Bombardment Wing Operations,
Carswell AFB, 1949-1951
HISTORY OF THE B-36 PEACEMAKER
"NEVER A SHOT IN ANGER"
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The year 1949 opened with both assigned bomb groups changing commanders. On 2 January 1949, Colonel Bryan B. Harper became the 7th Bomb Group commander, previously held by Colonel Clark, the present wing commander (he held the position of both group and wing commander since November 1947). Colonel Harper had been the deputy base commander at Carswell since November 1947. A few days later, on 11 January, Lieutenant Colonel Harry E. Goldsworthy (later, Lieutenant General) replaced Major Ireland as the 11th Bomb Group commander. Major Ireland moved to the position of 11th Bomb Group executive officer. Colonel Goldsworthy had been the 436th Bomb Squadron commander.
Bob Hope inspecting a B-36 at Carswell on 6 January 1949.
Photo by Frank Kleinwechter
1949 PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION FLIGHT A five ship B-36 formation was flown four days later on 15 January 1949, in an air review over Washington, D.C., commemorating the inauguration of the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. The mission was scheduled to be led by Major General Roger M. Ramey, 8th Air Force commander, but due to difficulties encountered after take off his aircraft returned to Carswell. The lead was then assumed by Colonel Clark, 7th Bomb Wing commander.
11TH BOMB GROUP RECEIVES FIRST B-36 BOMBERS On 17 January, the first B-36A 44-92007 was transferred from the 7th Bomb Group to the 11th Bomb Group. It was further assigned to the 26th Bomb Squadron. A second B-36A 44-02009 was assigned to the 26th on 19 January. That same day, the 11th Bomb Group conducted its maiden flight of a B-36 aircraft in B-36A 44-92007.
The 26th Bomb Squadron crew which flew the training flight consisted of: Major Moreland, pilot and 26th Bomb Squadron commander; Captain Warner, Instructor pilot; First Lieutenant Giles, copilot; First Lieutenant Sikes, bombardier; Captain Wolford, navigator; First Lieutenant Weldon and Master Sergeant Benefield, engineers; Staff Sergeants Kelly, Rose and Greenfield, central fire control; Staff Sergeants Taggs, Johnson and Harris, aerial gunners; and Technical Sergeant McLemore, radio operator. Also, on 17 January, the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group received its first B-36A 44-92010 with a second B-36A 44-92019 delivered on 21 January 1949. The 98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, received its first B-36A 44-92022 on 19 January.
The 11th Bomb Group conducted its maiden flight of a B36 aircraft in B-36A 44-92007 delivered to the 26th Bomb Squadron earlier. The 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group received its first B-36A 44-92010. The 98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, received its first B-36A 44-92022 on 19 January.
FIRST AERIAL FLIGHT FOR 11TH BOMB GROUP Then on 25 January, the 11th Bomb Group took part in its first aerial review. A total of six B-36s (3-As 11th Bomb Group and 3-Bs 7th Bomb Group) led an aerial review in commemoration of the 7th Bomb Wing and 8th Air Force birthdays over Carswell AFB. Following the B-36s were B-29s of the 509th Bomb Group, Walker AFB, Roswell, New Mexico and F-82 fighters from Kearney AFB, Kearney, Nebraska. The flight of 7th Bomb Wing aircraft was led by Lieutenant Colonel Ellery D. Preston, 436th Bomb Squadron commander, 7th Bomb Group.
As the month closed the wing had 35 B-36s assigned, 30 in the 7th Bomb Group and five in the 11th Bomb Group. The 9th Bomb Squadron had 11 B-36s (5-A and 6-B), the 436th had 10 B-36s (5-A and 5-B), and the 492nd totaled 9 B-36s (4-A and 5-B). In the 11th Bomb Group, the 26th Bomb Squadron had two B-36As assigned, the 42nd had two B-36As, and the 98th only one B-36A. The 7th Maintenance and Supply Group under the wing was assigned the 7th Motor Vehicle Squadron, Bomb, on 1 February 1949, per SAC General Order 40.
Then on 11 February, Colonel Harper, 7th Bomb Group commander, became the wing executive officer. He was replaced as group commander by Colonel Charles D. Farr, who recently arrived from the Armed Forces Staff College in Washington, D.C.
On 15 February, the 7th Bomb Group, lead by Colonel Clark, wing commander, flew a sixteen ship formation commemorating air progress, in an aerial review over Andrews Field, Maryland. This formation was the largest B-36 formation to date of the world's largest bomber. The 7th Bomb Group transferred a total of six B-36As to the 11th Bomb Group in February. One B-36A 44-92012 to the 26th Bomb Squadron on 4 February, bringing total assigned in the squadron to six. The 42nd Bomb Squadron received three (44-92024, 12 February; 44-92006, 16 February; and 44-92017, 18 February) for five assigned. The last two B-36As (44-92016, 16 February and 44-92021, 18 February) were assigned to the 98th Bomb Squadron which had a total of three B-36As. This left the 11th Bomb Group with a total of 14 B-36As assigned in February. Additionally, B-29A 44-21753 (last 7th Bomb Wing, 7th Bomb Group, 492nd Bomb Squadron B-29 assigned) assigned to Headquarters, Eighth Air Force in December 1948, was pending disposition as the month closed.
NON-STOP B-36 FLIGHT Of importance during the month of March 1949 was a 9,600-mile, non-stop flight by a 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, B-36B 44-92035. The flight, lasting over 44 hours, pin-pointed entirely within the borders of the United States, began on 10 March from Carswell. The aircraft flew north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, then turned westward to Great Falls, Montana. From there, the bomber flew a diagonal line across the United States to Key West, Florida. While enroute north to Houston, midway from Key West, the aircraft dropped nearly 10,000 pounds of bombs over the Gulf of Mexico. Crossing over Houston the B-36 headed for Fort Worth. Reaching Fort Worth the bomber flew on to Denver, Colorado, and Great Falls, Montana, before turning and flying to Spokane, Washington. From Spokane, the aircraft flew to Denver. During this leg, the aircraft developed engine trouble and was forced to land two hours early at Carswell. The flight was the longest recorded to date in a B-36.
11TH BOMB GROUP RECEIVES FIRST B-36B AIRCRAFT On 18 March, the 11th Bomb Group received its first B-36B 44-92050, followed by a second B-36B 44-92049 on 19 March. Both aircraft were assigned to the 26th Bomb Squadron. Two more B-36Bs (44-92047 and 44-92051) were assigned to the 42nd Bomb Squadron on 24 March. The 98th Bomb Squadron received the last next B-36Bs in the 11th Bomb Group (44-92053 and 44-92055) on 28 March. Those aircraft resulted in 20 B-36s (14-A and 6-B) assigned to the 11th Bomb Group as March closed.
13 April 1949
Photo by Frank Kleinwechter
On 22 April 1949, two B-36B aircraft of the 9th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons, 7th Bomb Group, flew to Muroc, California, to perform an accelerated service test at 40,000 feet. The mission tested the suitability of the B-36 as a bombing platform for very-large type bombs. The two aircraft returned to Carswell on 10 June 1949. During the month, a total of 25 B-36s were assigned to the 7th Bomb Group (7-A and 18-B). Of those, the 9th Bomb Squadron had eight (2-A and 6-B), the 436th had eight (2-A and 6-B), while the 492nd totaled nine (3-A and 6-B). In the 11th Bomb Group, total B-36s assigned increased by two over last month to 22 for April (14-A and 8-B). The 26th Bomb Squadron had eight (6-A and 2-B), the 42nd totaled eight (5-A and 3-B), and the 98th had six (4-A and 2-B).
