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52d Operations Group

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52d Operations Group

52d Operations Group
Active 1941–1945, 1946-1952, 1955-1963, 1968-1969, 1971-1972, 1992–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Fighter
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
52d Fighter Wing
Garrison/HQ Spangdahlem Air Base
Nickname Yellow Tails (World War II)
Motto Seek, Attack, Destroy

World War II

Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Kosovo Campaign
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon of the 23d FS
Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II of the 81st FS

The 52d Operations Group (OG) is the flying component of the 52d Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). The group is stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.


The 52d Operations Group maintains, deploys and employs Supreme Allied Commander Europe with mission-ready personnel and systems providing expeditionary air power for suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support, air interdiction, counterair, air strike control, strategic attack, combat search and rescue, and theater airspace control.

The group also supports contingencies and operations other than war as required.

Assigned Units

The 52 OG (Tail Code: SP) commands two flying squadrons, one air control and one support squadron

The 81 FS flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft conducting close air support missions.
The 480 FS flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.
  • 52d Operations Support Squadron "Griffins"
Responsible for all facets of airfield operations, air traffic control, weather, aircrew life support and training, intelligence analysis and support, weapons and tactics training, 52 FW battle staff operations, airspace scheduling, range ops and wing flying hour program.
  • 606th Air Control Squadron "Inspectors of the Skies"
The 606 ACS is a self-contained mobile combat unit including the TPS-75 Radar. The unit provides daily command and control to the 52 OG's two flying squadrons in addition to the occasional control of NATO Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Gelsenkirchen Air Base and visiting aircraft from around the USAFE Area of responsibility.[1]


See 52d Fighter Wing for additional lineage and history

World War II

The unit was constituted as the 52d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940, activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan on 15 January 1941 with the 2d,[2] 4th,[3] and 5th Pursuit Squadrons[4] assigned as its original squadrons. It was redesignated as the 52d Fighter Group in May 1942.[5] The group trained with Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 aircraft, and participated in maneuvers with them until 1942 when it moved to the United Kingdom, the air echelon arriving in July 1942 and the ground echelon in August.[5]

The group trained with the Royal Air Force as part of Eighth Air Force, reequipped with Supermarine Spitfires and flew missions from England to France during August and September of that year.[5]
RAF Code Letters
2d Fighter Squadron QP
4th Fighter Squadron WD
5th Fighter Squadron VF

Group pilots flew Spitfires from Gibraltar to Algeria during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa on 8 November 1942.[5] The remainder of the group arrived by ship after the campaign in Algeria and Morocco had ended.[5] The group then operated as part of Twelfth Air Force through April 1944, thereafter becoming a part of Fifteenth Air Force, serving in combat in the Mediterranean until the end of World War II. It flew escort, patrol, strafing, and reconnaissance missions to help defeat Axis forces in Tunisia.[5] In Sicily, it attacked railroads, highways, bridges, coastal shipping and other targets to support the Allied operations. Having converted to North American P-51 Mustangs in April and May 1944, the group escorted bombers that attacked objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.[5] It received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for a mission on 9 June 1944 when the group protected bombers that struck aircraft factories, communications centers, and supply lines in Germany.[5] The 52d flew one of the first shuttle missions to Russia from 4–6 August 1944, and received a second DUC for strafing attacks on a landing field in Romania on 31 August 1944, destroying a large number of enemy fighter and transport planes.[5] On 24 March 1945, the group's aircraft flew the longest escort mission ever flown in Europe—1600 miles round-trip to Berlin. By the end of the war, the group's Mustangs had adopted yellow markings that covered the entire tail of the aircraft, earning them the nickname of "Yellow Tails.[6] The 52d returned to the US in August 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.[5]

Aerial Victories Number Note
Group Hq 1 [7]
2d Fighter Squadron 102.33 [8]
4th Fighter Squadron 109 [9]
5th Fighter Squadron 103.5 [10]
52d Group Total 315.83

Cold War

52d Fighter Group Twin Mustang 1948
Lockheed F-94A July 1951

German Occupation Force

The 52d was reactivated in Germany on 9 November 1946 and was assigned to United States Air Forces Europe as the 52d Fighter Group (All Weather).[5][11] It received Northrop P-61 Black Widows in early 1947, From 1946 to 1947, the 52d served as part of the occupation forces in Germany.

Air Defense Command

In June 1947 the group was transferred without personnel and equipment to the United States, and became the 52d Fighter-Interceptor Group in May 1951 again flying P-61s and later [15] the 52d was inactivated along with the 52nd Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 6 February 1952[5] and its two operational squadrons were transferred to the recently activated 4709th Defense Wing.[16][17]

The 52d was redesignated the 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense) and activated at [21][22][23][24]

The 2d FIS converted to F-102 Delta Daggers in January 1957, followed by the 5th FIS in April.[25] In December 1959, the 2d FIS began to fly F-101 VooDoos, while the 5th FIS retained its F-102s until moving to Minot AFB, North Dakota two months later.[4][25] The group served as an air defense unit in the New York/New Jersey area of the United States and also flew anti-submarine warfare missions until being inactivated in 1963 and replaced as the host unit at Suffolk County by the 52d Fighter Wing (Air Defense).[14][26] In 1968, as USAF operations at Suffolk County were reduced, it once again activated with F-101s to replace the 52d wing and close down USAF operations at the station in 1969.[14][26]

Return to Germany

81st Tactical Fighter Squadron F-4G Phantom June 1979

The 52d was redesignated the 52d Tactical Fighter Group and activated at Erding AB, West Germany under Seventeenth Air Force in 1971.[14] The group provided administrative and logistical support as the USAF host unit at Erding for F-102 Delta Dagger NATO air defense operations, but had no tactical units assigned. In 1972 the F-102s were withdrawn from Europe and the 52d FG was inactivated.[14]

Modern era

On 31 March 1992, the group was redesignated the 52d Operations Group (OG) and activated as a result of the USAF objective wing reorganization.[14] Upon activation, the 52d OG assumed responsibility for the 52 Fighter Wing's operational squadrons and the newly activated 52d Operations Support Squadron.

