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.
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 1941-1942 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 unified commanders worldwide with day or night F-16C combat operations. They are committed to decisively 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 (and its host 27th wing) realigned from an Air Combat Command fighter base to an Air Force Special Operations Command base with a new mission.
Formed as a B-18 Bolo bombardment squadron under Third Air Force in Louisiana during 1940. Re-equipped with A-24 Dauntless Dive Bombers, then in late 1941, ordered to Seventh Air Force in the Philippines 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 organized United States resistance in May 1942, survivors endured Bataan Death March or continued as unorganized resistance forces in the Occupied Philippines.
Air Echelon reorganized in Australian Northern Territory and fought in Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns until equipment depleted. Was inactivated in place and squadron administratively activated at Hunter Field, Georgia. Re-equipped first with A-20 Havocs then A-36 Apache fighter-bombers in the United States, then deployed to North Africa, assigned to Twelfth Air Force. Re-designated as 523d Fighter-Bomber Squadron in August 1943 after Sicilian Campaign. Re-equipped with P-40 Warhawks, then P-47 Thunderbolts and engaged enemy forces as a tactical fighter squadron during the Italian Campaign. Supported ground forces in 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.
Reactivated as part of United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces in Germany, 1946. Inactivated 1947 as a paper unit, being assigned to Strategic Air Command. Assigned to Kearney AFB, Nebraska in 1947 as a strategic escort squadron for B-29/B-50 Superfortresses. Equipped with very long-range F-82E Twin Mustangs in 1948, being replaced with 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 SAC B-50/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.
Reassigned to Tactical Air Command and re-equipped with F-101B Voodoo, then F-100 Super Sabre tactical fighter aircraft. Assigned to Cannon AFB, 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 PACAF 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 an F-4E Phantom II squadron during defense of South Vietnam as a result of North Vietnamese Easter Invasion (Operation Linebacker). After end of United States involvement in Indochina War, 1973, returned to Cannon AFB as a tactical fighter squadron.Constituted 17th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 22 December 1939
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
Activated on 20 August 1946
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
27th Bombardment (later, 27th Fighter-Bomber; 27th Fighter) Group, 1 February 1940 – 7 November 1945
Ground echelon attached to: V Interceptor Command, 24 December 1941 – 8 May 1942
27th Fighter (later, 27th Fighter-Escort) Group, 20 August 1946
Attached to 27th Fighter-Escort Wing, 6 August 1951 – 15 June 1952
27th Fighter-Escort (later, 27th Strategic Fighter; 27th Fighter-Bomber; 27th Tactical Fighter) Wing, 16 June 1952
Attached to: Headquarters, The U.S. Logistics Group (TUSLOG), 11 February – 20 June 1960
Attached to: Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 September – 20 November 1961
Attached to: 4135th Strategic Wing, 12 April – 6 June 1962
Attached to: Headquarters, The U.S. Logistics Group, 12 October 1962-c. 12 January 1963
Attached to: 39th Air Division, 9 June – 6 September 1964 and 22 March – 30 June 1965
405th Fighter Wing, 20 November 1965
Attached to: 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 9 April – 24 October 1972
27th Tactical Fighter (later, 27th Fighter) Wing, 31 August 1973
27th Operations Group, 1 November 1991 – 30 September 2007