Seventh Air Force: Wikis

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Seventh Air Force
7th Air Force.png
Seventh Air Force emblem
Active November 1940-June 1975
September 1986-Current
Country United States of America
Branch United States Air Force
Type Field Air Force
Role Ground Attack and Air Superiority
Part of Pacific Air Forces
Garrison/HQ Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
(1941-1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1966-1973)
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant General Jeffrey A. Remington
Notable
commanders
Lucius D. Clay, Jr.
William W. Momyer
George S. Brown
Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 51st Fighter Wing fly over the Republic of Korea
F-16s of the 8th Fighter Wing

The Seventh Air Force (7 AF) is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

The command's mission is to plan and direct air component operations in the Republic of Korea and in the Northwest Pacific.

Established on 19 October 1940 as the Hawaiian Air Force at Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii. 7 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force in the Pacific Theater of World War II, providing air defense of the Hawaiian Islands and engaging in combat operations primarily in the Central Pacific AOR. It's assigned units engaging enemy forces in the Gilbert Islands; Marshall Islands; Caroline Islands; Mariana Islands, and in the last major battle of the Pacific War, the Battle of Okinawa. Returning to it's defense role in Hawaii after the war, 7 AF became the primary USAF command and control organization in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

7 AF is commanded by Lieutenant General Jeffrey A. Remington. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Stephen R. Ludwig.

Contents

Overview

On 8 September 1986, Seventh Air Force was activated at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and assumed the mission of maintaining the fragile armistice on the Korean peninsula previously performed by the 314th Air Division.

Since then, both as U.S. Air Forces Korea, under the joint U.S. Forces Korea, and the U.S. Air Force component to the United States and Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command, 7 AF has been an integral part of deterring aggression from North Korea. It develops the total air campaign and reinforcement plans for ROK defense and sustains mission readiness of 117 operational units and 8,300 U.S. Air Force personnel.

It operates in conjunction with United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), United Nations Command (Korea), U.S. Forces, Korea/Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea (USFK).

Units

Major units of Seventh Air Force are:

Non-Flying Units (Osan Air Base)

  • 607th Air and Space Operations Center
  • 607th Air Support Group
  • 607th Air Support Operations Group
  • 607th Support Group

History

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Lineage

  • Established as Hawaiian Air Force on 19 Oct 1940
Activated on 1 Nov 1940
Redesignated: 7 Air Force on 5 Feb 1942
Redesignated: Seventh Air Force on 18 Sep 1942
Redesignated: Pacific Air Command on 15 Dec 1947
Upgraded to Major Command 15 Dec 1947
Discontinued on 1 Jun 1949
  • Redesignated Seventh Air Force on 10 Dec 1954
Activated on 5 Jan 1955
Inactivated on 1 Jul 1957
  • Activated on 28 Mar 1966
Organized on 1 Apr 1966
Inactivated on 30 Jun 1975
  • Activated on 8 Sep 1986

Assignments

Stations

Components

Commands

  • 7 Air Force Base (later, VII Air Force Base; VII Air Force Service): 19 Feb 1942-15 Aug 1944
  • VII Air Service Area: 3 Aug 1944-12 Aug 1945
  • 7 Bomber (later, VII Bomber): 29 Jan 1942-1 Jan 1946
  • 7 Interceptor (later, 7 Fighter; VII Fighter): 2 Feb 1942-1 Mar 1945; 14-16 Jul 1945

Divisions

Origins

7th USAAF.png

Initially, Seventh Air Force activated on 1 November 1940 as the Hawaiian Air Force. The command was twice renamed before settling as Seventh Air Force on 18 September 1942. It is the oldest Numbered Air Force in the United States Air Force.

Seventh Air Force became part of U.S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area, about 16 August 1943, and assigned to Army Air Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas, on 1 August 1944.

