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461st Bombardment Wing
461st Bombardment Wing.PNG
454th Bombardment Wing Insignia
Active 1943–1945, 1953–1968
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Bomber
Part of Strategic Air Command
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1943–1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1967)

The 461st Bombardment Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the Strategic Air Command 19th Air Division, stationed at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas. It was inactivated on 25 May 1968

Originally activated in 1943 as the 461st Bombardment Group as a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. The highly-decorated unit served primarily in the Mediterranean, African, and The Middle East Theatres of World War II.

Activated as a tactical bomber unit by Tactical Air Command in the 1950s, in November 1962 the wing was designated the 451st Bombardment Wing and was stationed at Amarillo AFB and assigned to Strategic Air Command. The wing flew B-52 Stratofortress heavy strategic bombers and deployed aircraft and crews to Andersen AFB, Guam for combat operations in Southeast Asia. The wing was inactivated in March 1968 with the closure of Amarillo AFB.



  • Constituted as 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on May 19, 1943.
Activated on July 1, 1943.
Inactivated on August 18, 1945
  • Established as 461st Bombardment Wing, Light on December 11, 1953
Activated on December 23, 1953
Redesignated: 461st Bombardment Wing, Tactical on October 1, 1955
Inactivated on April 1, 1958
  • Redesignated: 461st Bombardment Wing, Heavy and activated on 15 Nov 1962
Activated, on 15 Nov 1962 replacing 4128th Strategic Wing
Organized on 1 Feb 1963 assuming the resources (Manpower, Aircraft, Equipment, Weapons, & Facilities) of the 4128th Strategic Wing (inactivated)
Organized February 1, 1963
Discontinued and inactivated on May 25, 1968


49th Bombardment Wing, April 30, 1944 – July 1, 1945.
Ninth Air Force, December 23, 1953 – April 1, 1958
Fifteenth Air Force
22d Air Division, February 1, 1963
819th Air Division, July 1, 1964
19th Air Division, July 2, 1966 – March 25, 1968


  • 764th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1945, 1953–1968
  • 765th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1945
  • 766th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1945
  • 767th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1945
  • 909th Air Refueling Squadron 1963–1966


Aircraft flown

Operational history


World War II

For an extensive World War II history of the group, see: 461st Bombardment Group (external link)

Constituted as 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on May 19, 1943. Activated on July 1, 1943. Moved to the Mediterranean theater, January–February 1944, the air echelon flying B-24's via the South Atlantic and stopping in North Africa before joining the ground echelon in Italy. Began combat with Fifteenth Air Force in April 1944.

Engaged chiefly in bombardment of communications, industries, and other strategic objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Supported Fifteenth AF's counter-air operations by bombing enemy airdromes and aircraft centers, receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on April 13, 1944 when the group battled its way through enemy defenses to attack an aircraft components plant in Budapest. The 461st conducted Oil Campaign of World War II operations against Brux, Blechhammer, Moosbierbaum, Vienna, and Ploesti; receiving a second DUC for a July 1944 bombing of Ploesti despite flak, clouds, smoke, and fighters. Also operated in support of ground forces and flew some interdictory missions.

Hit artillery positions in support of the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 and flew supply missions to France in September. Aided the Allied offensive in Italy in April 1945 by attacking gun emplacements and troop concentrations. Dropped supplies to prisoner-of-war camps in Austria during May 1945.

Returned to the US in July. Inactivated on August 18, 1945.

Cold War

Tactical Air Command

Established as the 461st Bombardment Wing, Light on December 11, 1953. Assigned to Tactical Air Command. Activated December 23, 1953 at Hill AFB, Utah. The mission of the wing was to provide training in air support of ground forces and air interdiction from lessons learned during the Korean War. Initially the new wing was assigned B-26B Invaders that were brought out of storgae. Modifiations made to the aircraft as a result of combat in Korea meant that the Invader operated at considerably higher weights and with greater loads than had been achieved in World War II. The Invader, however, was used as a transitory aircraft until the unit could receive the jet-powered Martin B-57 Canberra, which was still under development and going though development issues.

Finally on 1 October 1955 the wing was reassigned to its permanent base at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas. It was redesignated as the 461st Bombardment wing, Tactical, and began receiving its B-57B aircraft. However, a number of B-57Bs were lost in accidents, particularly during high-speed, low-level operations when aircraft suddenly and unexplainably dove into the ground. As these accidents persisted, all tactically-assigned B-57Bs were grounded in May 1956 for a period of four months while the problem was investigated. The fault was eventually traced to a faulty tailplane actuator which set the trim incorrectly. The installation of a new actuator switch cured the problem.

The USAF was not very happy with the B-57B as it was initially produced. It was still deemed to be inadequate to meet the night intruder and close support role for which it had originally been designed. The target acquisition system was inadequate, the navigational range was too short, and the radio navigation could not recover the aircraft after strikes. The armament was inadequate—the gun-bomb-rocket sight, the gun charging systems, and the external stores release mechanisms were all unreliable. After three years of service with the B-57s in tactical bomb groups, the decision was made to phase out the B-57 in favor of supersonic aircraft. The wing turned in its aircraft to TAC for disposition and the wing inactivated on 1 April 1958.

Strategic Air Command

Emblem of the 4128th Strategic Wing

Assigned to the Strategic Air Command on November 15, 1962 and redesigned the 461st Bombardment Wing, Heavy. Organized February 1, 1963 at Amarillo AFB, Texas, where it absorbed the personnel and equipment of the 4128th Strategic Wing. Strategic Wings were established by SAC to disburse it's B-52 Stratofortress bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. A 4-Digit MAJCOM wing, it was considered a temporary, provisional unit.

In 1962, in order to retain the lineage of its MAJCOM 4-digit combat units and to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its MAJCOM strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate AFCON units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history. The 4128th was originally activated on 5 January 1959 and was equipped with a squadron of B-52s and KC-135 Stratotankers. With the activation of the 461st, the provisional wing was inactivated and its aircraft, personnel and equipment were absorbed by the 461st in a name-only transfer.

The wing trained with B-52s maintained heavy bombardment proficiency and participated in numerous operational readiness inspections and actual and simulated exercises. It deployed B-52 aircraft and crews to Andersen AFB, Guam from January 18, to July 4, 1967 for combat operations in Southeast Asia, however its headquarters remained at Amarillo where it served as a deterrent force and also supported SAC's global air refueling mission.

The 461st Bombardment Wing was inactivated on 25 March 1968 with the closure of Amarillo AFB.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.

External links


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