MacDill Air Force Base
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|MacDill Air Force Base|
|Part of Air Mobility Command (AMC)|
|Located near: Tampa, Florida|
MacDill AFB KC-135 refueling an F-16 from Eielson AFB, Alaska
|Type||Air Force Base|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|In use||1941 – present|
|Garrison||6th Air Mobility Wing|
|IATA: MCF – ICAO: KMCF – FAA LID: MCF|
|Elevation AMSL||14 ft / 4 m|
MacDill Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: MCF, ICAO: KMCF, FAA LID: MCF) is an active United States Air Force base located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south-southwest of downtown Tampa, Florida. The "host wing" for MacDill AFB is the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW) of the Air Mobility Command (AMC), part of AMC's Eighteenth Air Force (18 AF).
- 1 Overview
- 2 Summary
- 3 Units
- 4 History
- 4.1 Initial uses
- 4.2 World War II
- 4.3 Strategic Air Command
- 4.4 Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command
- 4.5 Tactical Air Command
- 4.6 Post Cold War and BRAC 1991
- 4.7 BRAC 2005
- 4.8 Previous names
- 4.9 Major commands to which assigned
- 4.10 Base operating units
- 4.11 Major units assigned
- 5 Demographics
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Other sources
- 9 External links
The host unit at MacDill AFB is the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW), assigned to the Air Mobility Command's 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force. In addition to operating KC-135R Stratotanker and C-37A Gulfstream aircraft, the 6 AMW provides day-to-day mission support to more than 3,000 personnel in its immediate command, along with more than 50 Mission Partners comprising over 12,000 additional personnel, to include the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) and a detachment of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). MacDill also bases the Aircraft Operations Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose NOAA Corps flies "Hurricane Hunter" missions in WP-3D Orion and Gulfstream IV aircraft. The 6 AMW is a 3,000-person force organized into four groups, in addition to the wing commander's immediate staff.
The 6 AMW also has a collocated Associate wing at MacDill, the 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). The 6 AMW and the 927 ARW operate and share the same assigned KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
MacDill Air Force Base, located in south Tampa, was constructed as MacDill Field just prior to World War II. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was a Strategic Air Command base for B-47 and B-52 bombers. In the 1960s, it transitioned to a Tactical Air Command installation for F-4 Phantom II fighters, followed by F-16s in the 1980s. It is currently an Air Mobility Command installation, home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, and includes both the 310th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-37, and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, flying the KC-135. MacDill AFB is also home to the headquarters for two of the U.S. military's joint warfighting commands: Headquarters, United States Central Command (CENTCOM), and Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Both commands are independent from one another and each is commanded by a respective 4-star general or admiral.
The MacDill AFB flight line was temporarily closed and the 56th Fighter Wing transferred to Luke AFB, Arizona following the 1991 round of base closings under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) discussions; at the time, the base was used for F-16 fighter training and operations and increasing level of civilian air traffic in the Tampa Bay area was considered detrimental to training. The noise produced by the fighter aircraft was also considered inappropriate in a densely populated area. However, despite committee recommendations, the base remained open to house and support CENTCOM and SOCOM under the cognizance of the newly activated 6th Air Base Wing. With the disestablishment of Tactical Air Command a few months later, claimancy for MacDill passed to the newly created Air Combat Command.
The MacDill flight line was initially reopened in 1992 to temporarily support F-16 aircraft from the 31st Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve's 482d Fighter Wing, following the destruction of their home station, Homestead AFB, Florida, in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. In 1993 the MacDill flightline was permanently reopened for NOAA WP-3D "hurricane hunter" operations, which had relocated from Miami International Airport.
In 1996, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron moved to MacDill from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, the 6th Air Base Wing was renamed the 6th Air Refueling Wing. It was renamed the 6th Air Mobility Wing after the 310th Airlift Squadron was activated on the base and the installation officially came under the Air Mobility Command.
Approximately 14,000 people work at MacDill Air Force Base, with a significant number of military personnel and their families living on base in military housing, while remaining servicemembers and military families live off base in the Tampa Bay area. MacDill AFB is a significant contributor to Tampa's economy and the city is very supportive of the military community. In 2001 and 2003, the Tampa Bay area was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which annually honors the most supportive Air Force city in Air Mobility Command.
MacDill also hosts an annual air show that is enjoyed by thousands of spectators each year. However, there were no shows in 2002 and 2003 due to 9/11. The 2006 show was also canceled due to security concerns on base, but was reinstated in 2008. In 2008, pursuant to BRAC 2005, the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) relocated without aircraft or equipment from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan to MacDill AFB, where it became an "Associate" wing to the 6th Air Mobility Wing sharing the same KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft.
6th Air Mobility Wing
The 6 AMW consists of:
- 6th Operations Group (6 OG)
- 91st Air Refueling Squadron (91 ARS)
Operates the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker. The KC-135R is a long-range tanker aircraft capable of refueling a variety of other aircraft in mid-air, anywhere in the world and under any weather condition. MacDill KC-135s have supported US military operations all over the world, including refueling US and coalition aircraft during the wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
- 310th Airlift Squadron (310 AS)
Operates three Gulfstream C-37A Gulfstream V aircraft utilizing highly experienced flight crews to provide global transportation on special assignment airlift missions (SAAM) directly supporting the Combatant Commanders of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Cyber Command, and U.S. Strategic Command.
