Homestead Air Reserve Base

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Homestead Air Reserve Base

US Air Force Reserve Command Insignia.svg

Part of Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Located near: Homestead, Florida, U.S.
482fw-homestead-f16s.jpg
F-16Cs of the 482d Fighter Wing at Homestead ARB, Florida
TypeMilitary air base
Coordinates25°29′18″N 080°23′01″W / 25.48833°N 80.38361°W / 25.48833; -80.38361 (Homestead ARB)
Built1942
In use1942–present
Current
owner
 United States
Controlled by United States Air Force
Garrison482d Fighter Wing.png 482d Fighter Wing
 
  (Redirected from Homestead Air Force Base)
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Homestead Air Reserve Base

US Air Force Reserve Command Insignia.svg

Part of Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Located near: Homestead, Florida, U.S.
482fw-homestead-f16s.jpg
F-16Cs of the 482d Fighter Wing at Homestead ARB, Florida
TypeMilitary air base
Coordinates25°29′18″N 080°23′01″W / 25.48833°N 80.38361°W / 25.48833; -80.38361 (Homestead ARB)
Built1942
In use1942–present
Current
owner
 United States
Controlled by United States Air Force
Garrison482d Fighter Wing.png 482d Fighter Wing
Airfield information
IATA: HSTICAO: KHSTFAA LID: HST
Summary
Elevation AMSL7 ft / 2 m
Websitewww.homestead.afrc.af.mil
Runways
DirectionLengthSurface
ftm
5/2311,2003,414Concrete
Homestead ARB is located in Florida
Homestead ARB
Location of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida
F-16 on landing approach at Homestead ARB, c. 1996
Aerial photo of Homestead Army Airfield – 1943.
Hurricane Damage to Homestead AAF, September 1945.

Homestead Air Reserve Base (ARB) (IATA: HSTICAO: KHSTFAA LID: HST) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) east-northeast of Homestead, Florida.

The host unit at Homestead is the 482d Fighter Wing (482 FW) assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command Tenth Air Force. The 482 FW is a fully combat-ready unit capable of providing F-16C multi-purpose fighter aircraft, along with mission ready pilots and support personnel, for short-notice worldwide deployment. The wing has more than 1,500 members, including approximately 1,200 reservists, of which 250 are full-time reservists, in addition to 300 full-time civilians.

Homestead ARB was established in 1942 as Homestead Army Airfield (AAF). After its destruction by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the base was taken off active status and rebuilt, reopening as an Air Force Reserve facility in 1994. The 482d Fighter Wing is commanded by Colonel Donald R. Lindberg.

Units[edit source | edit]

The mission of the 482nd Fighter Wing is to train and equip Air Force Reservists to respond to wartime and peacetime taskings as directed by higher headquarters. The wing specifically trains for: Mobility, Deployment, and Employment. The operational component of the 482 FW is the 93rd Fighter Squadron (93 FS), which flies the General Dynamics Block 30 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. The squadron's aircraft can be identified by the letters "FM" (“Fighting Makos”) and the Mako shark emblem displayed on the tail.

The 482 FW is part of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and Tenth Air Force (10 AF) and functions as the host wing for the installation. The 482 FW also supports operations of several "tenant" units at Homestead ARB, including the "scramble" capability of Detachment 1, 125th Fighter Wing (125 FW), of the Florida Air National Guard. In this United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) / North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) mission, F-15C/D Eagle fighter interceptors stand ready alert to intercept unidentified or potentially hostile aircraft. Since 11 September 2001, this mission has primarily been in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE.

In addition to the 125 Fighter Wing's Det 1, other tenant activities at Homestead ARB include:

– Headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH), the special operations component of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)

– 50th Area Support Group, Florida Army National Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Miami

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Miami Air Branch, whose aircraft conduct drug enforcement air interdiction missions from Homestead ARB

During the Atlantic hurricane season, the 482 FW routinely supports forward deployment of the Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing (403 WG) from Keesler AFB, Mississippi, flying the WC-130 Hercules aircraft in the "Hurricane Hunters" weather reconnaissance mission. The 482 FW has also hosted joint relief operations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In October 2005, Homestead Air Reserve Base teamed up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring over 1 million tons of relief supplies to South Floridians recovering from Hurricane Wilma.

