he 53d was redesignated as the 53d Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942. During late 1942, three Douglas P-70 Havoc night fighters were briefly assigned to the 53d as, during this period, it was still considered a strong possibility that a night attack on the Panama Canal might he attempted, and the night fighter defenses of the area were nil. The P-70's departed in mid-January 1943.
Like a number of other Sixth Air Force fighter units, the 53d effectively assumed the duties and designation of the 30th Fighter Squadron on 3 January 1943. The 30th was at La Chorrera and the 53d at France Field at the time this "switch" took place. By April–May 1943, the unit was operating with an assortment of aircraft as a result of its "switch" with the 30th, which by then included Bell P-39D Airacobras and P-40s.
The unit moved to the United States effective 1 June 1943, ending its duty with Sixth Air Force.