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73d Air Division: Wikis


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73d Air Division
73d Air Division crest.jpg
73d Air Division emblem
Active February 17, 1943 – October 15, 1943;
November 20, 1943 – May 31, 1946;
June 12, 1947 – June 27, 1949;
July 1, 1957 – April 1, 1966
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Equipment see "Aerospace vehicles" section below
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign

The 73d Air Division (73d AD) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Air Defense Command, based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. It was inactivated on April 1, 1966.



The unit's origins begin with its predecessor, the World War II 73d Bombardment Wing (73d BW) was part of Twentieth Air Force. The 73d BW engaged in very heavy bombardment B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan.



  • Constituted as 5th Heavy Bombardment Processing Headquarters on February 9, 1943.
Activated on February 17, 1943
Redesignated 73d Bombardment Operational Training Wing (Heavy) on August 12, 1943.
Inactivated on October 15, 1943
  • Redesignated 73d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy on November 19, 1943
Activated on November 20, 1943
Redesignated: 73d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, Special on January 13, 1944
Redesignated; 73d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy on June 24, 1944.
Inactivated on May 31, 1946.
Redesignated 73d Air Division, Bombardment on April 16, 1948.
Inactivated on June 27, 1949.
  • Redesignated 73d Air Division (Weapons) on April 1, 1957.
Activated on July 1, 1957.
Redesignated 73d Air Division on March 1, 1963.
Discontinued, and inactivated, on April 1, 1966..


August 12 – October 15, 1943
June 2 – July 30, 1944
June 12, 1947 – July 1, 1948

Bases Assigned

June 30 – October 15, 1943
November 20, 1943
June 12, 1947 – June 29, 1949.

Units Assigned



World War II

Postwar Era


Air Defense Command

  • 4750th Air Defense Wing (Weapons): July 1, 1957 – June 25, 1960
Vincent AFB, Arizona
  • 4751th Air Defense Wing (Missile): January 15, 1958 – October 1, 1959
Hurlburt Field, Florida
Tyndall AFB, Florida
4756th Air Defense Group: July 1, 1960 – September 1, 1962; September 1, 1962 – April 1, 1966
Tyndall AFB, Florida
Perrin AFB, Texas

Aerospace vehicles

B-29 Superfortress, 1943–1946. B-57 Canberra, c. 1957 – c. 1960; F-102 Delta Dagger, c. 1957 – c. 1966; F-104 Starfighter, c. 1957 – c. 1960; T-33 Shooting Star, c. 1957 – 1966; F-101 Voodoo, c. 1960 – c. 1966; F-106 Delta Dart, c. 1960 – c. 1966.

Operational History

World War II

The 73d Bombardment Wing was activated as part of Second Air Force on February 17, 1943. Its original mission was a control organization for Replacement Training Units (RTU), with command and control over B-17/B-24 training units based in the midwest. It was inactivated on October 15, 1943 with the phasedown of heavy bomber training.

The wing was reactivated and redesignated as the 73d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) on November 20, 1943 at Smokey Hill AAF, Kansas. The new B-29 Superfortress wing was assigned four newly organized groups, (497th, 498th, 499th and 500th Bombardment Groups) which were training in New Mexico and Arizona on B-17 and B-24s, due to a lack of B-29 aircraft. In April 1944, the groups were brought to several airfields in Kansas (Great Bend AAF, Smokey Hill AAF and Walker AAF) where they were equipped with new B-29s manufactured by Boeing at their Wichita, Kansas plant.

By August the wing's groups completed their training and their aircraft were readied for deployment. Originally assigned to Twentieth Air Force's XX Bomber Command in India, the wing was instead assigned to the new XXI Bomber Command in the Pacific Theater. The 73d Wing deployed to newly-constructed airfields on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.

From Saipan, the groups of the 73d Bomb Wing flew several bombing missions against Truk to gain combat experience before bombing Iwo Jima. In November 1944, the groups of the 73d began bombing Japan, with only moderate success. Poor weather, the lack of precision radar bombing equipment, and tremendous winds encountered at high altitudes over Japan made accuracy difficult. Consequently, it turned to devastating low altitude incendiary attacks. In addition to Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, the 73d fire bombed numerous Japanese cities until war's end.

Strategic Air Command

With the end of the war the wing's four bomb groups were all returned to the United States, with their B-29s either being flown to Clark Air Base for scrapping, or were flown to storage facilities in Texas or Arizona. The 73d Bomb Wing was reassigned to the United States in December 1945, being assigned first to Continental Air Force's Fourth Air Force, then to the new Strategic Air Command on March 21, 1946. However demobilization was in full swing and few SAC units were actually equipped and manned. The 73d Bomb Wing was inactivated on March 31 and the unit was allocated on paper to the Air Force Reserve.

In 1947, the 73d Bomb Wing was reactivated with the 338th and 351st Bomb Groups being assigned to it, both reserve B-29 Superfortress organizations. A third group, the 381st was added in 1948. However SAC was having enough difficulties keeping its front-line active duty bomb units in the air to maintain even minimal pilot proficiency in the late 1940s. The wing and its bomb groups were all inactivated in 1949.

Air Defense Command

The organization was reactivated as part of Air Defense Command (ADC) in 1957 as the 73d Air Division. As part of ADC, it evaluated, upgraded, and determined the proficiency of the Air Defense Command fighter-interceptor and missile squadrons, July 1, 1957 – April 1, 1966. The division developed and tested Air Defense Command tactics, equipment, aircraft, guided missiles, and related equipment and armaments. It also maintained active contact with Army, Navy, and other Air Force commands to assure coordinated military effort in the use of rocket and missile ranges, defense plans, air sea land rescue, and airspace and airways directly concerned with the operations of the Air Defense Command Weapons Center.

With the diminishing need for an active-duty air defense mission in the United States, the 73d Air Division was inactivated on April 1, 1966.


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. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links


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