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Kalaikunda Air Force Station

IAF-roundel.svg

Mig-27.jpg
IAF MiG-27
IATA: noneICAO: VDEX
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner India Air Force
Location Kharagpur, India
Elevation AMSL 200 ft / 61 m
Coordinates 22°20′21.90″N 087°12′52.37″E / 22.339417°N 87.2145472°E / 22.339417; 87.2145472Coordinates: 22°20′21.90″N 087°12′52.37″E / 22.339417°N 87.2145472°E / 22.339417; 87.2145472
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17/35 9,000 2,743
Kalaikunda Air Force Station is located in India
Kalaikunda Air Force Station
Location of Kalaikunda Air Force Station, India
Photo of "The Craig Comet" Bell-Atlanta B-29-15-BA Superfortress 42-63445 of the 794th Bomb Squadron 468th Bomb Wing, Kalaikunda AB, India

Kalaikunda Air Force Station is a Indian Air Force Base near Kharagpur, located in the Midnapore West district of the state of West Bengal. It is the home of Squadron No. 20, Eastern Air Command. The squadron flies the Indian license-built Mikoyan MiG-27ML (Vampire).

Contents

History

Air Force Station Kalaikunda was built by the British for the Royal Indian Air Force during World War II. It was used to conduct raids against advancing Japanese in Burma and also for operations to transport aid to parts of China.

It was originally designed for B-24 Liberator use. In 1943 it was designated as a B-29 Superfortress Base for the planned deployment of the United States Army Air Forces XX Bomber Command to India. Advance Army Air Forces echelons arrived in India in December 1943 to organize the upgrading of the airfield and thousands of Indians labored to upgrade the facility for Superfortress operations. It was one of four B-29 bases established by the Americans in India.

When the XX Bomber Command arrived at Kalaikunda in late March 1944 the conditions at the base was poor, and the runways were still in the process of being lengthened when the first B-29s arrived. Along with Command Headquarters, Kalaikunda was also the headquarters of the 58th Bombardment Wing, which arrived in late April.

The operational B-29 group assigned to Kalaikunda was the 468th Bombardment Group, with the 512th, 792d, 793d, 749th and 795th Bombardment Squadrons.

Initially, the 468th hauled bombs, fuel, ammunition and spare parts 1,200 miles to its forward staging base at Pengshan Airfield (A-7), Pengshan, Szechwan Provience, China. Six round trips were necessary to deliver enough fuel for one airplane to mount a combat mission from China - an impractical logistics concept for an aerial campaign, particularly with an airplane plagued with an unreliable engine.

On June 5, 1944, the 468th flew its first operational mission from Kalaikunda against railroad yards at Bangkok, Thailand. Ten days later, flying from field A-7, the 468th bombed the Imperial Iron & Steel Works, Yawata, Japan - the opening of the B-29 phase of the Air Offensive against Japan. Within a year, it participated in eight campaigns and earned three Distinguished Unit Citations.

From June 1944 until May 1945, operating at maximum range, the 468th conducted aerial reconnaissance and bombardment operations from India and China against Japanese targets in Japan, Manchuria, China, Taiwan, Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Sumatra. Sixteen-hour combat missions were common; the longest 21. Weather, terrain and the enemy were equally unforgiving. The B-29 was still being "invented" and its operational tactics had to be proved while the airplane was being de-bugged in the face of the enemy.

In July 1944, U. S. Marines invaded the Mariana Islands and as soon as West Field, Tinian, was readied in May 1945, the group flew to West Field and continued the Air Offensive against Japan.

With the departure of the B-29s, the Tenth Air Force 2d Air Commando Group used the airfield. Flying North American O-47s, P-51 Mustangs, C-47 Skytrains and L-5 Sentinel aircraft, the commando unit dropped supplies to Allied troops who were fighting the Japanese in the Chindwin Valley in Burma; moved Chinese troops from Burma to China; transported men, food, ammunition, and construction equipment to Burma; dropped Gurka paratroops during the assault on Rangoon; provided fighter support for Allied forces crossing the Irrawaddy River in Feb 1945; struck enemy airfields and transportation facilities; escorted bombers to targets in the vicinity of Rangoon; bombed targets in Thailand; and flew reconnaissance missions.

After May 1945 the fighter squadrons were in training; in June the group's C-47's were sent to Ledo to move road-building equipment; during Jun—Jul most of its L-5's were turned over to Fourteenth Air Force in China.

See also

References

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.

External links

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