Bombardment Wing Operations,
Carswell AFB, 1946-1948
HISTORY OF THE B-36 PEACEMAKER
"NEVER A SHOT IN ANGER"
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7TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP ACTIVATED 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 aircraft of the new group, consisting of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 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. Additionally, 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 as Colonel Erickson was reassigned to Smokey Hill AAF, Kansas.
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Throughout 1947, the group prepared its people for any combat eventuality that might arise training with assigned B-29s in global bombardment operations. Within the United States SAC units flew many simulated attacks on major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles (11 April), New York (16 May), and Chicago (1 August), as part of the first SAC maximum effort missions. The most significant flight for the 7th was over New York on 16 May when 101 SAC B-29s theoretically dropped their bombs in a maximum effort operation. Bombers of the group took part in all three of the first maximum effort missions previously listed. Once again, the group changed command as Colonel Alan D. Clark replaced Colonel Wheeless who was reassigned to 8th Air Force.
B-29 DEPLOYMENT TO THE FAR EAST The next month, on 5 July 1947, a flight of eight B-29s of the 492nd Bomb Squadron deployed from Fort Worth AAF to Japan. Enroute the bombers stopped at Hickam Field, Hawaii; and Andersen AFB, Guam. The detachment reached their final destination of Yokota AB, Japan on 8 July. Shortly after this the detachment, led by Lieutenant Colonel Howard F. Hugos, received orders to redeploy to Fort Worth AAF via Washington, D.C. The aircraft left Yokota AB on 2 August, flew over the Aleutian Islands, then into Anchorage, Alaska. From Anchorage the flight flew over Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, turned south and flew over Minnesota and Wisconsin. The bombers flew a low-level flight between the Pentagon and Washington Monument in the Capitol on 3 August. Completing this aerial demonstration, they headed for Fort Worth, landing 31 hours after launch from Japan and covering 7,086 miles.
B-29 DEPLOYMENT TO WEST GERMANY On 12 September, the group deployed 30 B-29s to Giebelstadt Army Air Field, Wurzburg, West Germany. This flight was the largest bomber formation flown from Fort Worth AAF overseas to date. Enroute the aircraft flew to Maine, then over Greenland, Iceland, Great Britain, and landed in Germany on 13 September. During their ten-day stay, the group bombers participated in training operations over Europe. The flight redeployed from Germany on 23 September. One aircraft, flown by Captain John D. Bartlett, of the 492nd Bomb Squadron, crash landed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, on 13 September. One person was injured in the crash. The aircraft was repaired and flown to Fort Worth AAF a couple of days later landing at the base on 17 September.
FIRST JOINT SERVICE OPERATION Later, on 31 October 1947, the 7th flew 10 B-29s (6-436th and 4-492nd Bomb Squadron) to Langley Field, Virginia, to take part in a joint Army Air Force-Navy operation. It was intended as a test of the Navy's interception capability of Air Force bombers for two weeks. In the mean time, the 9th Bomb Squadron back at Fort Worth AAF, was readying itself for a 30-day maneuver in the Far East with departure set for 2 November. At Langley, the group bombers joined the Eighth Air Force Composite Group for the purpose of bombing Naval Forces in the Atlantic Ocean.
Beginning 1 November, the composite group was tasked to keep an "enemy" task force, located in an area south of Bermuda, under constant surveillance. On 3 November, the group bombers took part in successful surveillance missions off Bermuda. Aircraft involved used parallel search pattern spaced 60-miles apart, locating the Navy fleet two hours after entering the search area. By flying a rotation system, at least two B-29s of the composite group maintained surveillance of the fleet through 4 November. Each aircraft remained on station for six hours, while maintaining surveillance at altitudes of 800 to 24,000 feet, depending on the weather. As for the bombing phase of the exercise, only part of it was successful due to breakdowns in communications and difficulty in identifying ships from 24,000 feet. A group of five squadrons led by the 307th Bombardment Group, from MacDill Field, Florida, attacked the naval force of 16 ships on 4 November. After rendezvous over Bermuda, the lead aircraft aborted and in the process of the alternate's taking over the flight, several aircraft believed to be on a collision course caused the entire formation to scatter in confusion. After regrouping, the bomb run was completed. Results were satisfactory as 7th Bomb Group bombers returned to Fort Worth AAF after the 4 November attack, recovering the same day.
