3d Air Division

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This article is about the World War II heavy bomber division, and, later, Strategic Air Command Organization. For the medium bomber 3d Air Division (Bombardment), see 98th Bombardment Wing (World War II).
3d Air Division
3d Air Division crest.jpg
3d Air Division emblem
Active 30 August 1943 – 21 November 1945
23 August 1948 – 1 May 1951
8 October 1953 – 1 March 1954
8 June 1954 – 1 April 1970
1 January 1975 – 1 April 1992
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Garrison/HQ see "Stations" section below
Equipment see "Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles" section below
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1965–1993)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Major General Earle E. Partridge

The 3d Air Division (3d AD) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Strategic Air Command, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force, being stationed at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. It was inactivated on 1 April 1992.

The 3d Air Division was created in England during World War II as the 3d Bombardment Division, an upper command echelon of the Eighth Air Force. With five combat bomb wings and 14 heavy bomber groups assigned, it was one of the two largest U.S. air combat organizations during World War II.

History[edit]

Lineage[edit]

  • Established as 3d Bombardment Division on 30 August 1943
Activated on 13 September 1943
Redesignated 3d Air Division on 1 January 1945.
Inactivated on 21 November 1945.
Organized on 23 August 1948.
Discontinued on 1 May 1951.
  • Redesignated 3d Air Division (Operational) on 8 October 1953.
Activated on 25 October 1953.
Inactivated on 1 March 1954.
  • Redesignated 3d Air Division on 8 June 1954.
Activated on 18 June 1954.
Inactivated on 1 April 1970.
  • Activated on 1 January 1975.
Inactivated on 1 April 1992.

Assignments[edit]

Components[edit]

Wings[edit]

  • VIII Bomber Command
4 Combat Bombardment: 13 September 1943 – 18 June 1945
4 Bombardment (Provisional): 18 November 1944 – 10 February 1945.
13 Combat Bombardment (later, 13th Bombardment): 13 September 1943 – c. 6 August 1945
45 Combat Bombardment: 13 September 1943 – 18 June 1945.
92 Combat Bombardment: 31 March 1944 – c. 13 June 1945
93 Combat Bombardment: 10 January 1944 – c. 13 July 1945
401 Provisional Combat, Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943
402 Provisional Combat, Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943
403 Provisional Combat, Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943
  • VIII Fighter Command
1 Bombardment: 12 August – c. 26 August 1945
2 Bombardment: 12 August – c. 25 August 1945
14 Bombardment: 16 June – 26 August 1945
20 Bombardment: 16 June – c. 6 August 1945
65 Fighter: 1 June – 1 November 1945
66 Fighter: 15 September 1944 – 1 November 1945
67 Fighter: 12 August – 1 November 1945
307 Strategic: 1 January – 30 September 1975
376 Strategic: 1 January 1975 – 30 October 1991
6 Bombardment 9 August 1990 – 1 April 1992

Temporary attached Air Mail/Reflex units not listed. Check AFHRA link for details.

Groups[edit]

  • VIII Bomber command
385 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943.
388 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943.
390 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943.
94 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943; 18 June – 12 August 1945; 28 September – 1 November 1945.
95 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943.
96 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943; 18–12 August 1945; 28 September – 1 November 1945.
100 Bombardment: 13–14 September 1943; 18 June – 12 August 1945; 28 September – 1 November 1945.
493 Bombardment: 1–10 January 1944.
  • VIII Fighter Command
4 Fighter: 16 October – 1 November 1945.
339 Fighter: 14 April – c. 6 August 1944.
355 Fighter: 16 July – October 1945
479 Fighter: 16 July – October 1945
2 Bombardment: attached 23 August – 17 November 1948; attached 21 February – c. 15 May 1950.
22 Bombardment: attached 19 November 1948 – 14 February 1949; attached 17 November 1949 – 17 February 1950. 28 Bombardment: attached 23 August – 18 October 1948.
43 Bombardment: attached 20 August – 18 November 1949.
92 Bombardment: attached 6 February – 6 May 1949.
97 Bombardment: attached 4 November 1948 – 15 February 1949.
98 Bombardment: attached 18 May – 18 August 1949.
301 Bombardment: attached 19 October 1948 – 17 January 1949; attached 19 May – c. 3 July 1950. : 307 Bombardment: attached 23 August – 4 November 1948; attached 15 February – 30 April 1949.
509 Bombardment: attached 4 May – 30 August 1949
20 Fighter Bomber: attached 20 July – 10 December 1950.

Squadrons[edit]

  • VIII Fighter Command
36 Bombardment: 12 August – 1 September 1945
652 Bombardment (Weather Reconnaissance): 25 August – 1 September 1945; 12 October – 1 November 1945.
653 Bombardment (Weather Reconnaissance): 12 October – 1 November 1945.
862 Bombardment: attached 17 February – 7 May 1945.
2 Air Refueling: attached 6 April – c. 15 May 1950
23 Strategic Reconnaissance: attached 22 December 1949 – 6 March 1950
72 Strategic Reconnaissance: attached 1 June – 15 November 1950
301 Air Refueling: attached 19 May – c. 3 July 1950.
82 Strategic Reconnaissance: 25 August 1967 – 2 January 1968

Stations[edit]

  • Camp Blainey, England, 13 September 1943
  • RAF Honington, England, c. 27 October – 21 November 1945
  • RAF Marham, England, 23 August 1948
  • Bushy Park, England, 8 September 1948
  • Victoria Park Estate (later, USAF Station), South Ruislip, England, 15 April 1949 – 1 May 1951
  • Wiesbaden AB, West Germany, 25 October 1953 – 1 March 1954
  • Andersen AFB, Guam, 18 June 1954 – 1 April 1970; 1 January 1975 – 12 September 1988
  • Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 12 September 1988 – 1 April 1992.

Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles[edit]

World War II[edit]

Strategic Air Command[edit]

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

The 3d Air Division was activated in September 1943 as an intermediate command and control organization between command and wing levels. It was assigned to VIII Bomber Command, Eighth Air Force. The Division commanded three combat bombardment wings (4th, 13th and 45th), consisting of seven B-17 Flying Fortress bomb groups. The addition of the 92nd and 93d Combat Bomb Wings in 1944 and additional bomb groups to the other wings increased the number of combat groups to fourteen. Between May 1944 and September 1944 the division operated both B-17 Flying Fortress (nine groups) and B-24 Liberator (five groups) aircraft, before converting to an all-B-17 organization for the remainder of the war. In September 1944 the 66th Fighter Wing was assigned directly to the division for fighter support.

The bomb groups were engaged in strategic bombardment combat operations against Axis targets in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). During the weeks immediately preceding D-Day (6 June 1944), division aircraft bombed tactical targets such as German communications centers and lines of support, and on D-Day hit targets on the Cherbourg Peninsula immediately behind the landing beaches.

After V-E Day, the 3d Air Division briefly became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe. As former Eighth Air Force units were withdrawn from Europe and returned to the United States during the summer and fall of 1945, the Division was assigned to VIII Fighter Command and controlled a mixture of bombardment and fighter groups before itself being inactivated on 21 November 1945.

Postwar era[edit]

In August 1948, in response to the Berlin blockade, the U.S. deployed long-range B-29 Superfortress strategic bombers to four English East Anglian bases. The 3d Air Division was activated as part of United States Air Forces in Europe to receive, support and operationally control the B-29 units deployed for training. It also provided aircraft maintenance support at RAF Burtonwood for C-54 Skymaster aircraft used in the Berlin Airlift.

Briefly elevated to the Major Command level from 3 January 1949 – 21 January 1951. When the Berlin Airlift ended in 1949, the division participated in the Military Assistance Program in England and began an extensive air base construction program through May 1951 and a large number of USAF organizations based in the United Kingdom.

However With the advent of the Korean War and the growing Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, the U.S. and UK agreed to an even greater U.S. military presence in the United Kingdom. The resulting growing size and complexity of the American military presence required a larger command and organizational structure that could meet the needs of the increased operations.

The 3d Air Division was discontinued on 1 May 1951, and in its place the USAFE Third Air Force was activated.

Fifteenth Air Force[edit]

3d Air Division was reassigned to Andersen AFB, Guam and gained most of the resources of the former Far East Air Forces Bomber Command (Provisional) in June 1954 which had carried out B-29 Superfortress bombing missions during the Korean War. In addition to the strategic bomber force, the division exercised operational control over numerous deployed tactical components, and all Strategic Air Command (SAC) operations in the region came under its jurisdiction. It also supported air refueling needs of all United States military agencies operating in or transiting the region.

In mid-1958, the deployment of entire SAC wings to Guam was replaced by an "Air Mail" alert program, whereby several B-47 Stratojet wings in the U.S. maintained a specific number of B-47s and KC-97s at Andersen AFB to meet both routine and alert requirements.

In April 1964, the division switched from "Air Mail" B-47 / KC-97 to "Reflex" B-52 / KC-135 alert forces, again with aircraft and crews furnished in deployed status from U.S. based SAC wings. In 1965, it became heavily involved in Arc Light and Young Tiger operations in the Far East and SE Asia (SEA). Strategic Air Command wings in the U.S. furnished the aircrews and aircraft for these operations. The first elements of the 3d Air Division to enter combat in SEA were the tanker forces under Young Tiger. In June 1965, Arc Light B-52s struck suspected Viet Cong targets in South Vietnam, commencing the first SAC combat missions. B-52s began striking targets in North Vietnam on 11 April 1966; the initial attack against the Mu Gia Pass marked the largest single bomber raid since World War II. By late 1969, most Arc Light operations staged from U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand, while others were mounted from Kadena AB, Okinawa and Andersen. Andersen AFB remained the primary base for SAC deployed forces from the U.S., however, and aircraft and crews were sent from Guam to Kadena and U Tapao for combat missions.

Eighth Air Force[edit]

On 1 April 1970 the 3d Air Division's resources passed to the Eighth Air Force. Effective 1 January 1975, 3d Air Division again controlled all SAC operations in the Western Pacific, Far East, and Southeast Asia. Additionally, it assumed responsibility for air refueling support of all U.S. military forces in these areas. During Persian Gulf operations in late 1990 through early 1991, it tasked and supported numerous sorties supporting the deployment in the Pacific Area of Responsibility (AOR).

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]