May was highlighted by a change of command in the wing commander position. On 11 May 1949, Colonel Clark, (later, Major General) the first 7th Bomb Wing commander, relinquished command to Colonel William P. Fisher. Colonel Fisher arrived from the Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where he was serving on the faculty staff. Colonel Clark was reassigned to Headquarters, Eighth Air Force. The same day, Colonel Richard H. Carmichael assumed command of the 11th Bomb Group from Lieutenant Colonel Goldsworthy, who was awaiting further assignment. Colonel Carmichael had been assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., prior to his becoming the 11th Bomb Group commander.
WING RECEIVES WORLD'S LARGEST LAND AIRCRAFT-CONSOLIDATED XC-99 On 26 May 1949, the 7th Bomb Wing became the first unit in the Air Force to receive the world's largest land aircraft, the Consolidated XC-99, 43-52436 cargo aircraft. The wings were made at the Consolidated Fort Worth plant, then shipped to the Convair plant, San Diego, California, in 1947 for assembly to the fuselage manufactured at Convair. It first flew from San Diego on 24 November 1947. After successful tests in San Diego, it was flown to Fort Worth and modified with the standard four wheel landing gear and bigger engines. It was the sister ship to its far-reaching counterpart bomber, the B-36, and was assigned to the 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, for a series of inspections prior to reassignment with another Air Force unit at Kelly AFB, San Antonio, Texas, in September 1949. The gigantic, cigar-shaped aircraft had its modification and flight test program administered by the 436th Bomb Squadron. During June, the XC-99 had a complete over-all inspection. Maintenance of the double decked XC-99 was the responsibility of Master Sergeant Howell M. Covert, 436th Bomb Squadron crew chief. He and Technical Sergeant C. E. Cornell, 436th Bomb Squadron, his assistant, had just completed a seven-week familiarization training course on the XC-99 at the Consolidated plant in Fort Worth. The aircraft bore a striking resemblance to the huge B-36 "Peacemaker". However, the XC-99 was 20 feet longer and 10 feet higher than the slender B-36. Wingspan of both aircraft was 230 feet. Designed from almost identical specifications, except for fuselages, both aircraft were equipped with multiple-wheel main landing gears. Both were powered by six-pusher-type engines located on the trailing edge of the wing. The weight of the aircraft was 265,000 pounds. Also, it could haul 400 fully equipped troops, 100,000 pounds of cargo, or 300 litter patients and their attendants. The volume of the XC-99 interior was 300,000 cubic feet; equivalent to 10 railroad freight cars, with a top speed of 300 mph, and maximum range of 8,100 miles. Service ceiling was set at 30,000 feet. The central portion of the 230 foot wing span was seven and a half feet thick, high enough to permit installation of a catwalk, so that crew members could climb into the wing to check engines during flight. This huge transport had an upper and lower cargo deck, connected by two stairways. The two electrically operated sliding cargo doors in the bottom of the fuselage could be opened in flight to permit dropping cargo. Four electrical hoists, operating on overhead rollers extending the length of each cargo area, were used to load and unload the aircraft. Maintenance people assigned to the 436th Bomb Squadron constructed four specially built loading cranes for the XC-99. These cranes expedited loading the transport.
FIRST AIR FORCE FLIGHT OF CONSOLIDATED XC-99 On 9 June 1949, Captain Deane G. Curry, 492nd Bomb Squadron, made the first Air Force flight in the new Consolidated XC-99 and accomplished six landings at Carswell. During the remainder of June, Captain Curry completed five additional flights, of which one was a night mission, and one an emergency landing at Kelly AFB, San Antonio, Texas. As the month closed the XC-99 was at Kelly undergoing repair and installation of a new engine.
During June, the 11th Bomb Group transferred five B-36A aircraft to the Consolidated plant at Fort Worth, and one B-36B to the Oklahoma City Air Material Area, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, for modification. Six remaining B-36Bs in the group were divided between the three assigned squadrons: 26th, 42nd and 98th Bomb Squadrons. Overall, the 11th Bomb Group had 22 B-36s assigned in June (15-A and 7-B). Also, the 7th Bomb Group received three new B-36Bs from the factory in June, for a total of 24 B-36s (3-A and 21-B) assigned, and one XC-99. Of those, the 9th Bomb Squadron had eight B-36s (1-A and 7-B), the 436th totaled seven B-36s (1-A and 6-B), plus one XC-99. This left the 492nd Bomb Squadron with the remaining nine B-36s (1-A and 8-B). On 1 July 1949, Captain Harold Barry, 492nd Bomb Squadron, flew a B-36B to Chicago, Illinois, for static display at Orchard Park Airport during the National Air Fair. The event was held from 1 to 5 July. Following this the 7th Bomb Group flew seven B-36s in a formation flyover of the National Air Fair in Chicago on 3 July. The next day, the group flew a formation of five B-36Bs over the fair.
3 July 1949. Enroute to the National Air Fair in Chicago
Photo by Frank Kleinwechter
BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS ASSIGNED On 6 July, the base swimming pool was opened for use. Two days later, on 8 July, B-29A 44-62044, was assigned to the 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group. The aircraft was formerly assigned to the 97th Bomb Group at Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas. The 9th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, received two new B-36B aircraft (44-92061A and 44-92064A) from the Consolidated plant, Fort Worth, on 11 July 1949. Also, two 9th Bomb Squadron B-36Bs (44-92033A and 44-92038A) were sent to the Consolidated plant, Fort Worth, for modification in July.
1948 B-36 DEPLOYMENT TO ALASKA Two 492nd Bomb Squadron B-36s departed for Alaska on 25 July 1949 with Major General Roger M. Ramey, 8th Air Force commander, and Colonel Fisher, 7th Bomb Wing commander. This flight was for the purpose of surveying B-36 facilities at Eielsen AFB, Alaska. The aircraft returned to Carswell on 29 July.
LAST WING B-36A'S TRANSFERRED During the month the 7th Bomb Group transferred the last three B-36As to the Air Material Command Storage at the Consolidated plant in Fort Worth. That left the group with 21 B-36Bs, one XC-99 and one B-29A assigned. The 9th Bomb Squadron had eight B-36Bs, the 436th totaled seven B-36Bs and one XC-99 (at Kelly AFB, Texas since late June for engine changes), and the 492nd with six B-36Bs and one B-29A. The 11th Bomb Group acquired four new B-36B aircraft in July, two (44-92053 and 44-92050) went to the 98th Bomb Squadron. Additionally, the 11th sent four B-36As to Consolidated in July for conversion. As the month closed 22 B-36s were assigned to the 11th Bomb Group (11-As and 11-Bs).
August 1949 opened with the official ground-breaking ceremony at Carswell AFB on 5 August, for the new base housing project. Major General Roger M. Ramey, 8th Air Force commander, turned the first earth with a gold-plated spade. He was followed by the 7th Bomb Wing commander, Colonel Fisher. The housing project would include a total of 67 units constructed by McCann Construction Company, Fort Worth, Texas. Following this the 7th Bomb Group changed commanders on 17 August 1949. That date, Colonel John A. Roberts (later Brigadier General) assumed command of the group from Colonel Farr who was reassigned to Fairfield-Suisan AFB, San Francisco, California. Colonel Roberts was previously the Eighth Air Force, Chief of Staff at Carswell.
