21st Fighter Squadron Gamblers Plaque
A hand crafted 14 inch plaque of the 21st Fighter Squadron Gamblers.
The 21st Fighter Squadron is part of the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. It is a United States Air Force squadron that operates Taiwanese-owned General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting fighter and maintenance training for the pilots and maintainers of the Republic of China Air Force.
Prior to reforming at Luke in 1997, the 21st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron operated McDonnell F-4E Phantom IIs at George Air Force Base, California until 1993.
The 21st Fighter Squadron, ‘The Gamblers’, operate the Block 20 F-16A/B for the Republic of China Air Force, under a three-year pilot training program called ‘Peace Fenghuang’. This is the only squadron at Luke Air Force Base to operate the original F-16 variant, which are unusual in being 93 fiscal year serial new build Block 20 aircraft.
The squadron is to:
Hone combat skills for ROCAF and USAF pilots to peak readiness.
Build lasting friendships for ROC and US National Security interests.
Preserve ROCAF and USAF resources for combat taskings.
Enhance quality of life and promote personal and professional growth.
World War II
The unit was activated in October 1944 as a very long range Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighter-escort squadron for B-29 Superfortress units engaged in the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. It trained under the Third Air Force in the southeast United States and deployed to the Pacific Ocean Theater, moving to Okinawa in May 1945.
The squadron began operations from Ie Shima Airfield in June. It engaged in dive-bombing and strafing attacks on factories, radar stations, airfields, small ships and other targets in Japan. It made several attacks on shipping and airfields in China during July. The unit flew its only escort mission on 8 August 1945 when it escorted B-29s during a raid against Yawata, Kyoto, Japan.
After the end of combat in the Pacific, it remained on Okinawa as a part of the air defense and occupation force for the Ryukyu Islands after the war. The unit was inactivated on Okinawa on 15 October 1946.
Reactivated in August 1954 under Tactical Air Command and equipped with North American F-86 Sabres at George Air Force Base, California, the unit was re-equipped with the North American F-100 Super Sabre in 1956 and trained in operational proficiency as a Tactical Fighter Squadron, its aircraft carried a blue marking motif. The squadron was inactivated on 15 March 1959 for budgetary reasons, its aircraft were reassigned to the incoming 31st Tactical Fighter Wing being moved from Turner Air Force Base, Georgia.