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27th Special Operations Wing
27th Special Operations Wing.png
Active 1947-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part of Air Force Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Cannon Air Force Base
Decorations Streamer PUC Army.PNG DUC
Stephen A. Clark
Lance L. Smith
Units, people and aircraft of the 27th Special Operations Wing

The 27th Special Operations Wing (27 SOW) is a wing of the United States Air Force stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. It is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The 27 SOW is the newest active-duty wing of AFSOC.

The mission of the 27 SOW includes infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces; air refueling of special operations rotary wing and tiltrotor aircraft; and precision fire support. These capabilities support a variety of special operations missions including direct action, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, personnel recovery, psychological operations and information operations.

The 27 SOW also is responsible for Melrose Range, an air training range near the neighboring town of Melrose, New Mexico.

The Wing's origins date to 1939 as the 27th Bombardment Group. The group fought in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean, Middle East and African theatres. Its ground personnel fought as infantry in the 1941-1942 Battle of Bataan with the survivors being forced to march as prisoners in the Bataan Death March. Its air echelon went on to be awarded five Distinguished Unit Citations and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The Airmen of the 27th were among the most decorated USAAF units of the war. The 27th Special Operations Group carries the lineage and history of its highly decorated World War II predecessor unit.



3d Special Operations Squadron (3 SOS)
16th Special Operations Squadron (16 SOS)
27th Special Operations Support Squadron (27 SOSS)
33d Special Operations Squadron (33 SOS)
73d Special Operations Squadron (73 SOS)
318th Special Operations Squadron (318 SOS)
Det. 1 25th Intelligence Squadron (Det. 1 25 IS)
  • 27th Special Operations Mission Support Group (27 SOMSG)
27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron
27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron
27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron
27th Special Operations Contracting Squadron
27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron
  • 27th Special Operations Maintenance Group (27 SOMXG)
27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron
27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
27th Special Operations Equipment Maintenance Squadron
27th Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron
  • 27th Special Operations Medical Group (27 SOMDG)
27th Special Operations Medical Operations Sq
27th Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Sq
27th Special Operations Medical Support Sq


See 27th Special Operations Group for additional history and lineage information


  • Established as 27 Fighter Wing on 28 Jul 1947
Organized on 15 Aug 1947
Redesignated: 27 Fighter-Escort Wing on 1 Feb 1950
Redesignated: 27 Strategic Fighter Wing on 20 Jan 1953
Redesignated: 27 Fighter-Bomber Wing on 1 Jul 1957
Redesignated: 27 Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 Jul 1958
Redesignated: 27 Fighter Wing on 1 Oct 1991
Redesignated: 27 Special Operations Wing on 1 Oct 2007.


Attached to Far East Air Forces, 19 Nov-29 Nov 1950
Attached to Fifth Air Force, 30 Nov 1950-15 Jul 1951
Attached to Far East Air Forces, 6-13 Oct 1952
Attached to 39th Air Division [Defense], 13 Oct 1952-c. 13 Feb 1953
Attached to 7th Air Division, 7 May-17 Aug 1955
Attached to 834th Air Division, 15 Jul 1958-18 Feb 1959
Attached to 3 Air Division [Provisional], 21 Oct-1 Dec 1962








Postwar era

Established as 27 Fighter Wing on 28 July 1947 at Kearney AAF Nebraska with the 27th Fighter Group as its operational component. Fighter Squadrons of the 27th were the 522d, 523d and 524th.

The 27th was initially equipped with the North American P-51D Mustang, and in 1948 was upgraded to the new North American F-82E Twin Mustang. In June 1948 the designation "P" for pursuit was changed to "F" for fighter. Subsequently, all P-51s were redesignated F-51s. The mission of the 27th Fighter Wing was to fly long-range escort missions for SAC Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. With the arrival of the F-82s, the older F-51s were sent to Air National Guard units.

The first production F-82Es reached the 27th in early 1948, and almost immediately the group was deployed to McChord AFB, Washington, in June where its squadrons stood on alert on a secondary air defense mission due to heightened tensions over the Berlin Airlift. It was also believed that the 27th would launch an escort mission, presumably to the Soviet Union, if conflict broke out in Europe. From McChord, the group flew its Twin Mustangs on weather reconnaissance missions over the northwest Pacific, but problems were encountered with their fuel tanks. Decommissioned F-61 Black Widow external tanks were found at Hamilton AFB, California that could be modified for the F-82 which were fitted on the pylons of the Twin Mustang that solved the problem. With a reduction in tensions, the 27th returned to its home base in Nebraska during September where the unit settled down to transition flying with their aircraft.[2]

Four F-82s were deployed to Alaska from McChord where the pilots provided transition training to the 449th Fighter (All Weather) Squadron which used Twin Mustangs in the air defense mission. They remained in Alaska for about 45 days, returning to rejoin the rest of the group at the beginning of November 1948.[2]

