United States Army Air Force - USAAF units

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk photo gallery

emblem USAAF 54FG15th Fighter Group

emblem USAAF 6th FS emblem USAAF 12th FS emblem USAAF 18th FS emblem USAAF 45th FS emblem USAAF 46th FS emblem USAAF 47th FS emblem USAAF 72th FS emblem USAAF 78th FS

6th Fighter Sqn - 12th Fighter Sqn - 18th Fighter Sqn - 45th Fighter Sqn - 46th Fighter Sqn - 47th Fighter Sqn - 72nd Fighter Sqn - 78th Fighter Sqn

Constituted as 15th Pursuit Group (Fighter) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated in Hawaii on 1 Dec 1940. Redesignated 15th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in Feb 1942, and 15th Fighter Group in May 1942. Served as part of the defense force for the Hawaiian Islands, using A-12, OA-9, B-12, P-36, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. The Japanese attack on Hawaii on 7 Dec 1941 caused numerous casualties in the group and destroyed many of its aircraft; nevertheless, during the raid several of the groups pilots succeeded in taking off and in destroying some enemy planes, including four shot down by Lt George Welch and two credited to Lt Kenneth M Taylor. Afterward the group, which was remanned, reorganized, and assigned to Seventh AF, remained part of the Hawaiian defense system. Sent squadrons (including some that had been attached) to the Central or South Pacific at various times for operations against the Japanese. Began training in Apr 1944 for very-long-range escort missions. Obtained P-51 aircraft late in 1944. Moved to Iwo Jima in Feb 1945. Supported the invasion force on Iwo early in Mar by bombing and strafing trenches, cave entrances, troop concentrations, and storage areas. Began strikes against enemy airfields, shipping, and military installations in the Bonin Islands by the middle of Mar. Flew its first mission to Japan on 7 Apr 1945, receiving a DUC for escorting 8=29s that bombed the Nakajima aircraft plant near Tokyo. Struck Japanese airfields on Kyushu late in Apr and early in May 1945 to curtail the enemys suicide attacks against the invasion force at Okinawa. Also hit enemy troop trains, small factories, gun positions, and hangars in the Bonins and Japan. Assigned to Twentieth AF during the summer of 1945. Continued its fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, and flew longrange escort missions to Japanese cities until the end of the war. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, in Nov 1945 to Hawaii, where the group was remanned and re-equipped. Inactivated on 15 Oct 1946.

Redesignated 15th Fighter Group (Air Defense). Activated in the US on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command.

Squadrons: 6th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1944. 12th Fighter Squadron: 1942. 18th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1944. 45th Fighter Squadron: 1940-1946. 46th Fighter Squadron: 1940-1944. 47th Fighter Squadron: 1940-1946; 1955-. 78th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1946.

Stations: Wheeler Field, TH, 1 Dec 1940; Bellows Field, TH, 3 Jun 1944-5 Feb 1945; South Field, Iwo Jima, 6 Mar 1945; Bellows Field, TH, 25 Nov 1945; Wheeler Field, TH, Feb-15 Oct 1946. Niagara Falls Mun Aprt, NY, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders: Maj Clyde K Rich, 1 Dec 1940; Maj Lorry N Tindal, 6 Dec 1940; Lt Col Paul W Blanchard, 20 Sep 1941; Lt Col William 5 Steele, 12 Feb 1942; Lt Col Sherwood E Buckland, 5 Mar 1943; Col James O Beckwith Jr, 27 Sep 1943; Lt Col DeWitt S Spain, 16 Apr 1945; Lt Col Julian E Thomas, 17 May 1945 Col John W Mitchell, 21 Jul 1945; Col William Eades, c. Nov 1945; Col Oswald W Lunde, 25 Nov 1945-15 Oct 1946. Col Stanley E Matthews, 1955-.

Campaigns: Central Pacific; Air Offensive, Japan.

Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation: Japan, 7 Apr 1945.

Insigne: Shield: Or, on a bend azure, two (2) terrestrial lightning flashes issuant from base of the first, over all a gunsight counterchanged

Motto: Prosequor Alibi - Pursue with Wings. (Approved - Oct 1942.)

emblem USAAF 6th FS

6th Fighter Squadron

World War II

The 6th Night Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Seventh Air Force, being inactivated at Wheeler Field, Hawaii on February 20, 1947. It saw combat in Central, South, and Southwest Pacific, December 7, 1941 – August 14, 1945.


