|43d Airlift Wing|
|Active||1947-1970; 1970-1990; 1992-1996; 1997-2011|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Mobility Command|
|Motto(s)||Willing, Able, Ready|
Presidential Unit Citation |
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/ V Device
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm
David A. Burchinal |
Jack J. Catton
The wing performed en route operations support at Pope Field to include mission command & control, aircrew management, aircraft maintenance, aircraft loading, aircraft fueling and supply.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Lineage
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The unit provided strategic en route airlift support and Lockheed C-130 Hercules tactical airlift support to the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and US Special Forces Command. It was capable of deploying a self-sustaining war fighting package anywhere in the world at a moment's notice and reflected Pope's motto "Ready Now".
It traces its roots back to the 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), which was constituted 20 November 1940, and activated 15 January 1941, at Langley Field, VA. It operated primarily in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a B-17 Flying Fortress, and later a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber unit assigned to Fifth Air Force. The 43d Operations Group carries the lineage and history of its highly decorated World War II predecessor unit.
The 2005 BRAC Law mandated the distribution of the assigned 43d Airlift Wing C-130s and the 23rd Fighter Group A-10s to meet Air Force requirements at other locations; establish a Reserve/Active Duty 16 C-130H organization; establish a Medical Squadron; establish an Air Force Group to provide mission execution, planning, and management of efficient load-out of Fort Bragg assets; and transfer Real Property accountability to the Army (Fort Bragg). The 2005 BRAC Law directed the mandates be completed no later than 15 September 2011. The 440th Airlift Wing stood up at Pope AFB in June 2007 and the active duty squadrons, the 2nd Airlift Squadron and the 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, were associated in June 2008. The transfer of the Pope assigned 23rd FG A-10s was completed in December 2007 and the 43d AW C-130s was completed in June 2008.
- For additional history and lineage, see 43d Operations Group
On 17 November 1947, the 43d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy was organized at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona  as part of the United States Air Force's wing base reorganization, in which combat groups and all supporting units on a base were assigned to a single wing. The 43d Bombardment Group, flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses became its operational component. When the wing base organization was made permanent in 1948, the wing was redesignated as the 43d Bombardment Wing, Medium on 1 August.
On 20 February 1948 a wing crew picked up a Boeing B-50 Superfortress at the factory, and the wing became the first in SAC to fly the B-50, with regular deliveries beginning in June. However, due to maintenance and supply problems, the wing did not achieve operational capability until 1949, despite the fact that it was one of the few units in the Air Force that was authorized manning at wartime levels due to its nuclear bombing mission. These deficiencies were demonstrated in November when the wing deployed four B-50s to Alaska. One of the planes crashed and the others were grounded pending the results of the aircraft investigation.
On 2 March 1949, a wing B-50A, the "Lucky Lady II",[a 2] commanded by Capt. James Gallagher, completed the first nonstop around the world flight. The flight departed from and ended at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. Boeing KB-29s of the wing's 43d Air Refueling Squadron refueled the Lucky Lady II four times on this mission. The mission received both the Mackay Trophy from the National Aeronautical Association and the Vandenberg Trophy from the Air Force Association for this mission.[a 3]
It conducted strategic bombardment training from 1946 to 1960, and air refueling from 1949 to 1960, to meet Strategic Air Command's (SAC) global commitments. Replaced the propeller-driven B-29s and B-50s with new B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers in 1954, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. The 43d set a new jet endurance record in 1954 by keeping a B-47 airborne for 47:35 hours. Flew numerous training missions and participated in various SAC exercises and deployments with the Stratojet during the 1950s. In the late 1950s, the B-47 was considered to be reaching obsolescence, and was being phased out of SAC's strategic arsenal. The 43d began reassigning it's Stratojets to other wings as replacement aircraft beginning in 1959.
