53rd Fighter Group (USAAF)

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The 53rd Fighter Group served in the Panama Canal Zone and as a training unit, before being disbanded in 1944.

The group was constituted as the 53rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November and activated on 15 January 1941. It trained with the P-35 and P-40, before moving to Panama in December 1941.

The group spent nearly a year as part of the defence force for the Panama Canal Zone, equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobra. It returned to the United States in November 1942.

After returning to the US the group became part of the Third Air Force, and was based in Florida. It was used to train replacement pilots in the P-39, P47 and P-51. The unit was disbanded on 1 May 1944, as were all four of its fighter squadrons.




1941: Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
1942: Bell P-39 Airacobra
1943-1944: Bell P-39 Airacobra, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American P-51 Mustang


2o November 1940 Constituted as 53rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
15 January 1941 Activated
December 1941 To Panama Canal Zone
May 1942 Redesignated 53rd Fighter Group
November 1942 To United States
1 May 1944 Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Hugo P Rush: 15 Jan 1941
Maj Eugene C Fleming: 9 May 1941
Col Earl W Barnes: 1 Jun 1941
Lt Col Don L Wilhelm Jr: 28 Jun 1942
Col Morley F Slaght: 11 Apr 1943
Lt Col Anthony V Grossetta: 22 Sep 1943
Col Bryan B Harper: Oct 1943-1 May 1944

Main Bases

MacDill Field, Fla: 15 Jan 1941
Tallahassee, Fla: 8 May-8 Dec 1941
Howard Field, CZ: 1 Jan-10 Nov 1942
Dale Mabry Field, Fla: 26 Nov 1942
Drew Field, Fla: 7 Jan 1943
Ft Myers, Fla: 5 Feb 1943-1 May 1944.

Component Units

13th: 1941-1944
14th: 1941-1944
15th: 1941-1944
438th: 1943-1944

Assigned To

1941-42: 12th Pursuit Wing; Panama Canal Zone
1942: XXVI Fighter Command; Sixth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 May 2018), 53rd Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/53rd_Fighter_Group.html

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