- 6th Operations Support Squadron (6 OSS)
Provides airfield management responsibilities for MacDill AFB, to include staffing and operation of the air traffic control tower, weather forecasting services, transient alert services and other flight operations and aircrew support functions.
- 6th Maintenance Group (6 MXG)
- 6th Medical Group (6 MDG)
- 6th Mission Support Group (6 MSG)
927th Air Refueling Wing
The 927 ARW consists of:
- 927th Operations Group (927 OG)
- 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
- 63d Air Refueling Squadron (63 ARS)
Operates the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker. The KC-135R is a long-range tanker aircraft capable of refueling a variety of other aircraft in mid-air, anywhere in the world and under any weather condition.
- 927th Operations Support Flight (927 OSF)
- 927th Maintenance Group (927 MXG)
- 927th Mission Support Group (927 MSG)
The 927 ARW is commanded by Colonel Randal L. Bright.
Other major tenant units
MacDill has a total of 38 tenant units according to the official MacDill website."MacDill Air Force Base Units". November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- Headquarters, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM)
- Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
- Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT)
- Headquarters, United States Marine Forces Central Command (MARCENT)
- Tampa Det, Headquarters, United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), which includes the NOAA WP-3D Orion and Gulfstream V hurricane hunter aircraft fleet, commanded by a rated aviator and Captain in the commissioned NOAA Corps.
Also located at MacDill are a division of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), the Florida Air National Guard's 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (290 JCSS), the Navy Reserve Forces Command's Navy Operational Support Center Tampa (NOSC Tampa), the Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, elements of the American Red Cross, the anti-medfly operation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Detachment 1 of the Air Combat Command's 23d Wing (23 WG) from Moody Air Force Base, GA, among numerous other organizations, activities and agencies.
Detachment 1 of the 23d Wing is unique in that it hosts the Deployed Unit Complex (DUC) at MacDill AFB, providing flight line and logistical support for detachments of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps tactical jet fighter and attack aircraft (to include Reserve and Air National Guard) utilizing the nearby Avon Park Air Force Range facility, the Avon Range also being operated and maintained by Det 1, 23d Wing. An Air Combat Command (ACC) organization, Det 1 reports to the Commander, 23d Wing, at Moody AFB, Georgia.
The base also supports the large military retiree community in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding environs.
MacDill AFB was established in 1939 as Southeast Air Base, Tampa. It is named in honor of Colonel Leslie MacDill (1889–1938). A World War I aviator, Colonel MacDill was killed in a crash of his North American BC-1 on 8 November 1938 at Anacostia, D.C. During World War I he commanded an aerial gunnery school in St Jean de Monte, France. There are several dates surrounding the history of MacDill AFB. Official records report an establishment date of 24 May 1939, date construction began 6 September 1939, date of beneficial occupancy 11 March 1940 and formal dedication 16 April 1941. This last date is normally associated with the age of the base. It was renamed MacDill Field on 1 December 1939.
MacDill Field was one of two major Army Air Corps bases established in the Tampa Bay area in the buildup prior to World War II. Tampa's Drew Field Municipal Airport, established in 1928 was leased by the Air Corps in 1940. A major expansion of the airport was initiated and Drew Army Airfield was opened in 1941. Headquarters, Southeast Air District was first activated at MacDill Field on 18 December 1940. It was later re-designated HQ Third Air Force and moved to offices in downtown Tampa on 8 January 1941.
Two secondary Army Airfields, Brooksville Army Airfield and Hillsborough Army Airfield were built and opened in early 1942 to support the flight operations of MacDill and Drew Fields. The Bonita Springs Auxiliary Field, located near Fort Myers provided an additional emergency landing field for MacDill.
All of these airfields came under the jurisdiction of Third Air Force. III Bomber Command, the bombardment arm of 3d Air Force was headquartered at MacDill Field. III Fighter Command, the fighter arm, was headquartered at Drew Field.
After the war in Europe had broken out in September 1939, fears of Nazi U-Boats attacking American shipping in the Gulf of Mexico was the concern of the War Department. Even though the United States was at peace, Lend Lease shipments of war goods to England and the establishment of Army and Navy bases in the Caribbean Sea south of Florida brought fears of U-Boat attacks on shipping in the Gulf, especially oil tankers from refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
Flying operations at MacDill began in 1941 with the base's first mission being the defense of Gulf of Mexico. Aircraft and men were housed at Drew Army Airfield until the runways at MacDill were built. Despite these obstacles, flying operations commenced on 7 February 1941. Hundreds of troops lived mostly in a mosquito-infested tent city at the field while barracks were being built. An official flag-raising ceremony was sponsored by the Tampa Elk’s Lodge on 16 June 1941.
Air defense of the Tampa Bay area was the mission of the 53d Pursuit Group (Interceptor), established at MacDIll on 15 January 1941. Equipped with the Seversky P-35, the 53d flew air defense patrols until the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. It was reassigned to VI Fighter Command at Howard Field, Canal Zone to provide air defense of the Panama Canal.
The 29th Bombardment Group was moved to MacDill from Langley Field, Virginia on 21 May 1940. Lieutenant Colonel Vincent J. Meloy, commander of the 29th Bombardment Group, led the first flight of aircraft to Tampa on 17 January 1941. This consisted of fourteen aircraft flown from Langley Field to Tampa: three B-17s, two A-17s, and nine B-18s. The group flew antisubmarine patrols over the eastern Gulf waters until June 1942 when the group was transitioned into a B-24 Liberator Operational Training Unit and assigned to II Bomber Command at Gowen Field, Idaho.
