452d Air Mobility Wing (2003) C-141
Fly with the 452d Air Mobility Wing in this hand crafted C-141 Starlifter model. Each piece is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love. 18 inches
Initial activation and mobilization
The wing was first activated as a reserve organization at Long Beach Army Air Field California in June 1949 as the 452d Bombardment Wing, when Continental Air Command (ConAC) converted its reserve flying organizations under the wing base organization, which combined them with their support organizations under a single wing. It trained under the supervision of the 2347th Air Force Reserve Training Center. President Truman’s reduced 1949 defense budget also required reductions in the number of units in the Air Force, and the wing drew its cadre from the 304th Air Division, which was simultaneously inactivated, and the 459th Bombardment Group, which moved on paper to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The wing trained for light bomber with the Douglas B-26 Invader, but also operated trainer aircraft. The wing was manned at 25% of normal strength but its combat group was authorized four squadrons rather than the three of active duty units.
The wing, along with all reserve combat and corollary units, was mobilized for the Korean war. It was called up in August 1950, and was one of the first two reserve wings to be mobilized The wing was brought up to strength by absorbing more than half the personnel of the 448th Bombardment Wing, also located at Long Beach. Upon mobilization, the wing moved to George Air Force Base, California, and began accelerated aircrew training.
On 15 October 1950, the first of five echelons of the 452d left George for Itazuke Air Base, Kyushu, Japan. Its 731st Bombardment Squadron, trained in night operations, was detached to the 3d Bombardment Wing at Iwakuni Air Base, Honshu, Japan. The first B-26 of the 452d arrived at Itazuke on 25 October, and two days later the wing flew its initial B-26 interdiction mission to Korea, exactly seventy-seven days after recall. On the last day of the month, the aircrews of the 452d learned they were in a real shooting war, as three Yakovlev fighters jumped one of their B-26s and a Mosquito controller near Yangsi. The B-26 crew shot down one of the Soviet-designed fighters, and North American F-51 Mustangs arrived to destroy the other two.
Upon arrival in the theater, the 452d Bombardment Wing was the only B-26 unit conducting daylight operations. Until June 1951, it gave close support to ground units in Korea and engaged in interdiction of communist-held airfields, supply lines, and bridges, reaching peak operations in February 1951.
The wing moved to Miho Air Base on Honshu, Japan, on 10 December, and within a few days it suffered its first combat losses. Four B-26s and all their crews were lost, only one to hostile fire. One aircraft hit a cable on a power line during a low-level attack, a second flew into a mountain on takeoff in a snow squall, and a third dove out of the overcast into water. The fourth was knocked down by ground fire near Sunchon, North Korea.The 3 men in that crew parachuted free, but shortly after were captured and executed by unknown North Korean guerillas.
On 25 April 1951, the enemy began a spring offensive, and Fifth Air Force required an extensive effort of the 452d. For the next eight days the wing dispatched thirty to thirty-six sorties a day, getting maximum use from the approximately eighteen aircraft available each day. This required a refuel and rearm turnaround mission for each aircraft each day. The effort placed a heavy flying burden on all combat personnel as each crew was required to fly nine of ten days. As their effort began to exhaust the combat crews, pilots and observers serving in wing staff and support positions were pressed into service. This surge in operations also produced a sharp increase in maintenance activity as the aircraft sustained extensive battle damage. Three B-26s were lost behind enemy lines, and four others, only one of which was salvaged, sustained major battle damage.
The B-26s were effective in low-level attacks with machine guns, rockets, and bombs, but their crews found it difficult to maneuver at low altitudes in the small valleys of Korea, walled by hills rising from 500 to 5,000 feet. The moment of level flying needed to launch bombs and fire rockets made the light bombers vulnerable to ground fire, and combat losses soon forced them to bomb from medium altitudes. For its combat actions between 9 July 1951 – 27 November 1951 and 28 November 1951 – 30 April 1952 the wing received a second Distinguished Unit Citation. The only combat wing to be cited twice during the Korean War.Korean President Syngman Rhee personally presented the Wing with the Korean Presidential Unit Citation In addition it received credit for participating in eight campaigns.
731st Bombardment Squadron
The 452d’s separated 731st Squadron completed its move from George to Iwakuni on 20 November 1950. Four crews which had left George as an advance echelon on 15 September participated in combat during October, and the unit put up its first complete squadron mission on 14 November 1950.
From the beginning of operations in Korea, the Air Force had been unable to attack moving targets at night. On 6 September 1950, General Vandenberg suggested that General Stratemeyer convert the 3d Group completely to night attack and assign the 731st Squadron, especially trained for low-level operations, to the understrength 3d Group. General Stratemeyer quickly implemented this solution to his night-attack problem.
During its seven-month Korean tour, the 731st flew more than 9,000 hours of combat on 2,000 combat sorties. Its missions included high-, medium-, and low-level visual and radar bombing, front-line close support, flare drops, and armed reconnaissance-all under conditions of darkness. When the 3d Bombardment Wing was brought up to full strength by the acquisition of the 90th Bombardment Squadron as a third active force unit, the 731st was inactivated at Iwakuni on 25 June 1951.
