|418th Flight Test Squadron
|Active||1942–1945; 1947–1949; 1959–1962; 1989–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Materiel Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Edwards Air Force Base, California|
|Engagements||European Theater of Operations|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
|418th Flight Test Squadron emblem (approved 19 May 1994)|
|418th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 9 June 1961)|
|418th Bomb Squadron emblem (approved 4 October 1943)|
|Transport||C-130 Hercules and special operations variants|
|Tanker||KC-135 Stratotanker and special variants|
The first predecessor of the squadron was activated during World War II as a heavy bomber unit. It served in combat in the European Theater of Operations, where it earned a Distinguished Unit Citation and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for its actions. After V-E Day the squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated at the Port of Embarkation.
The squadron was briefly active in the reserve from 1947 to 1949, but does not appear to have been fully equipped or assigned enough aircrew. It served from 1959 to 1962 as a Boeing B-47 Stratojet squadron in Strategic Air Command.
The second predecessor of the squadron was activated in 1989 as the 6518th Test Squadron. The two squadrons were consolidated in 1992 as the 418th Test Squadron and have served in the flight test role.
Established as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress reconnaissance squadron in January 1942; redesignated as a heavy bomber squadron in April and activated in June. Trained initially under Third Air Force in the southeast; transferring to Second Air Force in the Pacific Northwest. Operated as an Operational Training Unit in the Midwest until being deployed to the European Theater of Operations, being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England in June 1942.
Engaged in strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe and Germany, sustaining very heavy losses of personnel and aircraft while conducting many unescorted missions over enemy territory attacking airfields, industries, naval facilities and transportation hubs. During the summer of 1944, aircrews bombed enemy positions at Saint-Lô, followed by similar campaigns at Brest, France in August and September. In October 1944, the squadron attacked enemy and ground defenses in the allied drive on the Siegfried Line, then bombed marshaling yards, German occupied villages, and communication targets in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. Attacked enemy targets in Germany during the spring of 1945, ending combat operations with the German Capitulation in May 1945.
Remained in Europe as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces, dropping food to the people in the west of the Netherlands, and in June transported French Allied former prisoners of war from Austria to France. Demobilizing in England, in December 1945 the squadron inactivated as a paper unit.
Activated in the Air Force Reserve in 1947 at Miami Airport, Florida. Unclear whether or not the unit was fully crewed or equipped; inactivated in 1949 due to budget restrictions.
From 1958, the Boeing B-47 Stratojet wings of Strategic Air Command (SAC) began to assume an alert posture at their home bases, reducing the amount of time spent on alert at overseas bases. The SAC alert cycle divided itself into four parts: planning, flying, alert and rest to meet General Thomas S. Power's initial goal of maintaining one third of SAC’s planes on fifteen minute ground alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. To implement this new system B-47 wings reorganized from three to four squadrons. The 418th was activated at Pease Air Force Base as the fourth squadron of the 100th Bombardment Wing. The alert commitment was increased to half the squadron's aircraft in 1962 and the four squadron pattern no longer met the alert cycle commitment, so the squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1962.
Supported test programs for miscellaneous large aircraft (other than the Edwards-owned Boeing C-135 Stratolifter and Boeing C-137 Stratoliner fleets). Also managed small test programs including the Slingsby T-3 Firefly, Beechcraft T-6 Texan II, and Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. Gained the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III program from the inactivating 417th Flight Test Squadron in 1995. Added EC-18 and Boeing NKC-135 types from the 452d Flight Test Squadron in a realignment of Edwards flight test squadrons on 1 October 2000. Ceased operating the EC-18s on 24 August 2001 when they were retired.