Girish Mahajan (Editor)

36th Fighter Squadron

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Country  United States
Garrison/HQ  Osan Air Base, Korea
Type  Fighter
36th Fighter Squadron
Active  1917–1919; 1930–present
Branch  United States Air Force
Part of  Pacific Air Forces 7th Air Force 51st Fighter Wing 51st Operations Group

The 36th Fighter Squadron is part of the US Air Force's 51st Operations Group at Osan Air Base, South Korea. It operates the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions. The squadron was first activated in 1917 as the 36th Aero Squadron and served in France during World War I, although the war ended before the unit saw combat. It has been continuously active since 1930 as a fighter squadron.



The squadron mission is to conduct air interdiction, close air support and counter-air missions both day and night. It participates in the defense of South Korea and promotes regional stability.


During its 90-year history, the 36th Fighter Squadron has flown 21 different types of aircraft, received 22 unit citations and accumulated 24 service and campaign streamers.

World War I

The unit came into existence shortly after the United States entered World War I as the 36th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas in June 1917. Later that year, First Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, briefly commanded the squadron. After a brief training period, the squadron moved overseas to France on the RMS Baltic, where it constructed facilities and maintained and assembled planes for flying units. Several of the squadron's former members saw combat with other squadrons. Following the armistice, the squadron returned to the United States on the USS Manchuria and was demobilized in the spring of 1919 at Garden City, New York.

Interwar period

The squadron was reconstituted in 1923 as the 36th Pursuit Squadron. Although inactive, it was originally allotted to the Sixth Corps Area. In 1929 the squadron was designated as a "Regular Army Inactive" unit. Although remaining inactive as a regular unit, officers of the Organized Reserves were assigned to the unit and performed summer training with the squadron at Kelly Field for the next few years.

In October 1930 the squadron was once again activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan, where it was attached to the 1st Pursuit Group and equipped with various models of the Curtiss Hawk series of single engine biplane pursuit aircraft. By 1932, the squadron's primary aircraft became the Boeing P-12, although the squadron continued to fly the P-6 model of the Hawk. As part of its mission to develop pursuit tactics, the squadron continued to fly a variety of other aircraft, notably including the Berliner-Joyce P-16 and Consolidated P-30 two-seat fighters. Training of fighter pilots and testing of tactics continued after 1932 when the squadron moved to Langley Field, Virginia, where it was assigned to the 8th Pursuit Group.

In 1934, following a Congressional investigation of how air mail contracts had been awarded by the United States Postal Service, President Franklin D. Roosevelt cancelled all existing air mail contracts and assigned the duty of flying the mail to the Air Corps. The squadron began flying its P-12s on air mail routes, but they proved unsuitable for the work, lacking instruments to fly at night or in adverse weather. Moreover, they could only carry about 50 lbs of mail, and with the mail load, the planes were tail heavy and difficult to fly. The P-12s were withdrawn from the project within a week, although the larger observation aircraft continued to fly mail until May, when new air mail contracts were awarded.

The P-30, along with the arrival of Curtiss YP-37s in 1938 marked a significant change in the squadron's equipment, the transition from fabric-covered biplanes to all metal monoplanes. By 1939, the squadron was flying Curtiss P-36 Hawks, which were quickly replaced by the more powerful Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. As the Air Corps expanded in 1950, the squadron moved to Mitchel Field, New York, and was located there when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in December 1941.

World War II

During World War II, the squadron flew P-40 Warhawk, P-39 Airacobra, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-38 Lightning fighters in a number of Pacific Theater campaigns. These included the defense of New Guinea and the battle for the Philippines. They moved to Fukuoka, Japan at the end of the war.

Korean War

When the communist forces attacked the Republic of Korea in June 1950, the 36th found itself in the fight from the beginning of the conflict. Flying F-80 Shooting Stars, the squadron attacked advancing North Korean tanks, trucks, artillery, and troops. The unit later converted back to the piston-engined F-51 Mustang, considered more suitable for operations in Korea. The 36th ended the war equipped with F-86 Sabres, flying bombing and strafing missions against enemy air fields. The 36th returned to Japan after the Korean War, operating out of Itazuke Air Base for the next 10 years.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the 36th flew combat missions into Southeast Asia from Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. 36th pilots flew F-105 Thunderchiefs, escorting rescue aircraft and suppressing anti-aircraft fire. The squadron was re-equipped with F-4 Phantom II fighters in December 1967 and stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, with regular deployments to Kunsan Air Base beginning in March 1971. The 36th moved to Kunsan in May 1971, establishing a forward operating location at Osan Air Base. The squadron permanently moved to Osan and was assigned to the 51st Composite Wing (Tactical) in September 1974.

Post Cold War

The 36th ushered in the era of the "Viper" on 10 August 1988, when squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Al Spitzer landed the first F-16 Fighting Falcon at Osan. The squadron's combat capabilities were transformed in 1990 when the squadron converted to the Block 40 Low Altitude Navigational and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) F-16C/D. The addition of LANTIRN gave the Fiends the current ability to fly at low levels and deliver precision guided munitions during nighttime conditions. Upgrades to the Block 40 in recent years have included GBU-31 JDAM capability for all weather precision engagement. The 36th FS, more recently, have begun training with the AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pod. Additionally, in the Spring of 2012 the Fiends acquired the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System.


  • Organized as the 36th Aero Squadron on 12 June 1917
  • Redesignated 36th Aero Squadron (Construction) c. 1918
  • Demobilized on 7 April 1919
  • Reconstituted and redesignated 36th Pursuit Squadron on 24 March 1923
  • Activated on 2 October 1930 Redesignated 36th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter) on 6 December 1939 Redesignated 36th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 12 March 1941 Redesignated 36th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942 Redesignated 36th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine on 19 February 1944 Redesignated 36th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 1 April 1946 Redesignated 36th Fighter Squadron, Jet on 1 January 1950 Redesignated 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 20 January 1950 Redesignated 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958 Redesignated 36th Fighter Squadron on 7 February 1992


  • Unknown, 12 June - c. 24 September 1917
  • Third Aviation Instruction Center, c. 24 September 1917
  • École de Tirage Aérienne, c. 21 February 1918
  • Aerial Gunnery School, c. 5 November 1918 - c. 16 February 1919
  • Unknown, February - 7 April 1919
  • 2d Bombardment Wing, 2 October 1930 (attached to 1st Pursuit Group)
  • 8th Pursuit Group, 1 April 1931 (attached to 1st Pursuit Group)
  • 18th Pursuit Group, 30 June 1931 (attached to 1st Pursuit Group)
  • 8th Pursuit Group (later 8th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter-Bomber Group), 15 June 1932 (attached to 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing after 1 February 1957)
  • 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (later 8th Tactical Fighter Wing), 1 October 1957 (attached to 41st Air Division after 13 May 1964)
  • 41st Air Division, 18 June 1964 (attached to 2d Air Division, 9 August – 5 October 1964, 6 March – 4 May 1965)
  • 6441st Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 April 1965 (attached to 2d Air Division, 26 August – 28 October 1965)
  • 41st Air Division, 15 November 1966
  • 347th Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 January 1968
  • 3d Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 May 1971
  • 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 16 September 1974
  • 51st Composite Wing (later 51st Tactical Fighter Wing), 30 September 1974
  • 51st Fighter Group (later 51st Operations Group), 1 October 1990 – present
  • References

    36th Fighter Squadron Wikipedia

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