The Nevada Air Guard & the F-86

Thanks to Lt. Col. Cindy Kirkland, Nevada ANG PAO, for her help in preparing this article

The Air National Guard in the state of Nevada was recognized on 12 April 1948 at Reno AFB, on the California-Nevada border. Equipped with North American P-51D Mustangs, the unit was organized as the 192nd Fighter Squadron, a direct descendant of the 408th Fighter Squadron which had served within the continental US during the war years. During the war in Korea, the 192nd was called to active duty and redesignated the 192nd Fighter Bomber Squadron. Still equipped with F51Ds, the squadron was based at Bergstrom AFB, TX, George AFB, CA, and Keflavik, Iceland, before being returned to state control on I December 1952 and reassigned to Reno.

On 1 June 1955, the squadron was again redesignated, now as the 192nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron with an air defense mission under Air Defense Command. However. the unit was still equipped with F-5 I Ds. Less than a decade after the Nevada Air National Guard's humble beginnings, the unit entered another era - the jet Age. In July 1955, the squadron took delivery of two brand new Lockheed T-33A jet trainers.

The reason for the two-seat jet trainers? The 192nd FlS was going to re-equip with the North American F-86A Sabre, the aircraft that had just recently returned from combat against the Soviet MiG in Korea. Many of the F-86As were combat veterans???? (check serial lists) but still had plenty of flying and fight left in them.

Training in the T-33 'T-Birds' continued throughout the Summer of 1955. Finally, on 1 November 1955, the F-86A entered service with the 192nd FIS at Reno. As a fig hter interceptor squadron, the mission of the 192nd Was coastal air defense. With a patrol radius of 350 miles, the aircraft could intercept inbound targets over the San Francisco area, or deploy south to Nellis to help cover the Los Angeles area. Two aircraft were employed on a constant 24 hour alert status, fully armed with I800 rounds of .50 caliber, and ready to go at a moment's notice.

The day fighter era ended in 1958, when the 192nd transitioned into the all-weather interceptor era in the F-86L. The first of twenty-five F-86Ls arrived in April 1958. Assigned to the 28th Air Division, the 192nd was completely equipped and combat ready in the all-weather F-86L on 1 August 1958. With the F-86L, the alert status was changed from two to five aircraft on 24 hour alert. Group status was achieved on 1 April when the 152nd Fiohter Group (Air Defense) was organized as the parent unit to the 192nd FIS at Reno.

Many of the F-86L aircraft were personalized with the names of towns in Nevada, such as City of Las Vegas, City of Tonapah, City of Elko, etc, all painted upon the state map which adorned the vertical tail The Group Commander flew aircraft #53-0915 "City Of Reno".

Aircraft markings included a varying number of stripes to indicate rank, either in the unit or in the air -four stripes was the Group Commander, three for Squadron CO, two was the Operations Officer, and one stripe was a Flight Commander. The aircraft were all in natural metal except for Day-Glo bands applied in 1959.

In the Spring of 1961 the Sabre era ended. The 192nd was slated to transition into the Martin RB-57B Canberra jet bomber. As such, it Nevada relieved on its air defense mission on 31 December 1960. The last F-86L flight took on 31 March 1961. One F-86L remains and is displayed at Idlewild Park in Reno.

No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.

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