176th Fighter Squadron
The 176th Fighter Squadron flies the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. It is a unit of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Its parent unit is the 115th Fighter Wing.
The 176th Fighter Squadron was organized at Truax Field, Wisconsin in 1948. The P-51 Mustang was the aircraft assigned to the unit. In 1950, 10 of the unit's 25 Mustangs were shipped to Korea in support of the Korean War effort. In February 1951, the 176th Fighter Squadron was called to active duty but remained at Truax Field.
During the active duty tour, the 176th Fighter Squadron converted its aircraft to the F-89 Scorpion. They became the first Air National Guard unit to fly the modern jet fighter. In October 1952, the 176th returned to reserve status and state control, and converted back to the F-51 Mustang.
In October 1953, The 176th Fighter Squadron converted from F-51's to the F-86 Sabrejet. The F-86 was the first US jet aircraft to successfully use swept back wing geometry. The combination of swept wing and automatic extending leading edge slats provided for both stability at low speeds and low drag at high speeds. The top speed For the F-86A variant was 685 MPH. The F-86 was used extensively in the Korean conflict, and F86 pilots held a 10-1 kill ratio over Russian MIG aircraft in that era. 39 of the 40 United Nations aces in Korea were F-86 pilots.
The 176th Fighter Squadrons only summer training with the F-86 was at the Alpena Training Center in Alpena, Michigan in 1954. In October 1954 the F-86's were replaced with the F-89 Scorpion.
In October 1954 The 176th Fighter Squadron was re-assigned the F-89 Scorpion, which they had flown briefly in 1952 during the unit's Korean Conflict activation. The aircraft, designed as an "All Weather" fighter interceptor, carried a pilot and radar operator.
Summer training in 1955 was at home station. From 1956 to 1962 summer training moved to Volk Field. And from 1963 on, training moved to "year around" training. In January 1960 F-89 crews were put on active duty status and the unit was assigned an around-the-clock runway alert commitment of two armed aircraft. Along with this commitment came the F-89J with an armament platform that included the AIR-2 Genie. The AIR-2A was the first US air to air rocket with a nuclear warhead.
In early 1966 the squadron turned in their F-89's for the F-102 Delta Dagger.
In May 1966 the 176th Fighter Squadron replaced their F-89's with the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. In the spring of 1967 after a period of re-training in the new supersonic interceptors, the 176th resumed its air defense "runway alert" mission. One year later in June 1969, the unit airlifted to Gulfport, Mississippi for summer training, ending six years of "year around" training at home base.
In September 1972, the 176th won the prestigious "William Tell Competition" in the F-102 category. The event, held at Tyndall Air Force Base, included top Air National Guard, Canadian Air Force and active US Air Force units worldwide. The competition included 12 teams of 48 aircraft, each team scored on aerial marksmanship, weapons control, weapons loading and maintenance.
In December 1974 the unit's F-102's were replaced by the Cessna O2-A.
In November 1979 the 176th Fighter Squadron changed its mission from Air Defense, to Tactical Air Support. Along with the mission change came a new unit designation, the 176th Tactical Air Support Squadron, and new aircraft, the Cessna O-2A. The O-2 was the military version of the Cessna 337 Skymaster, a high wing, twin boom aircraft with a unique centerline pusher/tractor twin engine configuration. The O-2A version, used by the 176th TASS, was used in forward air control, (FAC), missions, often in conjunction with a ground FAC & ROMAD, (radio operator, maintenance, and driver), team. Operating speed was 80-200 MPH. Aircraft ordinance, on 4 pylons, included rockets, flares, and other light armament including 7.62mm mini guns.
On 13 November 1979, now replaced by the OA-37 Dragonfly, the last O-2A left Truax Field for the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base "bone yard".
In 1979 the 176th Tactical Air Support Squadron converted to the OA-37, and at that time became the first unit in the Air Force to convert to a jet aircraft, forward air control mission. With most of the pilots and maintenance crews having prior jet aircraft experience with the 102's, the unit was able to transition the OA-37 to C-1 status, (full combat ready), in less than six months.
The OA-37 had a top speed of 507 mph. Armament included one nose mounted 7.62mm mini-gun, and eight under wing hardpoints capable of carrying up to 4,800 pounds of ordinance.
Awards during the OA-37 era included an overall rating of "Excellent" in the unit's Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI), the Distinguished Flying Award and their first Force Outstanding Unit Award.
By late 1981, A-10 Thunderbolts were replacing the OA-37s at Truax Field.
On 1 October 1981, the 176th Tactical Air Support Squadron was redesignated the 176th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Along with the mission change came a new aircraft, the A-10 Thunderbolt, nickname "Warthog". Designed specifically for close air support, its low speed maneuverability and design for survivability made the A-10 an excellent weapons delivery system for ground targets. The A-10's most dominant feature is its seven barrel GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing at up to 70 "tank busting" rounds per second.
During the A-10 era the unit received two "Outstanding Unit" Awards, three Air Force Flight Safety Awards, and in 1991 an "Outstanding" in its Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI). Deployments included: Operation Coronet Cove to Panama, and "Checkered Flag" missions to bases in Germany and England.
In 1992 the unit began its conversion to the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
On 16 March 1992 the 17th6 Tactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated the 176 Fighter Squadron. Soon after it began converting over to the General Dynamics, (now Lockheed Martin) "Block 30" F-16C Fighting Falcon. Also occurring at this time was a command change from the Air Force's Tactical Air Command (TAC) to the newly created Air Combat Command (ACC). F-16C Armament includes one M-61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon and nine external stations for munitions and electronic countermeasure pods.
Operations participated in during this era include: Operation Coronet Chariot, Karup AS, Denmark 1994, Operation Northern Watch, Incirlik AB, Turkey 1997, Operation Southern Watch, Al Jaber AB, Kuwait 1997-98, Operation Southern Watch, Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia 1999, Operation Coronet Nighthawk, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom, Al Udeid AB, Qatar 2004-05, and Operation Noble Eagle, Sept. 11, 2001 to present.
Air National Guard/Tactical Air Command -1962-1992
Air National Guard/Air Combat Command -1992-Present
306th Fighter Squadron - 16 July 1942 - 1 May 1944
176th Fighter Squadron - 24 May 1946 Activated -6 Oct 1948
176th Fighter Interceptor Squadron - Apr 1952
176th Tactical Air Support Squadron - 9 Nov 1974
176th Tactical Fighter Squadron - 15 Nov 1981
176th Fighter Squadron 15 Mar 1992
Dale Mabry Field, Florida - 22 July 1942 - 1 May 1944
Truax Field, Wisconsin - 6 Oct 1948 - Present
P-39 Air Cobra - 1942-1943
P-40 Warhawk - 1942-1943
P-47 Thunderbolt - 1943-1944
P-51 Mustang - 1943
F-51D Mustang - 6 Oct 1948
F-89A Scorpion - Apr 1952 (partially equipped - retained F-51D)
F-51H Mustang - 31 Oct 1952
F-86A Sabre - Oct 1954
F-89B/C Scorpion - Oct 1955
F-89D Scorpion - July 1957
F-86H Scorpian - 1959
F-86J Scorpian - Jan 1960
F-102A Delta Dagger - May 1966 - 9 Nov 1974
O-2A Skymaster - Fall 1974
OA-37A Dragonfly - Fall 1979
A-10A Thunderbolt II - Fall 1981
F-16C/D Fighting Falcon - 1 Apr 1993