52nd Operations Group

  (Redirected from 52d Operations Group)

The 52d Operations Group is the flying component of the 52d Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). The group is stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

52d Operations Group
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon of the group
Active16 Jan 1941 – 7 Nov 1945
9 Nov 1946 – 6 Feb 1952
18 Aug 1955 – 1 July 1963
30 Sep 1968 – 31 Dec 1969
1 Apr 1971 – 31 July 1972
31 Mar 1992 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part ofUnited States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
52d Fighter Wing
Garrison/HQSpangdahlem Air Base
Nickname(s)Yellow Tails (World War II)
Motto(s)Seek, Attack, Destroy
EngagementsMediterranean Theater of Operations Kosovo Campaign
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
52d Operations Gp emblem[note 1]52 Operations Gp emblem.png


The 52d Operations Group maintains, deploys and employs F-16 Falcon; MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and AN/TPS-75 radar systems in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and national defense directives. The 52 OG supports the Supreme Allied Commander Europe with mission-ready personnel and systems providing expeditionary air power for suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support, air interdiction, counterair, air strike control, strategic attack, combat search and rescue, and theater airspace control.

The group also supports contingencies and operations other than war as required.

Assigned UnitsEdit

The 52 OG (Tail Code: SP) commands one flying squadron, one air control and one support squadron

The 480 FS flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.
  • 52d Operations Support Squadron "Griffins"
Responsible for all facets of airfield operations, air traffic control, weather, aircrew life support and training, intelligence analysis and support, weapons and tactics training, 52 FW battle staff operations, airspace scheduling, range ops and wing flying hour program.


See 52d Fighter Wing for additional lineage and history

World War IIEdit

The unit was constituted as the 52d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940, activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan on 15 January 1941 with the 2d,[2] 4th,[3] and 5th Pursuit Squadrons[4] assigned as its original squadrons. It was redesignated as the 52d Fighter Group in May 1942.[5] The group trained with Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 aircraft, and participated in maneuvers with them until 1942 when it moved to the United Kingdom, the air echelon arriving in July 1942 and the ground echelon in August.[5]

The group trained with the Royal Air Force as part of Eighth Air Force, reequipped with Supermarine Spitfires and flew missions from England to France during August and September of that year.[5]

RAF Code Letters
2d Fighter Squadron QP
4th Fighter Squadron WD
5th Fighter Squadron VF


Group pilots flew Spitfires from Gibraltar to Algeria during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa on 8 November 1942.[5] The remainder of the group arrived by ship after the campaign in Algeria and Morocco had ended.[5] The group then operated as part of Twelfth Air Force through April 1944, thereafter becoming a part of Fifteenth Air Force, serving in combat in the Mediterranean until the end of World War II. It flew escort, patrol, strafing, and reconnaissance missions to help defeat Axis forces in Tunisia.[5] In Sicily, it attacked railroads, highways, bridges, coastal shipping and other targets to support the Allied operations. Having converted to North American P-51 Mustangs in April and May 1944, the group escorted bombers that attacked objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.[5] It received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for a mission on 9 June 1944 when the group protected bombers that struck aircraft factories, communications centers, and supply lines in Germany.[5] The 52d flew one of the first shuttle missions to Russia from 4–6 August 1944, and received a second DUC for strafing attacks on a landing field in Romania on 31 August 1944, destroying a large number of enemy fighter and transport planes.[5] On 24 March 1945, the group's aircraft flew the longest escort mission ever flown in Europe—1600 miles round-trip to Berlin.[citation needed] By the end of the war, the group's Mustangs had adopted yellow markings that covered the entire tail of the aircraft, earning them the nickname of "Yellow Tails.[6] The 52d returned to the US in August 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.[5]

Aerial Victories Number Note
Group Hq 1 [7]
2d Fighter Squadron 102.33 [8]
4th Fighter Squadron 109 [9]
5th Fighter Squadron 103.5 [10]
52d Group Total 315.83

Cold WarEdit

German Occupation ForceEdit

The 52d was reactivated in Germany on 9 November 1946 and was assigned to United States Air Forces Europe as the 52d Fighter Group (All Weather).[5][note 2] It received Northrop P-61 Black Widows in early 1947, From 1946 to 1947, the 52d served as part of the occupation forces in Germany.

Air Defense CommandEdit

52d Fighter Group North American F-82 Twin Mustang 46-415, 1949.