The wing converted to the Convair B-58 Hustler aircraft, the world's first supersonic bomber, in 1960. The 43d Bombardment Wing was the first USAF B-58 wing, 59-2436, the first fully operational Hustler equipped with all tactical systems, was delivered to the 43d on 15 March. On 23 March a test unit B-58A (55-0671), remained airborne for 18 hours 10 minutes while averaging an airspeed of 620 mph over 11,000 miles. This was apparently the longest-lasting single flight ever by a B-58. The 43d BW received deliveries of new aircraft from Convair throughout the year, the last being in December 1960.
From March 1960 to July 1961 it operated a combat crew training school for B-58 aircrews, and from July 1962 until late 1969 it served as one of two SAC B-58 wings with a strategic bombardment mission. During the 1960s the wing established world flight speed records in the B-58. For example, in May 1961, a wing B-58 flew from New York to Paris in 3 hours, 14 minutes, and 45 seconds, establishing a new transatlantic speed record of 1,089.36 mph. During a race in 1962, a wing B-58 flew from Los Angeles to New York at an average speed of 1,214.65 mph. It flew from Los Angeles to New York and back in 4 hours, 41 minutes, and 15 seconds. The 43d BW, which had been prevented from being declared combat-ready by the B-58's teething problems, was finally declared as such in August 1962. The Wing was placed on alert in September 1962.
By the mid-1960s, the B-58 had become a fairly effective weapons system. By the end of 1962, USAF crews had made over 10,500 flights and loges 53,00 hours (1150 of them supersonic, including 375 at Mach 2). Initially, all B-58 training was conducted by the 43d Combat Crew Training School. From 1960 through 1964, this unit fulfilled the requirements of both its parent 43d BW and the second B-58 wing, the 305th BW. In August 1964, the 305th activated its own CCTS. The wing also controlled an air refueling squadron from August 1964.
The active service life of the B-58 was destined to be rather short. Phaseout of the B-58 fleet was ordered by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in December 1965, since it was felt that the high-altitude performance of the B-58 could no longer guarantee success against increasingly sophisticated Soviet air defenses. Although SAC had never been happy with the relatively limited range of the B-58 and felt that the Air Force through congressional pressure had forced the B-58 on them, the aircraft had gone through a long gestation period during which lots of bugs had been wrung out of the system, and it was now thought to be a valuable and effective weapons system. Consequently, SAC pressed the Defense Department for the retention of the B-58, at least until 1974. However, the decision of 1965 was to stand. Another factor was the B-58's relatively high cost as compared to the B-52 and B-47. The unit cost of the B-58 was 33.5 million dollars as compared to 9 million for the B-52 and 3 million for the B-47. The cost of maintaining and operating two B-58 wings equaled the cost of maintaining six B-52 wings. In addition, the B-58 was quite costly to maintain.
The first B-58 to go to the boneyard was 59-2446, which flew to Davis Monthan AFB on 5 November 1969. Once underway, the B-58 retirement program moved relatively rapidly. The retirement was completed on 16 January 1970.
3960th Strategic Wing
Once their B-58s were in storage, the 43d BW was temporarily inactivated, but was immediately reactivated with the assets of the 3960th Strategic Wing (SW) at Andersen AFB on Guam. The 3960th SW had been established at Andersen as the 3960th Air Base Wing when the base transferred from Pacific Air Forces to SAC on 1 April 1955. The 3960th supported SAC Boeing B-47 Stratojet REFLEX deployments to Andersen over the years the wing designation[a 4] and its mission changed to supporting deployed Boeing B-52 Stratofortress aircraft forming the Andersen Task Force, Provisional.
On 1 April 1965 the wing once again was redesignated the 3960th Strategic Wing and its mission changed to support B-52 elements from SAC CONUS-based units engaged in combat operations over Southeast Asia on a daily basis during the Vietnam War as the 320th Bombardment Wing from Mather Air Force Base California and the 454th Bombardment Wing at Columbus AFB, Mississippi
Operations at Andersen AFB
In 1970, in order to retain the lineage of the 43d BW, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its MAJCON 3960th SW and activate a regular AFCON wing which was inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history of the mission at Anderson. On 1 April 1970, the 3960th SW was discontinued and replaced by the 43d BW, which became the 43d Strategic Wing. In July, it also assumed resources and mission of the Bombardment Wing, Provisional, 4133d, which had operational control over B-52s striking targets in Southeast Asia. The 43d wing employed attached aircraft and aircrews of other SAC units deployed from bases in the United States to participate in Operation Arc Light combat missions in Southeast Asia from 1 July to mid-August 1970, and again from February 1972 to August 1973.