1949 NATIONAL AMERICAN LEGION CONVENTION FLYOVER Next, on 29 August, the wing flew three B-36B aircraft in a flyover at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with a commemoration of President Harry S. Truman and the Secretary of Defense, attending the National American Legion Convention. During the rest of August the 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, conducted a series of polar training missions out of Eielsen AFB, Alaska in the B-36B.
1949 CLEVELAND AIR RACES FLYOVERS During September 1949, wing B-36s flew in several flyover demonstrations. The first occurred on 3 September, when two 7th Bomb Group B-36Bs and one 11th Bomb Group B-36B accomplished a flyover at the Cleveland Air Races, Cleveland, Ohio. On 4 September, three more wing B-36s (2-7th and 1-11th Bomb Group) flew a second flyover at the Air Races in Cleveland. The last flyover for the Air Races occurred on 5 September, with three B-36s (2-7th and 1-11th Bomb Group).
One 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, B-36B flew a navigational training flight to Eielsen AFB, Alaska, on 14 September. Enroute to Alaska the bomber conducted radar bombing at Stockton, California, and Geiger Field, Washington. The aircraft returned to Carswell on 16 September.
FIRST WING B-36 ACCIDENT The wing recorded its first major accident in a B-36 aircraft on 15 September 1949, when a 9th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, B-36B 44-92079, crashed on take-off into Lake Worth, at the north end of the Carswell runway. The cause was attributed to the reversal of some engine propellers during launch resulting in a loss of power during take-off. Five of the 13 crew members were killed in the crash. These were the first fatalities in three years of B-36 operations.
15 September 1949
15 September 1949
The next day, 16 September, the 7th Bomb Wing received Eighth Air Force Operations Order 19-49, dated 15 September 1949. This order instructed that a forward operational area at Eielsen AFB, Alaska, be established for future training flights to Alaska. This exercise was to provide a means of testing the existing facilities at Eielsen and give the wing experience in maneuvers in Arctic flying. The operation was called Operation Drizzle.
Later in the month a distinguished visitor, Lord Arthur Tedder, Marshall of the Royal Air Force, United Kingdom, arrived at Carswell AFB on 21 September. He and his wife, Lady Tedder, viewed B-36 facilities at Carswell, inspected a B-36 and were briefed on Eighth Air Force operations.
1949 SAC BOMBING COMPETITION Convinced that the first SAC Bombing Competition had provided better bombing and a competitive spirit throughout SAC, Lieutenant General Curtis E. LeMay, Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command, decided to make it an annual affair. Held from 3 to 7 October 1949, the second competition included 13 bomb groups: three B-36, eight B-29, and two B-50. The B-36 crews operated out of their home bases. Six crews from the wing took part, three from the 7th Bomb Group (9th, 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons), and three from the 11th Bomb Group (26th, 42nd and 98th Bomb Squadrons). Each participating crew accomplished three visual bomb releases and three radar releases from 25,000 feet. The 7th Bomb Group placed 4th overall with the 11th Bomb Group crews last at 13th.
Following return of the competition crews the wing mission changed on 13 October 1949. The higher headquarters directive divided the new mission into three parts as follows:
The basic difference between the old and new mission was the wing was no longer required to maintain a force for the purposes of participating in operations involving reconnaissance, photographic, mapping photography, sea search, and anti-submarine patrols.
A rather unique method of training men for food service work was adopted by the 7th Food Service Squadron in October. The method was one in which airmen who had completed basic and secondary phases of cookery were given advanced training in local civilian organizations. Several airmen assigned to the squadron were attending cooking courses during October in such establishments as the Hotel Texas, Dean and Kroger Wholesale Meat and Provisions, and Milan Cafeteria, Fort Worth, Texas. Also, the Hotel Mayflower, Washington, D.C. With the knowledge gained from the well-known chefs of these establishments, the 7th Food Service Squadron expected to create culinary masterpieces.
On 24 October 1949, Portugal's Air Force Chief, General Alfredo dos Santos Cintra and party arrived at Carswell. General Cintra viewed a B-36 first hand and toured the Consolidated plant adjacent to the base. He described the Air Force B-36 as further proof that the United States Air Force was in an excellent state of readiness.
WING BEGINS APG-3 RADAR TAIL TURRET TESTING Realizing the necessity of testing and evaluating the APG-3 radar tail turret system, Headquarters, United States Air Force, directed the 7th Bomb Wing to undertake testing. The APG-3 was a radar airborne gun sighting system that provided for aircraft detection and automatic fire control of the tail-turret guns, designed to detect and automatically tract targets up to 5,000 yards in range on fighter-type aircraft. However, it was possible to extend that search range temporarily on fighters. After a particular target had been selected by the gunner-radar operator, the system automatically tracked the target within its angular limits in both range and direction. Also, the system automatically directed and pointed the gun turret in the correct firing position. The only mechanical function of the gunner was the activation of the firing mechanism when the target was in effective firing range. One B-36B 44-92042, of the 26th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, was modified for testing as the right gun on the APG-3 was removed and a 35mm Vitarama camera installed in lieu of the turret. The first mission was flown on 25 October 1949, over Eglin AFB Gunnery Range, Florida, at 25,000 feet. Three passes were made on the tail position by two Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star fighters. The F-80 was the first true American jet fighter. Following those passes the APG-3 radar system failed. The malfunction of the radar system was due to low voltage transmitted to the modular and to the antenna tilt motor which became inoperative. Fifty feet of film was obtained and taken to Eglin for operational analysis. As the month closed, 23 B-36Bs were assigned to the wing: 20 in the 7th Bomb Group and 3 in the 11th Bomb Group.
On 1 November, the wing flew its second APG-3 Tail Turret System evaluation test. A total of 12 passes were made in the Eglin AFB Gunnery Range by two F-80 jet fighters at 25,000 feet. Both fighters and the B-36B assigned to the 26th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, staged out of Eglin AFB, Florida. The next day, a fighter intercept gun-camera mission was flown on 2 November, out of Carswell in a B-36B of the 7th Bomb Group. Two North American F-82 Twin Mustang fighters from Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas, intercepted the bomber at 25,000 feet in the vicinity of Austin. The purpose of the mission, as in any gun-camera mission, was to provide "tracking" and "framing" experience for the B-36 gunners. Also, it provided experience in interception for the fighter pilots. A third test of the APG-3 system was flown out of Eglin AFB on 7 November. A total of 18 passes were made by two F-80 jet fighters on the bomber at 15,000 feet.
ANNUAL AIR INSPECTION From 7 to 18 November 1949, the annual Air Inspection of Carswell AFB was conducted by Eighth Air Force. In general, the inspection team was satisfied with the overall condition of the base over last year's inspection. The day the inspection closed, 18 November, Mr. W. Stuart Symington, Secretary of the Air Force, arrived at Carswell to inspect Eighth Air Force and fly in a B-36. He was greeted upon arrival by Lieutenant General Curtis E. LeMay, Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command, and Major General Roger M. Ramey, Eighth Air Force commander. Mr. Symington stated that the B-36 was "still the best bomber we have", after his flight. Other honored guests in Mr. Symington's party included Senator Lyndon B. Johnson from Texas, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, Mr. Amon G. Carter, and Mr. D. Harold Byrd, National Vice Chairman of the Civil Air Patrol.