Organized as 6th Aero Squadron on March 13, 1917
Redesignated: 6th Squadron on March 14, 1921
Redesignated: 6th Pursuit Squadron on January 25, 1923
Redesignated: 6th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on December 6, 1939
Redesignated: 6th Fighter Squadron on May 15, 1942
Redesignated: 6th Night Fighter Squadron on January 17, 1943
Inactivated on: February 20, 1947

emblem USAAF 12th FS

12th Fighter Squadron

World War II

The 12th flew patrols over the Pacific from Christmas Island between February and October 1942. It participated in combat operations in South and Southwest Pacific from, 19 November 1942 – 14 August 1945.[2] It also flew combat missions in Korea from, 1 August 1950 – 8 January 1953 and 25 February – 27 July 1953 and in Vietnam from, 1 February – 15 March 1965 and 15 June – 25 August 1965.

The squadron stood alert in South Korea from, 23 January – 13 June 1968, after seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea. It supported air defense alert capability in Southeast Asia from, 1968–1972.

The squadron was unmanned and unequipped from May 1972 – November 1975. It remanned and reequipped with F-4 Phantom IIaircraft in late November 1975. Through 1980, it flew offensive and defensive exercises in support of its wing, the 313th Air Division, and Pacific Air Forces. It converted to F-15 Eagle aircraft in 1980. In 1981, the 12th earned the Hughes Trophy in recognition as the outstanding fighter squadron in the USAF. On 5 November 1999, the squadron stood down at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and moved without personnel or equipment to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska where it joined the 3d Wing on 28 April 2000. Since 2000, performed offensive and defensive counter-air missions with current air-to-air weaponry, including night vision goggles (NVG), to achieve air superiority in support of taskings from 3 Wing.

The squadron was decommissioned in September 2006, due to BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) program released in 2005, and it was eventually replaced by F-22A squadrons.


12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron North American P-51D-30-NA Mustang 44-74617, on a South Korean airfield, 1950
Constituted 12th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated: 12th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 12th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine, on 26 January 1944
Redesignated: 12th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 6 May 1946
Redesignated: 12th Fighter Squadron, Jet, on 23 December 1949
Redesignated: 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 20 January 1950
Redesignated: 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958
Redesignated: 12th Fighter Squadron on 1 October 1991
Inactivated in October 2007

emblem USAAF 45th FS

45th Fighter Squadron

World War II

The history of the 45th Fighter Squadron goes back to 22 November 1940, when the War Department constituted the 45th Pursuit Squadron (fighter). The unit was activated at Wheeler Field, Hawaii on 1 December 1940, where they served as part of the 15th Pursuit Group in defense of Hawaii.

When the Japanese launched their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the 45th PS suffered heavy losses, as did the other squadrons in the 15th Group. Two-thirds of the P-36 and P-40 aircraft at Wheeler Field were destroyed right on the ground. Earlier, the planes had been stripped of ammunition and fuel, and taken out of their protective earthen revetments because of potential sabotage. Parked there in the open, the planes were easy targets for the Japanese pilots as they strafed and bombed the field.

Everyone on the ground scrambled for cover as the field was being hit, while at the same time pilots were trying to get their planes off the ground without too much success. However, Lieutenants George Welch and Kenneth Taylor, two pilots from the 47th PS whose planes were at Haleiwa Field at the time, were able to get their Curtis P-40B Tomahawks into the air soon after the attack began. Clearly outnumbered, they still managed to shoot down six Japanese planes.

Meanwhile, Captain Aaron Tyler, commander of the 45th PS at Wheeler, ordered his crews to pull out all the undamaged planes they could find and have them fueled and armed. Less than a dozen aircraft were available, but the pilots who were selected to fly wasted no time boarding their planes. They quickly took off, hoping to tangle with the Japanese fighters. After searching the area for almost an hour, all they saw as they flew over Pearl Harbor were the burning ships and immense damage. By this time, the Japanese planes were long gone, having already headed back to their carrier at sea.

In the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the pilots and ground personnel of the 45th PS had the job of cleaning up the mess at Wheeler Field. Among the first things they did was put the remaining aircraft back into their revetments. After moving their flight operations to different fields in Hawaii, the 45th PS was back in the air conducting daily air defense patrols over the islands. These long flights put a heavy toll on the P-36s and P-40Bs that the pilots flew, so they requested new aircraft. The pilots soon received new P-40E Warhawks and the tricycled-gear P-39 Airacobra.

On 12 February 1942, the squadron was redesignated the 45th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor). Although the 45th PS still had as its primary mission the conducting of aerial patrols, it was also given the duties of conducting combat training for pilots. Three months later, on 15 May 1942, the antiquated term "pursuit" was dropped and the squadron was redesignated 45th Fighter Squadron. Over the next two years, the squadron would be involved primarily with combat training, and the job of air defense would take on a secondary role.

The 45th FS was sent to the Central Pacific in 1943 for combat operations against Japanese forces. Then, on 6 April 1944, the squadron returned to Mokuleia Field, Hawaii, and began training for very-long-range (VLR) bomber escort missions. By this time, the pilots in the squadron were flying P-47s. Later in the year they would acquire the longer range P-51 Mustangs.

