54th Fighter Group

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54th Fighter Group (Air Defense)
54thfg-emblem.jpg
Emblem of the 54th Fighter Group
Approved 8 Mar 1957
Active 1941–1944, 1955-1958, 2014
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Fighter Training
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Holloman Air Force Base
Engagements American Theater of World War II Pacific Theater of Operations
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation

The 54th Fighter Group is an active United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing of Air Education and Training Command at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The group was reactivated in March 2014.

The group was first activated as the 54th Pursuit Group during the buildup of the Air Corps just prior to World War II. It served in Alaska during the Aleutian Islands Campaign, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation. It then returned to the United States and served as a training unit.

The group was again activated in 1955 as part of Air Defense Command's Project Arrow, replacing the 500th Air Defense Group. It served in the air defense role until 1958 when it was inactivated.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

42d Fighter Squadron P-39 at Adak, Alaska
54th Fighter Group P-51 at Hillsborough AAF

The group was activated as the 54th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) at the beginning of 1941 at Hamilton Field, California. with the 42d,[1] 56th,[2] and 57th Pursuit Squadrons[3] assigned.[4] It trained with Curtiss P-36 Hawks and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, then moved to Everett Army Air Field, where it served as a part of the air defense force for the northwest Pacific coast during the first few months of World War II.[4] The group and its squadrons were redesignated as fighter units in May 1942.

The air echelon, equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras, served in Alaska against the Japanese forces that invaded the Aleutian Islands during the summer of 1942, and for these operations the group received a Distinguished Unit Citation.[4] The air echelon returned to the US in December 1942 and rejoined the group, which had been assigned to Third AF in Louisiana, and became a replacement training unit (RTU) for North American P-51 Mustang pilots.[4] RTUs were oversized units training individual pilots or aircrews.[5] In early May 1943, the group began a split operation, with headquarters and the 56th and 57th Fighter Squadrons relocating to Bartow Army Air Field,[2][3][4] Florida, while the 42d was at Hillsborough Army Air Field.[1] The AAF was finding 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.[6] As a result, in 1944 the group was disbanded as the AAF converted to the AAF Base Unit system.[4] The units at Bartow were replaced by the 340th AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Fighter),[7] while those at Hillsborough transferred their mission, equipment, and personnel to the 343d AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Fighter).[8]

Cold War[edit]

54th Fighter Group F-86 Sabre at Greater Pittsburgh Apt

In 1955, the group was redesignated as the 54th Fighter Group (Air Defense) and activated at Greater Pittsburgh Airport[4] to replace the 500th Air Defense Group[9] as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars.[10] The group assumed host responsibilities for the USAF portion of the airport and was assigned a USAF Dispensary,[11] Air Base Squadron and Materiel Squadron[12] to fulfill this responsibility. Because Project Arrow was also intended to reunite fighter squadrons with their former groups, the 42d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was stationed at O'Hare Airport moved to Pittsburgh and assumed the personnel and equipment of the 500th group's 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, including its radar equipped and rocket armed North American F-86 Sabres. The squadron transitioned into data link equipped F-86Ls in the spring of 1957 for interception control through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system and flew them until the group and squadron were inactivated in early 1958.[13]

Present day[edit]

The group was reactivated in March 2014 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. It will act as an F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit and will be associated with the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base.[14]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as 54th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated as 54th Fighter Group (Single Engine) on 15 May 1942
Disbanded on 1 May 1944.
  • Reconstituted and redesignated 54th Fighter Group (Air Defense), on 20 June 1955
Activated on 18 August 1955[15]
Inactivated on 8 January 1958[13]
Activated[14] on 14 March 2014

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

  • Hamilton Field, California, 15 January 1941
  • Everett Army Air Field, Washington, 26 June 1941
  • Harding Field, Louisiana, 31 January 1942
  • Bartow Army Air Field, Florida, 11 May 1943 – 1 May 1944
  • Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania, 18 August 1955 – 8 January 1958[15]
  • Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, 14 March 2014 - present[14]

Components[edit]

Operational Squadrons

Support Units

  • 54th USAF Infirmary;[11] 18 August 1955 - 8 January 1958
  • 54th Air Base Squadron; 18 August 1955 - 8 January 1958
  • 54th Materiel Squadron (later 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron); 18 August 1955 - 8 January 1958,[12] 14 March 2014 - present[14]
  • 54th Operations Support Squadron; 14 March 2014 - Present

Aircraft operated[edit]

  • P-36 Hawk, 1940–1941
  • P-40 Warhawk, 1941–1942
  • P-39 Airacobra, 1942–1943
  • P-51 Mustang, 1943–1944
  • F-86D Sabre, 1955–1957
  • F-86L Sabre, 1957–1958
  • F-16C Fighting Falcon, 2014-present

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation (June 1942)-4 November 1942 54th Fighter Group [4]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Streamer AC.PNG American Theater without inscription 7 December 1941-1 May 1944 54th Fighter Group [4]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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. 195. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. 
  2. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons. p. 227
  3. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons. p. 228-229
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 116–117. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  5. ^ Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L, ed. (1955). "Introduction". The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. xxxvi. LCCN 48-3657 Check |lccn= value (help). 
  6. ^ Craven & Cate, p. 75, The Organization and its Responsibilities, Chapter 2 The AAF
  7. ^ See Abstract, History of Bartow AAF May-Jul 1944 (accessed Nov 12, 2012)
  8. ^ See Abstract, History Hillsborough AAF May-Jun 1944 (accessed Nov 12, 2012)
  9. ^ Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980. Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 81. 
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ a b See Abstract, History of 54th USAF Dispensary Jul-Dec 1955 (accessed May 6, 2012)
  12. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 155
  13. ^ a b c d Cornett & Johnson, p.115
  14. ^ a b c d e f Cannon, A1C Chase; Arlan (3/12/2014). "54th Fighter Group jopins Team Holloman". 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Lineage and Station information through 1955 are in Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 116
  16. ^ Factsheet, 56th Training Squadron (56th Fighter Squadron) (accessed May 5, 2012)

Bibliography[edit]

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

Further reading

  • Murray, Robert H. (1980). The Only Way Home. Waycross, GA: Brantley Printing Co. 
  • "ADCOM's Fighter Interceptor Squadrons". The Interceptor (January 1979) Aerospace Defense Command, (Volume 21, Number 1)

External links[edit]