The Strategic Air Command was founded
by men who had flown bomb raids against Germany during World War II.
They usually encountered swarms of enemy fighters and knew the importance
of having fighter escorts. They didn't want to haggle with other commands
to get fighters when needed, so they had fighter wings placed under their
own operational control.
Advances in technology soon made them obsolete. A
single atomic bomb had more explosive power than all the bombs dropped
during all of World War II, so only one of them could certainly destroy a
target far more effectively than hundreds of World War II B-17s and B-24s.
Thus SAC's missions were based on the use of an individual airplane, not a
formation of them.
During its early years, SAC flew B-29s left over from the war
and later B-50s and B36s. They were soon replaced by new jet
bombers, the B-47 and B-52. They flew so fast and so high that they
were virtually immune from fighters. Plus the F-84s and F-86s in
SAC's fighter inventory couldn't keep up with them. The fighter
wings were no longer necessary, so they were either inactivated or
assigned to other commands.
Groups Note: Most patches are from later
In November 1946, SAC had restructured to include one composite group,
eight very heavy bomb groups and two fighter groups. The 4th Fighter
Group was established 28 Jul 1947 at Andrews AFB, MD and assigned to the
Strategic Air Command on 15 Aug 1947. It was assigned to Selfridge Field, where it joined the
56th Fighter Group. It left SAC when it was reassigned to Fourteen Air Force on
December 1, 1948.
Activated on August 15, 1947 at Kearney Field, Nebraska. Initially
flew P-51D Mustangs, but was soon re-equipped with F-82E Twin Mustangs,
the only unit in SAC to have them. Between 1947 and 1950, it flew
fighter escort operations to support SAC missions. In September
1950, it deployed 90 F-84E from Bergstrom AFB, Texas to Furstenfeldbruck
Air Base, West Germany. by way of Labrador, Greenland, Iceland and
England. This was the first long-range mass flight of jet aircraft in
history. Fought in Korea Assigned to Tactical Air
Command in 1955.
Activated at Roswell AAFld New Mexico on November 5, 1947 and initially
P-51Ds. Later assigned to the 509th Bomb
Wing. Assigned air defense mission in 1949.
The 56th Pursuit Group was one of the premier fighter units on World War
II, but inactivated on October 18, 1945, as part of Americans post war
demobilization. It was reactivated on May 1, 1946. It was
assigned to Fifteen Air Force, to become SAC's first fighter unit.
It was established as the 56th Fighter Wing on July 28, 1947. Its
assigned to SAC was short lived. On August 1, 1948, it was
assigned to the Tenth Air Force as part of the 30th Air Division
It was assigned to Headquarter SAC and stationed at Bolling Field, DC.
on June 27, 1946. becoming SAC's second fighter unit. It was then
only a paper unit. As such, it was later moved to Andrews
Field. Established as the 82nd Fighter Wing on July 28,
1947. On Once up to strength it was assigned to the 307th
Bombardment Group which was deployed to Europe January 5-10, 1948.
It was inactivated on October 2, 1949. Reactivated as the 82nd
Flying Training Wing on February 1, 1973.
Below: P-51s at Grenier AAF in 1949. See
Fighter Group Website
Assigned by Fourth Air Force to SAC on 1 May 1949. It was assigned
to Fifteenth Air Force, and attached to the 22nd Bomb Wing from
1 Jul 1949 to 1 Apr 1950. It flew F-86s. One accounts states
that it also flew B-29s, but why a fighter wing would have heavy bombers
is beyond me. On 16 Apr 1950, it was redesigned as 1st
Fighter Interceptor Wing. It continued to fly F86s until returned
the Fourth Air Force on 1 Jul 1950.
Fighter Escort Wing
Activated 1 Nov 1950, at Turner AFB, GA. Assigned to Second Air
Force. Flew F-84s. Moved to Bergstrom AFB, TX, on 5 Dec 1950
and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. Reassigned to the 42nd Air
Division on 9 Apr 1951. (Attached to the 7th Air Division from 20
Jul to 30 Nov 1951). On 20 Jan 1953, it was redesignated as the 12th
Strategic Fighter Wing.
On July 1, 1950, the 31st Fighter-bomber Wing under the command of
Colonel David C. Schilling was transferred from TAC to SAC. It was
redesignated the 31st Fighter Escort Wig on July 16. It was
stationed at Turner AFB, Georgia and flew F-48E Thunderjets.
The following year it left SAC to perform national defense missions.
Strategic Reconnaissance Wing - Fighter
Activated on 26 Jan. 1955 at Larson AFB, WA to perform strategic
reconnaissance and test a technique for launching small RBF-84 aircraft
from GRB-36 bombers, to extend the range of photographic reconnaissance
and fighter escort. Tests ended in 1956, but wing continued strategic
reconnaissance until inactivated in 1957. Redesignated 71st
Surveillance Wing (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) and activated
on 6 Dec. 1961. Redesigned 71st Missile Warning Wing on
1 Jan 1967. Inactivated 30 April 1971. Redesigned 71st Flying
Training Wing on 14 April 1972. Activated 1 Nov. 1972
Established March 23, 1953 and activated at great Falls AFB,
Montana. It flew F-84Fs and had an air refueling squadron with
K-29s. The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, flying RF--84Ks
was attached to the wing between December 10, 1954 and July 15,
1955. During this period, the wing provided air defense for
northern Japan while deployed to Misawa AB, Japan
Strategic Fighter Wing
Established November 20, 1952 and activated at Dow AFB, Maine on January
20, 1953, replacing the 4009 Air Base Squadron which was stationed
there. The wing had four squadrons of F-84s and one refueling squadron
of KB-29P. Between April 1953 and June 1957, the wing trained in
air defense and escort operation. The wing was deployed to
provided air defense for northern Japan. It was deployed to Misawa
AB Japan from August 13 to November 7, 1953.
Fighter - Escort Wing
Established 19 Jun 1952. Activated 1 Jul 1952, at Turner AFB, GA.
Assigned to Second Air Force, 49th Air Division. Flew F-84s.
In 1953 added KB-29s tankers.
508th Strategic Fighter Wing
Redesigned 20 Jan 1952. at Turner AFB, GA. Assigned to Second Air
Force, 40th Air Division.
Attached to 319th Air Division (Defense) from 8 Feb to 13 May 1953 and
2 Feb to 7 May 1954).