In January 1945, the 45th FS was ordered into combat, along with the other assigned squadrons in the 15th FG. They left Hawaii for Saipan in the Marianas Islands, staying there until the Marines on Iwo Jima could secure a landing strip.

The first squadron to arrive at Iwo Jima was the 47th FS on the morning of 6 March, with the 45th landing the next day. They supported Marine ground units by bombing and strafing cave entrances, trenches, troop concentrations, and storage areas. Before the month was over, the 45th FS began strikes against enemy airfields, shipping and military installations in the Bonin Islands.

Flying its first VLR mission to Japan on 7 April 1945, the 45th FS provided fighter escort for the B-29 Superfortresses that attacked the Nakajima aircraft plant near Tokyo. In late April and early May that year, the 45th struck airfields on the Japanese home island of Kyushu to hold back the enemy's Kamikaze attacks against the American invasion force on Okinawa. The squadron also attacked enemy troop trains, small factories, gun positions, and hangars in the Bonin Islands and Japan.

During the summer of 1945, the 45th FS was assigned to the 20th Air Force and continued its fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other tactical targets. It continued to fly long-range B-29 escort missions to Japanese cities until the end of the war. After the surrender of Japan, the squadron remained on Iwo Jima until 25 November 1945, when it transferred to Bellows Field, Hawaii. On 8 February 1946, the squadron moved to Wheeler Field, where it stayed until inactivated on 15 October 1946.

emblem USAAF 46th FS

46th Fighter Squadron

World War II

After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the squadron was assigned to the VII Fighter Command. Re-equipped initially with P-39 Aircobras and P-40 Warhawks, ts primary mission was the air defense of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1943, the squadron deployed to the Central Pacific Area, engaging in combat from Makin Island in December 1943. Returned to Hawaii and was again re-equipped with very long-range P-38 Lightnings and P-51D Mustangs. In early March 1945 deployed to Iwo Jima, being attached to the Twentieth Air Force. From Iwo Jima, the squadron performed escort missions with B-29 Superfortress bombers bombing the Japanese Home Islands. After the Japanese Surrender in September 1945, the squadron moved to Guam, where it operated until demobilizing and inactivating in October 1946.

emblem USAAF 47th FS

47th Fighter Squadron

World War II

The 47th Fighter Squadron was activated on 1 December 1940, as the 47th Pursuit Squadron, one of three squadrons assigned to the 15th Pursuit Group, Wheeler Field, territory of Hawaii. The squadron also flew missions from Hawaiian stations of Bellows, Haleiwa and Mokuleia Fields, as well as Barking Sands.

The 47th Pursuit Squadron participated in numerous campaigns from 1940 to 1945, flying P-10, P-26, P-36, P-47, and P-51 aircraft. The squadron was credited with shooting down eight Japanese aircraft on 7 December 1941, before being inactivated on 15 October 1946, at Wheeler Field.

Stations. Wheeler Field, TH, 1 Dec 1940; Bellows Field, TH, 3 Jun 1944-5 Feb 1945; South Field, Iwo Jima, 6 Mar 1945; Bellows Field, TH, 25 Nov 1945; Wheeler Field, TH, Feb-15 Oct 1946. Niagara Falls Mun Aprt, NY, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders. Maj Clyde K Rich, 1 Dec 1940; Maj Lorry N Tindal, 6 Dec 1940; Lt Col Paul W Blanchard, 20 Sep 1941; Lt Col William 5 Steele, 12 Feb 1942; Lt Col Sherwood E Buckland, 5 Mar 1943; Col James O Beckwith Jr, 27 Sep 1943; Lt Col DeWitt S Spain, 16 Apr 1945; Lt Col Julian E Thomas, 17 May 1945 Col John W Mitchell, 21 Jul 1945; Col William Eades, c. Nov 1945; Col Oswald W Lunde, 25 Nov 1945-15 Oct 1946. Col Stanley E Matthews, 1955-.

emblem USAAF 72th FS

72nd Fighter Squadron

World War II

Established as a defensive interceptor squadron for Hawaii in late 1941. Suffered tremendous casualties and aircraft losses at Wheeler Field during the Pearl Harbor Attack. Re-equipped and used as Seventh Air Force training unit; also flew reconnaissance patrols over Hawaii until late 1943.

Deployed to Central Pacific as part of Thirteenth Air Force island hopping campaign against Japanese in late 1943. Engaged in combat with until April 1944, returning to Hawaii and being re-equipped and trained with long-range P-51 Mustangs. Re-deployed to Western Pacific, being stationed on Iwo Jima while battle for the island was still ongoing and engaged in long-range B-29 Superfortress escort missions over Japan; continuing that mission until the end of hostilities in August 1945. Reassigned to Mariana Islands, as a Far East Air Force fighter squadron, inactivated 1946.