History[edit source | edit]

Homestead Airfield began as a United States Army Air Forces facility on 16 September 1942 when the Army Air Forces assumed control of an isolated airstrip located about a mile inland from the shore of Biscayne Bay. The airstrip had been turned over to the government by Coconut Grove-based Pan American Ferries, Inc., which had carved it out of the rocky landscape in the 1940s. Returned to civilian control after World War II, it was used as Dade County Airport until 5 January 1953 when the United States Air Force reopened it as Homestead Air Force Base. Nearly destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the facility was non-operational until March 1994 when it was reopened as Homestead Air Reserve Station.

World War II[edit source | edit]

Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Army Air Forces officials decided the site would better serve defense needs as a maintenance stopover point for aircraft being ferried to the Caribbean and North Africa.

For its first six months of existence, Homestead Army Airfield served as a scheduled stop on a well traveled air route from northeast U.S. to the Caribbean and Africa. The 54th, 75th and 76th Ferrying Squadrons were assigned to the airfield in support of that mission.

On 30 January 1943, the base assumed a more vital wartime role with the activation of the 2nd Operational Training Unit (2nd OTU). The mission of the permanently assigned cadre of nine officers, 15 enlisted men, and 12 civilian flight instructors was to provide advanced training for aircrew members who would one day pilot Douglas C-54 Skymaster, Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express and Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando transport aircraft along the 188,000 miles of the USAAF Air Transport Command's (ATC) globe-girdling routes.

During this period of time the base was under two commands. The runway itself, Homestead Army Air Field, belonged to Station 8, Caribbean Caribbean Wing of ATC, while the 2nd OTU fell under the War Department's Domestic Transportation Division with the 1st and 3rd Air Transport Squadrons bring its flying components.

As the need for trained transport pilots grew during 1943, officials in Washington decided to beef up the training program at Homestead. As a result, the entire base was transferred to ATC's Ferrying Division, and by the end of the year, the 2nd OTU's sole mission was to prepare C-54 transport air crews to fly the famed "Hump" from Burma to China.

On 15 August 1944 command of Homestead AAF consolidated under the 563d AAF Base Unit. By 1945, Homestead AAF represented the largest four-engine transport training operation in the entire ATC – the 2nd OTU had graduated 2,250 C-54 pilots, 14,505 copilots, 224 navigators, 85 radio operators and 1,375 flight engineers. But it all came to a rather abrupt end.

On 15 September 1945, three years to the day of the base's founding, a massive hurricane barreled through, sending winds of up to 145 mph whistling through the cinderblock buildings. Enlisted housing facilities, the nurses' dormitory and the base exchange were all destroyed. The roof was ripped off what would later be Building 741, also known as the "Big Hangar." The base laundry and fire station were both declared total losses. The few remaining aircraft were tossed about like leaves.

On 25 October 1945, following an evaluation of the damage caused by the storm, officials announced that Homestead AAF would shut down, with a target date for complete closure of December 1945. Military control of Homestead officially ended on 14 December 1945.

After being closed by the military, Homestead was known as Dade County Airport, and operated as a civilian facility for almost a decade.

Strategic Air Command[edit source | edit]

In the early 1950s, as the Korean War was winding down, defense officials once again looked toward Homestead with an eye at making the site a key player in continental defense. In mid-1954, an advance party arrived at the old airfield to begin cleaning it up, and on 8 February 1955 the 4226th Air Base Squadron was activated.

On 1 November 1955, the now-Homestead AFB was upgraded to a group level facility with the activation of the 379th Air Base Group which managed a major construction and rehabilitation program through 1957. 51 buildings on the base were rehabilitated by February 1955, and the base was readied for two Strategic Air Command (SAC) Boeing B-47 Stratojet jet bomber wings.

The 379th Bomb Wing was activated at Homestead on 1 November 1955. It consisted of the following squadrons:

The 379th BMW inherited the honors, history and colors of the World War II Eighth Air Force 379th Bomb Group upon activation.

During the first five months, the 379th BMW concentrated on the manning and equipping of the unit and formulated a training schedule on 20 April 1956. The squadrons received their B-47s in April 1956 and commenced training for air refueling and strategic bombardment operations.

Beginning in mid 1957, the wing deployed aircraft, crews, and support personnel to North African bases under the REFLEX ACTION program. This requirement continued throughout the rest of the wing's assignment at Homestead AFB.

The 379th Combat Support Group, including six squadrons bearing the same numerical designation, was organized for the wing 1 April 1960, and during that same year, the 920th Air Refueling Squadron was transferred from Carswell AFB, Texas flying the KC-135A Stratotanker.