"HOBSON PLAN" 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.
B-29 DEPLOYMENT TO JAPAN Eight flight tests were flown by the 9th Bomb Squadron on 1 November, the majority of which were in preparation for an operational flight to Japan scheduled for 2 November but moved to 6 November instead. On that date the 9th deployed four B-29s to Barbers Point, Hawaii, enroute to Yokota AB, Japan. At Hawaii it was discovered that available fuel in the Pacific was not compatible for the B-29s. Based on that the aircraft returned to Fort Worth AAF on 8 November.
7TH BOMBARDMENT WING ESTABLISHED AND ORGANIZED 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. Under this change 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. The 7th Airdrome Group was located in the former 233rd Base Service Unit (which it replaced) area.
The bulk of people came from Squadron A, 233rd Base Service Unit, which had been established under the bomb group in October 1946. Its primary mission was to man and operate assigned sections, departments, and squadrons assigned, and to assist in manning and operating other administrative sections in the wing.
The mission of the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group was to provide third and fourth echelon technical services on equipment for the wing and to supply and house the wing, enabling it to be more flexible and mobile for operations functions.
The third group, 7th Station Medical Group, an integral part of the wing, had the mission of conserving manpower, and providing medical needs of the military forces assigned to the base. The station hospital was redesignated from Squadron M, 233rd Base Unit on 17 November under the Hobson Plan, to the 7th Station Medical Group, Fort Worth AAF. No changes occurred to the 7th Bomb Group, which included the 9th, 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons.
Prior to the 17 November changes under the Hobson Plan, the 7th Bomb Group conducted several flying exercises. On 12 November, the final flight test was made on the group's instrument aircraft B-29A 44-86449. The purpose of the flight was to fly a distance of 4,000 statute miles with 6,000 gallons of fuel. Results of the final flight were successful in that a distance of 4,410 statute miles was flown in 22 hours and 15 minutes. The route of the flight was from Fort Worth to Cleveland, New York, Miami, Houston, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and back to Fort Worth AAF.
ANTISUBMARINE WARFARE Training Following this feat 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. While at MacDill, the 436th established a new endurance record for standard combat equipped B-29 aircraft flying out of Fort Worth AAF. On 14 November, one B-29 from the 436th operated for 4,460 statute miles, non-stop, flying a closed course carrying a normal fuel load of 6,700 gallons. During the 436th stay at MacDill, Headquarters, United States Air Force, announced on 28 November, that SAC would be assigned strategic aerial mining training and operations to its mission along with antisubmarine warfare. This was based on General Lauris Norstad, USAF Deputy Chief Staff for Operations statement: In view of the probability that in any future struggle the Air Force may be called upon to conduct a great percentage of strategic aerial mining operations. Also, SAC believed three aerial mining missions per SAC aircrew would fulfill the training required. Instead of the current 21-day TDY at MacDill, SAC reinstated a 30-day period with the understanding that sea search and antisubmarine warfare portions would be covered in the first 21 days, with aerial mining conducted in the last nine days. This was the start of Ocean Sea Surveillance Training in SAC. All 436th aircraft returned to Fort Worth AAF on 7 December.
FORT WORTH ARMY AIR FIELD REDESIGNATED 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 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; to support such national guard and air reserve training units as were located on the station with personnel, equipment, and supplies as were available and would not detract from the accomplishment of the primary mission; to train the 1st Air Transport Unit to provide air transportation for special weapons technical equipment, and scientific personnel concerned therewith, as well as provide transportation support for Eighth Air Force and other tactical units of the Strategic Air Command in conjunction with their assigned mission; to train and prepare for overseas movement the 2nd Aviation Squadron, and to perform such special missions and assignments as the commanding general, Eighth Air Force may direct. Following this, the 436th Bomb Squadron flew ten assigned B-29 in a maximum effort round-robin flight, on 18 December, closing out flying for 1947.