19 November, 1949
VIPs ready for flight in B-36. (L-R): General LeMay, Senator Russell (Georgia), General Roger M. Ramey, Major John Bartlett, Air Force Secretary Symington, Senator Lyndon Johnson (Texas), Representative Thornberry.
A total of 22 B-36s were assigned to the wing (18-7th and 4-11th Bomb Group) as November closed out.
December was uneventful as the wing prepared a second B-36B 44-92078 (436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group) for APG-3 modification.
As 1949 closed, the wing bomber inventory included 23 B-36s. The 7th Bomb Group accounted for 18, and the 11th Bomb Group had the remaining 5.
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WING COMMANDED BY BRIGADIER GENERAL A change in the wing command structure started off 1950 when Brigadier General Clarence S. Irvine (later, Major General) assumed command of the wing on 2 January from Colonel Fisher, who became the 43rd Bombardment Wing, Medium, commander at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tuscon, Arizona, the same day. General Irvine previously commanded the 509th Bombardment Wing, Medium, at Walker AFB, Roswell, New Mexico.
OFFICER FLIGHT ENGINEER SCHOOL ESTABLISHED AT CARSWELL The Officer Flight Engineer School, established by General Irvine on 8 November 1949, at Walker AFB, moved to Carswell on 1 February 1950. The school provided officer flight engineers the opportunity to regain their flying status, which had been suspended since July 1948. Of course, the school was not established for that purpose. The main reason for the school was that General Irvine realized the flight engineer position on present day and future bombers should be performed by a highly qualified technician. On 20 February, the sixth Officer Flight Engineer School class overall, and first at Carswell, commenced with 22 individuals. The length of the course was increased by six weeks to provide for additional B-36 subject matter. Carswell was visited on 3 February 1950, by Colonel Charles A. Lindberg, famed aviator who crossed the Atlantic in the "Spirit of St. Louis". During his visit Colonel Lindberg viewed the B-36, its operations, and training programs.
SECOND WING B-36 ACCIDENT Following this, one of the most important developments in the B-36 program occurred in mid-February as a result of numerous major malfunctions associated with the B-36. Those problems brought the B-36 program down to a low, and were emphasized in a dramatic, but tragic, manner--the crash of B-36B 44-92075 of the 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, returning from Alaska.
Site of crash of B-36B 44-92075 in British Columbia
Photo by Doug Davidge
The aircraft had been taking part in cold weather maneuvers over British Columbia, Canada. The aircrew abandoned the aircraft when severe icing, plus an engine fire endangered the crew. A total of five out of 17 that parachuted lost their lives. Those five individuals were: 1Lt Holiel Ascol, bombardier; Captain Theodore F. Schreier, copilot; Captain William Phillips, navigator; Staff Sergeant Neal A. Straley, gunner; and Staff Sergeant Elbert W. Pollard, gunner. All except Schreier had streets in base housing named after them later in 1950. To date the streets are still named for those members.
Co-pilot's 7th Bomb Wing pin recovered from 44-92075 in 1998
Photo by Doug Davidge
This was the second recorded B-36 crash in the history of the wing. The engineering difficulties attributed to the crash in Canada were concerned with the following aircraft components, exhaust system, alternators, icing systems, and carburetors. Based on these problem areas and the crash on 14 February, General Irvine imposed flight restrictions on the B-36 aircraft at Carswell effective 15 February 1950. Flying activity ground to a halt following this.
On 24 February 1950, Major General (Retired) Ralph Royce, former 7th Bomb Group commander from 1939-1940, visited Carswell and toured a B-36. General Royce was one of the early pioneers in military aviation dating back to World War I.
The 11th Bomb Group changed commanders on 4 March 1950, as Colonel Bertram C. Harrison took over from Colonel Carmichael, who was transferred to Headquarters, Eighth Air Force at Carswell. Colonel Harrison, former deputy commander of the 7th Bomb Wing, was assigned duties as commander pending arrival of Colonel Thomas P. Gerrity, currently assigned to Air Material Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Two days later on 6 March 1950, his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, visited Carswell and toured the Consolidated plant at Fort Worth. The next day, 7 March, the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Mario Ajmonecat, visited Carswell and the Consolidated plant at Fort Worth.
Tragedy hit Carswell on 15 March, as the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, hanger burned down. This hanger was originally constructed in June 1943 and relocated in September 1945.
Following this, all the squadrons assigned to the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group, and 7th Air Base Group were redesignated on 16 March 1950 in that the words "Bombardment, Heavy", were deleted from their titles. The official reason for this action was not known at the time but was presumed it was because no complimentary relationship between any one of those squadrons, and the type of tactical unit on the base under the wing-base theory of organization existed; therefore, those squadrons should not have a designation having reference to the type of tactical unit on base.
The need for a new exhaust system for the B-36, identified in February 1950, was quickly acted upon by Consolidated (Convair) and the Rohr Manufacturing Company, builder of the current exhaust system. Seven modified systems designed by Convair and two designed by Rohr were tested at Carswell during March. Both types failed to correct problems noted in February. Convair and Rohr returned to the drawing board as the month closed. Prior to the close of March, Colonel Geraldine May, Director of Women in the Air Force, toured Carswell on 22 March and viewed a B-36. A few days later plans were developed in maintenance to establish modification docks at Carswell, manned by Convair (formerly Consolidated-Vultee) people, to conduct specially designated modification projects. Plans were placed into operation on 27 March as the docks opened.
FIRST B-36 EXPERIMENTAL LANDING GEAR FLIGHTS The first B-36 take-off and landing with experimental caterpillar-type track landing gear was accomplished on 29 March at Carswell. Although this type of landing gear was not yet an innovation on Air Force B-36 aircraft, it was the latest step in the Air Force's program of track type gear development, and could eventually become an integrated part of the Air Force's production models of the B-36. Present production models of the B-36 were equipped with a four-wheel main landing gear and a dual wheel nose gear. As the month closed the wing possessed 24 B-36B aircraft, 17 in the 7th Bomb Group and seven in the 11th Bomb Group.
SAC REORGANIZES NUMBERED AIR FORCES During March, Strategic Air Command evaluated its numbered air forces. The Eighth, at Carswell AFB, concentrated on medium and heavy bombers; Fifteenth, at March AFB, California, with medium bombers; and the Second, at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, devoted exclusively to reconnaissance activities. Expansion and the integration of the B-36 and B-50 in the command created the need for a more balanced organization. Geographic factors also promoted the need for reorganization. For those reasons, SAC realigned the command effective 1 April 1950. Under the realignment, each numbered Air Force received bomber and reconnaissance assets in a geographic region. Second Air Force had eastern bases, Eighth central bases, and Fifteenth the western bases. This left the 7th Bomb Wing under control of Eighth Air Force as before. Barely a month after assuming command of the 11th Bomb Group, Colonel Harrison relinquished command to Colonel Thomas P. Gerrity on 3 April. Colonel Harrison, had been filling in as commander while awaiting arrival of Colonel Gerrity since March. He now assumed the group deputy commander position. Colonel Gerrity arrived from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he was assigned to Headquarters, Air Material Command.
