The 44th TFS was activated on 15 September 1941 at Hamilton Field, California, as a pursuit squadron equipped with the P-39 Airacobra. The squadron saw its first combat in North Africa in 1943, flying escort missions for bombers and strafing enemy positions. During this time, the squadron earned its nickname “The Vampire” due to the distinctive painted “fangs” on the nose of their P-39s.
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