In January 1949, Eighth Air Force planned a large celebration at Carswell AFB. All of its assigned units were to participate in a coordinated flyover. Most of SAC's bombers were to participate, along with SAC's only "Long Range" fighter group, the 27th. The weather in Nebraska in January that year was especially horrible, with most airports in the Midwest weathered in the day of the display. At Kearney AFB, the base was socked-in with a blizzard. Nevertheless, the crews had an early morning mission briefing, the aircraft in the hangars were preflighted and prepared for the flyover mission. Paths were cut though the snow for the aircraft to taxi and somehow the F-82s got airborne, with the 27th's Twin Mustangs joining up with SAC bombers over Oklahoma on schedule. The flyover by the Twin Mustangs was a tremendous success, with SAC leadership being amazed that the F-82 was truly an "all weather" aircraft and the 27th being able to carry out their mission despite the weather.[2]

In early 1949, the 27th began carrying out long-range escort profile missions. Flights to Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Bahamas and nonstop to Washington D.C were carried out. For President Truman's 1949 inauguration, the 27th FEW launched 48 aircraft to fly in review, along with several other fighter units, in formation down Pennsylvania Avenue. Another flyover over the newly -dedicated Idlewild Airport in New York City soon followed, with the aircraft flying non-stop from Kearney AFB.[2]

With the tight defense budgets in the late 1940s, the decision was made by Strategic Air Command decided to close Kearney AFB in 1949. The 27th Fighter Wing was transferred to Bergstrom AFB Texas on 16 March.

At Bergstrom, the 27th transitioned to jet aircraft with Republic Aviation F-84E Thunderjet in 1950, and was redesignated the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing on 1 February. The wing won the Mackay Trophy for successful deployment of 90 F-84s from Bergstrom AFB, to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base West Germany, in September 1950, via Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, and England. This was the Second (the first being the 20th FG flying 64 F-84Ds on 20 Jul 1950 during Operation "READY" from Shaw AB, SC to RAF Manston, UK) long-range mass flight of jet aircraft in aviation history.

Korean War

1950: F-84G Thunderjets of the 27th Fighter Escort Wing arrive at a Japan Air Defense Force base in northern Japan after completing a trans-Pacific flight.

The Korean War began in June 1950 and by November the wing was transferred with the advance echelon landing at Taegu AB, South Korea on 5 December and the rear echelon at Itazuke AB, Japan on 1 December. Combat operations in support of the United Nations ground forces began immediately and continued after the advance echelon was transferred to Itazuke in late January 1951.

The 27th Fighter Escort Wing was one of the first F-84 units to see combat action in Korea and earned numerous honors and awards for their combat record during the Korean War.

On 21 January 1951, Lt. Col. William Bertram, commander of the 523rd Fighter-Escort Squadron, shot down the first MiG-15 for the wing and became the first F-84 pilot with a confirmed MiG kill. Two days later, on 23 January, the 27th FEW participated in the raid on Sinuju Air Field in North Korea and shot down four more MiG-15s. By the time the group rotated back to the United States, they had flown more than 23,000 combat hours in more than 12,000 sorties.

For its Korean War service, the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing received the Distinguished Unit Citation, covering the period of 26 January through 21 April 1951, for their actions in Korea.

The 27th was relieved of its duties supporting U.N. forces in Korea and returned to Bergstrom on 31 July 1951, but was redeployed to Misawa AB, Japan during 6 October 1952 - 13 February 1953 to provide air defense.

Cold War

On 20 January 1953 the wing was redesignated as the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing.

Wing pilot Capt Forrest W. Wilson, in an F-84G, won the Allison Trophy jet aircraft race of the National Aircraft Show at Dayton, Ohio, on 6 September 1953, flying the 110.3-mile course at an average speed of 537.802 mph in 12:17.2 minutes.

From June 1953 - June 1957 the 27th had air refueling as an additional mission, with the 27th Air Refueling Squadron flying the KB-29P aerial tanker.

On 1 July 1957, the 27th was redesigned the 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing and was assigned to Tactical Air Command along with Bergstrom AFB. The wing also received the new McDonnell F-101A Voodoo. Consisting of the 481st, 522d, and 523d Fighter-Bomber squadrons, the mission of the 27th FBW was to deliver a centerline nuclear bomb to a target. The F-101A was capable of little else and although designated as a fighter aircraft, it had poor aerial combat capabilities and would not have fared well in any air-to-air combat against enemy aircraft. Maj Adrian E. Drew, wing F-101 project officer, broke the world speed record on 12 Dec 1957 when he flew an F-101A over a Mojave Desert course at 1,212.8 mph in one direction and 1,207.5 mph in the opposite direction.

HQ USAF redesignated the wing the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 July 1958 as part of a worldwide naming change.