On 10 May 1952, having served its prescribed twenty-one months, the 452d Bombardment Wing was relieved from active military service, and was inactivated at Pusan East (K-9) Air Base and its personnel and equipment transferred to the 17th Bombardment Wing. The reservists had accumulated nearly 14,000 combat sorties during its active service.
Reconnaissance and Bombardment in the reserves
The wing was redesignated the 452d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and activated in June 1952 at Long Beach, where it absorbed the resources of the 921st Reserve Training Wing, which was inactivated. The reserve mobilization for the Korean War, however, had left the reserve without aircraft, and the unit did not receive aircraft until July 1952. Despite its tactical reconnaissance name, it was first equipped with Curtiss C-46 Commando transports. The following year, it began to equip with a mix of aircraft, including The B-26 and North American F-51 Mustang. In 1954 it received its first jets, Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars.
In 1955, the wing once again became the 452d Bombardment Wing and trained with the Invader as a tactical bombardment wing. However, at this time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were pressuring the Air Force to provide more wartime airlift. At the same time, about 150 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars became available from the active force. Consequently, in November 1956 the Air Force directed ConAC to convert units to the troop carrier mission by September 1957. In July 1957, the wing became the 452d Troop Carrier Wing.
The wing began troop carrier operations with Curtiss Commandos and Douglas C-47 Skytrains, finally receiving Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars in 1958. Shortly after the change in mission, the wing was impacted by the Detached Squadron Concept.
Since 1955, the Air Force began had been detaching Air Force Reserve squadrons from their parent wing locations to separate sites. The concept offered several advantages: communities were more likely to accept the smaller squadrons than the large wings and the location of separate squadrons in smaller population centers would facilitate recruiting and manning. In time, the detached squadron program proved successful in attracting additional participants. The 728th, 729th, and 730th Squadrons had all been stationed with the wing at Long Beach. However, in November 1957, the 733d Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Hill Air Force Base, Utah to replace the 313th Troop Carrier Squadron and became part of the wing.
The wing began to use inactive duty training periods for Operation Swift Lift, transporting high priority cargo for the air force and Operation Ready Swap, transporting aircraft engines, between Air Materiel Command’s depots. The wing continued to train with the 2347th Center until 1958, when the center was inactivated and some of its personnel were absorbed by the wing. In place of active duty support for reserve units, ConAC adopted the Air Reserve Technician Program, in which a cadre of the unit consisted of full-time personnel who were simultaneously civilian employees of the Air Force and held rank as members of the reserves.
In April 1959, the wing converted to the Dual Deputate organization,[note 1] anc all flying and maintenance squadrons were directly assigned to the wing, when the 452d Troop Carrier Group was inactivated. In October 1960, the wing moved its Long Beach operations to March Air Force Base, California.
Activation of groups under the wing
Although the dispersal of flying units was not a problem when the entire wing was called to active service, mobilizing a single flying squadron and elements to support it proved difficult. This weakness was demonstrated in the partial mobilization of reserve units during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. To resolve this, at the start of 1962, ConAC determined to reorganize its reserve wings by establishing groups with support elements for each of its troop carrier squadrons. This reorganization would facilitate mobilization of elements of wings in various combinations when needed. However, as this plan was entering its implementation phase, another partial mobilization occurred for the Cuban Missile Crisis. The mobilization included the 733d Squadron at Hill, which was assigned to the 349th Troop Carrier Wing while mobilized, but not the wing and remaining squadrons at Long Beach.
The formation of new troop carrier groups was delayed until January for wings that had not been mobilized. The 942d, 943d and 944th Troop Carrier Groups at March, and the 945th Troop Carrier Group at Hill were all assigned to the wing on 17 January.
Trained as a military airlift wing, 1966–1972; as a tactical airlift wing, 1972–1976. From 1957 to 1976 the 452d participated in troop carrier and airlift joint training exercises with ground forces and performed routing, special transport, and humanitarian missions within the U.S. In the early 1960s began flying missions to Alaska, including airlift support for exercises and humanitarian relief missions for the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Airlifted troops and cargo to the Dominican Republic during the 1965 contingency operation (Power Pack) to restore a stable government there. In 1965 began flying airlift missions worldwide, but especially to the Far East and Southeast Asia. Was the base host organization at Hamilton Air Force Base, 1 October 1973 – December 1975.
Converted to an air refueling mission in 1976, the first reserve wing to directly support Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers. From 1977 participated in tanker task forces worldwide. On 1 October 1977 the 336th Air Refueling Squadron began standing permanent alert duty with the active duty bombardment wing at March, a duty which continued until cancellation of Strategic Air Command (SAC) alert on 27 September 1991. Won the wing navigation trophy at the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competitions in 1983 and 1985 and the Saunders Trophy in 1985.
Deployed aircraft and volunteer aircrews and other personnel to Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield, beginning August 1990. The 336th ARS went on active duty in December 1990 and two squadron aircrews were among the first refuelers to launch on the first day of the Southwest Asia War (Desert Storm) against Iraq. Also, the Security Police Flight went on active duty and deployed to Saudi Arabia, February–June 1991