In the space sim Freelancer in one mission there's a line, "There's just too many of them. To all wings, protect the station at all costs."

The tricky part is that you are in a wing formation of 5 fighters and there are two such formations and also a freighter drifting by-side the station.

As far as I remember wing mostly means party member in a formation. And wings means wingmen. But I think that here wings may mean vessel.

In the army is it the same?


Yes, you are correct, in the sentence in question, "wings" is literally referring to vessels that have wings -- meaning all other vessels. The sentence is not referring to a formation of ships, but rather generically to all the ships in the vicinity. Although the game is referring to spaceships, "wings" is taken obviously from modern aerospace lingo. Airplanes have wings, and in slang, "wings" can refer to the airplane itself. You can only deduce the particular meaning by inferring it from the sentence as a whole -- which you did correctly. There are many definitions for "wing" here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wing

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In the RAF (the British Air force) once one had completed training and been given permission to fly, one was awarded a badge in the shape of a pair of wings.

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"To earn one's wings" has since entered pilot's slang to mean "to qualify".

In your example "All wings" is used as a form of synecdoche: it could either be referring

1) "To all qualified pilots" (people who have wings),

2) or as @Ringo suggests "To all vessels" (things that have wings) [In slang English you will often hear people use "wheels" to mean a "car" another synecdoche]

I think it's probably the first meaning, as the message is being addressed to the wings, and it's unusual, though not unheard of, to talk to inanimate objects.

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  • In the RAF a Wing is a term for an unit comprising of 3 or 4 Squadrons of aircraft under the comand of a Wing Comander typically based at the same airbase (although not always). A Group is comprised of several Wings under a Group Commander.This is also the case in many other countries airforces although the US Airforce reverses it apparently . – Sarriesfan Jan 19 '19 at 23:40

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