27th Fighter Wing [27th FW]
(Base Code: CC)
The present 27th Fighter Wing originated from the 27th Bombardment Group (Light), activated February 1, 1940, at Barksdale AFB, La. Since that time, the 27th has fought in three wars and flown 14 different types of aircraft, ranging from the B-18 and A-24s of the 1940s to today's sophisticated F-16.
The unit's first deployment as a group was to the Philippines following training at Barksdale and Hunter Field, Ga. Just 18 days after arriving at Fort McKinley, in Manila, the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor and the 27th was caught on the ground without aircraft to defend itself. Eventually aircraft arrived from Australia, but more than two-thirds of the 27th's men died either during the infamous "Bataan Death March" or later in prisoner of war camps. The unit received three distinguished unit citations for their actions in the Philippines.
Regrouping stateside and resupplied with personnel and equipment, the 27th Bombardment Group headed for Algiers in late 1942 where it converted to the A-36 dive-bombers. The group fought in Tunisia and helped spearhead the allied invasions of the Mediterranean islands of Sicily (Italy) and Corsica (France). The organization was awarded two unit citations for combat actions in Italy and France. The group converted to P-40 in Jan 1944 and to P-47 in Jun 1944. It was redesignated the 27th Fighter-Bomber Group in August 1943 and the 27th Fighter Group in May 1944. While flying the P-47, the group was selected to introduce a new weapon in the battle for southern France -- napalm. At the end of the war, the 27th was the first fighter group to reach Germany.
The 27th Fighter Group was inactivated November 7, 1945, and reactivated at Fritzler AB, Germany in August 20, 1946. They flew the P-47 and the P-51. Assigned to Strategic Air Command in June 1947, the group was transferred without men or equipment to Andrews Field, Md. A month later they were transferred to Kearney Army Field, Neb. Established as 27th Fighter Wing on 28 Jul 1947 and organized on August 15, 1947, with the 27th Fighter Group as an operational element. In January 1948, it began flying the F-82. The wing transferred to Bergstrom AFB, Texas, on March 16, 1949. On February 1, 1950, the unit was redesignated as the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing. The unit also began flying its first jet aircraft, the F-84. In September and October 1950, the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing ferried 180 aircraft to Germany in two flights, earning the MacKay Trophy for this unprecedented feat.
The Korean War began in June 1950 and by November the wing was transferred to the Far East with the advance echelon landing at Taegu AB, Korea, and the rear echelon at Itazuki AB, Japan, on December 1. Combat operations in support of the United Nations began immediately and continued after the advance echelon was transferred to Itazuki in January. The 27th was the first F-84 unit to see combat action in Korea, supporting U.N. forces until July 31, 1951, when it was relieved and returned to Bergstrom. The 27th earned numerous honors and awards for their combat record during the Korean War. On January 21, 1951, Lt. Col. William Bertram, commander of the 523rd Squadron, shot down the first MIG-15 for the wing and became the first F-84 pilot with a confirmed MIG kill. Two days later, on January 23, the 27th participated in the raid on Sinuju Air Field in North Korea. During the raid, pilots from the 27th shot down four more MIG-15s. By the time the group rotated back to the United States, they had flown more than 23,000 combat hours in more than 12,000 sorties. The 27th Fighter-Escort Wing received the distinguished unit citation, covering the period of January 26 through April 21, 1951, for their actions in Korea.
While the rest of the assigned unit squadrons remained active, the 27th Fighter-Escort Group was inactivated June 16, 1952. On January 20, 1953, the wing was redesignated; 27th Strategic Fighter Wing. During the 1950s, again the wing was in transition, with inactivation, reactivation, redesignation and flying the F-84E, F-84F and the F-101A. The 27th was transferred to Tactical Air Command on July 1, 1957, and redesignated the 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing. Then on July 1, 1958; renamed the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing. The wing transferred to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., without men or equipment on February 18, 1959, replacing the 312th Tactical Fighter Wing. The new base also meant a change in aircraft -- the supersonic F-100, which was then the mainstay of tactical air power.
