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The 523d Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 27th Operations Group stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

523d Fighter Squadron
523d Fighter Squadron F-16C Fighting Falcon[note 1]
Active1940–1945; 1946–2007
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
EngagementsSouthwest Pacific Theater
Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Korean War
Vietnam War[1]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation[1]
523d Fighter Squadron emblem (approved 5 February 1974)[1]
523d Fighter-Escort Squadron emblem (approved 5 January 1951)[2]
523d Fighter-Bomber Squadron emblem (World War II)[3]
17th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 4 November 1941)[2]

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 17th Bombardment Squadron (Light) fought in the Philippines campaign (1941–1942). Its ground personnel fought as infantry in the Battle of Bataan with the survivors being forced to march as prisoners in the Bataan Death March. The squadron reformed with its present numerical designation, and by the end of World War II, the Airmen of the 523d were among the most decorated USAAF units of the war, having fought in the North African, Sicilian, Italian and Southern France campaigns in the European Theater.

Until its inactivation in 2007, the 523d had been engaged in every major combat action the United States had engaged in since its activation in 1940 (World War II, both Pacific and European Theaters; Korean War; Vietnam War; Operation Desert Storm; Global War on Terrorism).


The 523d Fighter Squadron was known as the "Crusaders". Its primary mission was to maintain a continuous ability to rapidly deploy and support American combatant commanders worldwide with day or night General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon combat operations. They were committed to employing the F-16C throughout the entire spectrum of offensive and defensive missions, including air interdiction, close air support, forward air control, strategic attack and counter-air, through employing a wide variety of conventional, precision-guided and nuclear weapons.

It was inactivated in 2007 when Cannon Air Force Base and its host 27th Special Operations Wing realigned from an Air Combat Command fighter base to an Air Force Special Operations Command base with a new mission.


World War II

Formed as a Douglas B-18 Bolo bombardment squadron under Third Air Force in Louisiana during 1940. Re-equipped with Douglas A-24 Dauntless dive bombers, then in late 1941, ordered to Philippine Air Force in response to the growing crisis in the Pacific. Ground echelon arrived in Philippines in late November 1941, however outbreak of World War II in the Pacific caused A-24 aircraft to be diverted to Australia. Portions of air echelon flew to Australia to pick up aircraft, however Japanese advance in the Philippines prevented their return. Personnel in the Philippines reassigned as ground infantry unit and engaged the enemy on Luzon during the ground Battle of Bataan. Some personnel were evacuated to Australia by submarine. After collapse of large-scale United States forces in May 1942, the survivors endured the Bataan Death March or continued as unorganized resistance forces in the Japan-occupied Philippines.

Air echelon reorganized in Australian Northern Territory and fought in Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns until equipment depleted. Moved without personnel or equipment to Hunter Field, Georgia. Re-equipped first with Douglas A-20 Havocs then North American A-36 Apache Apache fighter-bombers in the United States, then deployed to North Africa, assigned to Twelfth Air Force. Redesignated 523d Fighter-Bomber Squadron in August 1943 after Sicilian Campaign. Re-equipped with Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, then Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and engaged enemy forces as a tactical fighter squadron during the Italian Campaign. Supported ground forces in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France and drive northwards though Lyon until linking with Allied ground forces in eastern France. Returned to Italy and engaged enemy forces in the Po Valley, then returning to France in the spring of 1945 and supporting ground forces during the Western Allied invasion of Germany in March/April 1945. Squadron demobilized in Germany summer 1945, being inactivated as a paper unit in November 1945.

Cold War

Reactivated as part of United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces in Germany, 1946. Moved to Kearney Army Air Field, Nebraska in 1947 as a strategic escort squadron for Boeing B-29 Superfortress and Boeing B-50 Superfortresses. Equipped with very long-range North American F-82 Twin Mustangs in 1948, being replaced with Republic F-84E Thunderjets in 1950.

Deployed to Far East Air Forces, December 1950 and engaged in combat over Korea as escort squadron for B-29 Bombers of Far East Air Force. Remained in combat until armistice in 1953. Escorted Strategic Air Command Convair B-36 Peacemaker strategic bombers throughout the 1950s until SAC inactivated fighter-escort squadrons in 1957 with final phaseout of propeller-driven strategic bomber force.

523d F-100 Super Sabre[note 2]
523d F-100 Super Sabre[note 2]

Reassigned to Tactical Air Command and re-equipped with McDonnell F-101B Voodoo, then North American F-100 Super Sabre tactical fighter aircraft. Moved to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, however performed rotational deployments to Sixteenth Air Force in southern Europe, deploying to Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia and other stations as part of United States Air Forces in theater. In 1964, began rotational deployments to Japan and South Korea as part of air defense forces.

Reassigned to Pacific Air Forces in 1965 at Clark Air Base, Philippines. Became rotational deployment squadron to Taiwan in 1966 with F-100 aircraft; later provided forces to Thirteenth Air Force in Thailand, 1972 as a McDonnell F-4E Phantom II squadron during defense of South Vietnam as a result of North Vietnamese Easter Offensive (Operation Linebacker). After end of United States involvement in Indochina War, 1973, returned to Cannon as a tactical fighter squadron.

The 523d Fighter Squadron also deployed an McDonnell F-4 Phantom II detachment in Tainan Air Base, Taiwan. Until August 1973, its main task was to assist Taiwan’s air defense missions to resist air threats from China.


Activated on 1 February 1940
Redesignated 523d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 23 August 1943
Redesignated 523d Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 30 May 1944
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
Redesignated: 523d Fighter Squadron, Two Engine on 22 July 1947
Redesignated 523d Fighter Squadron, Jet on 1 December 1949
Redesignated 523d Fighter-Escort Squadron on 1 February 1950
Redesignated 523d Strategic Fighter Squadron on 20 January 1953
Redesignated 523d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 July 1957
Redesignated 523d Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958
Redesignated 523d Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991
Inactivated on 30 September 2007[1]


Ground echelon attached to V Interceptor Command, 24 December 1941 – 8 May 1942; further assigned to: 2nd Battalion (27th Bombardment Group) Provisional Infantry Regiment (Air Corps)
Attached to The U.S. Logistics Group (TUSLOG), 11 February – 20 June 1960 and 12 October 1962 – c. 12 January 1963
Attached to United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 September – 20 November 1961
Attached to 4135th Strategic Wing, 12 April – 6 June 1962
Attached to 39th Air Division, 9 June – 6 September 1964 and 22 March – 30 June 1965
Attached to 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 9 April – 24 October 1972



See also



Explanatory notes
  1. Aircraft is General Dynamics F-16C Block 30D Fighting Falcon, serial 86–303
  2. Aircraft is North American F-100D Super Sabre, serial 56-3460, taken about 1960.
  1. Robertson, Patsy (29 January 2008). "Factsheet 523 Fighter Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. Endicott, Active Wings and Squadrons, p. 845
  3. Watkins, pp. 18–19
  4. Station number in Johnson.
  5. Station number in Endicott, The USAF in Korea.
  6. Station information in Robertson, except as noted.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

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