The Top Hats of the 310th Fighter Squadron (FS) trace their roots to January 1942, when the unit began as the 310th Pursuit Squadron. It was formally activated Feb. 9, 1942, and was attached to the 58th Pursuit Group at Harding Field, Louisiana, where its pilots trained replacements to fly the Bell P-39 Airacobra aircraft.
Named a fighter squadron May 15, 1942, at Dale Mabry Field, Florida, the 310th FS continued training pilots for the P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft. During World War II, the 310th FS saw combat in the Southwest Pacific Theater and earned several awards including the Distinguished Unit Citation for action in the Philippine Islands Dec. 26, 1944, and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
After World War II, the 310th inactivated until 1952, when it was redesignated the 310th Fighter Bomber Squadron in the 58th Fighter Bomber Group July 10, 1952, at Taegu Air Base, Republic of Korea. First equipped with the Republic F-84G Thunderjet from 1952, the squadron adopted the North American F-86 Sabrejet in 1954 and kept it through 1958. During the Korean conflict, the squadron flew primarily air-to-ground missions supporting ground operations.
Participating in the Korea Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter and Korean Summer-Fall 1953 campaigns, the squadron again distinguished itself, earning the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Osan Air Base, Korea, became the home of the 310th FS March 19, 1955, and it stayed there until its inactivation in 1962.
In 1958, the 310th gave up its F-86s when it became the 310th Missile Squadron on June 15, assigned to the 58th Tactical Missile Group. It remained the home of the surface-to-surface Matador missile until 1962, when the missile left service, and the 310th FS inactivated March 25, 1962.
On Dec. 1, 1969, the squadron resurfaced as the 310th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron; two weeks later, on Dec. 15, 1969, it formally joined other units at Luke AFB. It has been here since, training pilots or weapons systems officers, first for the LTV A-7D Corsair II, then the McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II. In 1989, the first Block 42 F-16C/D in the Air Force inventory was delivered to the 58th Tactical Training Wing at Luke AFB.
On Dec. 26, 1989, the Top Hats were the first unit to deliver live ordnance on an uncontrolled range at night using the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, navigation pod. Additionally, they became the Air Force’s first and only F-16 LANTIRN training squadron.
On Oct. 1 and Nov. 19, 1997, the 310 FS significantly expanded its mission to include forward air controller airborne and night vision goggles training. Additionally, the 310 FS developed and implemented the first Mobile Training Team concept of training for Air Education and Training Command (AETC). With this concept, AETC is able to train additional students off-station with no loss in training at Luke Air Force Base.
On Nov. 24, 2008, the 310 FS transitioned from dedicated night systems training to teaching all Luke AFB syllabi. The 310 FS graduated its first B-course (initial F-16 student training) Aug. 3, 2009. The 310 FS still remains the Air Force’s only F-16 FACA schoolhouse.