381st Training Group

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381st Training Group
381st Training Group.PNG
381st Training Group emblem
Active 1942–1945, 1962–1986, 1993–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Training
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Vandenberg AFB, California
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg  European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Joseph J. Nazzaro

The United States Air Force 381st Training Group (381st TRG) at Vandenberg AFB, California provides training for the nation's space and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) operations and ICBM and Air Launched Missile (ALM) maintenance forces. This Air Education and Training Command (AETC) organization is a tenant unit located on an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site at Vandenberg AFB.

During the Cold War, the 381st Strategic Missile Wing maintained and operated Titan II Intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Strategic Air Command at McConnell AFB, Kansas.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Ridgewell. The group had the highest losses of all groups on first Schweinfurt mission on 17 August 1943. It flew 296 combat missions, with its last mission being flown on 25 April 1945.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Media related to United States Army Air Forces 381st Bombardment Group at Wikimedia Commons

Emblem of the 381st Bomb Group
B-17s of the 381st Bomb Group, Ridgewell Airfield England, en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. The aircraft in the foreground is Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress, Serial 42-31443 "Friday the 13th" of the 532d Bomb Squadron. This aircraft was lost on 22 February 1944 on a mission to Oschersleben, Germany.
Boeing B-17G-55-BO Fortress Serial 42-102664 "Happy Bottom" of the 532d Bomb Squadron being christened by Edward G. Robinson, 5 July 1944. Unfortunately this aircraft ditched in the English Channel on 16 July 1944
Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress 43-37675, of the 532d Bomb Squadron en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. Named "Patches", "Flak Magnet" and "Trudie's Terror" by various aircrews, This aircraft survived the war and was retired to Kingman AAF Arizona on 17 December 1945.
381st SMW Titan II Missile Sites

Constituted as the 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 October 1942. Activated on 3 November 1942. Used B-17's in preparing for duty overseas. Moved to RAF Ridgewell England, May–June 1943, and assigned to Eighth Air Force. The 381st was assigned to the 1st Combat Bombardment Wing of the 1st Bombardment Division.

The 381st Bomb Group operated chiefly against strategic objectives on the Continent. Specific targets included an aircraft assembly plant at Vélizy-Villacoublay, an airdrome at Amiens, locks at St Nazaire, an aircraft engine factory at Le Mans, nitrate works in Norway, aircraft plants in Brussels, industrial areas of Münster, U-boat yards at Kiel, marshalling yards at Offenberg, aircraft factories at Kassel, aircraft assembly plants at Leipzig, oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen, and ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt.

The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for performance on 8 October 1943 when shipyards at Bremen were bombed accurately in spite of persistent enemy fighter attacks and heavy flak, and received a second DUC for similar action on 11 January 1944 during a mission against aircraft factories in central Germany.

Aircraft from the 381st participated in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against enemy aircraft factories during Big Week, 20–25 February 1944, and the Group often supported ground troops and attacked targets of interdiction when not engaged in strategic bombardment.

The Group supported the Normandy invasion in June 1944 by bombing bridges and airfields near the beachhead. Attacked enemy positions in advance of ground forces at Saint-Lô in July 1944. Assisted the airborne assault on Holland in September. Struck airfields and communications near the battle zone during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945. Supported the Allied crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 and then operated against communications and transportation in the final push through Germany.

After V-E Day, the 381st Bomb Group returned to Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota in July 1945 and was inactivated on 28 August.

Strategic Air Command[edit]

381st Strategic Missile Wing (SAC) emblem

During the Cold War, the United States Air Force, via the Strategic Air Command (SAC), established the 381st Strategic Missile Wing (381 SMW), based at McConnell AFB Kansas. The 381st maintained Titan II intercontinental ballistic missiles on alert from 1 March 1962 until being inactivated on 8 August 1986. The 381st placed its first Titan II missile on alert in the fall of 1963. It became the host wing for McConnell AFB on 1 July 1973.

The wing was composed of two Strategic Missile Squadrons (the 532nd and the 533rd). These squadrons were each composed of nine ballistic launch complexes, each housing a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The Titan II being 105 feet long and 10 feet in diameter. The launch complex was about 150 feet deep and 50 feet in diameter including the 20-foot-diameter (6.1 m) launch tube which comprised its center.

The Titans were fully configured for immediate launch in a matter of two minutes. The launch sequence included a number of test and initiation functions as well as a 20-second door opening sequence. The Silo closure door weighed 780 tons and was locked down with hydraulically operated locks, and raised on hydraulic jacks. The hydraulics also operated the radial motors that pulled the door open with 1.5-inch-diameter (38 mm) steel cables (four of them). Launch initiation was also accompanied with attenuation water which flowed 9000 gallons per minute for sound suppression and protection of the silo during the launch.