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FORT WORTH AIR FIELD RENAMED 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. Earlier in the month, 7 January, the wing engaged in a maximum effort mission using 24 of the 30 assigned B-29 bombers at Carswell. The flight route went from Fort Worth to Clovis, New Mexico, Kansas City, where a simulated bombing mission was carried out, and then back to Carswell AFB. From 15 to 17 January, three wing B-29 bombers took part in the Eighth Air Force Group Competition held at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona.
B-29 DEPLOYMENT TO WEST GERMANY The 9th Bomb Squadron deployed to Germany for temporary duty in February 1948 in three flights, flying three different routes to Europe. The first flight of three B-29s departed Carswell on 25 February, by way of Westover AFB, Massachusetts; Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland; and finally landing at Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, Munich, West Germany. The next flight departed on 26 February, with four B-29 aircraft by way of MacDill AFB, Florida; Lajes Field, Azores to Furstenfeldbruck. The last flight, consisting of the remaining three aircraft in the squadron left Carswell on 27 February, and flew to Lajes Field, then on to Furstenfeldbruck. By 27 February, all 9th Bomb Squadron aircraft were in place to start the 90 day training.
WING BEGINS TRANSFER OF FIRST BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS BOMBERS During March, the 492nd Bomb Squadron transferred two assigned B-29s to Wichita, Kansas, for depot maintenance. Also, 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.
B-36 CREW TRAINING BEGINS 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. Those individuals were: Master Sergeants Russell L. Stokum (436 BS), John L. Corley (492 BS), Ernest 0. Benefield (11 BG) and Carl T. Moden (494 BS). 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 to the wing. In a companion class were five crew chiefs: Master Sergeants Orville C. Simmonds (492 BS), E. A. Moore (436 BS), John T. Travis (494 BS), Golden M. Joyner (436 BS) and Lowell E. Quilling (9 BS).
TB-29 shown with the new XB-36.
Photo via Frank Kleinwechter
On 10 April 1948, the wing sent Captain W. D. Morris, bombardier-navigator-radar and Lieutenant R. E. Munday, navigator, to Consolidated-Vultee to assist in a long range cruise flight of a B-36. The flight was accomplished as planned. A total of thirty-one 500 pound bombs were released over target successfully from 25,000 feet, at night during the flight out of Carswell AFB.
Following that flight the wing welcomed back the 9th Bomb Squadron crews and aircraft returning from TDY in Germany on 15 April. A total of 10 B-29s had been at Furstenfeldbruck, West Germany, conducting training in Europe since February 1948.
Three days later, 18 April, personnel of the 309th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) (Reserve), Hensley Field, Dallas, Texas, arrived at Carswell for annual training. Flight training for the unit was accomplished in the wing B-29s and North American AT-6 Texan and Beech AT-11 training aircraft flown in from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The 309th remained until 2 May. During the stay the 309th made history at Carswell when they underwent their two-week active duty tour with the 7th. It marked the first time in the history of the United States Air Force that a reserve organization undertook this type of training as an integrated unit. Previously, active duty periods for reservists had been accomplished individually.
April 1948 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.
In May, the 436th Bomb Squadron was selected to represent the wing in the Eighth Air Force Group Competition. Two B-29s from the squadron deployed on 9 May, for a routine over-water flight to Hawaii in the competition. The bombers spent approximately two days while in Hawaii before returning to Carswell on 13 May. A total of 16 B-29s were assigned in the wing throughout May.
B-36 TEST FLIGHTS FOR CONSOLIDATED BEGIN 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. It was flown on 14 and 15 May for a duration of over 36 hours. Distance covered on the flight was 8,051 air miles. A total of 31 bombs were dropped from 25,000 feet on the Wilcox Range, Arizona, radar at night. The second flight was conducted on 18 May. Captain Morris was the assigned bombardier. The B-36 flight was conducted to test the bomb loading and dropping of 2,000 pound bombs. All 25 bombs carried were released over the Naval Range at Corpus Christi, Texas, from 31,000 feet.
