173d Air Refueling Squadron

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173d Air Refueling Squadron
173d Air Refueling Squadron - Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker 59-1495.jpg
173d Air Refueling Squadron - Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker 59-1495
Active 1943-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Nebraska
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Air Refueling
Part of Nebraska Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Lincoln Air National Guard Base, Nebraska
Tail Code White Tail Stripe, "Nebraska" Red letters
Engagements World War II
173d Air Refueling Squadron emblem 173rd Air Refueling Squadron emblem.jpg

The 173d Air Refueling Squadron (173d ARS) is a unit of the Nebraska Air National Guard 155th Air Refueling Wing. It is assigned to Lincoln Air National Guard Base, Nebraska and is equipped with the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.


World War II

see 401st Fighter Squadron for full World War II history

Established on 22 Jul 1943 at Westover Field, Massachusetts as the 401st Fighter Squadron, equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts. Deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), and assigned to Ninth Air Force in England. Engaged in combat operations until May 1945. Returned to the United States during September–November 1945, and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Nebraska Air National Guard

Became a P-51D Mustang squadron in the Nebraska Air National Guard, July 1946. It was the second Air National Guard unit established, assigned to the Iowa ANG 132d Fighter Group. Assigned to Lincoln Airport, a former Second Air Force training field during World War II. With the long runways of the airport, was upgraded to P-80A Shooting Star jet aircraft in early 1948. In 1950 the unit was the first Air National Guard organization to win the Winston P. Wilson Trophy as the outstanding jet fighter unit. It was the first of five Wilson trophies to be awarded to the Nebraska organization.

Activated to Federal Service during the Korean War, sent to Dow AFB, Maine Used by TAC to train replacement pilots in F-51D Mustang ground support operations, also deployed unit members to Japan and Korea to fly combat missions. The 132d was moved to Alexandria AFB, Louisiana in May 1952 again with F-51s replacing the federalized Oklahoma ANG 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing which was deployed to France. Performed training as a tactical fighter unit until relieved from active service and returned to Nebraska ANG jurisdiction in January 1953.

File:Nebraska ANG pilots on alert c1950s.jpg
Pilots from the 173rd Fighter Squadron, 155th Fighter Group, Nebraska Air National Guard, running to their planes during a practice alert at Lincoln Air Force Base, Nebraska (USA), before 1953, when the unit was redesignated Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

Upon returning to Lincoln, was forced to share runway and facilities with the new Strategic Air Command provisional 4120th Air Base Group and extensive construction enlarging the airport to support SAC bombers as Lincoln Air Force Base. Was re-equipped with F-80C Shooting Star jets and the 173d was re-designated as a Fighter-Interceptor squadron in the fall of 1953, with Air Defense Command (ADC) becoming the gaining organization. Its new mission was the air defense of Nebraska and specifically the air defense of the new SAC facility, which was programmed to receive the Air Forces new B-47 Stratojet intercontinental jet bomber in 1954.

In 1955 the 173d was authorized new facilities. A new site was located south of the commercial air terminal adjoining the Air Force base and the unit moved to its new facilities in the fall of 1956. Two years later, the unit moved into a vacated Naval Air Reserve hangar and turned its "old" hangar over to the Nebraska Army National Guard. Since that time, additional facilities were built on the 166 acres (0.67 km2) of the Lincoln Air National Guard Base. Army aviation and other Army units remain tenants today.

Was upgraded to F-86D Sabre Interceptors in 1957, and the modified F-86L all-weather Interceptor in 1959 which could be computer controlled by the ground SAGE direction system to intercept target unknown aircraft. In 1960, ADC decided to expand the organization to a group level, activating the 155th Fighter-Interceptor Group at Lincoln AFB on 1 July; with jurisdiction of the 173d being transferred from the Iowa ANG 132d Fighter Group to the new 155th FIG.

Remained under ADC until 1964 with the planned retirement of the B-47. Received RF-84F Thunderstreak photo-reconnaissance aircraft and became a Tactical Air Command reconnaissance squadron. In January 1965 the SAC 307th Bomb Wing began phasing down at Lincoln AFB and the base was closed on 6 June 1966; returning it to its original role, that of a municipal airport with a collocated Air National Guard Base.

The 173d remained a tactical reconnaissance squadron, being upgraded to the RF-4C Phantom II in 1972. With the retirement of the Phantom in the early 1990s and the end of the Cold War, was re-aligned as a KC-135 Stratotanker Air Refueling Squadron, gained by Air Mobility Command.


Legacy World War II 401st Fighter Squadron emblem
173d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron - Emblem
  • Constituted 401st Fighter Squadron on 22 Jul 1943
Activated on 25 Jul 1943
Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945
173rd Fighter Squadron (Single-Engine) extended federal recognition on 26 Jul 1946
Re-designated: 173d Fighter Squadron (Jet) in Spring 1948
Ordered into active service on 1 April 1951
Relieved from active duty and returned to Nebraska ANG, on 1 Jan 1953
Re-designated: 173d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 Jan 1953
Re-designated: 173d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in Fall 1953
Re-designated: 173d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 May 1964
Re-designated: 173d Reconnaissance Squadron on 15 Mar 1992
Re-designated: 173d Air Refueling Squadron on 1 Oct 1995





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

External links