Order of Battle, 6 December 1941

The mission of the Hawaiian Air Force on 6 December 1941 was air defense of the Hawaiian Islands. Its order of battle was as follows:

15th Pursuit Group (Fighter), Wheeler Fld
45th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-36A)
46th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-36A, P-40B)
47th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-40B, P-36A)
72d Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (none)
18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), Wheeler Fld
6th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)
19th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B, P-40C)
44th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor), Bellows Fld (P-40B, P-40C)
73d Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)
78th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)
5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Fld
4th Reconnaissance Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
23d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
31st Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
72d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18))
11th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Fld
26th Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
42d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
50th Reconnaissance Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)

The B-17 squadrons were equipped with a mixture of B-17B, B-17C and B-17D models. Additional units assigned to Hawaiian Air Force on 6 December 1941 were:

  • 19th Transport Sqd, Hickam Fld (C-33)
  • 58th Bombardment Sqd (Light), Hickam Fld (A-20)
  • 86th Observation Sqd, Bellows Fld (B-12, O-47, O-49)

In addition to the above units, during the night of 6-7 December 1941, another squadron, the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 41st Bombardment Group, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, were en route to Hawaii with a mixture of B-17C/Ds to reinforce the 18th Bombardment Wing.

Also, B-17Cs of the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, were also en route to Hawaii from Hamilton Field, California, with a final destination of Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines.

These units were deploying due to the heightened tensions between the United States and the Empire of Japan. They arrived in Hawaii at the height of the attack on 7 December (radar operators mistakenly thought that the Japanese attack force was this flight arriving from California). Some of the planes managed to land at a short fighter strip at Haleiwa, one set down on a golf course, and the remainder landed at Hickam under the strafing of Japanese planes.

World War II

The attack on Pearl Harbor or Hawaii Operation as it was called by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters devastated Seventh Air Force. The command suffered 188 aircraft destroyed, 155 aircraft damaged, and hundreds of airmen killed or injured.

Hawaiian Airfields

In Hawaii the Seventh Air Force used the following military airfields. Some were operated solely by the AAF, others were jointly used with the United States Navy Wartime images of these airfields are linked to their names as most of them were minimal facility landing fields.

Later became Dillingham AFB
Joint USAAF/Navy

Operational Units

Re-equipping of the command after the Japanese attack on Oahu took a significant length of time. The re-equipped Seventh Air Force consisted of the following units:

VII FIGHTER COMMAND FIGHTER GROUPS BOMB GROUPS MISCELLANEOUS
548th Night Fighter Squadron (P-61) 15th Fighter Group 5th Bombardment Group (B-17/B-24) 28th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (F-5B)
549th Night Fighter Squadron (P-61) 18th Fighter Group 11th Bombardment Group (B-24) 9th Troop Carrier Squadron(C-47/C-46)
21st Fighter Group 30th Bombardment Group (B-24) 163d Liaison Squadron (L-5)
318th Fighter Group 41st Bombardment Group (B-25) 41st Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (F-5)
508th Fighter Group 307th Bombardment Group (B-17/B-24)
319th Bombardment Group (A-26)

Seventh Air Force retained the mission of its predecessor of the defense of the Hawaiian Islands and until the closing months of the war it maintained its headquarters at Hickam Field. The command however, deployed most of its combat units to the Central Pacific where operations were best summed up by its air and ground views as "Just one damned island after another!"

Seventh Air Force units deployed 2,000 miles southwest to the Gilbert Islands, then 600 miles northwest to the Marshall Islands, 900 miles west to the Caroline Islands, 600 miles northwest to the Mariana Islands, 600 miles north to Iwo Jima, 1,000 miles west to Okinawa, always edging closer towards the center of Japanese power. A map story of the Seventh Air Force would cover 3,000 miles north and south of Midway Atoll to Fiji, and 5,000 miles east and west from Pearl Harbor to the Ryukus. The combat record of its major units is as follows:

