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23d Fighter Group
23d Wing.jpg
23d Wing Shield
Active 1941-present
Country United States
Branch U.S. Air Force
Type Fighter
Role Close Air Support
Size 900 personnel
48 A-10/OA-10 aircraft
Garrison/HQ Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
Nickname Flying Tigers
Engagements China Offensive
Western Pacific
China Defensive
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Colonel Henry Santicola
Claire L. Chennault
23d Fighter Group A-10 Thunderbolt IIs on alert
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 23d Fighter Group attached to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing takes off for a mission into Iraq, 29 March 2003, from a forward-deployed location in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 23d Fighter Group (23 FG) is a United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 23d Wing and stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

The 23d Fighter Group is a direct descendant organization of the World War II United States Army Air Forces 23d Pursuit Group. The 23d was the United States Army Air Force China Air Task Force organization which the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) -- the "Flying Tigers" -- of the Chinese Air Force were incorporated into.

To honor those American volunteer pilots of the AVG, the aircraft of the 23d Fighter Group have the same unique "Shark Teeth" nose art of the AVG's Curtiss P-40 Warhawks on them, along with the "FT" (Flying Tiger) tail code. The 23d Fighter Group's aircraft are the only United States Air Force aircraft authorized to carry this distinctive and historical aircraft marking.



Currently based at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, the group is assigned as a second operations group of the 23d Wing at Moody. Both organizations serve as part of the Ninth Air Force and Air Combat Command. The 23d Fighter Group's primary missions are forward air control, close air support, air interdiction and combat search and rescue operations.

The group has two operational squadrons assigned: the 74th and the 75th Fighter Squadrons both flying A-10 light attack aircraft.




  • Established as 23d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 17 Dec 1941
Redesignated 23d Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Activated on 4 July 1942
Inactivated on 5 Jan 1946
  • Activated on 10 Oct 1946
Inactivated on 24 Sepy 1949
  • Redesignated 23d Fighter-Interceptor Group on 19 Dec 1950
Activated on 12 Jan 1951
Inactivated on 6 Feb 1952.
  • Established as: 528th Air Defense Group on 15 Feb 1953
  • Redesignated 23d Fighter Group (Air Defense) on 20 Jun 1955
Activated on 18 Aug 1955 by redesignation of 528th Air Defense Group
Inactivated on 1 July 1959
Redesignated 23d Tactical Fighter Group on 31 July 1985
  • Redesignated 23d Operations Group, and activated, on 1 June 1992
Inactivated on 1 Apr 1997.
  • Redesignated 23d Fighter Group on 26 Sept 2006
Activated on 1 Oct 2006.





Ground crews servicing a P-40 of the 23rd FG in 1942.

By June 15, 1942, under orders from Tenth Air Force, an advance cadre had proceeded over the infamous "Hump" route to Kunming, China, and without ceremony, the 23rd Fighter Group was activated July 4, 1942, marking the first such activation of a fighter group on a field of battle.

Claire L. Chennault, meanwhile, had been recalled to active duty with the rank of Brigadier General and placed at the head of the China Air Task Force (later to become Fourteenth Air Force). The 23d Fighter Group, a component of the CATF, was assigned three squadrons — the 74th, 75th and 76th Fighter Squadrons.

The group inherited the mission of the 1st American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers". Five of Chennault’s staff officers, five pilots and 19 ground crewmen entered the U.S. Army Air Forces and became members of the 23d Fighter Group. Approximately 25 AVG pilots, still in civilian status, volunteered to extend their contracts for two weeks to train the new group following the disbanding of their organization.

Others from the ranks of the original Flying Tigers left China when their contracts expired, although some returned to duty later with the Army Air Forces in the China-Burma-India Theater. In addition to inheriting operational responsibilities from the AVG, the 23d Fighter Group also benefited from the knowledge and experience of the AVG pilots, and took on the nickname of the disbanded unit.

Col. Robert L. Scott Jr., became the first commander of the 23d Fighter Group. He would later author the military classic, "God Is My Co-Pilot."

On the very first day of its activation, the 23d Fighter Group engaged three successive waves of enemy aircraft and promptly recorded the destruction of five enemy aircraft with no losses to itself.

The next three years saw the 23d Fighter Group involved in much of the action over southeast and southwest Asia. The unit helped pioneer a number of innovative fighter and fighter-bomber tactics. The Group used its so-called "B-40" (P-40's carrying 1,000-pound bombs) to destroy Japanese bridges and kill bridge repair crews, sometimes demolishing their target with a single bomb..[1] The unit gained another increase in capability with its conversion to the North American P-51 "Mustang" aircraft in November 1943.

General Claire Chennault with a P-51 Mustang and pilots of the 23rd FG

Representative of the encounters undertaken by this small and often ill-equipped group was the defense against a major Japanese push down the Hsiang Valley in Hunan Province June 17-25, 1944. Ignoring inhibiting weather conditions and heavy ground fire, the 23d Fighter Group provided air support for Chinese land forces and repeatedly struck at enemy troops and transportation. Its efforts in this instance earned it the Distinguished Unit Citation for "outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy."

Before the 23d Fighter Group returned to the United States in December 1945, it was credited with destroying 621 enemy planes in air combat, plus 320 more on the ground; with sinking more than 131,000 tons of enemy shipping and damaging another 250,000 tons; and with causing an estimated enemy troop loss of more than 20,000. These statistics were compiled through a total of more than 24,000 combat sorties, requiring more than 53,000 flying hours, and at a cost of 110 aircraft lost in aerial combat, 90 shot down by surface defenses, and 28 bombed while on the ground.

The 23d Fighter Group was inactivated January 5, 1946, in Fort Lewis, Washington.

The 23d Fighter Group was reactivated October 10, 1946, in Guam and assigned to the Twentieth Air Force), equipped with the long-range Republic P-47N Thunderbolt. While stationed in Guam, the 23 FG became a part of the United States Air Force when it became a separate military service on September 18, 1947.

23d Fighter Wing

For history and organization of current USAF group, see 23d Wing

The 23d Fighter Wing was activated on August 10, 1948. The 23d Fighter Group was assigned as the combat group under the 23d Fighter Wing, and is currently an operations group of the re-activated 23d Wing.


  1. ^ CBI Roundup, Vol. II, No. 32, April 20, 1944
  • Donald, David (2004) Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. AIRtime ISBN 1880588684
  • Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
  • Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799536
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Menard, David W. (1998) Before Centuries: USAFE Fighters, 1948-1959. Howell Press Inc. ISBN 1574270796
  • Menard, David W. (1993) USAF Plus Fifteen: A Photo History, 1947-1962. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0887404839
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

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