#1718 48th FW F-35A, F-15E and F-111F print
Squadron Print Lithograph No. 1718 - 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England.
This print is produced for the F-111F reunion weekend. The patches at the bottom reflect the four Tactical Fighter Squadrons who operated the F-111F at RAF Lakenheath, whilst the reunion was organised by the 48th Fighter Wing.
The 48th Fighter Wing was formed in 1941 as the 48th Bombardment Group (Light) at Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia. By 1943, it transitioned to a fighter-bomber group. A year later, it became a dedicated fighter organization and was re-designated by the U.S. Army Air Forces as the 48th Fighter Group. With its P-47 Thunderbolts, the group flew missions in support of Operation Overlord, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of St. Lô, and the Battle of the Bulge. The group’s actions earned it the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Belgian Fourragere prior to its inactivation in 1945. Re-activated as a fighter-bomber wing in 1952, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Wing was stationed at Chaumont Air Base, France. It first flew the F-84 Thunderjet, then the F-86 Sabre and, by 1956, the F-100 Super Sabre. In 1954, the wing received the designation the ‘Statue of Liberty Wing,’ and, as such, remains the only USAF unit with both a numerical and descriptive designation. During an Air-Force wide re-organization, the wing became a tactical fighter wing in 1958. Under Project Red Richard, the wing relocated to its present home at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England in 1960. Between 1972 and 1974 the Wing transitioned from the F-100 to the F-4 Phantom II. In 1977, the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing was one of three wings involved in Operation Creek Swing/Ready Switch, the largest peacetime swap of aircraft in USAF history, which equipped the wing with the F-111F Aardvark. With the F-111, the wing supported notable operations such as Operations El Dorado Canyon, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. Following the Air Force’s transition to the Objective Wing Organizational construct, the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing became the 48th Fighter Wing in 1991. The following year the wing swapped its F-111s for the F-15E Strike Eagle. In 1994, the wing received the F-15C, which marked the first time the organization had conducted a dedicated air-to-air mission. With its F-15Es and F-15Cs, the wing supported major contingency operations such as: Operations Provide Comfort, Deny Flight, Allied Force, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn, Unified Protector, Freedom’s Sentinel, and Inherent Resolve. In 2021, the wing became the first overseas U.S. installation to become home to the F-35A. The following year, the wing saw the end of its F-15C mission. The wing currently maintains two F-15E and two F-35A squadrons which provide combat capability in support of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations across Europe and Africa.