Spangdahlem AB History


The 52d Fighter Wing, All Weather, was established on 10 May 1948, and activated on 9 June 1948. Stationed at Mitchel Field, New York, the 52d was assigned to First Air Force and attached to Eastern Air Defense Force from 10 November 1949 - 6 February 1952. During this time, the 52d flew F-82 Twin Mustangs and F-94 Starfires.

The wing was redesignated as the 52d Fighter-All Weather Wing on 20 January 1950, and then became the 52d Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 1 May 1951. The wing was inactivated on 6 February 1952, for a short time. However, on 11 April 1963, the wing was redesignated and activated as the 52d Fighter Wing (Air Defense). Stationed at Suffolk County AFB, New York, from 1 July 1963 - 30 September 1968, wing aircrews flew F-101 Voodoos.

Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe, activated the 52d Tactical Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, on 31 December 1971. Upon activation, the 52d possessed two tactical units -- the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and the 39th Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (TEWS). The 23 TFS flew F-4D Phantom IIs while the 39 TEWS operated EB-66 Destroyer aircraft. Headquarters USAFE activated the 39 TEWS at Spangdahlem AB on 1 January 1973. Meanwhile, the 81 TFS, equipped with F-4C Wild Weasel aircraft, moved here from Zweibrucken AB, Germany, on 15 January 1973.

The 52 TFW gained its third fighter squadron with the activation of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB on 15 November 1976. By mid-1982, the unit had exchanged its contingent of F-4C and F-4D airplanes for more advanced F-4E and F-4G jets.

In November 1983, the 52 TFW underwent a major reorganization and became the first and only all-defense suppression wing outside of the United States. Under this configuration, each of the wing's three fighter squadrons flew a mixture of E and G model F-4 fighters. The airplanes were paired into Wild Weasel hunter/killer teams capable of locating and destroying enemy radar-guided, surface-to-air threats in any weather.

In April 1987, the wing began changing with the times and replaced its aging F-4E jets with brand new F-16C/D Fighting Falcons just off the production line. The last operational E model F-4 Phantom II aircraft departed Spangdahlem AB in December 1987.

With this changeover, the 52 TFW secured a place in Air Force history by becoming the first wing to successfully employ two completely different fighters in a hunter/killer role within each of its tactical fighter squadrons. Together, the F-4G and F-16C airplanes were capable of delivering almost any munitions in the Air Force inventory with pinpoint accuracy.

The 52 TFW contributed to its proud history by earning the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor for its accomplishments during the Persian Gulf conflict with Iraq. The Air Force Association also recognized the wing's distinctive accomplishments in the Gulf War by awarding the 52 TFW its Citation of Honor -- the only such Air Force unit to receive this coveted accolade.

In all, the 52d dispatched 48 aircraft and 1,000 support personnel to Southwest Asia. In 40 days of combat, F-4G and F-16C fighters from Spangdahlem AB logged 2,061 sorties and 7,200 flying hours over Iraq and occupied Kuwait. They destroyed 142 separate radar sites and along with other coalition aircraft, were credited with destroying the entire Iraqi air defense system within the first few days of combat.

As part of a massive Air Force restructuring effort, the 52 TFW became the 52d Fighter Wing in October 1991 and converted to an objective wing organizational structure in March 1992. In January 1993, the wing gained its fourth tactical unit with the activation of the 510th Fighter Squadron. In late June 1993, the 52 FW also began its long awaited conversion to the Block 50 F-16C fighter, the most advanced F-16 aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

The 52d's final F-4G fighters departed Spangdahlem AB in January 1994. In February 1994, the 510 FS inactivated at Spangdahlem. Also, the 22 FS and 53 FS moved to Spangdahlem from Bitburg.

By October 1994, the 52 FW was the only remaining fighter wing in Germany. The 36th Fighter Wing at nearby Bitburg Air Base inactivated on 30 September 1994. At that time, the operational portion of Bitburg Air Base was returned to the German government. The housing area and French Caserne became the Bitburg Annex to Spangdahlem Air Base.

