Shilling Air Force Base: Wikis

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Schilling Air Force Base

Shield Strategic Air Command.png

Part of Strategic Air Command
Located near: Salina, Kansas
Smokyhillaaf-08171991.jpg
USGS 1991 Aerial Photo
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 38°47′40″N 097°38′45″W / 38.79444°N 97.64583°W / 38.79444; -97.64583
Built 1943
In use 1943-1965 (Bombing range still used by Kansas Air National Guard)

Schilling Air Force Base was a United States Air Force Base located three nautical miles (6 km) southwest of the central business district of Salina, a city in Saline County, Kansas, United States. It was also known as Smoky Hill Air Force Base.

After its closure, it reopened at Salina Municipal Airport.

Contents

History

The location of the former Shilling Air Force Base within Saline County, Kansas.
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World War II

During World War II, the facility was known as Smoky Hill Army Airfield and was used as a United States Army Air Forces Second Air Force training field.

The Army Air Force acquired the land in 1943. It consisted of 2,600 acres (1,052 ha), southwest of the Salina. Construction Smoky Hill Army Airfield required 7,000. In September 1943 the 20th Bomber Command and the 58th Bombardment Wing moved to Smoky Hill Army Airfield, and they were later joined by the 73d Bomb Wing. The B-17s were eventually replaced with B-29s and the base was used as a processing and staging area for heavy bombardment units going overseas.

Aircraft primarily from Smoky Hill Army Air Field used the air space above the ground for gunnery practice, shooting at targets towed behind other planes.

World War II B-29 (VH) Units

Units Trained At Smoky Hill AAF:

Cold War

The 301st Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, was established on October 15, 1947 and organized November 5, 1947 at Smoky Hill Air Field. In January 1948 the base was renamed Smoky Hill Air Force Base. In March, the 97th Bomb Wing moved to Smoky Hill AFB and was attached to the 301st Bomb Wing for three months' additional training, after which it moved to Biggs AFB, Texas. Both wings flew B-29 Superfortresses. The 301st BW relocated to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, on Nov 7, 1949.

The 22nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), also equipped with B-29s, moved from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, to Smoky Hill AFB, in May 1948. The 22nd Bomb Wing shared its commander with the 301st BW until the 22nd moved to March AFB, California, on May 9, 1949.

The Defense Department deactivated Smoky Hill AFB in August 1949, with the 301st being relocated to another base. The base reopened in 1951 as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation. By 1952, the B-29s of the Strategic Air Command had again begun to operate from Smoky Hill, and in early 1954, the 802d Air Division was assigned to the base.

The 40th Bomb Wing replaced its obsolete B-29s in 1954 with B-47 Stratojets. During its first flight on December 17, 1954 — 51 years to the day after the Wright Brothers flew for the first time at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina — the 1000th B-47 was delivered directly from Wichita to the 802nd Air Division and christened the City of Salina. By 1955 the 40th Bomb Wing had completed conversion to B-47s and was also flying KC-97 tankers. The 310th Bomb Wing was then assigned to the base as the second wing of the 802d Air Division.[1] In 1955 the base was named a "Golden Anniversary of Flight Base" primarily as a result of good base-community relations. The 310th Bomb Wing won top honors in SAC's 1956 bombing evaluation exercises.[1]

On March 16, 1957, Smoky Hill AFB was redesignated Schilling Air Force Base to honor Colonel David C. Schilling, killed in an automobile accident near RAF Mildenhall, England, on 14 August 14, 1956.

In 1959, the Department of Defense began a major renovation of the base and also began construction of a 12-silo intercontinental ballistic missile complex. During the next year, millions of dollars were spent upgrading the runways and taxiways for use by B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. Overall spending at the base during this era amounted to $250 million.

The 45th Bombardment Squadron at Schilling transferred to Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, in June 1960. Beginning in August 1960 the Site Activation Task Force at Schilling constructed and turned over to the Strategic Air Command the first operational HGM-16 Atlas-F hardened silo missile squadron. Schilling's Atlas missile complex was turned over to SAC’s 550th Strategic Missile Squadron on September 7-8, 1962.

The activation of the 550th Strategic Missile Squadron along with a sister squadron at Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 1, 1961, marked the first standing up of Atlas-F units. In June 1962, the first operational sites for the ICBMs were accepted by SAC and in September the squadron was declared operational. In the following month during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 550th received orders to maintain all 12 missiles on alert status.

On November 19, 1964, the Department of Defense announced that Schilling along with 574 other bases around the world would be closed. At this time the base was home to approximately 5,090 personnel. The base closed on June 30, 1965.

In the wake of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s May 1964 directive accelerating the deactivation of the first generation ICBMs, SAC inactivated the 550th SMS in June 1965. With the closing of Schilling AFB, responsibility for the sites passed to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, in July 1967. The sites were disposed of in March 1971.

Base closure

The City of Salina worked formulated a plan that would lessen the economic blow to the community of the closed base. The newly created Schilling Development Council announced plans for an airport-education-industry complex to replace the military operations. Special enabling legislation allowed the city to acquire, own, maintain, operate, improve and dispense with portions of the base. By May 1965 the Salina Airport Authority had been created and the conversion of Schilling Air Force Base to the Salina Municipal Airport and Salina Airport Industrial Center began.

Air National Guard use

In 1973, the Kansas Air National Guard assumed all operating and maintenance authority for the Smoky Hill Air National Guard (ANG) Range. The range, which was previously maintained and operated by personnel of the former 184th Bomb Wing, Kansas Air National Guard, is located ten miles (16 km) south of Salina. Equipped with the B-1 Lancer aircraft, the 184th Bomb Wing's mission provided the air tactics training. For the range mission, the wing employed 24 full time Active Guard Reserve (AGR) personnel and two civil service employees. The full time contingent was supported by traditional Air National Guardsmen during weekend unit training assemblies, rescheduled or additional weekday drill days, additional flying training periods, or active duty.

In addition to meeting its military mission, the 184th managed the natural and cultural resources of the range to protect the environment, provide recreational opportunities, and generate revenues from agricultural leases. Today, the Smoky Hill Range continues to be operated by the Kansas ANG, in this case as a subordinate unit of the 184th Regional Support Group of the 184th Intelligence Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas [2] in support US military combat flying units of all the armed services in both the Active Component and the Reserve Component, to include the Air National Guard and Army National Guard.

Smoky Hill ANG Range is the largest of 15 bombing ranges in the Air National Guard. Within Smoky Hill's installation 34,000 acres (13,759 ha) lies a 12,000-acre (4,856 ha) target area which includes dual conventional ranges and three large tactical ranges. The tactical ranges provide realistic air-to-ground training available for all types of military aircraft. Smoky Hill also has four drop zones for cargo aircraft.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Schilling Air National Guard Base".

  1. ^ a b United States Air Force (2000-08-31). "Factsheets: 310 Space Group (AFRC)". Organizational Records. United States Air Force. http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=9895. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  2. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/184th_Intelligence_Wing

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