Established as the 8th Pursuit Wing, it conducted training from 1940 to 1941. As a paper unit, it moved to India and then to Egypt in December 1942.
It finally gained personnel and aircraft, and became operational as the 8 Fighter Wing on 6 July 1942 and later as the 57 Bombardment Wing on 6 April 1943. Initially, the 57th flew close air support missions against enemy troops and gun emplacements in the vicinity of Anzio, Italy; later, it flew bombing missions against railway marshalling yards at Foligno, Littoria, and Terni, Italy. Between 19 March 1944 and 11 May 1944 the 57th took part in Operation Strangle to destroy Italian marshalling yards, railroad repair facilities and other rail targets such as bridges, tunnels, and viaducts. It continued to fly close air support and interdiction missions in Italy throughout the war, and supported the invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944. The unit was inactivated at the end of the war.
Reactivated as an intermediate command echelon of Strategic Air Command in 1951, the 57th Air Division assumed a supervisory role of subordinate bombardment units. Its units trained to conduct long range bombardment, air refueling, and strategic reconnaissance operations around the world. Between 1965 and 1969, division units supported Operation Arc Light bombing and Operation Young Tiger air refueling operations in Southeast Asia. In 1980 the 57th reorganized to employ Strategic Air Command conventional strategic forces (bomber, tanker, and reconnaissance) in crisis situations worldwide.
It was inactivated in June 1991 due to budget constraints and the reduction of forces after the end of the Cold War.
Per bend azure and gules, a bend argent between in chief a globe of the third lined sable emitting three lightning flashes or and issuing from base a hand holding a torch of the fourth garnished of the fifth flammant of the second and silver. (Approved 7 April 1954). ].