Also, the same day a wing record was established by a 436th Bomb Squadron B-29 piloted by Captain H. S. Treitt, Jr. His aircraft departed Carswell on 18 May and flew 4,588 statute miles to set an endurance record in the B-29, returning on 19 May to Carswell. Excellent maintenance, superior navigation and flight engineering, plus the fact that full advantage was taken of weather conditions, attributed to the success of this long range flight record.
As June 1948 began, the wing had 17 B-29s assigned. On 2 June, six 436th Bomb Squadron B-29s participated in a SAC readiness test which included all the Bombardment Groups in Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force. The 436th aircraft rendezvoused over Springfield, Illinois, then flew to Kansas City, Detroit and back to Carswell. In the Detroit area, the bombers made camera-bombing attacks on Selfridge AFB, Michigan. Following this, all participating aircraft returned to respective bases.
Once again the wing sent crew members TDY to fly B-36 test fights with Consolidated-Vultee crews. This time the wing sent 10 crewmembers to Wright Field, Ohio, on 9 June, to fly accelerated service tests in the B-36. The crew members returned to Carswell on 26 June.
Earlier in the month, Carswell AFB was designated to receive the 21st Air Division (Very Heavy) (Reserve), Memphis Municipal Airport, Memphis, Tennessee, for a short period of flight training on 11 and 12 June 1948. Approximately 143 reserve members arrived in two groups and received flight training over the weekend. Training consisted of a number of films and lectures given by 7th Bombardment Wing staff and ground school instructors. Also, reserve members were given a flight over the local area in a Douglas C-47 Skytrain cargo aircraft, assigned at Carswell to support Eighth Air Force, as part of their training. Only a select group took flights. In line with the National Security Program, and the intensified training program for the Organized Reserve Corps and the National Guard, 72 members of the 105th Fighter Squadron, Nashville, Tennessee (Air National Guard), were assigned to the 436th Bomb Squadron for training on 19 June. The guard members flew three B-29 missions on 19 and 20 June each. Their training included bombing and formation flying with 436th instructors.
FIRST SAC BOMB COMPETITION 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.
FIRST CONSOLIDATED B-36A PEACEMAKER ASSIGNED The date 26 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 in a ceremony and designated "City of Fort Worth". An appropriate plaque was placed on the aircraft nose bearing the following inscription: "CITY OF FORT WORTH. First B-36 combat aircraft delivered to Strategic Air Command by Amon G. Carter for the City of Fort Worth where it was built by Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation". It was accepted by Colonel Alan D. Clark, 7th Bombardment Wing commander, and Brig. General Roger M. Ramey, 8th Air Force commander. The plane was assigned to the 492nd Bomb Squadron. The plane's first crew was headed by Capt. John Bartlett.
B-36A 44-92015 "City of Fort Worth" landing at Walker AFB.
Photo by Jack Rodden Studio, Roswell NM via Kurt Burgess
Nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the aircraft was the world's largest bomber. It measured 162 feet in length and had a wing span of 230 feet. Six pusher-type, propeller-driven engines powered the bomber. Although previous 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.
The same day, one 492nd Bomb Squadron B-29 flew from Carswell to Barber's Point, Hawaii, on a routine over-water navigation mission. It flew a 4,000 mile mission on its return flight landing at Carswell on 27 June.
Also, the last week in June, four B-29 flights were flown to Shemya Island, Alaska, by the 492nd Bomb Squadron. As the month closed three more B-36 bombers arrived from Convair upping on hand total to four.
SAC RADAR AND VISUAL BOMB TRAINING COMPETITION On 1 July 1948, the 9th Bomb Squadron received its first B-36, followed by a second B-36 on 12 July. Next, three wing B-29s (1-9th, 1-436th and 1-492nd Bomb Squadron) competed in the SAC Radar and Visual Bomb Training Competition held from 20-24 July, at Castle AFB, California. Missions were flown in the Wendover and Salt Lake City Ranges, Utah. Each participating crew simulated the drop of three bombs visually, and three using radar from 25,000 feet. In spite of camera failures the wing bombers placed ahead of Fifteenth Air Force units and eighth overall.