In 1995, the 52d Fighter Wing's mission shifted from "fight in place" to "deployment/employment." In 1996, the 52d displayed its new deployment/ employment capability when Headquarters Allied Air Forces Central Europe conducted its first-ever deploy/employ tactical evaluation. Once again, Team Eifel rose to the challenge.

The 52d Fighter Wing gained four new squadrons in August 1996. Headquarters USAFE activated and assigned the 52d, 752d, and 852d Munitions Support Squadrons to the 52 FW. Also, HQ USAFE assigned the 470th Air Base Squadron to the wing. The four squadrons were formerly assigned to the 617th Regional Support Group.

The 52d continued making history in 1997 with its first-ever deployment to a former Warsaw Pact nation. In September 1997, the 52d participated in EAGLE'S TALON-97, the first bilateral exercise involving US and Polish Air Forces. Units from the 52d deployed under the air expeditionary force (AEF) doctrine and formed the 52d Combined Air and Space Expeditionary Wing, operating out of Powidz AB, Krzesiny AB, and Poznan, Poland.

Calendar Year 1998 proved to be a rewarding year for the wing. The 52d received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period 1 July 1995 -- 30 June 1997. Furthermore, the wing was named winner of the 1998 Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award and received $500,000 for use in base quality of life improvements.

During the second quarter of FY 99, the 52d witnessed the inactivation of the 53rd Fighter Squadron. The 53rd had called Spangdahlem Air Base home since February 1994 when the squadron moved from Bitburg AB, Germany. As the squadron prepared for its inactivation in March 1999, all of the F-15s were transferred to Langley AFB, Virginia, and RAF Lakenheath, England.

On 6 April 1999, the 52d Fighter Wing (52d Air Expeditionary Wing) conducted the first combat sorties flown from Germany since World War II in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE (OAF). In addition to operating from Spangdahlem AB, the 52d deployed personnel and equipment to Aviano AB and Lecce, Italy, to support OAF. Operation ALLIED FORCE proved to be the largest military endeavor undertaken by the 52d Fighter Wing since Operation DESERT STORM. Units assigned to the 52d generated over 3,000 sorties in support of OAF.

Due to the tragic events that occurred in the continental United States during September 2001, the 52d Fighter Wing began preparing for possible combat taskings in addition to an already busy deployment schedule. Within one month of the tragic World Trade Center and Pentagon aircraft crashes on 11 September 2001, the 52d had deployed personnel and equipment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM activities over Afghanistan. Within 100 hours of receiving notification, the 22d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron began flying operations at a deployed location. Personnel assigned to the 52d Fighter Wing continue to deploy in support Operation ENDURING FREEDOM today.

In an effort to realign maintenance and logistics functions at Spangdahlem AB, HQ USAFE reorganized the 52d Fighter Wing on 1 July 2002. Although the reorganization did not begin until July 2002, the 52d began active participation in the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Logistics Review designed to streamline and improve USAF logistical and maintenance processes on 24 Aug 2001. After being selected as one of seventeen test bases, the 52d began integrating the 52d Supply Squadron and 52d Transportation Squadron functions into the 52d Logistics Readiness Squadron, Provisional. As part of the reorganization, HQ USAFE redesignated several units 1 July 2002: the 52d Logistics Group became the 52d Maintenance Group; the 52d Support Group became the 52d Mission Support Group; the 52d Supply Squadron became the 52d Logistics Readiness Squadron; the 52d Component Repair Squadron became the 52d Component Maintenance Squadron; and the 52d Logistics Support Squadron became the 52d Maintenance Operations Squadron. In addition, HQ USAFE activated the 52d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and inactivated the 52d Transportation Squadron. Lastly, the 52d Contracting Squadron was moved from the 52d Logistics Group to the 52d Mission Support Group.

In addition to the historically significant events already mentioned, the men and women of Team Eifel remain involved in numerous deployments around the globe -- the members of the 52d Fighter Wing are always prepared to SEEK ATTACK DESTROY.

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