The 44th Bombardment Group was activated at MacDill on 15 January 1941 equipped with the Consolidated B-24A Liberator. The Liberator was originally ordered by the Royal Air Force as the "LB-30" or Liberator I. These aircraft were destined for RAF Coastal Command for use in its battles against the U-boat menace. With a normal operating range of 2400 miles, the Liberators nearly doubled the effective range of the B-18 and it could fly long anti-submarine patrols equipped with a large bomb load to attack submarines if spotted. Patrols were also flown over the Atlantic Coast east of Florida. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 44th was reassigned to Barksdale Field, Louisiana.
In addition to the antisubmarine mission, another prewar mission of MacDill was "Project X" the ferrying of combat aircraft eastward to the Philippines via ferrying routes set up by Ferrying Command over South Atlantic Ocean and Central Africa. The aircraft were then ferried via India to Australia where they were planned to be used to reinforce the Philippines Air Force. These operations began in February 1941 and were performed by the 6th and 43d Bombardment Squadron flying the B-18 Bolo and B-17 Flying Fortress. In just 60 days, 15 LB-30 and 63 B-17 aircraft departed MacDill via the south Atlantic and Africa to Australia.
World War II
With the United States entry into World War II, the primary mission of MacDill Field became the training of bombardment units under III Bomber Command. In June 1942, the 21st Bombardment Group was assigned with B-26 Marauder medium bombers as the Operational Training Unit (OTU). As well as the main training unit, the group flew antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico.
It was the B-26 that earned the slogan "one a day in Tampa Bay." The aircraft proved hard to fly and land by many pilots due to its short wings, high landing speeds, and fighter plane maneuverability. Nine of the 12 combat groups that flew the B-26 in Europe were activated and trained at MacDill and in combat the B-26 enjoyed the lowest loss rate of any Allied bomber.
In addition MacDill provided transitional training in the B-17 Flying Fortress. The first Eighth Air Force Flying Fortress groups were trained at MacDill Field prior to their deployment to England in the summer of 1942. Also the command and control organizations for Eighth Air Force were organized and equipped at MacDill in 1942. Heavy bomber training ended in July 1942 as the B-17 group training mission was reassigned to II Bomber Command and moved to the midwest and western states.
Estimates of the number of crew members trained at the base during the war vary from 50,000 to 120,000, with as many as 15,000 troops were stationed at MacDill Field at one time. A contingent of Women’s Army Corps (WACS) troops arrived in 1943. The base provided various forms of entertainment including band concerts, live performers, and a movie theatre. Two films were made in Tampa with wartime themes: A Guy Called Joe (1943) starred Spencer Tracy and had scenes shot at MacDill; Air Force (1943) starred John Garfield and had scenes shot at Drew Field. In the latter film MacDill-based B-26s were painted as Japanese bombers, and although the entire Bay area defenses were alerted to this fact, the Coast Guard still shot at the planes as they flew over the Gulf.
In late 1943, when Second Air Force began transitioning to B-29 Superfortress training, the B-17 mission returned to MacDill which continued through the end of World War II. As a result, the B-26 21st Bombardment Group was disbanded on 10 October 1943. The OTU which performed the B-17 training was the 488th Bombardment Group (Heavy) which was activated in November 1943 with four Bombardment training squadrons.
In an administrative reorganization by HQ Army Air Force, on 1 May 1944, numbered training units in the Zone of the Interior (ZI) (Continental United States) were re-designated as "Army Air Force Base Units". At MacDill, the 488th Bomb Group was re designated as the 326th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Heavy Bombardment). B-17 training squadrons were designated as "H, J, K, and L".
Beginning in January 1944, the 11th Photographic Group used MacDill for its mission of photographic mapping in the US and sent detachments to carry out similar operations in Africa, the CBI theater, the Near and Middle East, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, and the Caribbean. The unit flew a mixture of B-17, B-24, B-25, B-29, F-2, F-9, F-10, and A-20 aircraft equipped with cartographic cameras. The 11th PG inactivated in October 1944, being replaced by several intelligence and mapping training units at the airfield from 1945 through 1948.
Several bases in Florida, including MacDill, served as detention centers for German prisoners-of-war (POWs) in the latter part of 1944 and 1945. At its apex, 488 POWs were interned at MacDill.
In February 1945, the 323d Combat Crew Training Wing (Very Heavy Bomber) was established at the base with a mission of training B-29 Superfortress aircrews. The first training class began at the end of February and the B-29 Superfortress arrived at MacDill Field on 26 January 1945, with additional aircraft arriving during the spring and summer The first B-29 aircrew graduated in May. On 16 April 1945 MacDill was assigned to Continental Air Command and became a primary training facility for aircrew assigned to the B-29 Superfortress.
On 24 June 1945 a hurricane hit the Tampa area, and the B-17 aircraft were evacuated to Vichy Army Airfield, Missouri. At the end of June 1945, B-17 replacement crew training ended at the base. With the end of the war in Europe and the B-17 being used almost exclusively in Europe, the need for replacement personnel by Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force was ended.
The 326th Army Air Forces Base Unit was reorganized into an Army Air Forces separation (326th AAFBU (Separation Station) )unit to process military demobilizations. The demobilization and separation functions became the major mission at MacDill in the fall of 1945, however, a lack of personnel was the main inhibiting factor. On 1 January 1946, with the closure of Drew Army Airfield, the demobilization and separation activities performed by the 301st Army Air Forces Base Unit (Separation Station) were transferred to MacDill Field. The Separation station remained open until December 1949.
