STARFIGHTERS - This photo illustration
blends the past with the present. Below are
the old fighter hangars at Westover, which  
were later used by the Army National Guard
as helicopter hangars until about 2002. The
F-104 Starfighters that prowled the skies
above New England in the late 1950s are
superimposed by my friend Stan
Lukasiewicz. According to Alan Hayes, a
member of the 814th Air Police Squadron
during that era, the pilots of these aircraft,
when scrambled, would put these sleek jets
straight up into the sky , and at full
afterburner, depart the base in a matter of
seconds - after using just a couple of
thousand feet of the Runway 5 end of the
main runway!  I took this photo from a
helicopter in February 2005. Please scroll
down for more information about
Westover's fighter squadrons, much of
which Stan has provided
.
Four fighter squadrons once made their home at Westover
While Westover will always be known
as a major SAC installation, it's
important to remind people that
another very important command also
conducted operations at the base
from the early 1950s until 1963.
The Air Defense Command occupied
a large portion of the base near the
"Christmas Tree" and Mole Hole
areas on the southwestern end of the
base.
Four fighter squadrons (the 60th, 76th,
 324th and 337th) flew F-84, F-86,
F-102, and F-104 aircraft at Westover.
One way to remind people that
fighters were at Westover was when a
scramble alert order would come
from the North American Air Defense
headquarters.
Pairs of fighters roared from
Westover's runways, their afterburners
lit as they sped on another practice
mission to intercept Soviet Union
bombers crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Stan Lukasiewicz, who continues to
kindly assist me with research for my
upcoming book and this site, recently
sent me an e-mail which details some
of this history of these fighter
squadrons. Please scroll below to see
it.
This superb drawing, by my friend -- retired MSgt W.C. Pope -- replicates the Tom Hildreth photo from above.
W.C. provided this to me as part of his contribution to Westover's fighter jet history!

The 337th was deactivated on 8 July 1960. I had mentioned
they were at Westover from 50 - 61, but it was 1960. The 60th
moved to Westover from Otis (planes and personnel) 10 August
1950 with their F-86A Sabrejets.  Sometime in late 1951 early
1952 they began getting F-86Es. The Air Force needed the Es
in Korea, so in early 1953 they began flying them to Oakland,
CA for shipping via boat to Korea. In May 1953, the first F-86D
all-weather interceptor arrived and they flew them until 18
August 1955. That's when the 60th was sent back to Otis (Unit
designation only, planes and personnel stayed at Westover and
the unit was redesignated the 337th Fighter Interceptor
Squadron), the 60th began flying F-94C Starfires - two seater
interceptors.
Meanwhile, the 337th kept flying the F-86Ds until mid-1956
when F-86Ls began replacing the Ds.  They flew the Ls until
April 1958 when the first F-104 Starfighter landed at Westover.  
They flew the F-104s until their deactivation on 8 July 1960.
The 76th FIS arrived at Westover in 1961 from McCoy AFB, FL
where they were flying F-89 Scorpions and transitioned into the
F-102 which they flew until 1963. Then the unit was deactivated
in 1963 and it was the last fighter outfit assigned to Westover.   
The sleek lines of this F-104 Starfighter, taken at Westover in 1959, show the ahead-of-its-time appearance.

                                                                              
       (Photo taken by Charles Moore, provided by Clarke Ketter)
Recapping the history of the 60th and 337th
The following information was provided by Stan Lukasiewicz, whose name appears
on this site more than anyone else's! Stan is a wealth of information and grew up in
Holyoke, Mass.
This photo shows what appears to be a
William Tell competition. The F-104s and
personnel are certainly from the 337th
FIS; it's the location that is unknown.

          (Westover archives)


Upper right, a TF-102A two-seater
lands over Cooley Brook Reservoir
in Chicopee, April 20, 1962.  Tom
reports that the trainer version of
the "Deuce" was called "The Tub"
in many units. He adds that so
much additional drag resulted from
the side-by-side seating, it was not
capable of supersonic speeds in
level flight. The 76th FIS was
assigned to Westover from 1960 to
1963. The unit lost a half-dozen or
more of these aircraft during this
time.
76th FIS "Deuces" -- Tom Hildreth took this
shot at Westover some time in 1962. He has
never seen a photo of a 76th F-102 in unit
markings published anywhere, so such shots
may be pretty rare, like this one. See drawing
below by retired MSgt W.C. Pope.
Read about the
fighters at Westover!

While SAC owned and operated
Westover for 19 incredible and
exciting years, we can't forget
the other Air Force commands
that also had an important role
in defending America. My friend
Stan Lukasiewicz has just
published a book on the 60th
and 337th Fighter Interceptor
Squadrons. These were Air
Defense Command units that
were assigned to the base from
1953 to 1960. I just received a
copy and it is an excellent and
thorough account of these
fighter units. Stan's work is
detailed with photographs of the
sleek F-86s and F-104s and the
pilots and maintenance crews
that flew them. Stan is a major
contributor to this web site and
to my book that is still in the
works. It will be called "Westover
Heyday: The Strategic Air
Command Years, 1955-1974"
and will document the
tremendous activity generated
by SAC and other Air Force units
at Westover.

For more information on getting
a copy of Stan's book,
e-mail
him at
6
+ par3club@yahoo.com
1955 Yankee Flyer

The old alert sheds are shown in this photo from Tom Hildreth.
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