Following the end of combat operations the 43d provided routing training and ground alert with B-52 and KC-135 aircraft, the latter provided by other SAC units on loan. During 1975 the wing provided logistical and medical support to thousands of Vietnamese refugees evacuated from their homeland and located temporarily at Guam awaiting resettlement in the United States.
Post Vietnam era
The wing trained to remain proficient in strategic and conventional warfare capabilities. Beginning in 1974 it controlled TDY tankers and crews participating in the Pacific (formerly Andersen) Tanker Task Force that supported SAC operations in the western Pacific. In July 1986 the 43d activated the 65th Strategic Squadron to control the TDY air refueling forces.
Since 1990 the 43d has been inactivated, redesignated and activated on several occasions. In 1989 Andersen AFB was transferred from the Strategic Air Command to Pacific Air Forces. The PACAF 633rd Air Base Wing was activated on 1 October 1989, which led to the inactivation of the 43d Bombardment Wing on 26 March 1990.
The wing was redesignated as the 43d Air Refueling Wing, and activated, on 1 June 1992 at Malmstrom AFB, Montana where it conducted refueling operations under Air Combat Command before being moved to MacDill AFB, Florida when flight operations ended at Malmstrom. At MacDill it was redesignated as a group and operated until 1 October 1996 when it was inactivated and replaced by the 6th Air Refueling Wing when Air Mobility Command assumed the air refueling mission from ACC.
It was brought back into active service in 1997 when the unit was redesignated as the 43d Airlift Wing on 31 March and activated on 1 April 1997 at Pope AFB, North Carolina under Air Mobility Command. Crews and aircraft deployed to Europe and Southwest Asia for expeditionary rotations and contingency operations such as the enforcement of no-fly zones over Iraq. It also took part in humanitarian airlift operations and training exercises, often with U.S. Army airborne organizations stationed at nearby Fort Bragg. After terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, elements deployed in support of the Global War on Terror.
The wing was inactivated on 1 March 2011 and its 43d Operations Group redesignated as the 43d Airlift Group.
- Designated as 43d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy on 3 November 1947
- Organized on 17 November 1947
- Redesignated 43d Bombardment Wing, Medium on 1 August 1948
- Inactivated on 31 January 1970
- Redesignated 43d Strategic Wing on 4 February 1970
- Activated on 4 February 1970.
- Organized on 1 April 1970[a 5]
- Redesignated 43d Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 4 November 1986
- Inactivated on 30 September 1990
- Redesignated 43d Air Refueling Wing and activated, on 1 June 1992
- Redesignated 43d Air Refueling Group on 1 July 1994
- Inactivated on 1 October 1996
- Redesignated 43d Airlift Wing on 31 March 1997
- Activated on 1 April 1997
- Inactivated on 1 March 2011
- 43d Bombardment (later, 43d Operations) Group: 17 November 1947 – 16 June 1952 (detached 16 August – 16 November 1949; not operational, 10 February 1951 – 16 June 1952); 1 June 1992 – 1 July 1994; 1 April 1997 –
- 453d Operations Group: 1 June 1992 – 1 July 1994
- 459th Bombardment Group: attached 27 June 1949 – 16 June 1951
- 2d Bombardment Group: attached 17 November 1947 – 31 December 1948 (not operational).