During the 1990s, the wing supported no-fly zone operations over Bosnia and northern Iraq and combat operations against Serbia during Operation Allied Force in 1999. After terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, the wing supported Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, deploying combat and support elements in support of US and NATO missions. Although the group has also provided forces for Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Just Cause, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Coronet Macaw, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Support Justice and Operation Uphold Democracy, its forces were organized into provisional organizations, rather than remaining under group control for operations.


  • Constituted as 52d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 16 January 1941
Redesignated 52d Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Redesignated 52d Fighter Group, Single Engine ca. 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Redesignated 52d Fighter Group (All Weather) on 18 October 1946
Activated on 9 November 1946
Redesignated: 52d Fighter Group, All Weather on 10 May 1948
Redesignated: 52d Fighter-All Weather Group on 20 January 1950
Redesignated: 52d Fighter-Interceptor Group on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 6 February 1952
  • Redesignated 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense) on 20 June 1955
Activated on 18 August 1955
Discontinued and inactivated, on 1 July 1963
  • Activated on 30 September 1968
Inactivated on 31 December 1969
  • Redesignated 52d Tactical Fighter Group on 17 February 1970
Activated on 1 April 1971
Inactivated on 31 July 1972
  • Redesignated 52d Operations Group on 1 March 1992
Activated on 31 March 1992.



Operational Squadrons

  • 2d Pursuit (later, 2d Fighter; 2d Fighter [All Weather]; 2d Fighter, All Weather; 2d Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 16 January 1941 – 7 November 1945; 9 November 1946 – 6 February 1952; 18 August 1955 – 1 July 1963; 30 September 1968 – 31 December 1969
  • 4th Pursuit (later, 4th Fighter) Squadron: 16 January 1941 – 7 November 1945
  • 5th Pursuit (later, 5th Fighter; 5th Fighter [All Weather]; 5th Fighter, All Weather; 5th Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 16 January 1941 – 7 November 1945; 9 November 1946 – 6 February 1952; 18 August 1955 – 1 February 1960
  • 22d Fighter Squadron: 1 April 1994 – 12 August 2010
  • 23d Fighter Squadron: 31 March 1992 – 12 August 2010
  • 53d Fighter Squadron: 25 February 1994 – 31 March 1999
  • 81st Fighter Squadron: 31 March 1992 – present
  • 98th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: attached, c. 20 June – 1 July 1963
  • 480th Fighter Squadron: 31 March 1992 – 1 April 1994, 13 August 2010 – present
  • 510th Fighter Squadron: 1 October 1992 – 1 February 1994.
Support Organizations



Munich, Germany, 9 June 1944
Rumania, 31 August 1944

Aircraft assigned

Notes and References


  1. ^ a b Spangdahlem AB Factsheet, 606th Air Control Squadron. Retrieved 10 November 2012
  2. ^ 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. 14.  
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 27-28
  4. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 34-35
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 113–115.  
  6. ^ a b Watkins, Robert A. (2009). Insignia and Aircraft Markings of the U.S. Army Air Force In World War II. IV, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. Atglen,PA: Shiffer Publishing, Ltd. pp. 24–25.  
  7. ^ Newton, Wesley P., Jr. and Senning, Calvin F., (1963) USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II, USAF Historical Study No. 85, p. 555
  8. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 521-523
  9. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 523-524
  10. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 524-525
  11. ^ Between 1946 and 1951, the group held three variations of this designation, becoming the 52d Fighter Group, All Weather in 1948 and the 52d Fighter All-Weather Group in 1950. Factsheet, 52d Operations Group. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  12. ^ a b Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 10.  
  13. ^ Goss, William A (1955). "The Organization and its Responsibilities, Chapter 2 The AAF". In Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 75.  
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Factsheet, 52d Operations Group
  15. ^ Grant, C.L., (1961) The Development of Continental Air Defense to 1 September 1954, USAF Historical Study No. 126, p. 33
  16. ^ Factsheet, 2d Fighter Squadron. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  17. ^ Factsheet, 5th Fighter Squadron. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  18. ^ 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. 82. 
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 274, 408
  21. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 136
  22. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 145
  23. ^ a b See Abstract, History of 52d USAF Infirmary Jul-Dec 1955. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  24. ^ a b See Abstract, History of 52d Air Base Squadron Jan-Dec 1960. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  25. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 113
  26. ^ a b Factsheet, 52d Fighter Wing. Retrieved 3 May 2012
  27. ^ Abstract, History 52d USAF Dispensary Jul-Dec 1957. Retrieved 10 November 2012
  28. ^ a b Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II. Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 


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

Further Reading

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