Launch crews were composed of four personnel. Two officers were responsible for launch initiation, while two enlisted crewmembers were responsible for equipment checkout, repair and readiness. All four crewmembers were together responsible for communications, and final responsibility for launch. With an average of eight alerts (duty shifts at the site) per month, a crewmember achieved 200 alerts in about two years.

On 24 August 1978, an accident involving an oxidizer leak at launch complex 533-7 killed two Air Force personnel, caused the temporary evacuation of local communities, and damaged the site. A more positive event occurred during the following month as First Lieutenant Patricia E. Dougherty became the first female officer to perform SAC Titan II alert.

On 2 October 1981, Deputy Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci III ordered the inactivation of the Titan II weapon system. For McConnell, the end began on 2 July 1984, when Launch Complex 533-8 was removed from alert status. This silo would be placed in caretaker status on 31 August. The deactivation process received a setback on 2 November 1984, when fire broke out at Launch Complex 532-7 after liquid fuel had been unloaded from a deactivated Titan II. As a result of the ensuing investigation, Headquarters Strategic Air Command and the Ogden Air Logistics Center determined that the accident could have been prevented if different procedures were followed. With implementation of these procedures, Titan II deactivation continued.

On 8 August 1986, the 381st Strategic Missile Wing became the second Titan II wing to be inactivated. The 381st was inactivated after providing twenty-plus years of strategic deterrence and winning numerous awards, including the SAC missile combat competition Blanchard Trophy in 1972, 1975, 1980, and 1983.

Modern era[edit]

On 1 April 1994, the 381st was reactivated and re-designated by Air Education and Training Command (AETC) as the 381st Training Group (Provisional) (381 TRG) under Second Air Force and located at Vandenberg AFB, CA. A non-flying unit, the group, which was activated on 30 September 1994, is responsible for the consolidation of all space and missile training for Air Force Space Command.

The 381 TRG provides qualification training for ICBM, space surveillance, missile warning, spacelift, and satellite command and control operators. It also performs initial and advanced maintenance training on ALM and ICBM's. It conducts training in joint space fundamentals and associated computer maintenance. The group also conducts qualification and orientation training for Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) staff and senior-level personnel, as well as instructor enhancement in support of operational units.

In July 1993, responsibility for missile training was transferred from Air Combat Command to AETC. In September 1994, responsibility for space training was transferred from AFSPC to AETC and consolidated with the missile training units into the 381st Training Group. In October 1996, the space training squadrons moved from Colorado Springs to Vandenberg to further complete the unit's consolidation.

The group consists of five squadrons. The 381st Training Support Squadron provides faculty training, interactive courseware, registrar services, facility management, and resource management and procurement. The four other squadrons are dedicated to student training. The 392d Training Squadron (TRS) conducts Enlisted Space Operations Training, Undergraduate Space and Missile Training, and ICBM Initial Qualification Training (IQT). The 532 TRS provides courses for ICBM, ALM, and spacelift maintenance. The 533 TRS conducts space surveillance and early warning training. Detachment 1, 533 TRS, located at Schriever AFB, CO, performs training for command, missile warning, air defense and space operations at USNORTHCOM / NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station complex in Colorado. The 534 TRS provides spacelift and satellite command and control IQT. All in all, the group has graduated more than 6000 students from more than 100 different courses.

The 381 TRG is linked to the Air Force global engagement vision and its supporting core competencies through its mission of providing the highest quality space and missile operations and maintenance training for the Air Force and other agencies.

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 October 1942
Activated on 3 November 1942
Inactivated 28 August 1945
  • Reactivated and redesignated as the 381st Strategic Missile Wing on 1 March 1962
Inactivated on 8 August 1986
  • Redesignated as 381st Training Group and reactivated on 1 April 1994

Assignments[edit]

Components[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft and missiles[edit]

References[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brown James G. The Mighty Men of the 381st, Heroes All: A Chaplain's Inside Story of the Men of the 381st Bomber Group. Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1994.
  • Comer, John. Combat Crew: The true story of one man's part in World War II's allied bomber offensive.. Time Warner Paperbacks, 2003. ISBN 0-7515-0796-2
  • Freeman, Roger A. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1978. ISBN 0-900913-09-6.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell & Co., 1991. ISBN 0-304-35708-1.
  • MacKay, Ron. Ridgewell's Flying Fortresses: The 381st Bombardment Group (H) in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1063-1.
  • MacKay, Ron. 381st Bomber Group. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1994. ISBN 0-89747-314-0.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Stone, Ken. Triumphant We Fly: A 381st Bomb Group Anthology 1943–1945. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 1994 (2nd edition 1997). ISBN 1-56311-126-8.
  • Uncredited. 381st Bombardment Group, 432nd Air Service Group. Westminister, England: Vacher and Sons, 1945.

External links[edit]