53d Wing

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53d Wing
53d Wing.png
Active 1941–1944; 1955–1960; 1963–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Operational Test and Evaluation
Size 2100
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Eglin Air Force Base
Motto Defense by Offense (1941–1960)
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Organizational Excellence Award
Colonel Todd "Notch" Emmons
Paul V. Hester
Ronald Keys

The 53d Wing (53 WG) is a wing of the United States Air Force based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.


The 53d Wing serves as the focal point for the Combat Air Forces in electronic warfare, armament and avionics, chemical defense, reconnaissance, and aircrew training devices. The wing reports to the United States Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which reports to Headquarters Air Combat Command. The wing is also responsible for Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these air forces. Current wing initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support. The 53d Wing, which consists of four groups, numbers almost 2,000 military and civilians at 17 locations throughout the United States.



World War II[edit]

The group was activated in 1941 as the 53d Pursuit Group with the 13th,[1] 14th,[2] and 15th Pursuit Squadrons[3] assigned.[4] The 53d trained fighter pilots with Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk aircraft from its activation until December 1941.[5][6] After the United States entered World War II the group moved to the Panama Canal Zone to fly patrols in defense of the Panama Canal.[5] In conjunction with the move, the group converted to Bell P-39 Airacobra aircraft.[6] There it was redesignated as the 53d Fighter Group.[4] The group returned to Florida in November 1942, where it became a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) training replacement fighter pilots. RTUs were oversized units whose mission was to train individual pilots or aircrews.[7] It used P-39s until June 1943 and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts thereafter.[6] In early 1943, the group added a fourth squadron, the 438th Fighter Squadron.[8]

The AAF found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization were proving less well adapted to the training mission. Accordingly a more functional system was adopted in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit.[9] The group was disbanded in as a result of this reorganization in 1944[5] and its personnel, equipment and mission were assumed by the 338th AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Fighter).[10]

Cold War Air Defense[edit]

The group was reconstituted, redesignated as the 53d Fighter Group (Air Defense) and activated[4] to replace the 521st Air Defense Group[11] at Sioux City Municipal Airport as part of Air Defense Command's Project Arrow to bring back on the active list fighter units that had achieved memorable records in the two World Wars.[12] The 14th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), already at Sioux City transferred from the 521st,[2] while the 13th FIS moved to Sioux City to replace the 519th FIS.[1] Both squadrons flew rocket armed and radar equipped F-86D Sabres.[13] Between August 1955 and April 1960 the 53d served as an air defense unit, participating in North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) exercises and testing automated air defense systems.[5] It also was the host organization for the USAF and was assigned several support units to carry out this function.[14][15][16][17] In the fall of 1957 both of the group's squadrons upgraded their Sabres to F-86L models with data link for interception control through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system.[13] In July 1959 the 13th FIS moved to Glasgow AFB, Montana and was reassigned. The group and its remaining components were inactivated in 1960.[5] In 1985, the group was redesignated as the 53d Tactical Fighter Group, but it was never active under that designation.[5]

Test and Evaluation[edit]

The USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center was activated in 1963 to improve use of USAF tactical aviation in support of ground forces by operationally testing weapon systems and tactics for the joint U.S. Strike Command. It employed a cross-section of tactical aircraft from Tactical Air Command (TAC) bases across the country.[5] During the Vietnam War it tested tactical weapons systems and tactics for use in Southeast Asia.[5] After the war it continued operational testing of new tactical aviation weapon systems. In 1977 the center began an annual series of Air Force-wide exercises to improve command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) techniques.[5] Around the same time it embarked on the electronic warfare evaluation program, and continued OT&E of aviation weapon systems for TAC and later Air Combat Command, the Department of Defense, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.[5] From 1983 to present, responsible for the operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) of all Air Force aircraft/weapons systems, and providing range control for live-firing missile programs on the Gulf range and aerial targets, using full scale and subscale drones.[5] In September 1995, the 53rd Tactical Fighter Group and USAF Air Warfare Center were consolidated and the consolidated unit was redesignated as the 53d Wing the following month.[5]



  • Constituted as the 53d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated as the 53d Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Disbanded on 1 May 1944
  • Reconstituted and redesignated as the 53d Fighter Group (Air Defense), on 20 June 1955
Activated on 18 August 1955
Discontinued on 1 April 1960
Redesignated as the 53d Tactical Fighter Group on 31 July 31, 1985
Consolidated with the USAF Air Warfare Center on 25 September 1995 (consolidated unit designated the USAF Air Warfare Center)


  • Designated and organized as the USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center on 1 November 1963
Redesignated as the USAF Air Warfare Center on 1 October 1991
Consolidated with the 53d Tactical Fighter Group on 25 September 1995

Consolidated Wing

  • Redesignated as the 53d Wing on 1 October 1995.





