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Westover Air Reserve Base

Air Force Reserve Command.png

Part of Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Located near: Springfield, Massachusetts
30 April 1997
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 42°11′38″N 072°32′05″W / 42.19389°N 72.53472°W / 42.19389; -72.53472
United States Air Force
Controlled by Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison 439th Airlift Wing
Westover JRB is located in Massachusetts
Westover JRB
Location of Westover Joint Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts
For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Westover Metropolitan Airport
View of Westover JARB

Westover Air Reserve Base / Metropolitan (IATA: CEFICAO: KCEFFAA LID: CEF) is an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) airport located in the Massachusetts communities of Chicopee and Ludlow, near the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Westover hosts the largest Air Reserve Base in the world, is a backup landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle and in the past few years has expanded to include a growing civilian access airport sharing Westover's military-maintained runways[1]. The installation was named for Major General Oscar Westover, commanding officer of the Army Air Corps in the 1930s, killed in the crash of his high-speed Northrop A-17AS, 36-349, c/n 289, in a crosswind short of the runway at Lockheed Aircraft's air field in Burbank, California, now known as Bob Hope Airport, on 21 September 1938. [2] The host unit is the 439th Airlift Wing (439 AW) of the Twenty-Second Air Force (22 AF), Air Force Reserve Command. Outside of the AFRC command structure, the 439 AW and Westover are operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC).


Joint Use Mission

The Westover complex serves the "Joint Use" mission of military and civilian cooperation. The core aviation facilities at Westover are owned by the Department of Defense while nearly a 100 acres (400,000 m2) are under private ownership. The two parties coordinate operations in order to promote national defense and economic development. The 11,597-foot (3,535 m) and 7,082-foot (2,159 m) long runways provide the flexibility for significant separation between military and civilian operations.


Westover Field was created by a war-readiness appropriation signed by president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. It was assigned to the United States Army Air Corps Northeast Air District. Later, as part of the First Air Force I Bomber Command and later Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, Westover was a base for antisubmarine operations against German U-Boats in the early years of World War II. During the course of the war, it became the largest military air facility in the Northeast. In the early years of the Cold War, Westover became a major Air Transport Command base (with headquarters Atlantic Division) during the Berlin Airlift.

It was renamed Westover Air Force Base in 1948 after that Air Force's creation as a separate service. The Eighth Air Force (8 AF) was headquartered at Westover from 13 June 1955 until 31 March 1970, when it relocated to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, replacing SAC's Second Air Force (2 AF).

ON 1 April 1955, the 4050th Air Refueling Wing was the first SAC unit to arrive, signaling the beginning of SAC's operations for the next 19 years. This unit formed the Westover/Dow (AFB, Maine) Tanker Task Force, with the 4060th ARW at Dow. A KC-97 tanker, one of 40 which would equip the 4050th, arrived on 21 April 1955, the first SAC-assigned aircraft to land at the base. During these early months of SAC's activity, B-36 Peacemakers were also assigned to the base. In September 1955, the massive new 11,597-foot runway (05/23) was completed.On 4 September 1956, the 99th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (99 BMW) took up residence at Westover, operating the [[B-52 Stratofortress|B-52C and D Stratofortress bombers]. In August 1957, the 4050th ARW became equipped with 20 KC-135 Stratotankers. It became the only tanker wing in SAC with the KC-135 and KC-97s both assigned. The 99th Bomb Wing would continue as the host wing at Westover until its deactivation on 31 March 1974.

File:Westover Air Reserve Base at Dawn.jpg
Hangar and control tower at Westover ARB

As a former Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52 and KC-135 base and former home to Headquarters, 8th Air Force (8 AF), Westover was one of the Soviet Union's top targets during the Cold War.[3] SAC constructed a secret underground bunker, called the Notch, several miles away in South Hadley, Massachusetts, to support 8 AF and coordinate Westover's operations during a nuclear war. The Notch was linked to the main base by buried cables and microwave antennae. U-2 spy plane film used during the Cuban Missile Crisis was also developed at Westover.

Westover was a base of operations for the Air Force during Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and the Cold War. A portion of the huge armada of bombers and tankers stood ready in "Christmas Tree" formation at the base's alert facility to scramble if a conflict broke out with the Soviet Union.

In the spring of 1973, as the last Vietnam War veterans stepped onto Westover's tarmac, the Department of Defense announced the deactivation of the 99th Bomb Wing and closure of the base as an active-duty installation. One year later, SAC leadership turned the base over to the Air Force Reserve. The last SAC aircraft at Westover left in the spring of 1975. They were three KC-135s of Det. 1, 42nd Bomb Wing out of Loring AFB, Maine. The tankers had pulled satellite alert at the Molehole. SAC's 4040th Air Base Group, the caretaker unit for Westover, left in 1976.

