|Country United States|
Engagements World War II
|Branch United States Army Air Force|
The 516th Strategic Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 407th Strategic Fighter Wing stationed at Great Falls AFB, Montana. It was inactivated on 1 July 1957.
Established in the spring of 1943 as an A-24 Banshee (Douglas SBD) operational training squadron. Unfortunately, the Army A-24 version of the Douglas dive bomber never achieved the degree of success as did its Navy SBD counterpart. In July 1943, the squadron was relieved of its training mission and deployed to Amchitka Army Airfield, Alaska Territory, to take part in the Battle of Kiska during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
After carrying out an attack on Kiska Island on 4 August 1943, the squadron returned to the Continental United States and was re-equipped with the A-36 Apache ground attack version of the P-51B Mustang. Was assigned to the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics at Lakeland AAF Florida until November when the school was closed down.
Re-equipped with P-51 Mustangs and P-47 Thunderbolts, became a training unit at Galveston AAF, Texas until April 1944 when the squadron was inactivated in a re-alignment of Training Command operational training units.
Was reactivated by Strategic Air Command in 1953 as a strategic fighter squadron; mission to provide fighter escort for SAC's long-range B-36 Peacemaker bomber. Equipped with F-84G Thunderjets, the squadron deployed to Misawa AB, Japan, August–November 1954 to provide air defense. Left F-84G's at Misawa, returned to Great Falls AFB and was re-equipped with F-84F Thunderflash swept-wing aircraft. Also operated a few RF-84F photo-reconnaissance aircraft.
Squadron operated until 1957 when the B-36 was being phased out and the unit was inactivated. The new B-52 Stratofortress and B-47 Stratojet bombers flew higher and faster than the F-84 escort fighters and instead of flying in formations, SAC's bombers flew individually to their selected targets.