Cold War

Reactivated as Tactical Air Command F-86 jet tactical fighter squadron, 1952 Deployed to France in 1954 as part of NATO; re-equipped with the F-100 Super Sabre 1957. Ordered out of France by host government as part of France's rejection of NATO's nuclear weapons policy. Reassigned to Philippines in 1958 for air defense of Luzon. Inactivated 1959 as a result of budget reductions. Equipment reassigned to 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

Pilot training

Reactivated 1 July 1982 at MacDill AFB, Florida as an F-16A/B Fighting Falcon Undergraduate Pilot Training Squadron, replacing the 13th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron when the 58th TFTS transitioned from F-4 Phantom IIs. Tail coded "MC", black tail stripe outlined in white. Upgraded to the Block 25 and 30 F-16C/D in March 1990 and became a Replacement Training Unit. Inactivated in 1992 as part of the BRAC realignment of MacDill AFB.


Constituted 72d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 4 October 1941
Activated on 5 October 1941
Re-designated 72d Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
Inactivated on 10 October 1946
Redesignated 72d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 15 November 1952
Activated on 1 January 1953
Inactivated on 8 February 1958
Re-designated 72d Tactical Fighter Squadron on 19 May 1958
Activated on 1 July 1958
Inactivated on 9 April 1959
Re-designated 72d Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, and activated on 1 July 1982
Re-designated 72d Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991
Inactivated on 19 June 1992


15th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group, 5 October 1941
318th Fighter Group, 15 October 1942
21st Fighter Group, 15 June 1944-10 October 1946
21st Fighter-Bomber Group, 1 January 1953-8 February 1958
6200th Air Base Wing, 1 July 1958-9 April 1959.
56th Tactical Training Wing, 1 July 1992
56th Operations Group, 1 November 1991-19 June 1992

emblem USAAF 78th FS

78th Fighter Squadron 'Bushmasters'

World War II

The 78th was organized in 1917 at Rich Field, Waco, Texas as a training unit. In February 1918 moved to Hicks Field, Fort Worth, Texas before being deactivated. In 1931, the 78th Pursuit Squadron was again activated and assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group at Mather Field, California flying single-seat Boeing P-12 biplane fighters.

During World War II the unit was recognized and stationed in the Pacific theater where the unit flew P-39s, P-40s, and P-51s. With a combat record from the war of 200 enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged, versus the loss of only six aircraft assigned to the unit. The 78th received the Distinguished Unit Citation for actions at the Musashino Plant, Tokyo, Japan, on 7 April 1945.

On the 1 November 1952 the 78th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was reactivated, flying F-86 Sabre aircraft as part of the 81st Fighter-Interceptor Wing. In 1954 the 81st became a Fighter Bomber Wing and the assigned squadrons began flying the F-84 Thunderjet. Then in 1958, the 78th received its first F-101 Voodoo aircraft.

While flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II at RAF Woodbridge the squadron deployed to Incirlik Air Base Turkey in 1991, where it took part in Operation Provide Comfort. Later after deactivation and reactivation at Shaw Air Force Base and flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the 78th began a regular rotation of deployments to patrol the Northern and Southern No-Fly Zones of Iraq, the last of which took place in mid to late 2002, when they deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The squadron also performed combat operations in Kosovo from March to June 1999.

The 78th was prepared to again deploy to Turkey in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom, however, the Turkish government denied the use of its nation as a staging area against Iraq. Consequently, the 78th stood down and was deactivated. The personnel and equipment to the 55th Fighter Squadron.


Organized as 78th Aero Squadron on 28 February 1918
Redesignated, Squadron A, Taliaferro Field, TX, on 23 July 1918
Demobilized on 15 November 1918
Reconstituted, and consolidated (25 April 1933) with 78th Observation Squadron, which was constituted on 18 October 1927
Redesignated 78th Pursuit Squadron on 8 May 1929
Activated on 1 April 1931
Inactivated on 1 September 1937
Redesignated 78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 22 December 1939
Activated on 1 February 1940
Redesignated: 78th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 78th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 15 October 1946
Redesignated 78th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 11 September 1952
Activated on 1 November 1952
Redesignated: 78th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 April 1954
Redesignated: 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 8 July 1958
Inactivated on 1 May 1992
Redesignated 78th Fighter Squadron on 22 December 1993
Activated on 1 January 1994
Inactivated on 30 June 2003
Redesignated 78th Reconnaissance Squadron on 19 April 2006
Activated on 19 May 2006.


 Wheeler Army Airfield, HI, United States Map

 Iwo Jima Map Map

This webpage was updated 1st April 2021