Following this, the 436th Bomb Squadron deployed two B-29s to Shemya Island, Alaska, on 25 July. The aircraft were originally scheduled to return on a non-stop flight. But due to bad weather they were forced to land at Walker AFB, Roswell, New Mexico, for fuel. Once fueled the aircraft returned to Carswell on 26 July.
FIRST B-36 AERIAL DISPLAY The remainder of July found the wing preparing for a maximum effort flight over New York City to celebrate the opening of the New York City International Airport. The 7th was designated as the lead unit in the formation, led by Major General Roger M. Ramey, Eighth Air Force commander. Also, the wing was tasked to place one B-36 aircraft on static display at the airport. On 30 July, the wing dispatched B-36 44-92015 "City of Fort Worth", of the 492nd Bomb Squadron, to New York City. The air review was conducted on 31 July in a very successful manner with the wing placing three assigned B-36 bombers in the formation among numerous B-29 aircraft dispatched to fly the mission from various SAC bases. A total of nine wing B-29s (3-9th, 3-436th and 3-492nd Bomb Squadron), plus the three B-36 aircraft flown out of Carswell, one from each of the three squadrons assigned. Of those B-29s taking part in the air review, one 9th Bomb Squadron B-29 was the lead aircraft in the maximum effort flight. Following the flyover, three wing B-29s (one from each squadron assigned) flew non-stop 5,000 miles from New York City to Los Angeles and back to New York City, as a feature flight of the airport dedication ceremonies, landing at the airport. All three B-29s and the B-36 on static display since 30 July, returned to Carswell on 1 August. As July closed out, three 436th Bomb Squadron B-29s were transferred to the 93rd Bombardment Wing, Castle AFB, California.
WING REORGANIZES WITH REDESIGNATION Major changes to the wing organizational structure took place on 1 August. On that date the wing was redesignated the 7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy. Of the four groups assigned (7th Bomb Group, 7th Maintenance and Supply Group, 7th Airdrome Group, and 7th Station Medical Group), the Airdrome Group received changes. It was redesignated as the 7th Air Base Group with all assigned alphabetical squadrons redesignated: Squadron A to 7th Communications Squadron, Bomb (Heavy); Squadron B to 7th Air Police Squadron, Bomb (Heavy); Squadron C to 7th Installation Squadron; Squadron D to 7th Food Service Squadron, Bomb Squadron E (Heavy) to 7th Motor Vehicle Squadron, Bomb (Heavy); and Squadron F to 7th Base Service Squadron, Bomb (Heavy).
In preparation for the future delivery of the Consolidated B-36 "B" model, the wing made arrangements with the Consolidated Corporation, Convair Division, Fort Worth, Texas, to send three radar operators to their Electronic Laboratory for instruction on operations and maintenance of the APQ 24 Radar being installed in the "B" model.
During August, the wing received four B-36A bombers (2-9th, 1-436th and 1-492nd Bomb Squadron) for a grand total of 11 assigned B-36 bombers and 14 B-29A bombers. On 5 August, personnel from the 307th Air Division (Bombardment) (Reserve) arrived. The unit was headquartered at New Orleans, Louisiana, and made up of the 392nd Bombardment Group, 576th, 577th, and 578th Bomb Squadrons. For the next ten days the unit, under command of Brigadier General T. B. Herndon, received air training in B-29s as well as ground school instruction by wing instructors. The air division completed approximately 2,615 hours of flying in Boeing B-29 bombers, North American AT-6 trainers and North American B-25 bombers (sent to Carswell from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona).
On 8 August, Major William G. Renfro, 436th Bomb Squadron, flew the Eighth Air Force commander, Major General Roger M. Ramey, to Europe in a B-29. While in Europe the General attended conferences and toured. The aircraft returned to Carswell with the General on 28 August.