Within a year, the 19th Bomb Wing was transferred to Homestead on 1 June 1956 from Pinecastle AFB, Florida. It consisted of the following squadrons:

With the activation of the 19th BW, the 823d Air Division was activated to command the two bomb wings at Homestead. The units were initially under Second Air Force until 1 January 1959, when the 823rd was placed under Eighth Air Force.

In 1957 both the 347th and 19th wings deployed to the Refelx Base at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, in January, then to Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, from April though July. By 1960, Homestead housed more than 6,000 permanently assigned members, twice the size of its busiest World War II days, and a fleet of Boeing B-47 Stratojet bombers. The 19th BW maintained a portion of its tactical resources on continual overseas alert until April 1961.

The 379th BW transferred its B-47s beginning in October 1960 and moved without personnel or equipment to Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan in January 1961. With the departure of the 379th, the 19th Bomb Wing became the host unit at Homestead.

The 28th Bomb Squadron converted to the new Boeing B-52H Stratofortress aircraft in 1961, with the remaining squadrons of the 19th being transferred to various SAC Strategic Wings. This left the 19th with one squadron of B-52s. It was, in effect, a strategic wing, but was not redesignated as such.

The 19th wing won the Fairchild Trophy in the SAC bombing and navigation competition of 1966. The B-52s of the 28th BS participated in the "Chrome Dome" Mission wherein some flew Airborne Alert 24/7.

The 28th Bomb Squadron deactivated when 19th Bomb Wing was moved without personnel or equipment to Robins AFB, Georgia when Homestead AFB was transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC) on 25 July 1968. The 823d Air Division was transferred to McCoy Air Force Base, Florida on 2 July 1968.

Cuban Missile Crisis[edit source | edit]

On 1 June 1962 the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing was deployed to Homestead from George AFB, California in response to the growing Communist threat from Cuba. At the time, the 31st TFW flew the North American F-100 Super Sabre.

In October 1962, Homestead was a major staging base for the contemplated invasion of Cuba. The newly-built B-52H aircraft from the 19th Bomb Wing were evacuated to Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, where they stood on Nuclear Alert. F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers armed for ground attack filled the runways for immediate deployment to Cuba, while U.S. Army troops with heavy equipment arrived by road, rail, and a vast air-lift – accommodated in a tent city built on all available open space.

The 31st TFW, in cooperation with two other tactical fighter wings assigned here for the duration of the crisis, had already identified targets on Cuba and were prepared to strike at a moment's notice. The world was on the brink of war, with Homestead at the very edge.

After several weeks of tension, the Soviets backed down. The missiles were removed. The crisis was over, but many of the changes to Homestead spawned by the Soviet threat remained. Though still nominally an SAC Base, Homestead was now tasked with a dual mission: to stand ready to project strategic air power around the globe, and to maintain an operationally ready tactical air force.

Air Defense Command[edit source | edit]

F-104As of the 319th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron over Biscane Bay, Florida

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 48th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron deployed its F-106s to Homestead. Air Defense Command (ADC) headquarters decided after the crisis to establish permanently assigned units to counter any air intrusion by Soviet/Cuban fighters. ADC established three Fighter-Intereceptor squadrons at Homestead as part of ADC's 32nd Air Division. These squadrons were:

The 331st was stationed at Webb AFB, Texas and was at Homestead in 1962 during the Cuban Crisis with Convair F-102 Delta Daggers. All other squadrons flew the Lockheed F-104A/B Starfighter.

In late 1967, 26 aircraft of the 319th FIS were retrofitted with the more powerful J79-GE-19, rated at 17,900 lbs static thrust with afterburner, which was the same type of engine fitted to the F-104S version developed for Italy.

These redesignated Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) squadrons remained at Homestead until 1969, when the F-104s were retired and the squadrons deactivated. These were the last F-104 squadrons in the Regular U.S. Air Force, although the F-104 did continue in service with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard until 1975.

The F-106s of Detachment 2 of the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron were still deployed at Homestead AFB through 1975 and pulled alert sorties as well as escorting President Nixon's Air Force One in and out of Homestead AFB.

