3215th Drone Squadron

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3215th Drone Squadron
Active 1951–1958
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Drone operations

The 3215th Drone Squadron is an discontinued United States Air Force unit. It was last active with the 3205th Drone Group, based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. It was discontinued on 22 December 1958.


Formed in April 1950, assuming B-17 Flying Fortress drone aerial target mission of the 550th Guided Missiles Wing. Operated QB/DB-17 Fortress drone and controller aircraft, providing aerial targets for surface-to-air and air-to-air missile development programs at Eglin AFB. Also used QF-80 Shooting Star jets for aerial gunnery targets for Air Defense Command interceptor squadrons.

The squadron deployed elements to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Nevada Test Site and Pacific Proving Grounds throughout the 1950s, flying drone Flying Fortresses though atomic and nuclear testing mushroom clouds with air sampling equipment and other instrumentation for post-detonation analysis.[1]

In April 1956, with the development of the IM-99 Bomarc surface-to-air missile, the squadron was moved from Eglin to Patrick AFB, Florida to support the Bomarc testing program. From Patrick, DB/QB-17s could take off and the missile could be test-fired from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 3 over the Atlantic Missile Range. One such trial on 23 October 1957 (Bomarc 624-11) saw the unarmed missile destroy a Flying Fortress target by a direct collision, more than 100 miles from the missile's launch point.[2][3]

Squadron inactivated On 5 December 1958, but it was succeeded by the 3205th Drone Group, Detachment #1, which continued flying drone targets for Bomarc tests well into 1959. Once the IM-99A portion of the program was completed, drones were no longer required. Personnel of Detachment #1 departed for Eglin on 8 June 1959.


  • Organized as 3200th Target Drone Squadron on 1 July 1951.
Re-designated as: 3205 Target Drone Squadron on 1 December 1951
Re-designated as: 3215 Drone Squadron on 1 January 1953
Discontinued on 22 December 1958, became 3205th Drone Group, Detachment #1
Detachment inactivated 8 June 1959





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

  1. ^ Thompson, Scott (2011), Final Cut: The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors (4th Edition), Pictorial Histories & Aero Vintage Books ISBN 1575101564
  2. ^ Jablonski, Edward (1965), Flying Fortress: The Illustrated Biography of the B-17s and the Men Who Flew Them, Doubleday & Company ISBN 1199376744
  3. ^ Encyclopedia Astronautica Bomarc
  • E-mail communication, AFHRA, Lineage and Honors History, 3215th Drone Squadron, 10 August 2012

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