  • The 15th Fighter Group was re-equipped after the Pearl Harbor attack and remained in Hawaii as part of the Hawaiian Defense Force, although rotated squadrons to the Central Pacific attached to Thirteenth Air Force groups. In April 1944, received P-51 Mustang fighters and trained for long-range bomber escort missions. The group deployed to Iwo Jima in February 1945. Was reassigned to Twentieth Air Force for the remainder of the war, returning to Hawaii and Seventh Air Force in November 1945.
  • The 21st Fighter Group was created in Hawaii in March 1944 and initially was part of the Hawaiian Defense Force flying P-39 Airacobras. Re-equipped with P-51 Mustangs in January 1945 and trained for long-range bomber escort missions. The group deployed to Iwo Jima in February 1945. Was reassigned to Twentieth Air Force for the remainder of the war, being inactivated on Guam in April 1946.
  • The 508th Fighter Group was created on 12 October 1944 at Peterson Field, Colorado. The group trained with P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft to provide very-long-range escort for B-29 Superfortress bombardment units in the Southwest Pacific Theater. The lack of significant Japanese fighter defense by late 1944 caused a change of mission and the group was reassigned to Seventh Air Force in Hawaii in Jan 1945 and served as part of the Hawaiian Defense Force. In Hawaii, the group also trained replacement pilots for other organizations, repaired P-47's and P-51's received from combat units, and ferried aircraft to forward areas. The unit was inactivated in Hawaii on 25 Nov 1945 when it replaced by the 15th Fighter Group.
  • The 30th Bombardment Group was reassigned to Seventh Air Force in October 1943 from March Field, California where it flew west coast antisubmarine patrols for Fourth Air Force. It was deployed to the Ellice Islands in the central Pacific during November 1943 where its B-24s took part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Remaining part of Seventh Air Force, the group moved westward across the Pacific, taking part in several campaigns until returning to Wheeler Field, Hawaii in March 1945. From Wheeler, the group flew patrol missions until being inactivated in June 1946.
  • The 41st Bombardment Group was formed at March Field, California in January 1941 and performed antisubmarine patrols along the west coast until deploying to Seventh Air Force in Hawaii during October 1943 for final overseas training. From Hawaii, the group deployed its B-25 Mitchell medium bombers to Tarawa in the central Pacific in December 1943. Remaining part of Seventh Air Force, the group took part in combat operations across the western Pacific as well as attacking targets on Taiwan and mainland China as well as the Japanese home islands. It was inactivated at Clark Field, Philippines on 27 January 1946.
  • The 307th Bombardment Group was reassigned to Seventh Air Force in October 1942 from Fourth Air Force where it flew patrols off the west coast, first in B-17's and later in B-24's. In Hawaii, the group trained and flew patrol and search missions. Attacked Wake Island in December 1942 and January 1943, by staging through Midway Island. The group deployed to Guadalcanal in February 1943 and was assigned to Thirteenth Air Force. It served in combat, primarily in the Central and Southwest Pacific, until the war ended.

The Seventh Air Force along with Thirteenth Air Force in the Central Pacific and Fifth Air Force in Australia were assigned to the newly-created United States Far East Air Forces (FEAF) on August 3, 1944. FEAF was subordinate to the U.S. Army Forces Far East and served as the headquarters of Allied Air Forces Southwest Pacific Area. By 1945, three numbered air forces -- 5th, 7th and 13th -- were supporting operations in the Pacific. FEAF was the functional equivalent in the Pacific of the United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) in the European Theater of Operations.

During the summer of 1945, the 15th Fighter Group (along with the 21st and 318th from the VII Fighter Command) were reassigned to the Twentieth Air Force and continued fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, in addition to flying long-range B-29 escort missions to Japanese cities, until the end of the war. In addition, Seventh Air Force command echelon was moved to Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, and assigned to United States Far East Air Force, effective July 14, 1945. VII Fighter Command remained attached to 20th Air Force until the end of the war.