Tactical Air Command[edit source | edit]

F-100D-85-NH (s/n 56-3440) of the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

With the presence of potentially hostile aircraft in Cuba, the 31st TFW was permanently assigned to Homestead on 9 November 1962, with an air defense mission. During the 1960s, the role of Tactical Air Command at Homestead AFB increased rapidly. F-100D/F squadrons of the 31st TFW were:

Vietnam War[edit source | edit]

In 1966, demands from NATO and the Vietnam War led to the division of the 31st TFW into several segments. In April, the 307th TFS was permanently reassigned to the 401st TFW at Torrejon Air Base Spain to accommodate USAFE requirements. The 31st TFW and its remaining three fighter squadrons were deployed to Tuy Hoa Air Base South Vietnam on 16 December 1966.

During its time in Vietnam, a placeholder unit, the 4531st Tactical Fighter Wing assumed the host duties at Homestead to perform the air defense mission. For the next several years, squadrons from various TAC bases were assigned to Homestead to fulfill that role. These squadrons were:

On 1 July 1968 TAC officially took control of Homestead AFB and placed it under Ninth Air Force. The SAC 19th Bomb Wing transferred to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 823d Air Division was transferred to McCoy Air Force Base, Florida.

Post Vietnam[edit source | edit]

F-4E-37-MC Phantom II (s/n 68-0365) of the 309th TFS, about 1971.
A 307th TFTS F-4D taking off.
F-16A Block 15Q (s/n 83-1080) of the 308th FS, about 1988.

The 31st Fighter Wing returned from the Vietnam War on 15 October 1970 as an McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II organization. Its deployed squadrons were reactivated at Homestead from assets of the deactivated 4531st TFW

The 31st TFW standardized on the "ZF" tail code in 1972. On 1 July 1978 the 306th TFS was reactivated as an F-4E squadron (ZF, yellow tail stripe)

The 482d Tactical Fighter Wing (482 TFW) was activated at Homestead in 1978 and was the first Air Force Reserve (AFRES) unit to receive the F-4 Phantom II jet fighter.

An additional AFRES unit at Homestead was the 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, which operated HC-130 Hercules and HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" aircraft. This unit was redesignated as the 301st Air Rescue Squadron in 1990 and as the 301st Rescue Squadron in 1992.

An equipment change in 1980 brought the F-4D to the 31st TFW, and in 1981, the 31st TFW and Homestead AFB again took on a new task: the training of F-4 aircrews as a Formal Training Unit (FTU). On 31 March 1981 the 31st TFW became the 31st Tactical Training Wing.

Training was to remain the base’s primary mission until 1 October 1985 when the wing converted to the General Dynamics Block 15 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon and returned to an operational tactical fighter wing status. However, with the arrival of the F-16s, the 306th TFS was again deactivated. The tail code of the 31st was also changed to "HS" on 1 December 1986.

In October 1991 the wing upgraded to the Block 40 F-16C/D and was redesignated at the 31st Fighter Wing (31 FW) and on 1 June 1992 the wing was assigned to the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC) following the disestablishment of TAC. The 482 TFW was similarly redesignated the 482 FW and became operationally-gained by ACC.

Hurricane Andrew[edit source | edit]

August 1992's Hurricane Andrew was the second most destructive hurricane in U.S. history, and the final of three Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the United States in the 20th century.

Just prior to the storm's landfall in Southeast Florida, the 31 FW dispersed its fighter squadrons to safe areas away from the storm's path. These locations were:

The 482 FW and the 301 RQS also dispersed their F-16, HC-130 and HH-3E aircraft to MacDill AFB, Florida and Patrick AFB, Florida, respectively.

The effects of Hurricane Andrew caused the almost total destruction of Homestead Air Force Base. Although both President George H. W. Bush and President Clinton promised to rebuild Homestead AFB, the BRAC designated the installation for realignment to the Air Force Reserve, with the 31st Fighter Wing's squadrons being permanently reassigned to their dispersal bases, Moody AFB and Shaw AFB, on 1 October 1992.

Civilian personnel and Civil Engineer units of the 31 FW worked to reconstruct Homestead in 1993 and 1994. In March 1994, Homestead officially reopened, however the 31st FW aircraft squadrons did not return to the base. On 1 April 1994, Air Combat Command (ACC) inactivated the 31st Fighter Wing base support units, effectively ending principal ACC ownership of the base. The base was then transferred to the control of Air Force Reserve (AFRES) . Homestead AFB was initially re-designated as Homestead Air Reserve Station, followed by re-designation as Homestead Air Reserve Base. The base and its units are normally under AFRES control, but remain operationally-gained by ACC. The 482 FW became the host unit for Homestead ARB, while the 301 RQS permanently changed its home station to Patrick AFB, Florida. In 1997, the Air Force Reserve transitioned from being a Field Operating Agency (FOA) to a major command (MAJCOM), renamed as the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). With this change, all functions and responsibilities at Homestead ARB previously assigned to AFRES were shifted to AFRC.