Unknown flight of B-36 over Cambridge, August 9, 1948
Photo by L.V. Kramer via John Alan Roderick
Photo by L.V. Kramer via John Alan Roderick
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are trying to determine the
purpose of this flight over Cambridge, Mass.
From 14 to 15 August 1948, the wing hosted the 44th Air Division (Bombardment) (Reserve) at Carswell for training. The unit, stationed at Brooks Field, San Antonio, Texas, was provided ground and flight training in the B-29 by instructors of the 9th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons.
Later that month, on 22 August, a 492nd Bomb Squadron B-36A flew 5,500 miles in over 26 hours, using 14,000 gallons of fuel in an endurance flight. Crew comfort was found to be much greater in the B-36 then the relatively cramped B-29.
1948 CLEVELAND AIR RACE FLYOVERS During the Cleveland Air Races in Ohio, held 5 through 7 September, the wing provided one B-36A for static display and flew B-36 flyovers on all three days of the races.
Following this on 17 September, a 492nd Bomb Squadron B-36 flew to Selfridge AFB, Detroit, Michigan, and remained on static display during the Air Force Day celebrations held 18 September.
Also, on that date, wing B-29 bombers flew in a SAC maximum effort mission. A total of ten B-29s took part (4-9th, 4-436th and 1-492nd Bomb Squadron). Additionally, six wing B-36 bombers flew separate missions to key cities in the United States giving the public its first look at the world's largest bomber. Three of the B-36s taking part were from the 492nd Bomb Squadron and the other three from the 436th Bomb Squadron. Five routes were flown on 18 September by the aircraft. Two 492nd aircraft flew from Carswell on an 8,5000 mile circuit to El Paso, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City and back to Carswell. Next, one 492nd B-36 took off from Carswell and flew to Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, Abilene, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and landed at Carswell. The fourth B-36, from the 436th Bomb Squadron flew to Des Moines, Minneapolis, Duluth, Chicago, Detroit, Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis, St. Louis and back to Carswell. The fifth B-36, assigned to the 436th, left Carswell and flew direct to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, and back to Carswell. The last B-36, a 436th bomber, flew to Birmingham, Atlanta, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Montgomery, New Orleans, Shreveport, Houston, San Antonio, and finally landed at Carswell.
436th BS B-36 passes over Galveston Beach
Photo via George Willoughby and Herb Kavanaugh
Following this, the wing transferred two B-29s to Smokey Hill AFB, Salina, Kansas, on 24 and 26 September. This left eight B-29s at Carswell awaiting transfer.
Also, the wing took receipt of three additional B-36A bombers in September for a total of 13 assigned as of 30 September. The month of October opened with the wing transferring six B-29s to the 92nd Bomb Group at Smokey Hill AFB, Salina, Kansas, three on 3 October, two on 7 October, and one on 17 October. Also a total of six B-36A bombers were out of commission during October undergoing modifications. Five aircraft were at Consolidated Vultee plant, Fort Worth, Texas, (across the runway from Carswell) with one awaiting modification at Carswell. The loss of the remaining B-29s, plus the B-36 out of commission rate, almost brought crew training to a standstill, since available B-36 flying consisted of primarily transition for pilots and meeting numerous commitments for flyover demonstrations. Included in those were static displays at the San Francisco Air Fair, flyover at the American Legion Parade in Miami, and flyover of Baltimore, Maryland. Also, one B-36 was placed on static display in St. Louis, Missouri, on 16 October.
The rest of October, the wing began preparations for the activation of a second bomb group at Carswell. This would be accomplished by partitioning the current 7th Bomb Group into two separate organizations. One additional B-36A arrived in late October, bringing to a total of 18 B-36A aircraft assigned. Of those, the 9th Bomb Squadron had five, the 436th eight, and the 492nd five. Also, four B-29s were assigned, one in the 9th, one in the 436th and two in the 492nd Bomb Squadron.
