1703d Air Transport Group

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1703d Air Transport Group
Two Douglas C-74 Globemasters of the 1703d Air Transport Group.jpg
Two Douglas C-74 Globemasters of the 1703d Air Transport Group
Active 1947–1957
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Airlift

The 1703d Air Transport Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last was assigned to the 1701st Air Transport Wing, Military Air Transport Service, stationed at Brookley Air Force Base, Alabama. It was inactivated on 18 June 1957.


The organization was formed at Brookley AFB, Alabama in 1947 as a consolidation of the provisional Air Transport Service units at Morrison Army Airfield, Florida when that facility was closed on 1 July 1947. It was the United States Air Force's only C-74 Globemaster very heavy airlift unit, providing worldwide transport missions from Brookley until the aircraft was retired in 1955.

Initially two C-74 squadrons (17th and 19th) formed from provisional units, later redesignated 1258th and 1260th Air Transport Squadrons. With establishment of Military Air Transport Service (MATS) on 1 June 1948, Group was assigned to the Atlantic Division. It had operational jurisdiction over the East Coast of the United States, across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and North Africa. Also, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean were included in the Atlantic Division.

Sent one C-74 (42-65414) to Frankfurt, Germany Rhein-Main Airfield on 14 August 1948 to support Berlin Airlift Operations. On 18 September, the C-74 flew a total of six round trips to Tempelhof Central Airport, Berlin. The single C-74 was instrumental in helping build Tegel Airfield in the French sector of Berlin, hauling in heavy construction equipment that had been dismantled into components. The aircraft operated as part of the airlift for six weeks, but it was simply too heavy for the Tempelhof runways. There are also stories that the Soviets complained that it might be used as a bomber because of its hoist well in the belly.

Support for the Berlin Airlift was maintained by the 1703d ATG by flying regularly scheduled flights between the United States and Germany. Transported C-54 engines and parts for use in the airlift. Other flights were made between Brookley and Albrook Field, Balboa, Canal Zone and from Brookley to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. In May, a C-74 carried 75 passengers plus a crew of 12 to England, at the time the largest military passenger load to fly the Atlantic. Six months later, on 25 November 25, C-74 414, flew the Atlantic with a record 103 people aboard to RAF Marham, England.

During the Korean War, the Group logged over 7000 hours in flights to Hawaii hauling troops and high priority cargo westward toward the combat area and returning eastward with wounded personnel. During the seven months between July 1950 and January 1951, the Globemasters transported 2,486 patients, 550 passengers, and 128,000 pounds of cargo from Hawaii to the U.S. while hauling just under a million pounds of cargo westward.

Activated 1281st Air Transport Squadron in November 1951, initially equipped with C-54 Skymasters, upgraded to new C-124C Globemaster II heavy lift strategic transports in 1952.

Reorganized in July 1952, the 1258th, 1260th, 1281st ATS became 3d, 6th and 13th Air Transport Squadrons, respectively. With the small number of C-74s in service, maintenance was an increasing headache as time went on and spares became harder to obtain. In 1955, the C-74's maintenance man-hour requirements were so high that a two-hour-a-day utilization rate was requested and approved. During the Spring, a program was begun to cross-flow C-74 pilots and engineers to the C-124 in preparation for the C-74's retirement. The 6th ATS flew 45 scheduled and special trips during their last six months. Their destinations included Europe, North Africa, South America, and the Middle East carrying over six million pounds of cargo, nearly one million pounds of mail, and 1,750 passengers.

However, deterioration of the C-74's components were progressing more rapidly than predicted. Plans were made for the eventual retirement of the Air Force's only fleet of Globemasters. Aircraft were withdrawn from service in late 1955, with 3d and 6th ATS being inactivated.

Continued operations of C-124s until 1957 when unit was inactivated when control of Brookley AFB was reassigned to Air Materiel Command.


  • Established as 521st Air Transport Group, 1 July 1947
Redesignated 1601st Air Transport Group on 1 October 1948
Redesignated 1703d Air Transport Group on 1 October 1949
Inactivated on 18 June 1957



  • 17th Air Transport Squadron, 1 July 1947
Redesignated: 1258th Air Transport Squadron, 1 October 1948
Redesignated: 3d Air Transport Squadron, 1 July 1952 – 1 November 1955
  • 19th Air Transport Squadron, 1 July 1947
Redesignated: 1260th Air Transport Squadron, 1 October 1948
Redesignated: 6th Air Transport Squadron, 1 July 1952 – 30 June 1955
Note: Unit originated as: 6th Ferrying Squadron, constituted c. 18 February 1942, activated 7 March 1942
Re-designated 6th Transport Squadron 29 March 1943, disbanded 1 December 1943
Assigned to: 1st Ferrying Group/Transport Group, India-China Wing, Air Transport Command.
  • 1281st Air Transport Squadron, 1 November 1951 – 18 July 1952
Assets to: 13th Air Transport Squadron (reactivated), 18 July 1952 – 18 June 1957
Note: Unit originated as: 13th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron constituted c. 18 February 1942, activated 7 March 1942
Re-designated: 13th Transport Squadron 24 March 1943, disbanded 1 December 1943
Assigned to: 1st Ferrying Group/Transport Group, India-China Wing, Air Transport Command.
  • 1735th Airlift Squadron (Air Evacuation), 30 June 1954 – 18 June 1957




  • 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

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