The 31st Fighter Wing was transferred without personnel or equipment to Aviano Air Base, Italy, taking over the host wing duties there.

Air Force Reserve Command[edit source | edit]

F-16 Touch-and-Go Landing Practice at Homestead ARB, c. 1996

With Homestead being assigned to the Air Force Reserve, the 482d Fighter Wing became the host unit. The 482d was activated in October 1978 at Homestead, flying F-4C Phantom II fighter aircraft. The 482d was the first unit in the Air Force Reserve to fly the Phantom, which was, at that time, the predominant fighter in use by the Air Force. The wing converted to the modern F-16A in 1989 and upgraded to the F-16C model in 1995.

During the reconstruction period after Hurricane Andrew (1992–1994), the 482nd operated from MacDill AFB, Florida, while the 301st Rescue Squadron operated from Patrick AFB, Florida. The 301st was later expanded, replaced their HH-3Es with HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and redesignated the 920th Rescue Group. Later redesignated as the 920th Rescue Wing, they currently operate both HC-130N/P and HH-60G aircraft and are now permanently reassigned to Patrick AFB, Florida with additional geographically separated units (GSUs) located at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona and Portland International Airport Air Reserve Station, Oregon.

In 2000, 482nd Security Forces Squadron (482 SFS) personnel were deployed in support Operation SOUTHERN WATCH at Ali Al Salem Air Base and Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, for air base defense.

In 2001, the 482 FW deployed to Laage Air Base, Germany, for Exercise Millennium Falcon, which provided dissimilar-in-combat training with German Mig-29s. Since 11 September 2001, the 482 FW has also been active in support of the continental air defense mission, Operation NOBLE EAGLE, alongside their Florida Air National Guard counterparts from Detachment 1, 125th Fighter Wing.

In 2003, the Air Force Reserve Command changed the name of Homestead Air Reserve Base to that of Homestead Air Reserve Station, only to change it back to Homestead Air Reserve Base in 2005.

Elements of the 482nd Fighter Wing deployed in October 2001 to the Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait as part of a regularly scheduled Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) rotation to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. While there, the 482 FW reservists also began flying additional combat missions as part of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) over Afghanistan. Throughout the 90-day deployment, 482 FW pilots, as part of a larger Air Reserve Component "rainbow wing" at Al Jaber, flew between nine and fifteen hours a day. OEF sorties typically consisted of launch from Al Jaber with a combination of air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance, a flight path south along the Arabian/Persian Gulf, an eastward turn over the Indian Ocean, a northern turn and overflight of Pakistan, then execution of combat operations over Afghanistan. Upon conclusion of time on station over Afghanistan, pilots would then reverse their route and return to Al Jaber. Despite the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks, these long duration missions often required four to five aerial refuelings from KC-135 or KC-10 tankers and pressed 482 FW flight crews and maintenance crews to their physical limits.

Major commands to which assigned[edit source | edit]

Air Defense Command/Aerospace Defense Command (Attached), 25 April 1960 – 31 December 1969

Major units assigned[edit source | edit]

  • 427th Base HQ and Air Base Squadron, 16 September 1942 – 1 November 1943
Redesignated: Station 8, Caribbean Division, Air Transport Command, 20 October 1943 – 1 April 1944
  • 54th Ferrying (later Transport) Squadron, 16 September 1942 – 7 November 1943
  • 390th Sub Depot, 1 November 1942 – 1 August 1944
  • 75th Ferrying (later Transport) Squadron, 8 February 1943 – 31 March 1944
  • 76th Ferrying (later Transport) Squadron, 8 February 1943 – 31 March 1944
  • 2d Operational Training Unit, 8 February 1943 – 31 March 1944
  • Port of Aerial Embarkation, 15 December 1943 – 27 May 1946
  • 563d AAF Base Unit, 1 April 1944 – 5 March 1945
  • 564th AAF Base Unit, 1 April 1944 – 5 March 1945

References for history introduction, major commands and major units[1]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-912799-53-6, ISBN 0-16-002261-4

Other sources[edit source | edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Homestead Air Reserve Base".

  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
  • Donald, David (2004) Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. AIRtime ISBN 1-880588-68-4
  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • [1] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers-1908 to present
  • [2] Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft

External links[edit source | edit]