During April, 18 complete B-36 exhaust systems from Rohr Manufacturing arrived. This Rohr system fix, known locally as No. VI, consisted of reinforced plates attached to the outer periphery of the shroud cut-out for exhaust port legs. This improved shroud was installed on those exhaust bank segments having the Rohr spider fix.
Certification to build 600 units of rental housing off state highway 183 was received on 15 April 1950 from Scott W. Donaldson, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. The Bucco Corporation of Fort Worth was awarded the 5.2 million dollar contract. Word of the contract was telephoned to Bucco President Raymound E. Buck, by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and Congressman Wingate Lucas. This project was the first such undertaking in the Fort Worth area, designated solely to provide living quarters for military people. The 600 units would include two and three bedroom houses with 820 to 1,260 square feet of floor space. They would be divided between officers and enlisted in a rent range from $62.00 to $115.00 a month.
As the month closed, two B-36B aircraft were received by the 11th Bomb Group for a total of nine assigned in that unit.
FIRST B-36 LANDING OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA Also during April, the Operational Engineering Program for B-36 aircraft was started at Carswell. Its purpose was to recommend modifications, maintenance procedures, and miscellaneous reports. The first landing made outside the North American continent by a B-36 occurred on 24 May 1950 at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. Brigadier General C. S. Irvine, wing commander, was in the lead aircraft. A total of four B-36s took part commanded by Captain (later, Brigadier General) Wesley L. Pendergraft, Captain George J. Benedict, Captain Artis H. Prichard, Jr., and First Lieutenant Edward C. Barrett; all from the 9th Bomb Squadron.
The same day, two new squadrons were activated and assigned to the wing, the 4010th Organizational Maintenance Squadron and the 4014th Electronic Squadron. Both were further assigned to the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group. The month of June opened with the wing gaining another squadron, the 4005th Women's Air Force (WAF) Squadron. It was designated and assigned to 8th Air Force, and further attached to the wing on 16 June 1950.
SAC FORCES ENTER COMBAT IN KOREA The invasion of South Korea by North Korea on 25 June 1950 brought part of SAC into combat for the first time since World War II. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, USAF Chief of Staff, ordered two SAC bomb groups on 3 July to deploy their B-29s to the Far East and carry out conventional bombing operations north of the 38th parallel in North Korea. The 7th Bomb Wing, equipped with two B-36 groups was not effected at this time and continued training in the United States.
Five of the 17 units of the base NCO Housing Project (Row Type), ongoing since 1949, were turned over for occupancy on 14 July 1950. The first family presented keys to their new unit was Master Sergeant Leroy J. Wanless. Two days later, on 16 July, the 4010th Organizational Maintenance Squadron was reorganized into specialist teams, one for each tactical squadron in the wing (six total). Each team performed periodic organizational maintenance on assigned aircraft. Also, the 4010th Electronic Squadron was reorganized into specialist teams, one per each tactical squadron. These teams consisted of electronic and instrument specialists who performed periodic maintenance on the instruments and electronic systems of the B-36.
Additionally, the 7th Maintenance Squadron, under the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group, reorganized assigned people on 16 July into teams to support assigned aircraft. Overall, reorganization of all three above squadrons altered the control of maintenance people by the Maintenance Control Section in the wing and assigned them directly to the tactical squadrons.
During July, the wing unveiled a new flying training program. It consisted of flying simulated combat missions to Limestone AFB, Maine (later Loring AFB), at the rate of one per each day. Maximum training requirements would be accomplished on all missions, including work with fighters of the Eastern Defense Command. The program would start in August.
Arrangements were made with Convair to have the flight section of the Fort Worth plant provide familiarization flights for pilots and flight engineers of the Wing Standardization Board in July. The purpose of these flights was to improve the effectiveness of the people assigned to stand aboard in the operation of the new B-36D model aircraft, scheduled to arrive from the plant in August.
In late July, an accelerated program was put into effort for modification of the carburetor on the B-36B engines. This modification was designed to improve engine performance during take-off, high altitude and ground operations, and to reduce carburetor icing at high altitude.
Following this on 25 July 1950, a contract in the amount of $40,519.00 was awarded to the General Engineering Corporation of Texas, for the installation of a hydrant refueling system at Carswell for tactical aircraft. The system, underground with storage and pump houses, would allow assigned aircraft to refuel or defuel at twice the rate currently done by tank trucks. Construction of the system started 27 July.
The next day, 28 July, ground breaking ceremonies were conducted by Major General Archie J. Old, Jr., new 8th Air Force commander, and Brigadier General Irvine for the new Wherry Housing Project, designated Valley View Housing. The 600-units would relieve the critical housing shortage experienced at Carswell once completed. Estimated completion was set for February 1951.
As the month closed out 31 B-36Bs were assigned to the wing. Of those, 17 were assigned to the 7th Bomb Group and 14 to the 11th Bomb Group.
On 21 August, 18 B-36B aircraft departed Carswell for Limestone AFB, Maine, to participate in a special training mission (Unit Simulated Combat Mission). It consisted of simulated radar bombing of St. Louis, Missouri, using Limestone AFB as the pre-strike launch base. All the aircraft, (9-7th and 9-11th Bomb Group) two from each squadron under respective groups, recovered at Limestone the same day. On 23 August, 17 of the bombers launched out of Limestone. The one bomber left experienced maintenance problems and once fixed returned to Carswell. The flight of bombers flew direct to St. Louis for the simulated bomb run. It was accomplished with no problems as all aircraft recovered at Carswell on 24 August.
WING RECEIVES FIRST CONVAIR B-36D AIRCRAFT While half the wing was TDY at Limestone AFB, Maine, the 26th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, took delivery of the first B-36D 49-2653 in the wing on 22 August. The aircraft had six 3,500 horsepower propeller engines and four 5,200 pound jet thrust engines. The addition of jet engines increased the aircraft top speed to 439 mph at 32,000 feet. Also, the aircrew grew to 15: aircraft commander, two pilots, two engineers, bombardier, two radio operators, four gunners, navigator, radar operator (bombardier), and second observer. The second pilot and second radio operator doubled as gunners manning the top forward guns. The second observer manned the nose turret including loading and cleaning the guns.
WING BEGINS B-36B TRANSFER By the end of August, three more "D" models: 49-2647 (42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group), 49-2652 (9th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group), and 49-2654 (492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group) were delivered to Carswell.
Also, two B-36B aircraft were sent to the Convair Plant in San Diego, California, for modification into "D" models. Overall, a total of 35 B-36s were assigned in August, 19 in the 7th Bomb Group (2-D and 17-B), and 16 in the 11th Bomb Group (2-D and 14-B).
FIRST B-36D GUNNERY MISSION On 12 September 1950, a 26th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, B-36D 49-2653 (the first D model in the wing) took part in the first "D" model gunnery mission. It was a test evaluation mission flown over the Eglin AFB Gunnery Range, Florida at 24,000 feet. During the mission seven malfunctions of various types occurred before the plane returned to Carswell. Just over a week later on 20 September, three B-36Ds (436th, 492nd and 9th Bomb Squadrons) of the 7th Bomb Group participated in an exact profile of the war plan. The mission consisted of a night attack on Fort Worth with additional training accomplished by making a simulated bomb run over Birmingham, Alabama. Also, the aircraft conducted a live firing over the Eglin AFB Gunnery Range, Florida, before recovering at Carswell. Later in the month, two more D models arrived brining the total number of B-36D aircraft in the wing to six. The two were assigned to the 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group (49-2650), and the 98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group (49-2649).