Vietnam became a household word in the early 1960s. The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing began deployments to Southeast Asia. Takhli Royal Thai Air Base was the destination in December 1962. The wing's 522nd Tactical Fighter Squadron spent two tours in the Philippines and Vietnam in the summer and fall of 1964 and 1965. Southeast Asia saw members of the 27th in combat operations for the third time as the 481st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron deployed to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam.
The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing assumed a new role on January 1, 1966, when their mission was changed to pilot and mechanic training for F-100 units. Their training role expanded in December 1968 with the arrival of the AT-33s, used for training forward air controllers and air liaison pilots.
A brand new aircraft, the F-111A, arrived in July 1969. It was on loan from Nellis AFB, Nev., to facilitate training while the wing was waiting for its own aircraft. F-111Es began arriving in October, but their stay was short. They ferried out to RAF Upper Heyford, England, in the summer of 1971. Finally, in November 1971, the 27th received its first F-111D.
The 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron was Inactivated on July 8, 1980 and the 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated as the 524th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, leaving the 27th with one training and two fighter squadrons. In April 1990, the 428th Fighter Training Squadron was reactivated. The squadron received its first F-111G -- an updated Strategic Air Command FB-111 -- in June 1990.
On October 1, 1991, the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing officially became the 27th Fighter Wing as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization. The 27th Fighter Wing became part of a new major command -- Air Combat Command in June 1992. Air Combat Command was created when Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command and Military Airlift Command merged to form two commands, Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command. In July 1992, the 430th Electronic Combat Squadron, with its EF- 111A Ravens, was activated as part of the restructuring plan. The 430th was inactivated and replaced by the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron in June 1993.
Beginning in December 1992, the F-111Fs and F-111Es replaced all F-111Ds and F-111Gs. F-111F crews and support personnel from the 522nd, 523rd and 524th Fighter Squadrons began rotations in September 1992 to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Provide Comfort. Their commitment there ended in July 1993. EF-111 crews and support personnel from the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron joined the F-model crews at Incirlik for Operation Provide Comfort in December 1992. In May 1993, EF-111s began deployments to Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch. In April 1998, the last 429th ECS jets returned from operations in Southwest Asia after 6 years of support and more than 2,800 sorties. The 429th also flew extensive missions over Bosnia-Herzegovinia from Aviano AB, Italy.
In preparation for the DOD announced retirement of the F-111 in 1996 and EF-111 in 1998, the 27th Fighter Wing began receiving F-16s in May 1995. The first operational F-16 mission flown by the wing occurred in September 1995. The 522 Fireballs officially activated as an F-16 unit in January 1996. The 523 Crusaders converted the F-16 in May 1996 and the 524 Hounds in July 1996. In May 1998, the 27th Fighter Wing retired the EF-111A during a dedication ceremony held in Memorial Park and the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron was officially inactivated June 19, 1998.
On September 15, 1998, the 428th Fighter Squadron was reactivated at Cannon AFB. The squadron is a hybrid US Air Force/Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 Fighter Squadron manned by highly experienced USAF instructor pilots, maintenance and support personnel. The squadron was to be fully equipped by March 2000 and was to operate 12 RSAF-owned Block 52F-16C/Ds. With approximately 25 USAF personnel and 140 RSAF personnel, the unit is responsible for continuation training of Singapore personnel in rapid deployment and tactical employment of the F-16 throughout a wide spectrum of missions including air-to-air, joint maritime and precision air-to-ground weapons delivery.
The primary mission of the 27th Fighter Wing, "America's Go-To Wing," was to support and employ "superior combat power" by developing and maintaining an F-16C/D fighter wing capable of day, night, and all-weather combat operations.
Today, the 27th Fighter Wing continues to deploy people and aircraft to exercises and contingencies throughout the world.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base, NM. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing's F- 16s to the 115th Fighter Wing, Dane County Regional Airport, Truax Field Air Guard Station, WI (three aircraft); 114th Fighter Wing, Joe Foss Field Air Guard Station, SD (three aircraft); 150th Fighter Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM (three aircraft); 113th Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, MD (nine aircraft); 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (seven aircraft), the 388th Wing at Hill Air Force Base, UT (six aircraft), and backup inventory (29 aircraft).
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|