61st Fighter Squadron

The 61st Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted Nov. 20, 1940. It was activated Jan. 15, 1941, in Savannah, Ga., training in P-39 Aircobra and P-40 Warhawks. The 61st later moved to Charlotte, N.C., in May 1941 and again to Charleston, S.C., in December 1941, to help defend the East Coast.In November 1942, P-47 dive test pilots achieved 725 mph, faster than the speed of sound. In 1944, it was recognized as the first fighter squadron in the European theater to score over 100 victories. During 1943 to 1945, the 61st produced 19 Aces, the highest of any squadron in Europe, destroying 248 aircraft in the air and 67.5 aircraft on the ground. It was deactivated October 1945 at Camp Kilmer, NJ and reactivated at Selfridge Field, MI training in P-47's while transitioning to P-51 Mustangs. In April 1950, the 61st transitioned to the F-80 Shooting Star and later was the first squadron to fly the F-86A Sabre. The 61st was deactivated July 25, 1960, at Truax Field, WI flying the F-102 Delta Dagger. In June 1975, the 61st was reactivated at MacDill AFB, Fla., flying the F-4 Phantom (later the F-4D). In April 1980, the flying mission changed to the F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon. The 61st transitioned in June 1988 to flying the F-16 C/D and the squadron was deactivated at MacDill AFB in January 1994. The squadron was reactivated on April 1, 1994 at Luke AFB, Ariz., replacing the former 314th Fighter Squadron flying the F-16 C/D Fighting Falcon. The squadron's current mission is to train the best F-16 pilots in the world. Their nickname is "Top Dogs."

VIRIN: 090121-F-JZ032-548.JPG
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