A total of 37 B-36s were assigned to the wing as September closed out, 20 (17-B and 3-D) to the 7th Bomb Group and 17 (14-B and 3-D) in the 11th Bomb Group.
The remaining eight units of the ongoing NCO Housing Project (Row Type) were completed at Carswell and turned over for occupancy on 12 October. The overall project totaled 17 housing units.
Three 7th Bomb Group B-36D aircraft (9th, 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons) took part in a special training mission in October 1950. The purpose was to determine requirements in people, equipment, and supplies for staging through bases other than Carswell or home base. On 13 October, one North American B-25 Mitchell (assigned to Eighth Air Force at Carswell) flew to March AFB, California, with the advance party. The next day, prior to the bombers deploying, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster cargo aircraft launched from Carswell with support people, recovering later in the day at March. The three bombers conducted a simulated bombing mission over Fort Worth after take-off, then proceeded to Phoenix, Arizona, and accomplished a second bombing run. The bombers then flew to the Pacific Ocean for a gunnery mission. Completing this they landed at March AFB. The three bombers launched from March on 16 October and flew to Castle AFB, California. On 17 October, the bombers redeployed from Castle to Carswell. Enroute the bombers took part in a camera gunnery mission at 25,000 feet in Southern California with four Republic F-84 Thunderjet fighters of the 78th Fighter Group, Hamilton AFB, San Rafael, California. The F-84 was a descendant of the first bearer of the "Thunder" name, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, famed "Jug" of World War II. Additionally, the bombers conducted a simulated bomb run over San Francisco and Sacramento, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and Fort Worth, before landing at Carswell.
Following this, First Lieutenant Julian T. Williams was assigned the first house in the on going Wherry Housing Project (Valley View Housing) on 19 October 1950.
Next, Lieutenant Colonel Richard T. Black, deputy commanding officer, 7th Bomb Group, was appointed group commander on 24 October, when Colonel Roberts moved up to deputy commanding officer, 7th Bomb Wing.
As the month closed, one B-36D arrived upping total Ds assigned to seven. Overall, the wing had 35 B-36s, 23 in the 7th Bomb Group (3-D and 17-B) and 15 in the 11th Bomb Group (4-D and 11-B).
THIRD WING B-36 ACCIDENT The month of November opened with the 4001st Base Service Squadron, located at Gray AFB, Killeen, Texas, attached to the 7th Bomb Wing. Also, Gray AFB was further designated a sub-base of Carswell AFB. On 22 November, the wing recorded its third major B-36 accident that resulted in the complete destruction of B-36B 44-92035 (26th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group). Heading for Carswell with three engines out and no engine control the aircraft lost altitude and crashed 20 miles south of the runway. The entire crew bailed out prior to the crash with two losing their lives.
General (Retired) Carl Spaatz, former Air Force Chief of Staff, and former 7th Bomb Group commander (May 1929 to October 1931) arrived at Carswell on 28 November, along with members of the Air Force Academy Site Inspection Team. The purpose of the visit was to view sites for the proposed Air Force Academy. The team departed Carswell on 30 November.
Four B-36D aircraft arrived from the Convair plant, San Diego, California, during late November bringing total "D" models to 11 in the wing. Also, three B-36Bs were lost, two to Convair for modification, and one to crash noted earlier.
Eight B-36D aircraft (4-7th Bomb Group and 4-11th Bomb Group) deployed to Limestone AFB, Maine, on 30 November to test pre-strike staging facilities, and evaluate B-36D aircraft and combat crews on a profile mission.
On 1 December 1950, six of those B-36s launched out of Limestone and flew direct to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. This was the second time wing B-36s had landed in Puerto Rico (previously B-36s had been flown to Alaska). Enroute to Ramey the bombers flew simulated bomb runs one Charleston, South Carolina, and Tallahassee, Florida. The two remaining B-36 bombers at Limestone deployed to Carswell on 5 and 6 December 1950. This operation closed out flying activity for 1950.
Based on the B-36 crash in November gunnery firing training missions were discontinued in the wing. With this action emphasis was placed on gun camera training instead of the live fire previously conducted.
One "D" model B-36 arrived from the Convair plant, San Diego, California on 12 December. As the year closed 12 B-36D aircraft were assigned in the wing.
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SAC REORGANIZES In January 1951 Headquarters, United States Air Force approved a proposal by General Curtis E. LeMay, Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command, to reorganize SAC's combat forces at base level. Prior to this reorganization, each combat wing consisted of a wing headquarters, a combat group with tactical squadrons, a maintenance and supply group, air base group, and a medical group. This structure existed in most combat wings, including those on both single and double-wing bases. Under the new system, effective 15 February 1951, each wing would reorganize to include a wing headquarters, combat group with tactical squadrons; three maintenance squadrons; an air base group of housekeeping squadrons; a supply squadron; and a medical squadron. Both medical and maintenance and supply groups would be discontinued. The combat group headquarters remained in name only. The wing commander served as the combat group commander. In conjunction with this reorganization, SAC received authority from Air Force to organize air divisions on double wing bases and to operate the air base group on base. Composed of approximately 17 people, representing functions of command, operations, material, and administration, the air division headquarters served as an intermediate echelon of command between the combat wings and the numbered air force. The air division commander exercised direct control over the two wing commanders and the air base group commander.
On 4 January 1951, the 11th Maintenance and Supply Group was activated and attached to the 7th Bomb Wing. The group consisted of: 11th Maintenance Squadron, 11th Supply Squadron, 11th Motor Vehicle Squadron, and the 4014th Organizational Maintenance Squadron (formerly under the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group). The group was further attached to the 7th Maintenance and Supply Group for administrative, operational control, and logistical support.
FIRST B-36 DEPLOYMENT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM AND EUROPE Next, the wing took part in a special training mission to the United Kingdom. The purpose of the mission was to evaluate the B-36D under simulated war plan conditions. Also, further evaluate the equivalent airspeed and compression tactics for heavy bombardment aircraft; and evaluate select crew capability for bombing unfamiliar targets. The aircraft, staging through Limestone AFB, Maine, would land at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, following a night radar bombing attack on Helgoland, Germany. From there the bombers would conduct a simulated bomb run on the Heston Bomb Plot, London, finally landing at Lakenheath. A total of 11 bombers launched out of Carswell on 14 January to Limestone AFB, landing that same day. On 15 January, all were set to depart Limestone. Of those, two aborted shortly after takeoff for engine failures, and three more returned to Carswell that day. The remaining six (one 9th Bomb Squadron, two 436th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group; and one each from the 26th, 42nd and 98th Bomb Squadrons, 11th Bomb Group) landed at RAF Lakenheath on 16 January following the two bomb runs scheduled. This was the first deployment of wing and SAC B-36 aircraft to England and Europe. For the next four days the flight flew sorties out of England. The aircraft redeployed to the states on 20 January arriving at Carswell on 21 January.