With the end of hostilities in September 1945 the training B-29 aircrew training program began to slow down. The base became a reception facility for returning Twentieth Air Force groups from the Marianas. These groups were:
- 462d Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) (November 1945)
- 497th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) (January 1946)
- 498th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) (January 1946)
The rapid demobilization after the war led these units to be inactivated during 1946. Headquarters, III Fighter Command moved from Drew Field in December 1945; both III Bomber and III Fighter Commands were inactivated on 8 April 1946.
Strategic Air Command
307th Bombardment Group
On 21 March 1946, Continental Air Command was redesignated as Strategic Air Command (SAC). On 4 August 1946, SAC activated the 307th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) as the host unit at MacDill, being initially equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. Known initial operational squadrons of the group were the 370th, 371st and 372d Bombardment Squadrons.
The group selected as SAC's first antisubmarine unit in December 1946. Precursor to similar SAC units, the group began training other SAC combat units in anti-submarine warfare and operational procedures. In February 1947 the wing began operating a B-29 transition training school and standardized combat training for all SAC units.
The unit was redesignated as the 307th Bombardment Wing, Medium on 12 July 1948. Under the wing designation, the 306th Bombardment Group (eff: 12 August 1948) and 307th Bombardment Group (eff: 12 July 1948) were attached to the wing. This brought three additional operational squadrons (367th, 368th and 369th Bombardment Squadrons) under the wing's command. In 1952, the 307th Bombardment Wing was bestowed the lineage, honors and history of the USAAF World War II 307th Bombardment Group.
On 1 September 1950, the 307th Bomb Group with its three squadrons of B-29s was deployed to Far East Air Force (FEAF) Bomber Command, Provisional at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, engaging in combat operations during the Korean War. From Kadena, the 307th staged attacks against the rapidly advancing communist forces in South Korea. While in Okinawa, the 307th was awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for its air strikes against enemy forces in Korea. It was also awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation and several campaign streamers.
The 307th BG returned from deployment on 10 February 1951, however elements of the group remained deployed in Okinawa on a permanent basis. Later in 1951, the B-29s of the group at MacDill were replaced by the Boeing B-50D Superfortress.
Also on 1 September 1950 the 306th Bomb Group was transferred to the newly activated 306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill and continued the wing's training mission.
The 307th Bomb Wing was inactivated at MacDill on 16 June 1952. The 307th Bomb Group was permanently reassigned to Kadena Air Base upon the inactivation of the wing at MacDill.
306th Bombardment Wing
On 1 September 1950 the 306th Bombardment Wing was activated at MacDill AFB and became SAC's first operational B-47 jet bomber wing. Upon activation, operational units of the wing were the 367th, 368th and 369th Bombardment Squadrons under the 306th Bombardment Group which was transferred from the 307th BMW.
Deliveries of the new Boeing B-47A Stratojet Stratojet to the Air Force and Strategic Air Command began in December 1950 and the aircraft entered service in May 1951 with the 306th Bombardment Wing. The 306th was intended to act as a training unit to prepare future B-47 crews and the B-47As were primarily training aircraft and were not considered as being combat ready. None of the B-47As ever saw any operational duty in front line combat squadrons.
On 19 November 1951, the 306th received its first operational Boeing B-47B and christened it "The Real McCoy" in honor of Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy, the wing commander who flew it from the Boeing Wichita plant to MacDill. During 1952, the 306th developed combat procedures and techniques for the new bomber and soon emerged as a leader in jet bombardment tactics and strategies.
The first Boeing KC-97E Stratofreighter assigned to Strategic Air Command was delivered to the 306th Air Refueling Squadron at MacDill on 14 July 1951. In-flight refueling operations started in May 1952 with KC-97s refueling B-47s on operational training missions leading toward combat-ready status.
In 1953, the 306th became the first operational B-47 bombardment wing. The wing became the backbone of the US Nuclear Deterrence Strategy by maintaining high levels of ground alert in the US and at overseas bases. The wing was also awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit citation for its role as a pioneer and leader in jet bombardment tactics. B-47Bs from the 306th Bomb Wing began a 90-day rotational training mission to England in June 1953, marking the first overseas deployment of the B-47. Major (selectee) Glenn A. McConnell led the first four B-47s to RAF Brize Norton, UK. For its role in advancing jet bombardment tactics, the wing was again awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award citation (AFOUC). Additional deployments were made to RAF Fairford England, June – September 1953, at Ben Guerir AB, French Morocco (later Morocco), January – February 1955, October 1956 – January 1957 and October 1957.
In 1954, SAC designated specific air refueling organizations and the 306th Air Refueling Squadron became ready to support B-47 operations across the command. During 1954, the more advanced B-47Es, equipped with ejection seats, improved electronics and a white reflective paint scheme on the underside of the fuselage, replaced the 306th BMW B-47Bs.
During 1954–55, MacDill AFB and the wing also served as a backdrop for part of the Paramount Pictures film Strategic Air Command starring James Stewart and June Allyson, a portion of which was filmed in and around both the 305th Bombardment Wing and 306th Bombardment Wing areas and their B-47 aircraft at MacDill AFB.