On 18 February 1959, the 27th was deactivated in place, as SAC reacquired Bergstrom as a B-52/KC-135 base. The 27th was immediately transferred and reactivated at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, being equipped with the North American F-100 "Super Sabre", replacing the 312th Tactical Fighter Wing.

Vietnam War

North American F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre Serial 56-3867 of the 524th TFS in Vietnam-Era camouflage.

During the Vietnam War, the 27th TFW deployed individual F-100 squadrons to Southeast Asia, which included Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Units from Cannon deployed the first F-100 squadron to Thailand in 1962-1963, and South Vietnam in 1964. Beginning in 1964 and throughout the Vietnam War years squadrons from the 27th TFW were deployed and detached to Air Force units and bases around the world. The 27th did not recombine as a cohesive wing until 1973.

In December 1965, with most of its operational squadrons deployed, the mission of the 27th changed from a Tactical Fighter Wing to a replacement training unit. The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing became the largest such unit in TAC. The 4585th Student Squadron was initially activated on 1 January 1966 to perform this mission. Later, the 4429th Combat Crew Training Squadron was activated on 15 May 1968 as a 2d training squadron, replacing the deployed 523d TFS.

Many F-100 pilots that flew in the Vietnam War were trained at Cannon AFB. From Cannon, the aircrews were transferred to the F-100 bases in South Vietnam - Phù Cát Air Base (37th TFW); Phan Rang AB (35th TFW) and Tuy Hoa AB (31st TFW).

The 27th also trained forward air controllers and air liaison officers in Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars from 1969 to 1976. The 4468 Tac Control Squadron initially performed this mission in 1969, being replaced by the 609th Tac Control Squadron. The 609th TCS was inactivated on 15 June 1976.

Post-Vietnam era

27th TFW General Dynamics F-111F Serial 72-1451 in the early 1990s
429th ECS General Dynamics EF-111A Ravens being retired at Davis-Monthan AFB Arizona upon arrival at AMARC, 1 April 1988. Serials 67-052 and 66-050 identifiable.

With the withdrawal of the F-100 from Vietnam in 1970, and the phaseout of the aircraft from the active Air Force inventory, the 27th TFW began conversion to the General Dynamics F-111D "Aardvark".

In July 1969, on loan from Nellis AFB Nevada, 10 F-111As facilitated training while the wing waited for its own planes. F-111Es began arriving in October 1969, but their stay was short. In the summer of 1971 wing aircrews ferried the last of them to RAF Upper Heyford England. In 1971, the 27th TFW received the first of its F-111Ds, and in July 1972, the last operational active duty Air Force F-100s were transferred from the 27th TFW to the Air National Guard.

The mission of the 27th TFW expanded in 1988 as a result of decisions made by the Secretary of Defense’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closures when the 27th was equipped with the F-111G. (The "G" model was a conversion of the SAC FB-111A all-weather strategic bombing version of the F-111, which was originally intended as an interim successor to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and Convair B-58 Hustler.) These aircraft, less their nuclear delivery capability, were transferred to Cannon following the disbandment of SAC's 509th Bomb Wing at Pease AFB New Hampshire and the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, New York.

The F-111Gs were used primarily for training, but was scheduled to be supplanted in the training role by the F-111E. This made the F-111G surplus to USAF requirements, and the F-111G began to be transferred to AMARC for storage in 1991 with the arrival of the "E" models with the 428th TFTS. The last G model was sent to AMARC in 1993.

Personnel of the 27th TFW played a role during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Aircrews and aircraft of the 27th did not deploy to the region, but support personnel and a combat support group element of the wing's 27th Combat Support Group, commanded by Colonel David Benson, deployed to Taif. On 16 January 1991, when the U.S. led coalition force initiated the Desert Storm air campaign against Iraq, the 27th TFW had 325 personnel serving in the Persian Gulf region in combat support roles.

Modern era

On 1 November 1991, the 27 TFW was re-designated the 27th Fighter Wing as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization. As part of the implentation of the "Objective Wing" concept adapted by the Air Force The 27th Operations Group was bestowed the lineage, honors and history of its predecessor history and honors of the 27 Tactical Fighter Group and its predecessor units. The 27 OG took control of the wings fighter squadrons upon activation.

In June 1992, the 27 FW became part of a new major command - Air Combat Command. ACC was created when SAC, TAC, and the Military Airlift Command merged to form two commands, ACC and the Air Mobility Command.

After enemy attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, the wing deployed personnel and aircraft globally in operations associated with the War on Terror.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the Cannon Air Force Base website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource.
  • Freeman, Roger A. (2000) The Mighty Eighth: A History of the Units, Men and Machines of the US 8th Air Force, Cassell Books, 3d edition ISBN 978-1854095312.
  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
  • Menard, David W. (1993) USAF Plus Fifteen - A Photo History 1947 - 1962. Lancaster, PA: Schiffer Books ISBN 0-88740-483-9.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • [1] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to Present
  • [2] Air Force Historical Research Agency, 27th Fighter Wing

External links


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