As January closed, 18 B-36B and 18 B-36D bombers were assigned to the wing. Also, assigned "B" models began rotating to the Convair plant at San Diego, California, for modification to "D" models. This would continue until late June 1951 when all B models would be converted to B-36Ds in SAC.
B-36Bs being converted to B-36Ds at Convair in San Diego
11TH BOMBARDMENT WING AND 19TH AIR DIVISION ACTIVATED AT CARSWELL February opened with several organizational changes at Carswell due to SAC's announced reorganization in January this year. On 16 February, the 11th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, established on 18 November 1948, was activated at Carswell. The new wing assumed control of the 11th Bomb Group, attached to the 7th Bomb Wing since 1 December 1948. Next, 19th Air Division, Bombardment, redesignated 1 February as 19th Air Division, was organized on 16 February at Carswell. With this move the division assumed responsibility over the 7th and 11th Bomb Wings at Carswell. Also, the 7th Bomb Wing underwent a complete reorganization on 16 February. The 7th Bomb Group was reduced to one officer and one enlisted in a caretaker status. The 4010th Organizational Maintenance Squadron was divided to form the 4010th Armament Electronic Squadron, activated the same day. Those two squadrons, and the 7th Maintenance Squadron, redesignated the 7th Field Maintenance Squadron on 16 February, were further assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing. The three bomb squadrons, 9th, 436th, and 492nd were attached directly to the 7th Bomb Wing and taken out from under control of the group on 16 February. Finally, the 7th Aviation Squadron, attached to the wing since 1949, remained under the wing's control. At the same time the 7th Maintenance and Supply, and Medical Groups were inactivated this day with the 7th Air Base Group assigned to the 19th Air Division. With all this reorganization taking place the leadership of the wing changed hands as well on 16 February, as Colonel John A. Roberts assumed command of the 7th Bomb Wing from Brigadier General Irvine. Colonel Black, 7th Bomb Group commander, was replaced by Colonel Roberts. Thus, both the wing and group were under his direct command. Colonel Black was reassigned in the wing. General Irvine, previous wing commander, became the 19th Air Division commander the same day.
Three days later, on 19 February 1951, the 436th Bomb Squadron received a plaque from SAC for its distinguished record as the first B-36 unit in SAC to fly over 400 hours in one month.
Following this, five wing B-36Ds took part in a mock bombing mission over Portland, Oregon. The aircraft, TDY to Eielsen AFB, Alaska, since 19 February, launched out of Eielsen on 22 February. The bombers flew a high-level bombing mission over Portland then recovered at Carswell the same day. As the month closed, the wing had ten B-36Ds and nine B-36Bs assigned.
During March 1951, the wing established a new unit flying record when the 436th Bomb Squadron flew 477 hours with six B-36s in 29 days out of Carswell. Also, five B-36D bombers were received in March from the Convair plant, San Diego, California. All total, 20 B-36s were assigned to the wing in March (13-D and 7-B).
From 12 to 16 April, the wing flew its B-36 aircraft in night bombing missions against industrial targets in the Indianapolis, Indiana, area. The purpose of the mission was to determine the wing's bombing capability against a complex industrial target. On 12 April, 17 B-36s (12-D and 5-B) in the wing flew the first sorties on Indianapolis. All aircraft completed the long range flight on 13 April. Eight more B-36s (5-D and 3-B) flew out of Carswell on 16 April to bomb Indianapolis. The bombers recovered at Carswell on 17 April following the mission. During the sorties on 12 and 16 April, the bombers also attacked secondary targets of New York City (B-36Ds only); Oklahoma City, and Austin, Texas (B-36B only) before flying the primary mission over Indianapolis.
No "D" model bombers arrived from the Convair plant in San Diego during April, but the wing flew three "B" models to the plant for modification in late April.
On 24 April, Mr. Alexander P. de Seversky, noted writer, lecturer, aircraft designer, and manufacturer, visited Carswell. He took a flight in a 492nd Bomb Squadron B-36D while at Carswell.
FOURTH WING B-36 ACCIDENT Three days later, on 27 April, the wing recorded its fourth major B-36 crash which occurred during a fighter-bomber interception mission 55 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. During the interception an F-51 fighter hit the bomber resulting in both aircraft crashing. Fourteen individuals were killed and the B-36B was a total loss.
Colonel George T. Chadwell took command of the 7th Bomb Group on 5 May 1951, leaving Colonel Roberts the wing position. Also, Colonel Chadwell, who had been the deputy wing commander, kept that position.
FIFTH WING B-36 ACCIDENT The next day, 6 May, the wing suffered a major B-36 crash. B-36D 49-2660 crashed on landing at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Twenty-three of the 25 onboard were killed. This was the fifth B-36 crash in the wing that destroyed a B-36 since their arrival in June 1948.
Shortly after this, on 14 May, a survey team in the wing deployed from Carswell in a C-124 to investigate the facilities at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, for its use in emergency war plan exercises. The team returned 10 days later.
On 17 May, Major General Irvine, 19th Air Division commander, presented Lieutenant Colonel Finlay F. Ross, Jr., 492nd Bomb Squadron commander, the 19th Air Division Achievement Award for Outstanding Flying Safety for April 1951. This was the second consecutive month the 492nd received the award.
B-36F ACCELLERATED SERVICE TEST PROGRAM BEGINS As the month of June opened, three wing bomber crews (S-04, S-18 and S-20) were assigned to temporary duty at the Convair Plant, Fort Worth, to participate in the B-36F operational testing under the Accelerated Service Test Program. The aircraft flown by the crews was 49-2703, a RB-36F. Two flights were flown on 14 and 15 June out of Carswell. A third flight was conducted from 21 to 22 June, by a 9th Bomb Squadron crew in B-36F 49-2672. Earlier in the month on 4 and 9 June, the wing conducted an operations readiness test in two phases. Phase I involved a simulated deployment; and phase II, a high altitude attack on industrial targets in the Detroit, Michigan area. Final results of the exercise showed the wing was prepared for its mission.
LAST WING B-36B TRANSFERRED FOR CONVERSION The last B-36B in the wing was flown to the Convair plant, San Diego, California, for modification to a "D" model, on 23 June 1951.
On 30 June, the "On Top" modification project, in which a team from the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Area, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, modified all 22 wing B-36D bombers, closed out.
Under the B-36F Accelerated Service Test Program, started in June, the wing flew three test flights. A fourth flight was accomplished from 3 to 4 July, by a 9th Bomb Squadron crew. This was the first flight in B-36F 49-2672 with the new long-range mixture barrels installed. The flight engineer reported that manual leaning operations were greatly improved with the modification to the barrels.
Next, a special training mission including a high altitude penetration of Eglin AFB, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, utilizing F-84 fighter escort from the 12th Fighter Wing, Bergstrom AFB, Texas, was flown on 10 July. On that date, nine B-36s took part escorted by 18 F-84 fighters. The bombers flew out of Carswell south to Port Arthur, Texas. At Port Arthur the bombers picked up their escort fighters and headed east to Florida reaching Eglin Range. Several F-86 fighters from Eglin AFB intercepted the bombers enroute to targets in the area. Completing the scheduled mission the bombers returned to Carswell and the escort fighters recovered at Eglin AFB, returning to Bergstrom AFB the next day.