As SAC's B-47s were being phased out of the inventory, inactivation planning of the 306th BMW began. Phase down and transfer of B-47s was started, and by 15 February 1963 the wing was no longer capable of fulfilling its part of the strategic war plan. On 1 April 1963, SAC inactivated the 306th BMW at MacDill and reactivated it the same day at McCoy AFB, Florida as a B-52D and KC-135A heavy bombardment wing. McCoy AFB was the former Pinecastle AFB, having been renamed after Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy following his death in a B-47 mishap northwest of downtown Orlando, Florida in 1957.
305th Bombardment Wing
On 2 January 1951 the 305th Bombardment Wing was activated at MacDill AFB. The unit became the second Strategic Air Command wing to receive the B-47 jet bomber. Operational squadrons of the wing were the 305th, 364th, 365th and 366th Bombardment Squadrons. Initially training with the Boeing B-29 and B-50 Superfortress, the 305th received its first Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter later that year. Following this, the group began training heavily in its new dual mission of strategic bombardment and aerial refueling.
The 809th Air Division (809th AD) took over host unit responsibilities for MacDill AFB on 16 June 1952. The 809th AD consisted of the 305th and 306th Bombardment Wings which were both assigned to the base.
In June 1952, the 305th upgraded to the all-jet Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The wing continued strategic bombardment and refueling operations from MacDill and deployed overseas three times, once to England (September–December 1953) and twice to North Africa (November 1955 – January 1956 and January – March 1957), in keeping with its mission of global bombardment and air refueling operations. Two wing B-47s set speed records on 28 July 1953 when one flew from RCAF Goose Bay, Labrador, to RAF Fairford, England, in 4:14 hours and the other flew from Limestone AFB, Maine, to RAF Fairford in 4:45 hours
Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command
Air Defense Command (ADC) became a major tenant unit at MacDill in 1954 with the establishment of a mobile radar station on the base to support the permanent ADC radar network in the United States sited around the perimeter of the country. This deployment was projected to be operational by mid-1952. Funding, constant site changes, construction, and equipment delivery delayed deployment.
This site at MacDill, designated as M-129 became operational on 1 August 1954 when the 660th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was assigned to the base by the 35th Air Division. MacDill became the first operational mobile radar under the first phase of the program. The 660th ACWS initially used an AN/MPS-7 radar and by 1958 MacDill also had AN/GPS-3 and AN/MPS-14 radars. During the following year the AN/GPS-3 and AN/MPS-7 sets were replaced by AN/FPS-20A search and AN/FPS-6B height-finder sets.
During 1961, MacDill AFB joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to Site DC-09 at Gunter AFB, Alabama. After joining SAGE, the squadron was redesignated as the 660th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 March 1961. In 1961, an AN/FPS-7B assumed search duties and an additional height-finder radar was added in the form of an AN/FPS-26.
In 1963, an AN/FPS-90 height-finder radar replaced the AN/FPS-6B, and on 31 July 1963 the site was redesignated as NORAD ID Z-129. In addition to the main facility, Z-129 operated several unmanned Gap Filler sites:
In 1966, the AN/FPS-26 was modified into an AN/FSS-7 SLBM D&W radar, part of the 14th Missile Warning Squadron. Around 1966, Site Z-129 became a joint-use facility with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the search radar was modified to an AN/FPS-7E model. In 1968, ADC was redesignated as Aerospace Defense Command (ADC), but in 1979 Site Z-129 came under Tactical Air Command (TAC) jurisdiction with the inactivation of ADC and the activation of ADTAC. It was inactivated on 15 November 1980.
The FSS-7 (the final such system in the USAF inventory) remained in use for about a year after the host 660th Radar Squadron inactivated, reassigned as Det 1, 20th Missile Warning Squadron. The GATR site was retained until the Joint Surveillance System (JSS) switch-over (c. 1984), with the radios being maintained by the 1928th Communications Squadron (AFCC).
Tactical Air Command
The first attempt to close MacDill AFB was made in 1960, when it was listed as surplus and slated for closure. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 highlighted the base's strategic location and its usefulness as a staging area. As a result, the cuts were stayed. In response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States Strike Command (USSTRICOM) was established at MacDill as a crisis response force; it was one of the first unified commands, a command that draws manpower and equipment from all branches of the U.S. military.
In 1962, MacDill AFB was transferred from SAC to Tactical Air Command (TAC). Bomber aircraft would remain home based at MacDill until the 306th Bombardment Wing's transfer to McCoy AFB and SAC would continue to maintain a tenant presence at MacDill through the 1980s, utilizing their Alert Facility as a dispersal location for B-52 and KC-135 aircraft. But for all practical purposes, the 1960s marked MacDill's transition from a bomber-centric SAC base to a fighter-centric TAC installation. Under TAC, MacDill AFB remained a fighter base for almost 30 years, but other changes went on in the background.
12th Tactical Fighter Wing
Upon MacDill AFB's transfer to TAC, the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was reactivated on 17 April 1962 and assigned to Ninth Air Force (9 AF). Initially, its only operational squadron was the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The mission of the 12th TFW was to be prepeared for tactical worldwide deployments and operations. Until 1964, the wing flew obsolete Republic F-84F Thunderjets reclaimed from the Air National Guard.
In January 1964, the wing was chosen to be the first Air Force combat wing to convert to the new McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II. It was expanded as follows:
- 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron
- 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron
- 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron
- 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron
(Activated on 8 January 1964 as part of a wing transition from three squadrons of 25 aircraft each to four squadrons of 18 aircraft each.)
