HISTORY OF THE 7th
BOMBARDMENT GROUP/WING
1919 to June 1948


 

Original 7th. Bomb Group insignia

 

FOREWORD

Since its birth in 1919 as the 1st Army Observation Group, the 7th has endured several inactivations, redesignations, activations and a World War before making its home at Carswell AFB, Texas.

Nine months after the 7th inactivated following an illustrious World War II record, it was redesignated the 7th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and activated at Fort Worth Army Air Field, on 1 October 1946. With its activation, the 7th became part of the Fifteenth Air Force, headquartered at Colorado Springs, Colorado. People and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress of the new group, were from the 92nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and the 376th Air Service Group, which transferred to Smokey Hill AAF, Salina, Kansas, on 22 October. Colonel John G. Erickson, became the first 7th Bomb Group commander on 1 October, after relinquishing command of the 92nd Bomb Group on base.

The newly formed group consisted of the 9th, 436th and 492nd Bombardment Squadrons; the 25th Base Service Squadron; 35th Air Engineering Squadron; and the 578th Air Material Squadron. Training began in the B-29 in November under the standards established by the Strategic Air Command, activated on 21 March 1946.

The group transferred to the jurisdiction of the recently activated Eighth Air Force, MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, on 19 November 1946. Then on 1 November, Eighth moved its headquarters to Fort Worth AAF from MacDill Field. Following this, Colonel Hewitt T. Wheeless took over command of the 7th on 16 December when Colonel Erickson was reassigned to Smokey Hill AAF, Kansas. Throughout 1947, the group prepared its people for any combat eventuality that might arise, training with assigned B-29s in global bombardment operations. Starting in April the group began flying simulated attacks on major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago as part of the first SAC maximum effort missions. By June, the group changed command as Colonel Alan D. Clark replaced Colonel Wheeless who was reassigned to 8th Air Force.

July brought the first overseas deployment as eight B-29s of the 492nd Bomb Squadron flew to Yokota AB, Japan, for 30-days training in the Pacific. The group deployed overseas next in September to Giebelstadt Army Air Field, Wurzburg, West Germany, with 30 B-29s. During their ten day stay the group participated in training operations over Europe.

In October, 10 B-29s of the 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons took part in a joint Army Air Force-Navy operation conducted in the Atlantic Ocean flying out of Langley Field, Virginia. It was a two-week test of the Navy's capability to intercept Air Force bombers.

Major changes took place in the organizational structure of the 7th in November 1947 as a result of the Hobson Plan. Under this plan, wing headquarters bearing the same numerical designation as the bombardment or fighter group were organized and placed in a supervisory capacity over all combat and support elements on a base. Prior to this reorganization, the base commander, who was often a non-flying administrator, was the immediate supervisor of the combat group commander. The Hobson Plan reversed this unwieldy arrangement. It elevated the wing headquarters to the highest echelon of command and placed the wing commander in the position of directing rather than requesting that his flying activities be supported. Flying activities remained assigned to the combat group, composed of three flying squadrons and a headquarters. The group commander was directly responsible to the wing commander. Remaining functions on base were divided among three groups: maintenance and supply, airdrome, and medical; each assigned under the wing.

On 3 November, the 7th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, was established under the Hobson Plan and organized at Fort Worth AAF on 17 November 1947. Colonel Clark became the first wing commander and controlled the bomb group. Along with the wing activation, three groups were activated and assigned: 7th Airdrome Group, 7th Maintenance and Supply Group, and 7th Station Medical Group. The 7th Bomb Group, already assigned, was the fourth group of the newly activated wing.

Following this, the 436th Bomb Squadron deployed 10 B-29s (3 borrowed from the 9th Bomb Squadron and one from the 492nd Bomb Squadron) to MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, for antisubmarine warfare training conducted by the 307th Bomb Group. The squadron bombers were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel H. E. Goldsworthy, 436th Bomb Squadron commander. All aircraft remained for about three weeks.

On 1 December, as prescribed in the Hobson Plan, the word "Army" in Fort Worth Army Air Field was dropped. Thus, the station became Fort Worth Air Field. The mission of the 7th Bombardment Wing was established this day as: to organize and train a force capable of immediate and sustained long range offensive warfare and operations in any part of the world, utilizing the latest technical knowledge and advanced weapons (including the atomic bomb), to include long range offensive bombardment, reconnaissance, photographic, mapping photography, sea search, anti-submarine patrol, either independently or in cooperation with land and naval forces.

Beginning in 1948, several name changes occurred at Fort Worth Air Field. On 13 January, the field was redesignated as Griffiss AFB in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Townsend Griffiss, the first U.S. airman to die in the line of duty in Europe after the U.S. entered World War II. Colonel Griffiss had been a passenger on a British commercial aircraft that was accidentally shot down over the North Sea, between Belgium and England, by a Polish Air Force fighter. This name change lasted 17 days until 30 January, when the base was renamed Carswell AFB in honor of Major Horace S. Carswell, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient in World War II.