On 11 July, a 9th Bomb Squadron crew conducted the fifth B-36F test flight in the B-36F Accelerated Service Test Program using B-36F 49-2672. This flight closed out the flying phase of the B-36F model test program as all six B-36F aircraft (49-2703, 49-2704, 49-2705, 49-2670, 49-2671 and 49-2672) at Carswell returned to Convair for 100 hour inspections, Air Material Command acceptance flights and other inspections.
FIRST B-36 DEPLOYMENT TO CANADA On 17 July 1951, the wing dispatched six B-36 aircraft of the 492nd Bomb Squadron to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. The purpose of the mission was to familiarize people in the squadron with the capabilities of the staging base, test these capabilities, provide an opportunity for crews to obtain actual polar experience, and to accomplish a partial profile mission on the return to Carswell. The flight enroute to Goose Bay was used as a routine training mission. All aircraft landed at Goose Bay on 17 July. Two days later, on 19 July, all six bombers flew a polar navigation training mission then recovered at Goose Bay. All six bombers redeployed to Carswell on 23 July. Enroute a partial war plan profile was conducted as the bombers attacked Tampa, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama; Fort Worth; Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Dallas; before landing at Carswell on 24 July.
July closed out with 24 B-36D bombers assigned to the wing. The wing conducted a radar bomber evaluation mission against a commercial center target in Binghampton, New York, on 4 and 9 August. The exercise was flown to compare the radar bombing accuracy of aircrews using radar predictions based on eight year old photography against the bombing accuracy of crews using recent radar reconnaissance, and to determine the ability of crews to accomplish celestial navigation and electronic countermeasures reconnaissance.
On 4 August, 15 B-36Ds, seven of which had old photography and the remaining eight new, launched out of Carswell. All aircraft flew the mission as scheduled and recovered at Carswell the same day. The crews using new photography were scored effective with the others not. Eight bombers of the 15 deployed out of Carswell on 9 August, to bomb Binghampton, scored effective using the current photography.
1951 SAC BOMBING COMPETITION With the abatement of the threat of World War III developing out of the Korean Conflict, the bombing competition, suspended in 1950, was resumed and expanded. To stress the importance of celestial navigation and to enable reconnaissance wings to compete, navigation was included as a separate phase of the meet. MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida, served as the competition headquarters, as well as the staging base for medium aircraft. Carswell AFB was the staging base for heavy aircraft. Held from 13 to 18 August 1951, the third meet to date in SAC, involved 12 bomb wings and three reconnaissance wings flying B/RB-36, B/RB-29, and B-50 aircraft. Also, two Royal Air Force crews from the United Kingdom participated with Washington bombers (Boeing B-29). Bombing requirements included three visual releases and four radar runs, and the navigation phase involving three night celestial navigation legs. Wing aircrews placed in the top ten overall.
WING RECEIVES FIRST CONVAIR B-36F AIRCRAFT On 18 August 1951, the first B-36F 49-2671 was assigned to the 9th Bomb Squadron in the wing. The B-36F was equipped with new WASP Major engines rated at 3,800 horsepower. Also, a K-3 radar system and APG-32 gun laying radar were added. The increased horsepower upped the top speed to 417 mph and the service ceiling to 44,000 feet with a combat payload of 264,300 pounds. A total of 34 B-36F models were eventually produced by Convair with all going to the wing.
FIRST B-36F GUNNERY MISSION The wing conducted its first "F" model gunnery test over the Eglin AFB Gunnery Range, Florida, on 22 August 1951. Results of the test were satisfactory. As the month closed, 25 B-36D and two B-36F bombers were assigned. B-36F 49-2672 was the second "F" model assigned in the wing and went to the 9th Bomb Squadron.
436TH BOMB SQUADRON DEPLOYS TO CANADA A second familiarization flight to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, was flown in September 1951. The purpose of the mission was to familiarize the 436th Bomb Squadron with the staging base at Goose Bay, and test the capabilities and facilities of the base. On 16 September, the 436th deployed six B-36D aircraft out of Carswell, landing the same day at Goose Bay. While at Goose Bay, the aircraft flew a polar navigation sortie to Thule, Greenland. The six bombers returned to Carswell on 23 September. Enroute a partial profile mission was conducted. On 30 September, a total of 29 B-36s were assigned in the wing (25-D and 4-F).
9TH BOMB SQUADRON DEPLOYS TO CANADA On 11 October, six B-36D aircraft of the 9th Bomb Squadron deployed to Goose Bay, Labrador, for familiarization training. All aircraft landed without incident the same day at Goose Bay. Two days later on 13 October, the squadron flew a polar navigation mission to Thule, Greenland, and back. The six aircraft departed Goose Bay on 17 October, and flew a modified profile mission enroute to Carswell. This deployment was the third and final squadron familiarization flight in the wing. With this flight all three bomb squadrons were familiar with staging out of Goose Bay. Thus, the wing was set to deploy in the future when tasked at a moments notice.
Also on 11 October, the wing conducted a unit simulated combat mission out of Carswell using three B-36Fs (9th, 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadrons). The mission was flown in the Eglin AFB Range, Florida. All three aircraft completed the mission as scheduled and returned to Carswell on 12 October.
On 29 October 1951, Colonel Roberts was assigned temporary duty at Carswell as Commanding Officer, 19th Air Division. In his absence from the wing Colonel George T. Chadwell, deputy wing commander, assumed the wing commander position.
Following this, the wing closed out October 1951 with 31 B-36s on hand, 25-D and 6-F. During November 1951, five B-36Fs were assigned to the wing. By the end of the month the wing had 36 B-36s (25-D and 11-F) divided among its three flying squadrons.
FIRST RAF BOMBING COMPETITION The Royal Air Force Bomber Command, United Kingdom, held its first Bombing Competition from 12 to 15 December 1951. SAC entered six aircraft in the competition, officially called the Navigation and Blind Bombing Competition. Operating out of RAF Sculthorpe, Norfolk, United Kingdom, were two B-29s (9th Bomb Wing, Travis AFB, California and 301st Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana), two B-36s (7th and 11th Bomb Wings, Carswell AFB, Texas), and two B-50s (93d Bomb Wing, Castle AFB, California). On 4 December, one 7th Bomb Wing B-36D and one 11th Bomb Wing B-36D deployed from Carswell. Both bombers were to take part on a non-competitive basis to demonstrate equipment in order to effect a mutual exchange of ideas and techniques, and to compare techniques in target study and briefing. Both B-36s landed at RAF Sculthorpe on 5 December. Both aircraft flew the competition route from 12 to 13 December, out of Sculthorpe. The 7th Bomb Wing deputy commander, Colonel Walter E. Chamber and Air Chief Marshall, Sir Hugh P. Lloyd, Commander in Chief of the British Bomber Command, flew in the 7th Bomb Wing B-36. The aircraft was piloted by Major Artist Prichard, 9th Bomb Squadron. The SAC B-29 team of the 9th and 301st Bomb Wings placed first overall in the competition. The two Carswell B-36s departed Sculthorpe on 14 December and arrived back home on 15 December. As the year 1951 closed 37 B-36s (25-D and 12-F) were assigned in the wing at Carswell.
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7th Bombardment Group/Wing, 1919-1948
Foreword to 7th Bombardment Wing Operations
|7th Bombardment Wing Operations at Carswell AFB, 1946-1948|
|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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