kesteloo Mark Knivett Mike King Chris Knott Alex Knoops Gerhard Lang
Augusto Laghi Bernard Lestrad Arnold van Leuveren Eric van Lisdonk Don Logan Alastair McBean C.J. Mak Rod Martins
Alec Molton Neil Millard Mike O'Leary Ian Powell Martin Pagh Paul Phillips Simon Patterson Massimo Pregnolato
Willy Metze Brian Rogers Henk Ruiken Jeff Rankin-Lowe John Robinson John Ross Mike Riach Peter Rolt
John Ross Steve Rush Henk Scharringa Josef Strerath Jost Schreiber Bob Shane Martin Stephen Frank Smith
Peter Steinemann Martyn Swann Robbie Shaw Rick Sleight Doug Slowiak Mike Tighe Kurt Thomsen Lutz Tonne
Chris Vaughan K. van der Velden Peter van Veen Dave Wilton Jan van Waarde Udo Weisse Scott Wilson Kelvin Wyatt
Pieter Zeilstra Timm Ziegenthaler Frank van Hemert Mark Ghering Robert J Egloff
George Van der Schoor Dave Ireland Bob den Engelsman
Michel Klaver Knut Willersrud Daniele Mattiuzzo Luca Storti Hans J Schroder Doug Pritchard Kenneth Coogle Martin van der Hurk
Matt Ellis Marinus Tabak Goose (Ed Lagesse SSgt) John Lekkerkerker        
Each deployment is presented as per the example below. Most of the information is self explanatory, but it is probably in order to give a brief summary of each section.
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One common feature of many deployments were the EC-135K 'Head Dancer' command posts, which helped 'drag' the fighter deployments to Europe, providing communication links and navigation. The three EC-135K's, 55-3118 (photographed at RAF Mildenhall,9/4/80), 59-1518 & 62-3536 (w/o 14/9/77) were operated by the 8th Tactical Deployment Control Squadron. They were withdrawn from service in 1996, their duties being taken over by regular KC-135s & KC-10s.
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