  • MacDill Field, Florida, 15 January 1941
  • Tallahassee, Florida, 8 May 1941 – 8 December 1941
  • Howard Field, Canal Zone, 1 January 1942 – 10 November 1942
  • Dale Mabry Field, Florida, 26 November 1942
  • Drew Field, Florida. 7 January 1943
  • Fort Myers Army Air Field (later Page Field, Florida 6 February 1943 – 1 May 1944
  • Sioux City Municipal Airport, Iowa, 18 August 1955 – 1 April 1960)
  • Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 1 November 1963 – present




  • 4485th Test Wing: 16 March 1964 – 30 June 1965


  • 53d Test Management Group: 1 October 2002 – present
  • 57th Test Group: 1 October 1996 – 1 August 1997
  • 68th Electronic Combat (later 53d Electronic Warfare) Group: 15 April 1993 – present
  • 475th Weapons Evaluation (later, 53d Weapons Evaluation) Group: 23 January 1991 – present
  • 4441st Tactical Training Group (Blue Flag) (later, 41st Training Group): 1 March 1977 – 15 April 1993
  • 4442nd Tactical Control (later 505th Air Control; 505th Command and Control Evaluation) Group: 1 March 1980 – 1 October 1997
  • 4443rd Test and Evaluation (later 79th Test and Evaluation, 53d Test and Evaluation) Group: 1 July 1988 – present



Fighter Squadrons

  • 13th Pursuit (later 13th Fighter, 13th Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944; 18 August 1955 – 1 July 1957.
  • 14th Pursuit (later 14th Fighter, 14th Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944; 18 August 1955 – 1 April 1960.
  • 15th Pursuit (later 15th Fighter) Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944
  • 438th Fighter Squadron: 20 February 1943 – 1 May 1944


Test Squadrons

  • 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 15 April 1993
  • 49th Test Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 15 April 1993
  • 513th Test Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 15 April 1993
  • 727th Tactical Control Squadron (Test): 1 October 1979 – 1 March 1980
  • 3907th Systems Evaluation Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 15 April 1993
  • 4484th Fighter Weapons Squadron: 1 October 1978 – 1 June 1984
  • 4484th Test Squadron: 15 October 1983 – 1 August 1988
  • 4485th Test Squadron: 12 April 1971 – 1 August 1988
  • 4486th Fighter Weapons Squadron: 1 October 1985 – 1 August 1988
  • 4487th Electronic Warfare Aggressor (later 87th Electronic Warfare Aggressor) Squadron: 1 October 1990 – 15 April 1993


Support Units

  • 53d USAF Infirmary[14] (later 53d USAF Dispensary),[15] 18 August 1955 – 1 April 1960
  • 53d Air Base Squadron, 18 August 1955 – 1 Apr 1960
  • 53d Materiel Squadron, 18 August 1955 – 1 Apr 1960[17]
  • 53d Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 8 July 1957 – 1 May 1959[16]

Aircraft flown[edit]



1 June 1998 – 31 May 2000
1 June 2002 – 31 May 2004
1 June 2004 – 31 May 2006
1 January 1981 – 1 January 1983
28 February 1984 – 28 February 1986
1 March 1986 – 28 February 1988
1 January 1989 – 31 December 1990
1 January 1992 – 31 December 1993
1 January 1994 – 30 April 1995



  1. ^ a b Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 73. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. 
  2. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 78
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 83–84
  4. ^ a b c Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v AFRHA 53d Wing Factsheet
  6. ^ a b c Abstract, History of 53d Fighter Group 1941–1944 (accessed 4 May 2012)
  7. ^ Craven, Wesley F; Cate, James L, eds. (1955). "Introduction". The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. xxxvi. LCCN 48003657. 
  8. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 543
  9. ^ Craven & Cate, p. 75
  10. ^ Abstract, History Sections T and O, 338th AAF Base Unit 1944 (retrieved 16 November 2012)
  11. ^ Cornett & Johnson, p. 82
  12. ^ Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, 1956, p. 6
  13. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 114
  14. ^ a b See Abstract, History 53d USAF Infirmary Jul–Dec 1956 (retrieved 4 May 2012)
  15. ^ a b Abstract, History 53d USAF Dispensary, Jul–Dec 1959 (retrieved 4 May 2012)
  16. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 136
  17. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 145


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

External links[edit]