27th Fighter Squadron

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27th Fighter Squadron
F-22A serial 03-4042, the first F-22A Assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron, 2005
Active1917–1945; 1946–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Rolefighter aircraft-Air supremacy
Part ofAir Combat Command
Garrison/HQJoint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia
Nickname(s)Fighting Eagles[citation needed]
Tail code"FF"
  • World War I War Service Streamer without inscription.png
    World War I
  • WW II American Campaign (Antisubmarine) Streamer.jpg
    World War II – Antisubmarine
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
    World War II – EAME Theater
  • Southwest Asia Service Streamer.png
    1991 Gulf War (Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation of Kuwait)
  • Streamer AFE.PNG
    Operation Northern Watch
    Operation Southern Watch[1]
  • Streamer PUC Army.PNG
    Distinguished Unit Citation (3x)
  • US Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
    Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (10x)[1]
27th Fighter Squadron emblem (approved 17 September 1971)[1]27th Fighter Squadron.png

The 27th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force 1st Operations Group located at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia. The 27th is equipped with the F-22 Raptor.[1]

The 27th Fighter Squadron is the oldest active fighter squadron in the United States Air Force, with over 100 years of service to the nation. It was organized as the 21st (later 27th) Aero Squadron on 8 May 1917 at Kelly Field, Texas. The squadron deployed to France and fought on the Western Front during World War I as a pursuit squadron. It took part in the Champagne-Marne defensive; Aisne-Marne offensive; St. Mihiel offensive, and Meuse-Argonne offensive.[2]

During World War II the unit served in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) as part of Twelfth Air Force as a P-38 Lightning fighter squadron, participating in the North African and Italian campaigns. During the Cold War it was both an Air Defense Command fighter-interceptor squadron as later as part of Tactical Air Command. It was the first USAF operational squadron equipped with the F-15A Eagle in January 1976.[3]


Known as the "Fightin' Eagles" or "Black Falcons", the squadron is equipped with the F-22 Raptor, having transitioned from the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle in 2005 to become the world's first operational F-22 squadron.

As one of three fighter squadrons of the 1st Fighter Wing, the 27th is tasked to provide air superiority for United States or allied forces by engaging and destroying enemy forces, equipment, defenses or installations for global deployment.


World War I[edit]

see: 27th Aero Squadron for a complete World War I history
Lt. Frank Luke, Jr. with his SPAD XIII on 19 September 1918.
Boeing P-12E 32-46, 27th Fighter Squadron, about 1933
Seversky P-35s, 1938. 36-354 in foreground
27th Pursuit Squadron P-36Cs at Wright Field, Ohio, en route to the 1939 National Air Races.
P-38F Lightning 41-7582, North Africa, 1943
27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron two F-102s in formation, about 1958.
North American F-86A-5-NA Sabre 49-1306 1st Fighter Group, Griffiss AFB, New York 1951
27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron F-106 59-0031 at Loring AFB, ME
F-4E Phantoms (66-295 in foreground), 1979
Final F-15 flight of the 27th Fighter Squadron, 2005

During World War I, the squadron was based at Toul (5 May 1918), Touquin (28 June 1918), Saints (9 July 1918) and Rembercourt (1 September 1918).

Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr., known as the "Arizona Balloon Buster," for his daring feats against German observation balloons, was the squadron's most colorful ace. His 18 victories cost him his life, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Aircraft flown by the 27th during World War I include the Nieuport 28, Spad XIII and Sopwith F-1 Camel.

Between the wars[edit]

In the period between the world wars, the 27th Pursuit Squadron, re-designated 25 January 1923, was stationed primarily at Selfridge Field, Michigan, with the 1st Fighter Group. 27th Pursuit Squadron pilots participated in air races. In 1922, Lt. Donald Stace of the 27th AS won the first Mitchell Trophy Race.

Under extreme and austere conditions in the 1920s they tested the effects of cold weather on their aircraft. At times it was so cold, the engines of their P-1 Hawk aircraft would not start until steam was forced into the engines to thaw them.

While they were stationed at Selfridge Field, Mich., pilots from the 27th AS put on aerial demonstrations all over the country throughout the 1920s. One of those was at Langley Field in March 1925. A large silhouette of a battleship on the grass landing strip served as a target, which was successfully strafed and bombed for several duly impressed congressmen.

The 1930s saw more training, additional cold weather tests and more modern aircraft. They participated in several air shows throughout the country, and even though they were in the military, the 27th Pursuit Squadron delivered the mail for a while. One of the pilots in this failed experiment went onto lead Strategic Air Command, then Lt. Curtis E. LeMay.

World War II[edit]

At the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War II, the 27th Fighter Squadron, redesignated 15 May 1942, briefly served in anti-submarine duty at San Diego Naval Air Station and in air defense duty at Reykjavík, Iceland. From October 1942 until May 1945, the 27th participated in the European and Mediterranean theaters of operation, flying Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. The squadron won three Distinguished Unit Citations in Italy 25 August 1943, and 30 August 1943; and at Ploesti, Romania, 18 May 1944. The 27th Fighter Squadron was the top-scoring unit of the 1st Fighter Group in World War II, with 83 of its pilots credited with 176.5 victories.

Cold War[edit]

Following World War II, the 27th was stationed at March Field, California, flying P-80 Shooting Stars, the United States' first operational jet aircraft. Upon the unit's redesignation as the 27th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, it moved to Niagara Falls Air Force Station, New York, flying the F-86, F-89 and F-94C aircraft while stationed at Griffis Air Force Base in Rome N.Y. until receiving the F-102 Delta Dagger in 1957. In October 1959, the 27th was transferred to Loring Air Force Base, Maine, where it assumed an air defense role flying F-106 Delta Darts in the Bangor Air Defense Sector.