On 14 November, one 492nd Bomb Squadron B-36A was flown to Mines Field, Los Angeles, California, and put on static display. A few days later, on 19 November, the wing sent two of its last four B-29s assigned to the 97th Bomb Group (Medium), Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas. One was from the 9th Bomb Squadron and the other from the 436th Bomb Squadron. This left the wing with two B-29s assigned to the 492nd Bomb Squadron.
FIRST CONSOLIDATED B-36B ASSIGNED The first B-36B 44-920026 arrived from Consolidated-Vultee fresh off the production line on 25 November. Power plants on the B-36B were improved R-4360-41 WASP majors with water injection. They developed 3,500 horsepower each, compared to 3,000 horsepower on the old R-4360-25s used on prototypes and B-36A models. At combat weight, the B-36B had a top speed of 381 mph and a 42,500-foot service ceiling. An AN/APQ-24 bombing-navigation radar and AN/APQ-3 gun-laying radar was installed in the aircraft tail. Armament consisted of 16 20mm cannons in eight remote-controlled turrets. All the turrets were retractable except the nose and tail turrets. The aircraft was assigned to the 9th Bomb Squadron in the wing. Following this, the wing received word from higher headquarters that the new bomb group would be the 11th, with activation set for December. On 27 November, the 492nd Bomb Squadron flew a B-36A to Denver, Colorado, for static display. During the rest of November five more B-36Bs arrived. As the month closed 24 B-36s were assigned to the group, 18 A and 6 B models. Additionally, three B-36As were at the Consolidated-Vultee plant, Forth Worth, undergoing modifications
11TH BOMB GROUP ACTIVATED The most outstanding event that took place in December was the activation of the 11th Bomb Group, Heavy, by General Order 47, Eighth Air Force, on 1 December 1948. Concurrently, with the activation of the group, the 26th, 42nd, and 98th Bomb Squadrons, Heavy, were activated and assigned. The 11th was further attached to the 7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, the same day. Major Russell F. Ireland, former deputy commander, 7th Air Base Group, became the acting commanding officer of the newly activated group. The 11th Bomb Group would be equipped with 18 B-36As, presently used by the 7th Bomb Group for training purposes. Tentative plans called for squadron cadres to be housed with other bomb squadrons at Carswell. Supply and administrative people of the 98th Bomb Squadron worked with the 436th Bomb Squadron, while the 26th Bomb Squadron moved in with the 492nd Bomb Squadron, and the 42nd Bomb Squadron shared facilities with the 9th Bomb Squadron.
5 December 1948
Photo by Frank Kleinwechter
WING TRANSFERS LAST BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS BOMBERS Following this, on 6 December, the 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, transferred one of the last two remaining wing B-29A aircraft to the 97th Bomb Group, Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas.
The next day, 7 December, the 492nd flew two B-36s in an air demonstration over the state of West Virginia in celebration of Peace Week which the state was observing.
Also, from 7 to 9 December, a B-36B of the 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, and a B-50A of the 43rd Bomb Group, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; two of SAC's newest bombers, completed a round trip non-stop flight from Carswell AFB to Hawaii and back. The B-36, commanded by Major John D. Bartlett, flew the mock attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, flying over 8,000 miles without landing in 35 hours and 30 minutes.
On 8 December, the 492nd Bomb Squadron transferred the last B-29A 44-21753 to Headquarters, Eighth Air Force, for use as a courier plane at Carswell AFB. Two 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, B-36s flew in an air demonstration over Washington, D.C. in celebration of the Wright Brothers first flight over 45 years ago, on 17 December. During the month the 7th Bomb Group received 13 new B-36B aircraft from Consolidated-Vultee.
As December closed, 36 B-36s (18-A and 18-B) were assigned to the 7th Bomb Group, with no aircraft assigned to the 11th Bomb Group as yet. Of those, the 9th Bomb Squadron had 12 (6-A and 6-B), 436th totaled 12 (6-A and 6-B), the 492nd had 12 (6-A and 6-B).
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7th Bombardment Group/Wing, 1919-1948
Foreword to 7th Bombardment Wing Operations
|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|
9th Bombardment Squadron
436th Bombardment Squadron
492nd Bombardment Squadron
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