- 2d Airlift Squadron: 1 April 1997 – present
- 2d Air Refueling Squadron: attached c. 30 April 1949 – 16 September 1950 (not operational, 30 April – 30 June 1949; further attached to 43 Bombardment Group, 1 July 1949 – 16 September 1950);attached 1 July 1949 – 16 September 1950
- 9th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 1 August 1951 – 15 January 1952 and 6 October – 14 November 1952
- 28th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 15 May 1994
- 41st Airlift Squadron: 1 April 1997 – 23 February 2007
- 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron: 1 April 1997 – present
- 43d Air Refueling Squadron
- Attached: 10 February 1951 – 15 June 1952
- Assigned: 19 July 1948 – 15 March 1960 (detached 18 October – 28 December 1955); 19 July 1948 – 16 June 1952 (detached 10 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
- 60th Bombardment Squadron: 1 July 1971 – 30 April 1990 (not operational, 1 July 1971 – c. February 1972)
- 63d Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1946 – 31 January 1970 (detached 10 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
- Bombardment Squadron Provisional, 63d: attached 15 June 1972 – 30 June 1975 (not operational, c. November 1973 – 30 June 1975)
- 64th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1946 – 31 January 1970 (detached 10 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
- 65th Bombardment Squadron (later, 65th Strategic Squadron): attached 10 February 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 31 January 1970 (not operational, 15 March – August 1960); 1 July 1986 – 1 July 1990
- 70th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 19 August–31, 1964, assigned 1 September 1964 – 1 January 1970
- 91st Air Refueling Squadron: 1 July 1994 – 1 October 1996; 1 June 1992 – 1 July 1994
- 97th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 October 1992 – 1 April 1994
- 307th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 16 September 1950 – 1 August 1951 (further attached to 43d Bombardment Group, 16 September 1950 – 9 February 1951); attached 16 September 1950 – 9 February 1951
- 350th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 October 1993 – 1 July 1994.
- 403d Bombardment Squadron: 15 January 1941 – 29 April 1946; 1 December 1958 – 15 March 1960; 15 May 1960 – 1 January 1961 (not operational)
- 905th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 July – 1 October 1993
- 906th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 30 January 1994
- 4182d Bombardment Squadron: 1 April 1970 – 1 January 1971 (not operational)
- Shown at its permanent assignment at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. While assigned to the 43d, this aircraft set transcontinental speed record by flying nonstop from Los Angeles to New York and back again. The first leg at an average speed of 1214.71 mph, the return leg at an average speed of 1081.77 mph. The return leg was the first transcontinental flight that moved across the country faster than the rotational speed of the earth.
- Lucky Lady II carried Air Force Serial Number 46-10
- At the time, the Vandenberg Trophy was know as the Air Age Trophy. Both awards were made annually.
- The wing became the 3960th Air Base Group on 1 July 1956, the 3960th Combat Support Group (CSG) on 1 July 1969 and the 3960th Strategic Wing on 1 November 1963, with a brief return to the 3960th CSG designation on 1 Aug 1964. See Fletcher
- Assuming the resources (Manpower, Equipment, Weapons, & Facilities) of the 3960th Strategic Wing
- Ravenstein, pp. 70-73
- Ravenstein, p. xxi
- Knaack, pp. 169-170
- Knaack, pp. 175-176
- Fletcher, Harry R (1993). Air Force Bases , Vol. II, Air Bases Outside the United States of America. Washington, DC: Center for Air Force History. pp. 1–5. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100525-060.pdf.
- "Abstract, History 320 Bombardment Wing, Oct 1965-Mar 1966". Air Force History Index. http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/455/696.xml. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- "Abstract, History Abstract, History 454 Bombardment Wing Jul-Nov 1965". Air Force History Index. http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/458/401.xml. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- "Abstract, History 320 Bombardment Wing, Apr-Jun 1965". Air Force History Index. http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/455/694.xml. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- "Abstract, History Bombardment Wing, P 4133 Feb-Jun 1970". Air Force History Index. http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/460/908.xml. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- Maurer, Combat Units
- Fletcher, Harry R (1993). Air Force Bases , Vol. II, Air Bases Outside the United States of America. Washington, DC: Center for Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100525-060.pdf.
- Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems. Vol. 2, Post-World War II Bombers 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/af_combat_units_wwii.pdf.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/combat_wings.pdf.
- Rogers, Brian. (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
- Pope AFB Official Website
- *Kensmen: 43rd BG (H), 5th AAF official website of the World War II-era 43rd Bombardment Group (403rd, 63rd, 64th, and 65th SQ)
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