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Chennault Air Force Base

Shield Strategic Air Command.png

Part of Strategic Air Command
Located near Lake Charles, Louisiana
Chennault AFB LA - 2 march 1998.jpg
USGS aerial photo as of 23 January 1994
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 30°12′38″N 093°08′35″W / 30.21056°N 93.14306°W / 30.21056; -93.14306
Built 1940
In use 1940-1963
Chennault AFB is located in Louisiana
Chennault AFB
Location of Chennault Air Force Base, Louisiana
For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Chennault International Airport

Chennault Air Force Base was a United States Air Force Strategic Air Command base located near Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was closed in 1963.

Contents

History

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Origins

During World War II, Lake Charles Army Airfield was established as a training base for bomber crews by First Air Force. It had two axillary fields for emergency and overflow landings and takeoffs. It was deactivated at the end of the war.

Strategic Air Command

44th Bombardment Wing

When the Korean War began in 1950 a cadre was formed to reactivate the 44th Bombardment Wing at March Air Force Base, California. In July 1951 the cadre moved to Lake Charles Air Force Base, where the wing became operational and was assigned to Fifteenth Air Force, 12th Air Division.

The wing initially trained B-29 crews for combat duty in Korea using TB-29 Superfortresses. From 1 October. 1951 to 29 August. 1952, served as operational training unit for B-29 aircrews and maintenance personnel for Far East Air Forces. From 10 October. 1951 to 15 May 1952, trained all elements of the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

Operational squadrons of the 44th Bombardment Group were the 44th, 66th, 67th and 68th Bombardment squadrons. Re-equipped with operational B-29s, the wing became a first-line strategic bombardment wing in August 1952. In April 1953, the addition of the Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker equipped 44th Air Refueling Squadron added an air-refueling mission to the wing.

In 1953, the wing traded in its propeller-driven bombers and received the B-47E Stratojet. Participating in SAC Reflex deployments with the B-47, the 44th deployed at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, 19 January-22 February. 1953 and 19 April.-17 June. 1954. A fourth B-47 squadron, the 506th was added on 1 December 1958.

On 15 June 1960, the 44th was taken off operational status and was discontinued. Its squadrons were inactivated. The wing was transferred without personnel or equipment to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota on 24 November 1961, being redesignated the 44th Strategic Missile Wing.

68th Bombardment Wing

The 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium was established on 4 October 1951 and activated on 10 October at Lake Charles AFB (later renamed Chennault AFB). It received its initial cadre of 16 personnel from the 44th Bombardment Wing and began training as a Reconnaissance Wing using borrowed B-29s configured as RB-29s, assigning them to the 24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron.

It received its own B-29s in May 1952, then began training as a bombardment wing. Operational squadrons of the 68th Bombardment Group were the 51st and 52d Bombardment Squadrons. On June 16, 1952, the wing was redesignated the 68th Bombardment Wing, Medium.

On 16 January 1953 the B-29 Superfortress was replaced with the new all-jet B-47 Stratojet. The wing also received KC-97 Stratotankers and added a refueling mission. The 656th Bomb Squadron became the third B-47 squadron, with the tankers assigned to the 68th Air Refueling Squadron.

It conducted strategic bombardment training from May 1954 to June 1963 and air refueling operations from May 1954 to September 1957. It was deployed at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom from June 14 to August 7, 1954 and at RAF Brize Norton, England from Sept 27, 1957 to January 8, 1958. A fourth B-47 squadron, the 657th, was added on 1 December 1958.

The 68th moved without personnel or equipment to North Carolina on April 15, 1963, where it replaced the 4241st Strategic Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB and was equipped with B-52 Stratofortresses.

Closure

With the reassignment of the 68th Bomb Wing, Chennault AFB was closed in 1963. It is now operated as Chennault International Airport, a fully-operational facility dedicated to business, general aviation, and aviation maintenance.

See also

References

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

  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.

External links


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