116th Combat Wing

The Araxos air base is located on the North-West part of the Peloponneso, close to the Andravida Air Base. It’s home of the 116th Combat Wing (116 Πτέρυγα Μάχης) with a typical composition of two squadrons, the 335th Bomber Squadron (equiped with F-16Bk 52+) and the 336 Bomber Squadron (equiped with A-7E). The Air base is one of the Greek air force’s oldest. The first use dates back to 1936, although only on 1941 the base became operational with the installation of Greek’s first Radar. In 1958 the base was selected to receive Fighter Jet. In April of 1962 the 116th Combat Group was formed and the first F-84F of the 336th Fighter Bomber Squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Laitmer landed in the airport. Only two years after the Squadron received the most modern F-104G Starfighter. In 1977, the 335th Fighter Bomber Squadron, also equipped with F-104G, joined the now renamed 116th Combat Wing. The two squadrons of F-104G remained at the base until 1992 when he began the conversion to the LTV Squadron A-7E. The two reached the Full Combat Readiness on the aircraft only three years later, in 1995. Between 2008 and 2010 the 335th Squadron moved from the now tired A-7E to the modern Lockheed Martin F-16 Bk52+ making Araxos the 4th Greek base to be equipped with such aircraft.




335th Bomber Squadron "Tiger"

The Greek Air Force‘s oldest Sqd was established in 1941 in the middle of German occupation, at Palestinian’s base of Akir. The first pilots were trained in Iraq by British officers. The sqd flew Hurrican IIB and IIC at the orders of RAF’s 339th Combat Wing. It flew the same aircraft until 1943 when he received the new Spitfive VB and VC. Its main role was deep recognition and interception throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, it was used as naval escort. An exception to this routine happens on October 28, 1943 when in revenge for the Italian attack on Greece, it attacked the headquarters of the Italian XX Corps in Libya. In 1944 the Sqd was first brought to Italy before returning to Greece at the end of October. There, along with the 336th Sqd and the 13rd Light Bomber sqd passed by the Royal Air Force to the Greek government. During World War 2 the 335th sqd lost 18 pilots, but it had 5,555 sorties for a total of 8500 combat flight hours and 12,000 hours of training flight. Since 1945 the Sqd operated from Sedes and in 1947 received the new Spitfire IX and XVI in order to contribute to the Greek civil war between 1947 and 1949. In 1953 he was the first sqd to moved to the new jet aircraft, the F-84G and RT-33 at the airport Elefsis. The squadron changed wing several times in the following years, first the 111st Combat Wing, then the 110th in Larissa, where in 1957 he received the F-84F. Then he returned to the 111th Wing at Tanagra assuming the strike role. In 1965 he received the new F-104G and as already mentioned in 1977 the squadron join the 116 Combat Wing Araxos. On April 3, 1993, the 335th Fighter Bomber sqd became the 335th Bomber sqd starting at the same time to use the A-7E and TA-7C, recently delivered from the USA. These new aircrafts features greatly accentuated strike capabilities since the Corsair has an higher load capacity and autonomy. In 2005, the Greek air force ordered 30 new Lockheed Martin F-16Bk52 +, and deliveries began in September 2009. The 335th Bomber Squadron "Tiger" is a full member of the Tiger Meet and as such takes part in the annual exercise that brings together all the tiger squadron

336th Bomber Squadron "Olympos"

The second Greek air force’s squadron be established on February 25, 1943 near Cairo in Egypt under the name of 336th Royal Hellenic Fighter Bomber Squadron under the command of the 219th Combat Wing, equipped with Hurricane IIC. From April of that year until June 1944, the squadron operated as a naval escort, interception and intruders in Crete, operating from Egypt and Libya. In September '44 received new Spitfire V and moved to Italy, where he began to hit the Albany, Yugoslavia and the occupied Greece. Before returning to Greece and help in the liberation of the Crete Island used the airport of Grottaglie. At the end of the 2nd World War the squadron took part in 3250 missions, a total of 5116 flying hours and 7311 of training, but lost 12 pilots. It too was a deployed to Sedes to take part in the civil war between ‘47 and ‘49. At the end of the war he was transferred to the 110th Combat Wing of Larissa. He also received initially the Helldiver dive bombers and then the F-84G becoming the 336th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Elefsis. In the following years the group changed several times Wings (110th Combat Wing, 114th Combat Wing and 116th Combat Wing) as well as changing equipment, it switches to the F-84F and F-104G. In 1966 the renamed 336th Strike Squadron reaches the base of Araxos with the new F-104G. On March 31 1993, the group became the 336th Bomber Squadron and started to operate the TA-7C and A-7E. Since then, the Squadron flies with Corsair, working both as a bomber squadron and as lead-in trainer.

                Text by Marco Sommacal

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We would thank all the staff of the 116th Combat Wing and the 336th Sqd. Thanks, finally, to Col. Roberto Cattaneo of the Italian Embassy in Greece for made possible this day.