Pacific Air Command

On 1 January 1946, Seventh Air Force was reassigned without personnel or equipment to Hickam Field, Territory of Hawaii, where it resumed its prewar mission of defense of the Hawaiian Islands.

On 15 December 1947, it was redesignated Pacific Air Command (PACOM) and elevated to major command status. PACOM's mission was to oversee air defense and other operations in the Pacific Ocean area, of the Pacific Region from the Hawaiian Islands west to include Wake, Midway, the Mariana, Caroline, Solomon and Marshall Islands.

Pacific Air Command was discontinued effective 1 June 1949 as a result of a budgetary actions. Its mission, functions, responsibilities and command jurisdiction of installations and facilities transferred to the Military Air Transport Service.

Cold War

Seventh Air Force regained its name and enjoyed a brief rebirth in the second half of the 1950s. Resurrected as an administrative headquarters on January 5, 1955 at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. It was assigned to Pacific Air Force (later, Pacific Air Force/FEAF [Rear]) and transferred to Wheeler AFB, Territory of Hawaii, in March 1955.

Seventh Air Force oversaw Pacific Air Force's area of responsibility east of 140 degrees east longitude, including the Hawaiian Islands. Seventh was also responsible for the air defense of the islands. However, the movement of United States Far East Air Force (renamed Pacific Air Forces) from Japan to Hawaii led to the inactivation of Seventh Air Force on 1 July 1957.

Vietnam War

HQ USAF revived the Seventh Air Force to serve Pacific Air Forces during the Vietnam War when the growth of forces required a replacement for the 2d Air Division. In this capacity Seventh Air Force was the Air Component Command of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).

Upon reactivation on 28 March 1966, Seventh Air Force was designated a combat command at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. From April 1966 until 1973, the command assumed responsibility for most Air Force operations in Vietnam and shared responsibility with the Thirteenth Air Force for operations conducted from Thailand as 7/13 Air Force.

In June 1966, the first US air attacks near Hanoi and Haiphong occurred when Seventh Air Force planes bombed oil installations near these two cities. The following month, US aircraft struck North Vietnamese forces inside the Vietnamese Demilitarized zone (DMZ) following the North's violations of agreements not to put military forces there.

One of the most publicized battles of the war was the siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968, known as "Operation Niagara." More than 24,000 tactical and 2700 B-52 strike dropped 110,000 tons of ordnance in attacks that averaged over 300 sorties per day. At night, AC-47 gunships kept up a constant chatter of fire against enemy troops. In August 1968, General George S. Brown began to oversee the "Vietnamization" of the air war. By 1970, this effort was successful enough that General Brown released the first USAF units to leave Vietnam.

On 29 March 1973, the command transferred to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where it accepted dual responsibility as the US Support Activities Group and Seventh Air Force. As a result, Seventh Air Force controlled air assets and operations in Thailand.

It served this role until its deactivation on 30 June 1975.

Post Cold War

7th Air Force Bases

On September 8, 1986, Seventh Air Force was reactivated at Osan Air Base, South Korea to replace the 314th Air Division. Since then, Seventh Air Force, as the US Air Force component to the US and ROK Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command, has been an integral part of deterring aggression from North Korea against the ROK.

Headquarters Seventh Air Force consists of approximately 10,000 Air Force personnel located primarily at Osan AB, Kunsan AB, and five other collocated operating bases throughout the Republic of Korea. Air Force personnel fly and maintain the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the A/OA-10 Thunderbolt combat aircraft, and perform a myriad of intelligence, logistics, planning, communications, and liaison duties.

Although primarily a combat ready command, Seventh Air Force also provides assistance to non-combatants and civilians with the region. Rescue at sea, typhoon evacuations, and medical assistance to the needy are but a few of the instances in which the men and women of the Seventh Air Force have extended an open hand.

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.

Notes

Bibliography

  • Lambert, John W. The Pineapple Air Force: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-76432-533-7.

External links

Maps


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