P-4 A  431st FIS 1955

This anonymous P-4 A flight helmet belonged to a 431st Fighter Interceptor Squadron ("Red Devils")  pilot  flying N.A. F-86D Sabre Dogs in 1956 from Wheelus AB in the Kingdom of Libya.

Established in 1943 the 431st FIS arrived at Wheelus with their Korean War vintage F-86F Sabres already in 1953 and eventually switched to radar-equipped F-86D's in 1955, later departing Libya to Zaragosa AB in Spain at the end of 1958. In 1960 the "Red Devils" exchanged their Sabre Dogs for the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.

During 1956, the unit adopted a very attractive fuselage paint scheme made of a shooting star superimposed with a large trident. This design lasted only a few months since new regulations demanded for the large US AIR FORCE lettering to be painted on the F-86Ds fuselage.

Wheelus AB had been used by the USAF since the end of WW2 and was situated near the eastern outskirts of Tripoli city. The base frequently hosted USAFE units for gunnery and bombing training campaigns held on the nearby El Uotia gunnery range, under the USAFE Weapons Training Center organization.

In 1969, King Idris of Libya was overthrown by a group of generals led by Muammar Gaddafi and Wheelus AB was handed over to the new local government, while US forces completely pulled back from Libya.

Wheelus was renamed Okba Ben Nafi Airfield by Libya and shared activity both as military airbase and Tripoli International Airport.

  

     A 1956 post card sold in the Wheelus AFB PX