163rd FS Blacksnakes

163rd Fighter Squadron Patch

History

World War II

365th Fighter Squadron P-47D
365th Fighter Squadron P-47D

The Blacksnakes lineage was born during WWII in Richmond, VA in early 1943 as the 365th FS under the 358th FG, eventually deploying to the ETO and flying the venerable P-47 Thunderbolt as part of the 9th Air Force. Their mission directive from 9th AF Gen. Elwood "Pete" Quesada was simple: find the Wehrmacht and kill it. From February 1944 until the end of hostilities the 365th FS was in the thick of it, operating out of forward air bases in France once the Allies earned a foothold on mainland Europe in June 1944, often living in the same squalid conditions the aircraft maintainers did. Always cold, always wet, always uncomfortable they managed to be tough, keeping their minds on getting home the quickest way possible, by doing their part to help end the war quickly.

"Almighty God, here are our heroes. Their loss was the price of our freedom. We commend them to your care." - Dedication from the book "Orange Tails: The Story of the 358th Fighter Group and Ancillary Units"

Between operational and non-operational sorties the 358th FG lost 60 pilots killed and 11 MIA. Despite these losses, they stood out as a highly effective fighter unit; during their time operating in Europe the "Fighting Orange Tails" were credited with 27 air kills and countless armored vehicles, transports, and rolling stock, earning three Distinguished Unit Citations and a French Croix de Guerre (with Palm) for their impact in operations that include the St Lo breakout, Falaise Gap, the armor front on the Rhine, and finishing up in late April supporting the final pushes into the German homeland.

365th Fighter Squadron P-47D
365th Fighter Squadron P-47D

Indiana Air National Guard

On May 24th, 1946 with the establishment of the Indiana Air National Guard the 365th FS was redesignated as the 163rd FS in the 122nd Fighter Group. While the 163rd had to sit out for Korea and Vietnam, they have been on active deployments to Europe for the Berlin Crisis, and were deployed to the Middle East, participating in Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and have operated out of airfields in Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq. The 163rd as represented by the VAF began in 2009 when the Blacksnakes turned in their F-16 aircraft and became an A-10 unit. They are currently in the middle of another transition; over Christmas 2022 a directive was handed down ordering them to transition into F-16 Block 40/42's as they become available to the squadron. This transition was kicked off at the end of Aug 2023 when Warthog, serial #78-0692, flew the Blacksnakes final A-10 sortie, ending their 14 year love affair with a great aircraft. On Oct 20, 2023 the first two of the Fort Wayne Vipers arrived at the airfield, ushering in the next era of Blacksnakes aviation.

365th Fighter Squadron P-47D
163rd Fighter Squadron A-10C

Download this full list of theater operations, assignment, and aircraft here.