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54th Fighter-Interceptor Group

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54th Fighter-Interceptor Group

54th Fighter Group (Air Defense)

Emblem of the 54th Fighter Group
Approved 8 Mar 1957
Active 1941–1944, 1955-1958
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Fighter Interceptor
Role Air Defense
Engagements American Theater of World War II
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation

The 54th Fighter Group (Air Defense) is an inactive United States Air Force unit, last assigned to the 30th Air Division of Air Defense Command (ADC) at Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania. The group was inactivated in early 1958.

History

World War II


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

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]

Lineage

  • 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[14]
Inactivated on 8 January 1958[13]

Assignments

Stations

  • 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[14]

Components

Operational Squadrons

  • 42d Pursuit Squadron, later 42d Fighter Squadron, 42d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944 ; 18 August 1955 - 8 January 1958
  • 56th Pursuit Squadron, later 56th Fighter Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944[15]
  • 57th Pursuit Squadron, later 57th Fighter Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 1 May 1944

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; 18 August 1955 - 8 January 1958[12]

Aircraft operated

  • 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

Awards

  • Distinguished Unit Citation, Aleutian Islands (June 1942) - 4 November 1942[4]

Notes and References

  • USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

External links

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