In June 1947 the group was transferred without personnel and equipment to the United States, and became the 52d Fighter-Interceptor Group in May 1951 again flying P-61s and later North American F-82 Twin Mustangs, receiving its first jets, Lockheed F-94 Starfires beginning in 1950. In 1947, the Air Force began a service test of what was called the Hobson Plan[11] to unify control at air bases.[12] As a result of this test, the group was assigned to a provisional fighter wing at Mitchel Air Force Base, New York. This test proved the wing-base plan to the satisfaction of the Air Force[11] and in 1948 group was assigned as the operational element of the 52d Fighter Wing before moving with the wing to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.[13] In a major reorganization of Air Defense Command (ADC) responding to ADC's difficulty under the existing wing base organizational structure in deploying fighter squadrons to best advantage.[14] the 52d was inactivated along with the 52nd Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 6 February 1952[5] and its two operational squadrons were transferred to the recently activated 4709th Defense Wing.[15][16]

The 52d was redesignated the 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense) and activated at Suffolk County Air Force Base, New York on 18 August 1955, replacing the 519th Air Defense Group[17] as part of ADC's Project Arrow, a program to restore fighter units that had achieved distinction in the two World Wars.[5][18] Because one of the additional objectives of Project Arrow was to reunite groups with their traditional squadrons, the 2d[2] and 5th[4] Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons (FIS) moved to Suffolk County from McGuire and took over the personnel, equipment, and radar equipped and rocket armed North American F-86D Sabre aircraft of the 75th and 331st FIS, which moved elsewhere.[19] It also became the USAF host organization for Suffolk County and was assigned several support units to fulfill this function.[20][21][22][23]

The 2d FIS converted to F-102 Delta Daggers in January 1957, followed by the 5th FIS in April.[24] In December 1959, the 2d FIS began to fly F-101 Voodoos, while the 5th FIS retained its F-102s until moving to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota two months later.[4][24] The group served as an air defense unit in the New York/New Jersey area of the United States and also flew anti-submarine warfare missions until being inactivated in 1963 and replaced as the host unit at Suffolk County by the 52d Fighter Wing (Air Defense).[13][25] In 1968, as USAF operations at Suffolk County were reduced, it once again activated with F-101s to replace the 52d wing and close down USAF operations at the station in 1969.[13][25]

Return to GermanyEdit

The 52d was redesignated the 52d Tactical Fighter Group and activated at Erding Air Base, West Germany under Seventeenth Air Force in 1971.[13] The group provided administrative and logistical support as the USAF host unit at Erding for F-102 Delta Dagger NATO air defense operations, but had no tactical units assigned. In 1972 the F-102s were withdrawn from Europe and the 52d FG was inactivated.[13]

Modern eraEdit

On 31 March 1992, the group was redesignated the 52d Operations Group (OG) and activated as a result of the USAF objective wing reorganization.[13] Upon activation, the 52d OG assumed responsibility for the 52 Fighter Wing's operational squadrons and the newly activated 52d Operations Support Squadron.

During the 1990s, the wing supported no-fly zone operations over Bosnia and northern Iraq and combat operations against Serbia during Operation Allied Force in 1999. After terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, the wing supported Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, deploying combat and support elements in support of US and NATO missions. Although the group has also provided forces for Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Just Cause, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Coronet Macaw, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Support Justice and Operation Uphold Democracy, its forces were organized into provisional organizations, rather than remaining under group control for operations.

Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II 81-0992 of the 81st Fighter Squadron taxiing at Spangdahlem, September 2012.

On 9 November 2012, the 52nd OG formed a detachment at Łask Air Base in Poland – 52nd OG Det 1.[26]

The 81st Fighter Squadron was inactivated at Spangdahlem on 18 June 2013, leaving the 480th Fighter Squadron as the 52nd OG's sole flying unit.[27]


  • Constituted as the 52d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 16 January 1941
Redesignated 52d Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Redesignated 52d Fighter Group, Single Engine ca. 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Redesignated 52d Fighter Group (All Weather) on 18 October 1946
Activated on 9 November 1946
Redesignated: 52d Fighter Group, All Weather on 10 May 1948
Redesignated: 52d Fighter-All Weather Group on 20 January 1950
Redesignated: 52d Fighter-Interceptor Group on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 6 February 1952
  • Redesignated 52d Fighter Group (Air Defense) on 20 June 1955
Activated on 18 August 1955
Discontinued and inactivated, on 1 July 1963
  • Activated on 30 September 1968
Inactivated on 31 December 1969
  • Redesignated 52d Tactical Fighter Group on 17 February 1970
Activated on 1 April 1971
Inactivated on 31 July 1972
  • Redesignated 52d Operations Group on 1 March 1992
Activated on 31 March 1992[13]