The first overseas deployment in 1948 occurred in February as the 9th Bomb Squadron deployed its 10 assigned B-29s to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, Munich, West Germany, for 90-days training.

In March, it was announced that the wing would become the first unit in the Strategic Air Command to receive the new Consolidated B-36 "Peacemaker" bomber under development at Consolidated-Vultee Plant, Fort Worth. Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, notified the 436th Bomb Squadron the same month that it would transfer six B-29s during April to the 93rd Bombardment Group, Castle AFB, Merced, California, to make room for the new bombers.

April opened with the wing sending four flight engineers to the Consolidated-Vultee Plant, Fort Worth, manufacturer of the new six-engine B-36 bomber for training. Once trained, all four would return in 30 days to the wing and await arrival of the first Consolidated B-36 bomber in June 1948. A companion class of five crew chiefs in the wing underwent training.

On 10 April 1948, the wing sent Captain Wesley D. Morris, bombardier-navigator-radar and Lieutenant Richard E. Munday, navigator, to Consolidated-Vultee to assist in a long range cruise flight of a B-36. The flight was accomplished as planned. Thirty-one 500-pound bombs were successfully released over the target from 25,000 feet.

April closed out with the arrival of a mobile training unit with B-36 aircraft training equipment from the Consolidated Vultee Plant, Fort Worth. Plans were formulated immediately for setting up the equipment for instructional purposes. Additionally, the 436th Bomb Squadron sent six assigned B-29s to the 93rd Bombardment Group at Castle AFB, California, on 30 April as planned earlier. This allowed the unit to prepare for the arrival of the first B-36s in June 1948.

Wing members took part in two B-36 long cruise flights with Consolidated-Vultee on 14 and 18 May. The first of the two flights consisted of a maximum range flight and a bomb drop. Captain Wesley D. Morris and First Lieutenant Richard Munday took part on the 14 May flight. Distance covered on the flight was 8,051 air miles. Thirty-one bombs were dropped from 25,000 feet on the Wilcox Range, Arizona, by radar at night. The second flight was conducted on 18 May with Captain Morris as the assigned bombardier. The B-36 flight was conducted to test the loading and release of 2,000 pound bombs. Twenty-five bombs carried were released over the Naval Range at Corpus Christi, Texas, from 31,000 feet.

As June began, the wing sent crew members TDY to fly B-36 test fights with Consolidated Vultee crews. The wing sent 10 crewmembers to Wright Field, Ohio, on 9 June, to fly accelerated service tests in the B-36. The crewmembers returned to Carswell on 26 June.

Because of widespread post-war demobilization and military manning cutbacks, SAC experienced many logistical and organizational problems. Reduction became so severe that bombing practice was seriously curtailed and almost came to a halt. As a result, by the Spring of 1948, SAC bombing accuracy had dropped below the standards required by the strategic mission assigned in SAC. Yet, the operational mission had not changed SAC was still called on to perform long range offensive operations in any part of the world. To regain and surpass earlier levels of bombing proficiency, SAC scheduled a command-wide bombing competition. The 1948 SAC Competition was held at Castle AFB, California, from 20 to 27 June, hosted by Fifteenth Air Force. On 20 June, one 9th and one 492nd Bomb Squadron B-29 in the wing flew to Castle AFB, California, to take part in the SAC Competition held 21 through 25 June 1948. The 9th crew placed sixth out of 30 crews and the 492nd placed overall third.

June 1948 marked a historical milestone for the wing. On that date, the first Consolidated B-36 bomber in SAC, an "A" model, serial number 44-92015, was delivered to the wing. It was accepted by Colonel Clark, 7th Bombardment Wing commander, and Major General Ramey, 8th Air Force commander. The plane was assigned to the 492nd Bomb Squadron. Nicknamed "Peacemaker," the aircraft was the world's largest bomber. It measured 162 feet in length and had a wingspan of 230 feet. Six pusher-type, propeller-driven engines powered the bomber. Although B-36A models had AN/APQ-23 Bombing/Navigation Radar, no armament was installed as the bombers were used for training and type familiarization only. Introduction of the B-36 into SAC as an operational aircraft brought about a major change in the designation of bombardment aircraft. All B-29 and B-50 bombers which had been designated as "Very Heavy" were dropped altogether as the B-36 became the only "Very Heavy" bomber in the command. For the next decade, the 7th Bombardment Wing would record some of the most impressive and significant achievements in the annals of strategic bombardment and airpower while maintaining a deterrent force second to none in the world.


 

  Foreword to 7th Bombardment Wing Operations

7th Bombardment Wing Operations at Carswell AFB, 1946-1948
7th Bombardment Wing Operations at Carswell AFB, 1949-1951
7th Bombardment Wing Operations at Carswell AFB, 1952-1954
7th Bombardment Wing Operations at Carswell AFB, 1955-1958

Squadron Histories:

    9th Bombardment Squadron
  436th Bombardment Squadron
  492nd Bombardment Squadron


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