On 22 October 1962, before President John F. Kennedy told Americans that missiles were in place in Cuba, the squadron dispersed one third of its force, equipped with nuclear tipped missiles to Olmsted Air Force Base at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis.[4][5] These planes returned to Loring after the crisis. The squadron continued its air defense mission until 1 July 1971 when it transferred its mission, personnel and equipment to the 83d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron[6]

The squadron moved the same day on paper to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida and was redesignated the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron as part of the reorganized 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, later the 1st Fighter Wing. While at MacDill, the 27th trained aircrews in the F-4E Phantom II. In June 1975, the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron was moved to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, becoming the first operational squadron to fly the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter in 1976. The unit was redesignated the 27th Fighter Squadron on 1 September 1991. The 27th TFS deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm as part of the first U.S. Air Force contingent in Saudi Arabia. The squadron was integral in establishing allied air superiority during the operation.

Modern era[edit]

The 27th FS has deployed worldwide to support the 1st FW. The 27th Fighter Squadron deployed to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch, and to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, flying F-15Cs in both operations enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq until 2003.

In 2003, the 27th Fighter Squadron was announced as the first operational squadron to fly the Raptor—a continuation of the squadron's historical legacy. The first F-22A arrived in late 2003 the squadron continues to grow as more Raptors arrive each month. The 27th Fighter Squadron today stands as a cohesive combat experienced team ready for any call to support the United States' security requirements.

2013 sequestration[edit]

Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year 2013 due to mandatory budget cuts. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect 1 March when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.[7]

Squadrons either stood down on a rotating basis or kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called "basic mission capable" for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013.[7] This affected the 27th Fighter Squadron with a reduction of its flying hours, placing it into a basic mission capable status from 5 April – 30 September 2013.[7]


Legacy 27th Fighter-Interceptor squadron (Air Defense Command) emblem
  • Organized as the 21st Aero Squadron on 15 June 1917
Redesignated 27th Aero Squadron on 23 June 1917
Redesignated 27th Aero Squadron (Pursuit) on 20 March 1918[citation needed]
Redesignated 27th Aero Squadron on 19 March 1919[citation needed]
Redesignated 27th Squadron (Pursuit) on 14 March 1921
Redesignated 27th Pursuit Squadron on 25 January 1923
Redesignated 27th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 6 December 1939
Redesignated 27th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter) on 12 March 1941
Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron (Twin Engine) on 15 May 1942
Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine on 28 February 1944
Inactivated on 16 October 1945
  • Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 5 April 1946
Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron, Jet Propelled on 20 June 1946
Activated on 3 July 1946
Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron, Jet on 15 June 1948
Redesignated 27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 16 April 1950
Redesignated 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1971
Redesignated 27th Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991[1]


Attached to the Royal Flying Corps for training, 18 August 1917 – 26 January 1918[citation needed]


World War I and interwar years
Detachments at various Canadian stations, 5 Sep – 22 Oct 1917
Flight operated from Verdun Aerodrome, 25 Sep 1918 – unknown
World War II
Operated from Reykjavík, Iceland, 3 July – 26 August 1942
Detachment operated from: Maison Blanche Airport, Algeria, 7–21 December 1942
Detachment operated from: Biskra Airfield, Algeria, 21–30 December 1942
Detachment operated from: Dittaino, Sicily, Italy, 6–18 September 1943
Detachment operated from: Gambut, Libya, 5–13 October 1943
Detachment operated from: Aghione, Corsica, France, 11–21 August 1944
Detachment operated from: Vincenzo Airfield, Italy, 10 January – 21 February 1945
  • Lesina Airfield, Italy, 16 March 1945
  • Marcianise, Italy, 26 September – 16 October 1945
United States Air Force
Operated from King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Saudi Arabia, 8 August 1990 – 8 March 1991


See also[edit]



Explanatory notes
  1. ^ Robertson and Maurer both indicate the squadron's assignments until 1921 are unknown, except for the period it was assigned to the 1st Pursuit Group in 1918. Robertson; Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 138.
  1. ^ a b c d e f Robertson, Patsy (27 March 2018). "Factsheet 27 Fighter Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ Gorrell[page needed]
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 138–139
  4. ^ McMullen, pp. 10–12
  5. ^ NORAD/CONAD Participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, p. 16
  6. ^ "Abstract, History 21 Air Division Jul–Sep 1971". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Everstein, Brian; Weisgerber, Marcus (8 April 2013). "Reduced flying hours forces grounding of 17 USAF combat air squadrons". Military Times. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  8. ^ Franks & Dempsey, p. 86


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Cornett, Lloyd H.; Johnson, Mildred W. (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center.
  • Franks, Norman & Dempsey, Harry . (2001) American Aces of World War I. Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84176-375-6, ISBN 978-1-84176-375-0.
  • Gorrell, Col. Edgar S. (1974). History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919. Series E: Squadron Histories. Vol. 6 History of the 25th–27th Aero Squadron. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration. OCLC 215070705.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
  • McMullen, Richard F. (1964) "The Fighter Interceptor Force 1962–1964" ADC Historical Study No. 27, Air Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, CO (Confidential, declassified 22 March 2000)
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947–1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • Rogers, Brian. (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • NORAD/CONAD Participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Historical Reference Paper No. 8, Directorate of Command History Continental Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, 1 Feb 63 (Top Secret NOFORN declassified 9 March 1996)
  • United States War Department (1920), Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Belgium and Italy, 1917–1919, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1920

External links[edit]