The wing was soon involved in F-4C firepower demonstrations, exercises and, ultimately, at the Paris Air Show. The conflict in Southeast Asia was escalating and throughout 1965 the wing supported Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Contingency Operations by rotating combat squadrons quarterly to Naha Air Base in the Ryuku Islands. The 12th TFW began its permanent deployment to the first Air Force expeditionary airfield at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, South Vietnam on 6 November 1965.
12th TFW combat squadrons initially scheduled for deployment to Vietnam were the 555th, 557th and 558th TFS. Ultimately, the 559th TFS took the place of the 555th when the squadron was diverted to a second TDY with the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, followed by a reassignment to the 8th TFW at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Still later the 555th was assigned to the 432d TRW at Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base.
15th Tactical Fighter Wing
On 17 April 1962, the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at MacDill and assigned to Ninth Air Force. Operational squadrons of the wing and squadron tail codes were:
- 45th Tactical Fighter squadron (FC)
- 46th Tactical Fighter squadron (FD)
- 47th Tactical Fighter squadron (FE)
- 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (FB)
(Activated on 8 January 1964 as part of a wing transition from three squadrons of 25 aircraft each to four squadrons of 18 aircraft each.)
The 12th and 15th TFWs constituted the 836th Air Division at MacDill AFB on 1 July 1962.
The mission of the 15th TFW was to conduct tactical fighter combat crew training. The wing participated in a variety of exercises, operations and readiness tests of Tactical Air Command, and trained pilots and provided logistical support for the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. Reorganized as a mission-capable unit at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, it returned afterwards to a training mission.
With the departure of the 12th TFW in 1965, the 15th TFW became the host unit at MacDill with the unit's mission becoming a formal training unit for F-4 aircrews prior to their deployment to Southeast Asia. The wing deployed 16 F-4s to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC during the USS Pueblo Crisis in 1968.
In 1965, the wing deployed its 43rd, 45th, 46th and 47th Tactical Fighter Squadrons to Southeast Asia, where they participated in the air defense commitment for the Philippines from Clark AB and flew combat missions from Cam Rahn Bay Air Base in South Vietnam and Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. Members of the 45th TFS achieved the first U.S. Air Force aerial victories of the Vietnam War when they destroyed two MiGs on 10 July 1965. Captains Thomas S. Roberts, Ronald C. Anderson, Kenneth E. Holcombe and Arthur C. Clark received credit for these kills.
Beginning on 8 February 1969, the 13th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical began Martin B-57G (Tail Code: FK) light bomber aircrew training at MacDill. The squadron was inactivated on 1 October 1970 and redesignated as the 4424th Combat Crew Training Squadron.
Also in 1970, U.S. Strike Command was renamed United States Readiness Command (USREDCOM).
The 43rd TFS was reassigned to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska on 4 January 1970 and the 15th TFW was inactivated on 1 October 1970, being replaced by the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing (1st TFW).
Cuban Missile Crisis
During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the following units were deployed to MacDill AFB in addition to the assigned 12th and 15th TFWs in preparation for planned airstrikes on Cuba:
- 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, 60 F-100s
(Deployed from Cannon AFB, New Mexico)
- 363d Tac Reconnaissance Wing, 33 RF-101s, 31 RB-66s
(Deployed from Shaw AFB, South Carolina)
- 622d Air Refueling Squadron, 20 KB-50Js
(Aerial Tankers deployed from England AFB, Louisiana)
The MacDill-based 12th and 15th Tactical Fighter Wings were subsequently designated as the 836th Air Division. The 836th AD was committed to provide one hundred sorties in the planned first strike. They were to also press napalm and rocket attacks against surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites at Mariel and Sagua La Grande as well as the airfields at Santa Clara, Los Banos and San Julien.
The 836th commitment for the second strike was to provide sixty-four sorties concentrating on the Los Banos airfield, two AAA sites and the SSM launchers at San Diego de los Vegas and Pinar Del Rio. Finally, forty-two aircraft were to strike Los Banos MiG base a third time and the Santa Clara MiG base, Sagua La Grande and Mariel SAM sites each a second time. The Cuban missile confrontation was ultimately resolved and the air strikes, which would have been followed by an invasion of Cuba, were never launched.
1st Tactical Fighter Wing
On 10 January 1970, the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing was reassigned without personnel or equipment to MacDill, the wing being transferred from Air Defense Command (ADC) to TAC from Hamilton AFB, California. Initially, the 1st TFW operated with the same Tactical Fighter Squadron designations used by the 15th TFW until 1 July 1971 when they were redesignated as follows:
- 45th TFS -> 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron (FD/FF) (F-4E)
- 46th TFS -> 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron (FB/FF) (F-4E)
- 47th TFS -> 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron (FE/FF) (F-4E)
- 4424Th TFTS -> 4530th Combat Crew Training Squadron (FK/FS) (B-57G)
(Note: squadron discontinued 30 June 1972.)
In 1972, the 1st TFW standardized all of its aircraft with the common wing tail code "FF".
At MacDill, the 1st TFW was a combat-coded operational tactical fighter wing, assuming operational commitments of the 15th TFW. The 1st also assumed an F-4 transitional and replacement pilot and weapon systems officer training role in 1971, with some of its aircrews and equipment being deployed from time to time in a variety of tactical exercises.
