179th Fighter Squadron

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179th Fighter Squadron
179th Fighter Squadron F-16s over Duluth IAP 2002.jpg
179th Fighter Squadron F-16s over Duluth IAP, 2002
Active 26 May 1943-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Minnesota
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Fighter
Part of Minnesota Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota
Nickname "Bulldogs"
Tail Code Blue tail stripe "Duluth" in white letters "MN"
Engagements World War II
Insignia
179th Fighter Squadron emblem 179th Fighter Squadron emblem.jpg

The 179th Fighter Squadron (179 FS) is a unit of the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing located at Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota. The 179th is equipped with the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Organized as 393d Fighter Squadron and trained in California during 1943 on P-51 Mustangs. Moved to England in April 1944, being assigned to IX Fighter Command, but were assigned P-38 Lightnings upon arrival. Entered combat in May 1944, flying fighter sweeps, bomber escorts and dive bombing missions over Occupied France.

Supported the invasion of Normandy during June 1944 by maintaining low aerial cover over the invasion troops. Moved to France in late July, engaging enemy aircraft over France and supporting ground forces as they advanced, attacking the German Seventh Army which, to prevent being surrounded, was withdrawing eastward through the gap between Falaise and Argentan. Five convoys and 100 Tiger Tanks were destroyed on one day.

Continued combat operations until the German capitulation in May 1945. On July 1 it was announced the squadron was to go to the Pacific Theater of Operations, and returned to the United States to be re-equipped with long range P-47N Thunderbolts. Japanese Capitulation in August led to the unit becoming excess to requirements, and was demobilized at Seymour Johnson field, North Carolina. Was inactivated as a paper unit in November 1945.

Minnesota Air National Guard[edit]

The wartime 393d Fighter Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 179th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Minnesota Air National Guard on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Duluth Municipal Airport and was extended federal recognition on 17 September 1948 by the National Guard Bureau. The 179th Fighter Squadron was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the 393d Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with F-51D Mustangs and was assigned to the 133d Fighter Group at Wold-Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis. Its mission was the air defense of the State of Minnesota.

Korean War activation[edit]

A Minnesota ANG F-51D in the early 1950s.

On 1 March 1951 the 179th was federalized and brought to active-duty due to the Korean War. It remained assigned to the 133d Fighter-Interceptor Group and remained at Duluth Municipal Airport through the extent of its activation. It was reassigned to the Air Defense Command 31st Air Division in February 1952, and returned to the control of the State of Minnesota on 1 December 1952.

Cold War[edit]

179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron McDonnell F-4D-26-MC Phantom 65-0608, Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota, 1989

The unit was re-formed by 1 January 1953 and again was returned to the control of Air Defense Command (ADC). It resumed its peacetime mission of the air defense of Minnesota. Was upgraded by ADC in 1954 to the dedicated F-94A Starfire all-weather interceptor. With this new aircraft, the mission of the 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron changed from day interceptor to day and night all-weather interceptor. In 1957 the 123d again upgraded to the improved F-89C Scorpion then in 1959, the unit converted to the F-89J Scorpion.

On 1 July 1960, the 179th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 148th Fighter Group (Air Defense) was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 179th FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 148th Headquarters, 148th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 148th Combat Support Squadron, and the 148th USAF Dispensary.

On 1 July 1960, the 148 FIG assumed a 24-hour alert status in support of the Air Defense Command mission in Duluth. In 1967, the F-102A Delta Dagger replaced the aging F-89J. The F-101B Voodoo came aboard in April 1971 and remained until January 1976 when the unit again saw re-designation, becoming the 148th Tactical Reconnaissance Group with RF-4C Phantom II Mach-2 unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. The new mission entailed all weather, high or low, day or night, selective reconnaissance. This mission also required the unit to have the capabilities to deploy to a wide variety of operating locations. In October 1983, the mission changed again and found the 148th back in air defense and being renamed the 148th Fighter Interceptor Group. The return to alert and air defense brought with it the F-4D Phantom II, tactical fighter, with most of the aircraft being veterans of the Vietnam War.

Modern era[edit]

In front of F-16C block 25 #84-1253 from the 179th FS, airmen from the 148th FW pose for a 'family' photograph at Balad AB, on March 20th, 2007.

On March 10, 1990 the 179th Fighter Intercept Squadron received the first ADF variants of the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon to take over for the F-4D. The early markings included Duluth written on the tail as well as an image of the constellation 'Little Bear' which is also better known as the 'Big Dipper'.

Starting on 17 March 1992 the 179th FIS was renamed the 179th Fighter Squadron. A few years later in October 1995 the unit was tasked with a permanent detachment duty. Detachment 1 was an alert status mission based at Tyndall AFB, Florida.

To fit the needs of a newer global environment and shrinking air force in the United States, the squadron dropped the air superiority role and became a general purpose tactical fighter squadron. Proficient in the air-to-air mission, the 179th FS had to be brought up to speed using the F-16 for mud moving using both guided and unguided bombs. Live bombs were dropped for the first time in March 2000 during a training exercise. Due to these role requirements, the base also had to be renovated. During this transition the units tail flash was also changed. The constellation 'Little Bear' was dropped and a tail code adopted.

On September 11, 2001, the 148th FW became very busy as a result of the tragedy that saw the collapse of the two World Trade Center towers in New York City. As an immediate aftermath, the 148th was tasked with air defense at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with providing Combat Air Patrols over our nation's capital and New York City, and with deploying personnel and aircraft back to its detached alert facility at Tyndall AFB.

Towards the end of 2003 the 'Bulldogs' began conversion to the F-16C/D block 25. Most of the ADF's F-16A/Bs were retired straight to AMARC wearing the unit tail flashes. During the coarse of the conversion the 179th FS also gave up its requirements for Detachment 1 at Tyndall AFB. Now with the block 25 and multi-mission training led to combat deployments which had in the past excluded the 179th FS from participating.

As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 179th was one of the first F-16 unit to be based in Balad AB. Iraq. The 179th deployed more than 200 personnel between April - June 2005. The squadron was mainly tasked with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations. Another deployment to Balad AB was set up between September–December 2008. The task was the same, conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations against insurgents.

On 27 April 2010 the squadron began another conversion being the first ANG unit to operate the block 50 F-16C/D when five aircraft arrived from Spangdahlem AB, Germany. This move saw the combination of both the 22d and 23d FS at Spangdahlem to become the reactivated 480th FS with the surplus aircraft going to the 179th FS. The majority of the block 25s were sent to retirement at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

Lineage[edit]

179th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron - Emblem
179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron - Emblem
  • Constituted 393d Fighter Squadron on 26 May 1943
Activated on 15 Jul 1943
Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
  • Re-designated 179th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to Minnesota ANG, on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition on 17 September 1948
Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 March 1951
Re-designated: 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 23 March 1951
Released from active duty and returned to Minnesota state control, 1 December 1952
Re-designated: 179th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 July 1976
Re-designated: 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 15 November 1983
Re-designated: 179th Fighter Squadron on 16 March 1992-Present
Designated: 179th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron when deployed as part of an Air and Space Expeditionary unit.

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]