509th Composite Group
509th Bombardment Wing
Motto "Defender Avenger"
Based at: Roswell AAF, Pease AFB, Whiteman AFB
Aircraft: B-29, B-50, B-47, B-52, FB-111, B-2
Status: Active
Bomb Squadrons: 

World War II
    The 509th Bomb Wing is one of the most famous units in the United States Air Force.  It began in World War II as the 509th Composite Group.  It was formed for only one mission - to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.  Led by Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the group trained hard for its unique task.  On Aug. 6, 1945, the 509th fulfilled its destiny when the B-29 "Enola Gay" piloted by Colonel Tibbets dropped the first atomic bomb and destroyed Hiroshima, Japan. On Aug. 9, 1945, the group once again visited the Japanese mainland and unleashed the atomic inferno on another city, Nagasaki. Within days, the Japanese sued for peace and World War II ended.
Initial SAC Bomb Group
     The 509th Composite Group returned  to the United States in late 1945, as part of the 15th Air Force.  
The 15th was the first combat wing assigned to the newly formed Strategic Air Command.  It had ten bomb groups but only two - the 509th and the 93rd - continued operations into the new command.  (See Original Bomb Groups).  The 509th Composite Group settled into Roswell Army Air Base, N.M.  The 509th was the only organization in the entire world to have experience with nuclear weapons.  Many regard it as the core of the Strategic Air Command, the powerful nuclear bomber force that evolved during the 1950's and 1960's.
Operation Crossroads
      In August 1946, the now-called 509th Bombardment Group again traveled to the Pacific where it participated in Operation Crossroads. During this special maneuver, the group dropped an atomic bomb on an armada of obsolete and captured naval vessels moored off the Bikini Atoll. 
509th Bombardment Wing
    The newly formed United States Air Force adopted the wing-base plan and the 509th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy was established on November 3, 1947.  On Nov. 17, 1947, it was activated as the 509th Bombardment Wing at Roswell.  The 509th Bombardment Group was assigned to the wing.  Within five years, however, the Air Force inactivated the group and turned over the lineage and honors of the group to the wing.
      During 1947-1948, the 509th Bombardment Wing flew B-29s.  It converted tot he new B-50 which it flew from 1949 to 1951.  When the huge B-36 Peacemaker joined the Air Force inventory, the "Very Heavy" designation was dropped forever.  The 509th - like all other B-29 and B-50 wings - was redesignated "Medium."  The new B-36 wings were designated "heavy"
Aerial Refueling
The wing pioneered a new concept in July 1948 when it received the 509th Air Refueling Squadron, one of the first two such units ever created, and its air refueling KB-29Ms. With the addition of tankers, the 509th's bombers could reach virtually any point on earth. The dawning of a new decade brought more changes to the wing. In June 1950, it began receiving B-50s. In January 1954, the KC-97 aerial tanker replaced the aging KB-29Ms.
B-47 Stratojet & Pease AFB
    The wing entered the jet age in June 1955 when it received the first all-jet bomber: the B-47 Stratojet.  The wing moved its people and equipment to Pease AFB, N. H., in August 1958. There, it continued to function as an integral part of SAC.
B-52 Stratofortress
By virtually all of SAC's B-47s had been retired.  The 509th was also scheduled for retirement, but the SAC leaders did not want to inactivate the famous unit, so it equipped it with B-52s and KC-135s. The wing received its first B-52 and KC-135 in March 1966. The wing's association with the B-52 included two major deployments to Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of the now famous Vietnam War Arc Light missions. In April 1968 and again in April 1969, the wing began six-month ventures in the Western Pacific. During the last deployment, SAC informed the 509th that the wing would swap its B-52s for FB-111As.
FB-111 Aardvark
     The 509th Bombardment Wing's 393rd Bombardment Squadron, began receiving the formidable fighter-bomber in December 1970. After several years of service with two squadrons of the 99th Bombardment Wing, in the latter half of the 1960s their B-52Cs were redistributed among a number of different B-52D units and operated primarily as crew trainers until 1971.  Units known to have operated the B-52C in this fashion included the 22nd BW, 28th BW, 70th BW, 91st BW, 92nd SAW, 96th SAW, 99th BW, 306th BW, 454th BW, 461st BW and 509th BW. The 509th Bomb Wing.
      Over the next two decades, little changed for the 509th BW as it became SAC's fighter-bomber experts. However, a decision by the Department of Defense in 1988 to close Pease created major changes for the famous 509th.  In 1991, the base was closed and the 509th personnel were assigned to other duties.
B-2 Stealth Bombers and Whiteman AFB
   After the closing of Pease, all that remained was the wing's name.  On September 30, 1990, the 509th Bombardment Wing was transferred to Whiteman, without people and equipment.  That same day also saw most of the wing's squadrons inactivated. This took place since the wing was expected to remain non-operational until the arrival of the first B-2 drew nearer.
       While the wing waited for that date, several more changes occurred. On Sept. 1, 1991, SAC changed the wing's name to 509th Bomb Wing. A second change occurred on June 1, 1992, when the Air Force disestablished SAC. Concurrently, the 509th became part of the newly created Air Combat Command. The wing's hibernation at Whiteman lasted more than two years. However, on April 1, 1993, the Air Force returned the 509th to operational status as people were again assigned to the wing.
     On July 20, 1993, the 509th received its first fixed-wing aircraft in almost three years: a T-38 complete with a B-2-style paint job. After this, the wing prepared for the arrival of it's first Stealth Bomber.  Finally, on December 17, 1993, the first operational B-2, named "The Spirit of Missouri," touched down on the Whiteman runway.  The date marked the 90th anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers and the 49th anniversary of the original activation of the 509th Composite Group.
    The wing grew larger on July 1, 1993, when it accepted host responsibilities for Whiteman from the 351st Missile Wing.
33d Fighter: attached 17 Nov 1947–15 Nov 1948. 
33d Fighter: attached 17 Nov 1947–15 Nov 1948. 
509th Bombardment (later, 509th Operations): 17 Nov 1947–16 Jun 1952; 15 Jul 1993– 
34 AR: Assigned Jun 25, 1966 – Mar 31, 1976.  393BS: Attached Nov 17, 1947– Sep 14, 1948;
   Attached Feb 1, 1951 – Jun 15,1952, Assigned 16 Jun 16, 1952 – Sep 30, 1990 (Detached c. Jun 18 - 18 Sep 18, 1953). 

509 AR: Attached Jul 19 – Sep 14, 1948; Attached Feb 1, 1951 – Jun 15, 1952.
   Assigned Jun 16, 1952 – Jan 5, 1958 (Detached Jul 10 – Nov 5, 1954, Jun 14 – Aug 5, 1955,
   and Feb 27 – May 1, 1957); Assigned Jul 8, 1958 – Jun 25, 1965; Assigned Oct 2, 1966 –  Jul 1, 1990. 
661st: Assigned Mar 1, 1959 –  Jan 1, 1962.
715th: Attached Nov 17, 1947 – Sep 14, 1948; Attached Feb 1, 1951 – Jun 15, 1952.
             Assigned Jun 16, 1952 – Jun 25, 1966; Assigned Jan 1, 1970–30 Sep 30, 1990.
830th: Attached Nov 17, 1947–  Sep 14, 1948; Attached Feb 1, 1951– Jun 15, 1952
     Assigned Jun 16, 1952–  Jun 25, 1966 (Detached 15 Mar–19 Jun 1953). 
900 AR Assigned Apr 2, 1966 - Jun 25, 1966.