56th Tactical Fighter Wing / 56th Tactical Training Wing
- 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron (former 27th TFS, yellow tail stripe)
- 62d Tactical Fighter Squadron (former 73rd TFS, blue tail stripe)
- 63d Tactical Fighter Squadron (former 94th TFS, red tail stripe)
- 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron (white tail stripe, inactivated at MacDill during conversion from F-4D to F-16A/B in 1981 and reactivated at Misawa AB, Japan as an F-16 squadron)
- 72nd Tactical Fighter Squadron (black tail stripe)
(F-16A/B/C/D Activated 1 July 1981, inactivated 19 June 1992)
In 1975, the 56th TFW assumed the F-4E aircraft of the reassigned 1st TFW and all aircraft tail codes were changed to "MC".
The wing conducted F-4E replacement training for pilots, weapon systems officers, and aircraft maintenance personnel and conducted a service test of TAC's "production oriented maintenance organization" (POMO) in 1976 and converted to the POMO concept in March 1977. In addition, the wing converted from the F-4E to F-4D between October 1977 and September 1978.
In 1980 and 1981, the wing upgraded to the Block 10 General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. With the arrival of the F-16, the wing designation was changed to 56th Tactical Training Wing on 1 October 1981. The aircraft were upgraded to the more capable Block 30 and 42 F-16C/D in 1991.
In 1983, the new Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) was activated, and in 1987 it became United States Central Command (USCENTCOM). Also in 1987, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was activated at MacDill, occupying the former facilities of USREDCOM.
At Super Bowl XVIII and again at Super Bowl XXV, both played at Tampa Stadium, 56th Tactical Training Wing aircraft performed the flyover and Missing man formation at the conclusion of the National Anthem.
On 1 October 1991, the 56th TTW was redesignated as the 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW). Following inactivation of Tactical Air Command (TAC), the 56 FW was reassigned to the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC) on 1 June 1992.
Post Cold War and BRAC 1991
By the early 1990s and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. was looking to downsize the military and eliminate a large number of bases in the United States as a cost-savings measure. MacDill AFB figured prominently in this: the Tampa area had seen substantial increases in commercial air traffic at the two international airports within ten nautical miles of MacDill, creating hazardous conditions for F-16 training, and the noise associated with the high-performance jets was deemed unsuitable for high-density residential areas like those around MacDill. As a result, the 1991 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission ordered that all flightline activities cease at MacDill AFB by 1993.
As a result of the BRAC decision, the F-16 training mission and the 56th Fighter Wing were moved without personnel or equipment to Luke Air Force Base, outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and was reassigned to Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The wing's F-16 aircraft were transferred to other Regular U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard wings and squadrons.
6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing (Associate)
In August 1992, just prior to the landfall of Hurricane Andrew in southern Florida, the 31st Fighter Wing (31 FW) and the Air Force Reserve's 482d Fighter Wing (482 FW), both based at Homestead AFB, executed an emergency hurricane evacuation of all of their flyable F-16C and F-16D aircraft, with the bulk of those aircraft temporarily staging at MacDill. Given the level of destruction at Homestead AFB, these fighter aircraft remained at MacDill for several months thereafter.
In 1993, with the help of local Representative Bill Young (R-FL), the flight line closure order for MacDill was rescinded and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) transferred from their former air facility at Miami International Airport to Hangar 5 at MacDill AFB in order to use the base and its flight line as their new home station for weather and research flights.
On 1 January 1994, the Air Mobility Command's 6th Air Base Wing (6 ABW) stood up at MacDill AFB to operate the base and provide support services for USCENTCOM, USSOCOM, and the large and growing number of other tenant units, as well as to provide services for transient air units. Later that year, the base served as the primary staging facility for Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
This staging was considered evidence of the quality and usefulness of the MacDill runway and flight line, even in light of the high civilian air traffic levels in the Tampa Bay area from nearby Tampa International Airport, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Peter O. Knight Airport. With further Congressional prodding and lobbying, MacDill was chosen as the site for a KC-135 air refueling mission. With the arrival of 12 KC-135R tankers and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, the 6 ABW was renamed the 6th Air Refueling Wing (6 ARW) on 1 October 1996.
In January 2001, the 310th Airlift Squadron (310 AS) was activated at the base, flying the CT-43A and EC-135, the former aircraft providing executive transport to the commander of United States Southern Command (USSOUTHOM) in Miami and the latter aircraft providing executive transport and airborne command post capabilities to the commanders of USCENTCOM and USSOCOM at MacDill. New C-37A aircraft were delivered starting in 2001, and the CT-43 and EC-135s were subsequently removed from service. The 310th's primary mission is dedicated airlift support for the commanders of USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and USSOUTHCOM. With the addition of the 310 AS, the wing was given its current designation as the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW).
In late 2003/early 2004, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command vacated its Tampa "rear headquarters" at MacDill AFB, a complex that was established in the early 1990s following the first Gulf War and was normally occupied by the USNAVCENT/US 5th Fleet Deputy Commander (DEPCOMUSNAVCENT/DEPCOMFIFTHFLT) and his staff when they were not forward deployed to the Persian Gulf region. In vacating the MacDill AFB facility, USNAVCENT staff activities were consolidated at COMUSNAVCENT/COMFIFTHFLT headquarters in Manama, Bahrain. This facility was then turned over to the Deputy Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (DEPCOMUSMARCENT) and his staff. It would subsequently become the overall Headquarters, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, while the Commanding General for MARCENT (COMUSMARCENT) would remain a dual-hatted function of the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) at Camp Pendleton, California. From late 2003 until 2012, the Commanding General remained in California, while his MARCENT staff primarily resided at MacDill AFB with an additional forward element at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain. In 2012, the COMUSMARCENT and CG I MEF billets were broken into separate billets and COMUSMARCENT took up full-time residency at MacDill
Also in late 2004, Naval Reserve Center Tampa relocated from its obsolescent waterfront location in downtown Tampa to a newly constructed facility on the south side of MacDill AFB. In 2006, this facility was renamed Navy Operational Support Center Tampa, concurrent with the shift in name of the Naval Reserve to the Navy Reserve and its greater integration into the Fleet and shore establishment of the Regular Navy. Under the command of an active duty full-time support (FTS) Navy Captain, NOSC Tampa provides administrative support for all Navy Reserve personnel assigned to various joint and service commands and activities at MacDill AFB, CGAS Clearwater and Marine Corps Reserve Center Tampa.