Current military operations at Westover Joint Air Reserve Base are centered around its exceptionally long runways. The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) uses Westover for its largest cargo aircraft. It maintains a fleet of sixteen C-5 Galaxy aircraft operated by the 439th Airlift Wing (439 AW), an Air Force Reserve unit that is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). In 2003, the Air Force Reserve Command briefly changed the name of Westover Air Reserve Base to that of Westover Joint Air Reserve Base. It has since been renamed to its previous designation of Westover Air Reserve Base as a military installation and is referred to as Westover Air Reserve Base / Metropolitan in DoD and FAA Flight Information Publications (FLIP). [4]

Physically, Westover is currently the largest Air Force Reserve base in the United States and will expand significantly over the next decade to further encompass Active and Reserve Component activities of the Navy, Marines, Army, and mainline Air Force functions from installations closed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.

Associated Units


439th Airlift Wing

22d Air Force.png
439th Airlift Wing.jpg
  • 439th Operations Group
    • 337th Airlift Squadron
    • 439th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
    • 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron
    • 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
    • 439th Operations Support Squadron
    • 439th Airlift Control Flight
  • 439th Maintenance Group
    • 439th Maintenance Squadron
    • 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 439th Maintenance Operations Squadron
  • 439th Mission Support Group
    • 439th Mission Support Squadron
    • 439th Services Squadron
    • 439th Communications Squadron
    • 439th Logistics Readiness Squadron
    • 439th Civil Engineering Squadron
    • 439th Security Forces Squadron
    • 58th Aerial Port Squadron
    • 42nd Aerial Port Squadron

Air Force Auxiliary


  • 287th Medical Detachment, 804th Medical Brigade
  • 226th Transportation Railway operating Company


  • Headquarters, 25th Marines Regiment
  • Marine Wing Support Squadron 472, Detachment B
  • Marine Air Support Squadron-6
  • Machine Gun Platoon, Support Company, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division

All Services

  • Springfield Military Entrance Processing Station
  • 302nd Combat Support Brigade

Former units

  • 4713th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron (???-1972)


The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission ruled that Westover would absorb other military units in New England. The expansion includes the transfer of all military operations at Bradley International Airport to Westover and the nearby Barnes Municipal Airport. The exception to this decision is the 103rd Airlift Wing, which will remain at Bradley. A $32 million building project is underway to accommodate the additional 1600 service members required by the plan.[5]

The new Armed Forces Reserve Center will host Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy Reserve operations.


The Massachusetts Army National Guard will also make its debut at the base.[6]

Economic Impact

The air base is one of the biggest employers in the Springfield area and produces an estimated $231 million in economic activity at current levels. Much of base's extensive landholdings have been sold as surplus and developed into industrial parks for tenants such as Friendly Ice Cream.

The local government credits Westover with spurring development of the Memorial Drive corridor, including several planned hotels and a high-end retail plaza.[6]

Facilities and aircraft

The Westover complex covers an area of 2,500 acres (10 km²) which contains two runways: 5/23: measuring 11,597 x 301 ft (3,535 x 92 m) and 15/33 measuring 7,082 x 150 ft (2,159 x 46 m).[7] A new Air Traffic Control tower was constructed in 2002 and the old tower was demolished.

According to FAA records for the 12-month period ending September 26, 1994, the airport had 38,137 aircraft operations, an average of 104 per day: 81% military, 18% general aviation and 1% air taxi. There were 46 aircraft based at this airport: 35% military, 50% single engine, 9% multi-engine, 2% jet aircraft, 2% helicopters and 2% ultralight.[7]

Military facilities are under control of the commanding officer, currently Col. Robert R. Swain Jr. [8]. The civilian portion of the airport is run by the Director of Civil Aviation, an employee of the Westover Metropolitan Corporation.

See also


 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 "Westover Air Reserve Base".

  1. ^ Westover AFB, Mass - 99th Bomb Wing - B-52 - NEED INFO
  2. ^ Bowers, Peter M., "Captain of the Clouds", Airpower, Granada Hills, California, July 1972, Volume 2, Number 4, page 33.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass - Home
  5. ^ Groundbreaking held for new reserve center -
  6. ^ a b Westover project good for economy -
  7. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for CEF (Form 5010 PDF), retrieved 2007-03-15
  8. ^ Biographies : Col. Robert R. Swain Jr.
  • 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.
  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989

External links


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