Operational Squadrons

Support Organizations


Awards and campaignsEdit

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
  Distinguished Unit Citation 9 June 1944 52d Fighter Group, Munich[5]
  Distinguished Unit Citation 31 August 1944 52d Fighter Group, Rumania[5]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 19 March 2003 – 16 April 2003 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (31 March 1992) – 30 June 1993 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1993 – 30 June 1995 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 August 1995 – 31 July 1997 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1997 – 30 June 1999 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 24 March 1999 – 1 June 1999 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1999 – 30 June 2001 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2001 – 30 June 2003 52d Operations Group[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2003 – 30 June 2005 52d Operations Group[13]
Campaign or Service Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
  American Theater without inscription 7 December 1941-24 Jun 42 52d Fighter Group
  Air Offensive, Europe 16 August 1942 – 5 June 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Air Combat, EAME Theater 26 August-11 May 1945 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Algeria-French Morocco 9 November 1942 – 11 November 1942 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Tunisia 12 November 1942 – 13 May 1943 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Sicily 14 May 1943 – 17 August 1943 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Naples-Foggia 18 August 1943 – 21 January 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Rome-Arno 22 January 1944 – 9 September 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Southern France 15 August 1944 – 14 September 1944 52d Fighter Group[5]
  North Apennines 10 September 1944 – 4 April 1945 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Central Europe 22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945 52d Fighter Group[5]
  Po Valley 3 April 1945 – 8 May 1945 52d Fighter Group[5]
  World War II Army of Occupation (Germany) 9 November 1946 – 15 June 1947 52d Fighter Group
  Kosovo 52d Operations Group[13]

Aircraft assignedEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ The group uses the 52d Fighter Wing emblem with the group designation on the scroll. Robertson, Factsheet, 52 Operations Group
  2. ^ Between 1946 and 1951, the group held three variations of this designation, becoming the 52d Fighter Group, All Weather in 1948 and the 52d Fighter All-Weather Group in 1950. Robertson, AFHRA Factsheet, 52 Operations Group. Retrieved 3 May 2012


  1. ^ Combat Aircraft. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. September 2019. p. 11.
  2. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p.
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 27-28
  4. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 34-35
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 113–115
  6. ^ a b Watkins, pp. 24–25
  7. ^ Newton & Senning, p. 555
  8. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 521-523
  9. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 523-524
  10. ^ Newton & Senning, pp. 524-525
  11. ^ a b Ravenstein, p. 10
  12. ^ Goss, p. 75
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Robertson, Patsy (17 May 2013). "Factsheet 52 Operations Group (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  14. ^ Grant, p. 33
  15. ^ "Factsheet 2 Fighter Squadron". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 4 January 2008. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  16. ^ Haulman, Daniel L. (8 January 2008). "Factsheet 5 Flying Training Squadron (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  17. ^ Cornett & Johnson, p. 82
  18. ^ Buss, (ed), Sturm, et al., p.6
  19. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 274, 408
  20. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 136
  21. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 145
  22. ^ a b See "Abstract, History 52 Infirmary Jul-Dec 1955". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  23. ^ a b See "Abstract, History 52 Air Base Squadron Jan-Dec 1960". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  24. ^ a b Cornett & Johnson, p. 113
  25. ^ a b Robertson, Patsy (7 May 2013). "Factsheet 52 Fighter Wing (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  26. ^ a b Castillo, Gustavo (13 November 2012). "USAF activates AvDet in Poland". U.S. AIR FORCES IN EUROPE & AIR FORCES AFRICA. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  27. ^ Knee, Daryl (18 June 2013). "Fighter squadron inactivation signals end of A-10s in Europe". Spangdahlem Air Base. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  28. ^ "Abstract, History 52 Dispensary Jul-Dec 1957". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  29. ^ "Factsheet, 606th Air Control Squadron". 52d Fighter Wing Public Affairs. 5 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  30. ^ a b Station numbers in Anderson


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

Further reading

  • Ivie, Tom; Ludwig, Paul (2005). Spitfires and Yellow Tail Mustangs: The 52d Fighter Group in World War 2. Crowborough, East Sussex, UK: Hikoki Publications. ISBN 1-902109-43-0.
  • Rust, Kenn C. (1976). Fifteenth Air Force Story...In World War II. Temple City, CA: Historical Aviation Album. ISBN 0-911852-79-4.
  • Anonymous, (1958) History of the 52d Fighter Group. Suffolk County Air Force Base, NY 52d Fighter Group, 1958.