In April 2008, pursuant to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action, the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) relocated from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan to MacDill AFB, where it became an associate wing to the 6 AMW, flying the same KC-135R aircraft.
The flyover and Missing man formations for Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLIII, both played at Raymond James Stadium, came from KC-135 aircraft from MacDill's 6th Air Mobility Wing, with additional flyovers by a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing and F-22 Raptor aircraft from the 325th Fighter Wing. The former flyover was the first Super Bowl flyover to be telecast in high definition.
In early 2011, several news outlets, primaily in the United Kingdom, reported that Ntrepid, a Californian software and hardware company, had been awarded a $2.76 million U.S. government contract to create false online personas to counter the threat of terrorism and could possibly run their operation from MacDill.
In its 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135R aircraft to the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW) at MacDill AFB, FL (four aircraft) and several other installations. The 6 AMW would also host a Reserve association with the Air Mobility Command-gained 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), which would be realigned and relocated from Selfridge ANGB, Michigan to MacDill AFB. Under the Reserve Associate arrangement, both the 6 AMW and the 927 ARW would share the same KC-135R aircraft, while the 927 ARW would turn over their KC-135R aircraft to the 127th Wing (127 WG) of the Michigan Air National Guard at Selfridge ANGB.
The 927 ARW began relocation from Selfridge ANGB to MacDill AFB in 2007 and formally established itself at MacDill in April 2008.
- Established as Southeast Air Base, Tampa, c. 24 May 1939
- MacDill Field, 1 December 1939
- MacDill Air Force Base, 13 January 1948
Major commands to which assigned
Base operating units
Major units assigned
World War II
- HQ, Southeast Air District (later: Third Air Force), 18 December 1940 – January 1941
- HQ, III Bomber Command, 15 December 1941 – 8 April 1946
- 3d Bombardment Wing, 3 October 1940 – 5 September 1941
- 53d Pursuit Group, 15 January-8 May 1941 (P-40)
- 29th Bombardment Group, 21 May 1940 – 25 June 1942 (B-17/B-18 Antisubmarine Patrols)
- 21st Bombardment Group, 27 June 1942 – 10 October 1943 (B-26 OTU)
- 336th Bombardment Group, 15 July-10 August 1942; 13 October-6 November 1943 (B-26 RTU)
- 488th Bombardment Group, 1 November 1943 – 1 May 1944 (B-17 RTU)
- Re-designated: 326th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Heavy Bombardment) 1 May 1944 – 30 June 1944
- Re-designated: 326th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Separation Station)
- 89th Combat Crew Training Wing, 19 June 1944 – 8 April 1946 (Reconnaissance Training)
- 11th Photographic Group, January-5 October 1944
- 323d Combat Crew Training Wing, 22 February 1945 – 4 August 1946 (Very Heavy Bomber)
World War II Training Units Assigned
- 311th Reconnaissance Wing, 17 April 1946 – 31 May 1947
- 8th Bomber Command, 14 May-10 November 1946
- Eighth Air Force, 7 June-1 November 1946
- Tactical Air Command, 21 March-26 May 1946
United States Air Force
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,692 people, 638 households, and 600 families residing in the district. The racial makeup of the district was 61.8% white, 24.5% African American, 12.0% Latin American, 0.6% American Indian, 2.9% Asian American, 0.4% Pacific Islander American, 5.1% from some other race, and 4.8% from two or more races.
There were 608 households out of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 87.8% were married couples living together, and 1.5% were non-families. 88.5% of all households were made up of individuals over 18 and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.75 and the average family size was 3.76.
- Florida World War II Army Airfields
- List of USAF Aerospace Defense Command General Surveillance Radar Stations
- MacDill AFB, official site
- FAA Airport Master Record for MCF ( PDF), effective 20 December 2007
- Biographies : Chief Master Sgt. Thomas B. Mazzone. Macdill.af.mil. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
- "Tampabay: MacDill's AirFest is back this weekend". Sptimes.com. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- "MacDill's Air Fest On For 2007". Tboblogs.com. 2006-12-06. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media", guardian.co.uk, 17 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
- Lewis Bazley, "Combating jihadists and free speech: How the U.S. military is using fake online profiles to spread propaganda", dailymail.co.uk, 18 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
- Wing moves, begins new chapter
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- 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 "MacDill Air Force Base".
- Maurer, Maurer (ed.). 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 ISBN 0-912799-53-6
- Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
- Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
- Cornett, Lloyd H. and Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 – 1980, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
- Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to MacDill Air Force Base.|
- MacDill AFB, official site
- MacDill AFB at GlobalSecurity.org
- F-4 Phantoms
- (PDF), effective May 28, 2015
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MCF, effective May 28, 2015
- Resources for this U.S. military airport: