462d Strategic Aerospace Wing: Wikis


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462d Strategic Aerospace Wing
462d Strategic Wing.PNG
462d Strategic Aerospace Wing Emblem
Active 1943–1946, 1963–1966
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Role Bombardment
Part of Twentieth Air Force
Strategic Air Command
Garrison/HQ Pacific Ocean Theater of World War II
Larson AFB, Washington
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign

The 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was to Strategic Air Command, based at Larson Air Force Base, Washington.

The unit's origins begin with its predecessor, the World War II 462d Bombardment Group (462d BG) which served primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater and China Burma India Theater of World War II as part of Twentieth Air Force. The 462d BG's B-29 Superfortress aircraft engaged in very heavy bombardment operations against Japan. After its reassignment to the Mariana Islands in 1945, it's aircraft were identified by a "N" and a triangle painted on the tail.





  • Constituted as 462d Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
Activated on 1 Jul 1943
Redesignated 462d Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in Nov 1943
Inactivated on 31 Mar 1946.
  • Established as 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing on 15 Nov 1962
Activated on on 15 Nov 1962 by redesignation of 4170th Strategic Wing
Organized on 1 Feb 1963
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 Jun 1966.




Kuinglai (Linqiong) Airfield (A-4), China designated as forward staging base.

Operational History

World War II

462nd bg.gif

The 462d Bombardment Group, Very Heavy was constituted on May 15, 1943 as a B-29 Superfortress group and activated on July 1 at Smokey Hill AAF near Salinas, Kansas. It was assigned the 768th, 769th, 770th and 771st Bomb Squadrons. On July 28 it was reassigned to Walker AAF in Kansas where the group engaged in training on the new aircraft and its new mission. The 462d was assigned to the first Superfortress wing, the 58th Bombardment Wing.

In March 1944, the group left the United States and deployed to a former B-24 Liberator airfield at Piardoba India, arriving on April 7 In India, the group was assigned to the XX Bombardment Command of the new Twentieth Air Force. During the week of April 15–22, no less than five 58th Bomb Wing B-29s crashed near Karachi all from overheated engines. The entire Wing had to be grounded en route until the cause was found. The cause was traced to the fact that the B-29's R-3350 engine had not been designed to operate at ground temperatures higher than 115 degrees F, which were typically exceeded in India. Modifications had also to be made to the aircraft and after these modifications, B-29 flights to India were resumed.

From India, the 462d Bomb Group planned to fly missions against Japan from airfields in China. However, all the supplies of fuel, bombs, and spares needed to support the forward bases in China had to be flown in from India over "The Hump" (the name given by Allied pilots to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains), since Japanese control of the seas around the Chinese coast made seaborne supply of China impossible. Many of the supplies had to be delivered to China by the B-29s themselves. For this role, they were stripped of nearly all combat equipment and used as flying tankers and each carried seven tons of fuel. The Hump route was so dangerous and difficult that each time a B-29 flew from India to China it was counted as a combat mission,

The first combat mission by the group took place on June 5, 1944 when squadrons of the 462d took off from India to attack the Makasan railroad yards at Bangkok, Thailand. This involved a 2261-mile round trip, the longest bombing mission yet attempted during the war.

On June 15 the group participated in the first American Air Force attack on the Japanese Home Islands since the Doolittle raid in 1942. Operating from bases in India, and at times staging through fields in India and China, the group struck transportation centers, naval installations, iron works, aircraft plants, and other targets in Japan, Thailand, Burma, China, Formosa, and Indonesia. From a staging base in Ceylon, the 462d mined the Moesi River on Sumatra in August 1944. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a daylight attack on iron and steel works at Yawata, Japan, in August 1944.

The group was reassigned to Tinian, in the Marianas February–April 1945, for further operations against Japan with the XXI Bomb Command. It participated in mining operations, bombardment of strategic targets, and incendiary raids on urban areas. Bombed industrial areas in Tokyo and Yokohama in May 1945, being awarded a DUC for the action. Received another DUC for a daylight attack on an aircraft plant at Takarazuka on July 24, 1945.

Strategic Air Command

462nd SAW badge

The 462d Bomb Group returned to the United States, being assigned to MacDill Field, Florida in November 1945. It was assigned to the Third Air Force of Continental Air Forces. Continental Air Forces would later evolve into the Strategic Air Command on March 21, 1946.

The 462d Bombardment Group was one of the ten existing bombardment groups assigned to SAC when it was first formed. Demobilization, however, was in full swing and the group turned in its aircraft and was inactivated on March 31, 1946. Many of the wing's personnel and aircraft were reassigned to the 307th Bombardment Wing, which was reactivated at MacDill on August 4, 1946 as part of the re-established Fifteenth Air Force.

On February 1, 1963 the Strategic Air Command 4170th Strategic Wing at Larson AFB, Washington was replaced by the 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing in honor of the 462d Bomb Group of World War II. The 327th Bomb Squadron was replaced by the 768th Bomb Squadron.

The 462d SAW flew B-52D Stratofortresses and conducted strategic bombardment training, and refueling operations with the KC-135 Stratotanker. Its 568th Strategic Missile Squadron conducted Titan I ICBM training missions from February 1, 1963 to March 25, 1965.

The 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing was inactivated on June 25, 1966 with the closing of Larson AFB.


PD-icon.svg 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.

External links


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