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340th Weapons Squadron
2dOG-barksdale-b-52.png
B-52H Stratofortress assigned to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
Active 1942-Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Advanced B-52 Stratofortress Training
Part of USAF Weapons School
Garrison/HQ Nellis AFB, Nevada
GSU at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
Engagements

World War II

  • WW II American Campaign Streamer.jpg
    American Antisubmarine Theater
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
    EAME Theater
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1991 Gulf War (Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation of Kuwait)
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Distinguished Unit Citation (2x)
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Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (7x)
Insignia
340th Weapons Squadron emblem 340th Weapons Squadron - Emblem.png

The 340th Weapons Squadron (340 WPS) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the USAF Weapons School. It is stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

The 340th WPS is a Geographically Separated Unit (GSU) of the 57th Wing, assigned to Nellis AFB, Nevada. The mission of the squadron is to provide B-52 Stratofortress instructional flying.

On 3 February 1942, Captain Paul Tibbets (of Enola Gay fame) was given command of a new squadron that would later become the 340th Bombardment Squadron. The 340th Bomb Squadron was involved in combat missions in both the European and Mediterranean theaters from 1942 through 1945. The most notable of these were the raids on Hitler’s largest oil refinery in Ploesti, Romania. During the Vietnam War, B-52 crews from the 340th BS participated in the LINEBACKER offensives over the skies of North Vietnam. In August 1990 the 340th deployed aircrews for Operation DESERT STORM.

History

World War II

A formation of B-17Gs from the 340th Bomb Squadron wing their way towards Linz, Austria, while their P-38 Lightning escorts contrail above them.

B-17Gs from the 340th Bombardment Squadron head north for Austria in the late summer of 1944. The Aircraft closest to the camera, Boeing B-17G-60-BO Fortress 42-102938 was lost in a mid-air collision during the mission to Vienna on 16 March 1944

Established in early 1942 as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomb squadron; trained under Third Air Force in Florida. Deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO) in mid-June 1942, being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England. The squadron was one of the first B-17 heavy bomb squadrons in the ETO. During the summer of 1942, engaged in long range strategic bombardment of enemy military, transport and industrial targets, primarily in France and the Low Countries with limited fighter escorts.

Reassigned to the new Twelfth Air Force in England, being deployed to Algiers as part of the initial Operation Torch forces that arrived in North Africa. Squadron aircraft carried Triangle-O on tail. Engaged in bombardment of enemy targets in Algeria and Tunisia as part of the North African Campaign, and attacked enemy strong points around Tunis as part of the Tunisian Campaign. Continued heavy bomb missions of enemy targets in Sicily and Southern Italy and in late 1943 was reassigned to new Fifteenth Air Force formed in Southern Italy. From airfields around Foggia, conducted long-range strategic bombardment missions over Southern Europe and the Balkans of enemy targets until the German Capitulation in May 1945. Demobilized squadron personnel and aircraft were sent to the United States for reclamation in the fall of 1945; being inactivated in Italy in October.

Cold War

Reactivated in August 1946 under Strategic Air Command. Equipped with B-29 Superfortresses and participated in numerous exercises, operational readiness inspections, and overseas deployments. Became part of SAC nuclear deterrent force. Began upgrading to the new B-50 Superfortress, an advanced version of the B-29 in 1949. The B-50 gave the unit the capability to carry heavy loads of conventional weapons faster and farther as well as being designed for atomic bomb missions if necessary. By 1951, the emergence of the Soviet Mig-21 interceptor in the skies of North Korea signaled the end of the propeller-driven B-50 as a first-line strategic bomber. Received B-47 Stratojet jet bombers in 1955 and despite initial difficulties, the Stratojet became the mainstay of the medium-bombing strength of SAC all throughout the 1950s, deployed frequently to North Africa and England for REFLEX exercises. Began sending its B-47s to AMARC at Davis-Monthan in 1959 when the aircraft was deemed no longer capable of penetrating Soviet airspace. Reassigned to Blytheville AFB, Arkansas and equipped with B-52G Stratofortress strategic bombers in 1960. Stood nuclear alert with the B-52G, although deployed aircrew to forward bases in the Western Pacific during the Vietnam War which flew Arc Light and Linebacker I combat missions over Indochina; aircrews participated in the December 1972/January 1973 Linebacker II missions over the Hanoi-Haiphong area of North Vietnam. On 15 August 1973, after months of committing most of the wing's people and resources to the conflict, crew E-21 had the distinction of flying the last B-52 mission over a target in Cambodia. This marked the end of the United States' strategic bombing in Southeast Asia. Crews returned to the United States to training and alert status.

Deployed aircraft and crews to RAF Fairford, England in February 1991, engaging in combat operations over Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Inactivated in early 1992 after the end of the Cold War.

Modern era

The Air Force Chief of Staff directed the creation of the B-52 Division, USAF Weapons School on 1 October 1989 as the Strategic Weapons School, graduating the first class in April 1990. In 1992, with the activation of Air Combat Command, the B-52 Division was reborn as part of the USAF Weapons School, eventually becoming Detachment 2, USAF Weapons School. The 340th Bombardment Squadron was reactivated as the 340th Weapons Squadron, USAF Weapons School on on 3 February 2003

Lineage

  • Constituted 340th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942
Activated on 3 Feb 1942
Re-designated 340th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 6 Mar 1944
Inactivated on 29 Oct 1945
  • Re-designated 340th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 15 Jul 1946
Activated on 4 Aug 1946
Re-designated: 340th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 28 May 1948
Re-designated: 340th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 1 Oct 1959
Re-designated: 340th Bomb Squadron on 1 Sep 1991
Inactivated on 7 Jan 1992
  • Re-designated 340th Weapons Squadron on 24 Jan 2003
Activated and organized on 3 Feb 2003, assuming resources of B-52 Division, USAF Weapons School

Assignments

Stations

World War II

World War II squadron emblem

  • MacDill Field, Florida, 3 Feb 1942
  • Sarasota Army Airfield, Florida, 29 Mar-16 May 1942
  • RAF Polebrook (AAF-110), England, 11 Jun-10 Nov 1942
  • Maison Blanche Airport, Algiers, Algeria, c. 13 Nov 1942
  • Tafaraoui Airfield, Algeria, c. 22 Nov 1942
  • Biskra Airfield, Algeria, 26 Dec 1942
  • Chateau-dun-du-Rhumel Airfield, Algeria, 8 Feb 1943
  • Pont du Fahs Airfield, Tunisia, 12 Aug 1943
  • Depienne Airfield, Tunisia, 14 Aug 1943
  • Cerignola Airfield, Italy, c. 14 Dec 1943
  • Amendola Airfield, Italy, 17 Jan 1944
  • Marcianise Airfield, Italy, c. Oct-29 Oct 1945
United States Air Force

SAC B-52 Emblem

Deployed at Mile 26 Airfield [later, Eielson AFB], Alaska Territory, 4 Nov 1947-12 Mar 1948
Deployed at RAF Lakenheath, England, 5 Mar-4 Jun 1952
Deployed at Andersen AFB, Guam, 16 Dec 1953-c. 15 Mar 1954
Detachments at RAF Lakenheath, England, and Yokota AB, Japan, Apr 1954-1 Apr 1955
Deployed at RAF Upper Heyford, England, 5 May-4 Jul 1956
Deployed at Eielson AFB, Alaska Territory, 24 Sep-2 Nov 1957
Flight of aircraft and personnel deployed to 806th Provisional Bombardment Wing, RAF Fairford, England, Jan-Mar 1991 (Operation Desert Storm)

Aircraft

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, AL: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.


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