2nd Air Division

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2nd Air Division
USAF - 2d Air Division.png
2nd Air Division emblem
Active30 August 1943 – 7 May 1951
20 April 1953 – 1 April 1962
10 September 1962 – 1 April 1966
1 March 1983 – 1 February 1987
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Air Force
Garrison/HQsee "Stations" section below
Equipmentsee "Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles" section below
Decorationssee "Lineage and Honors" section below

The 2nd Air Division (2nd AD) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Military Airlift Command, assigned to Twenty-Third Air Force, being stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida. It started operations on 7 November 1942 as 2nd Bomb Wing and was reorganized as the 2nd Bomb Division on 13 September 1943 before its final designation as the 2nd Air Division in January 1945. It was last inactivated on 1 February 1987.


World War Two[edit]

The 2nd Air Division came into being following the reorganisation of the VIII Bomber Command as the Eighth Air Force. It conducted strategic bombardment of Axis targets in Europe, alongside missions to airdrop supplies. Between 29 August 1944 and 2 October 1944 division aircraft dropped food to the French population in liberated areas. It also airdropped food, equipment, and supplies to Allied forces engaged in the airborne attack on the Netherlands (September 1944), as well as troops engaged in the assault across the Rhine River (March 1945). The division continued operations until the end of the war, flying the last combat sortie on 25 April 1945.

The group completed 493 operational missions in Europe during World War Two consisting of 95,948 individual aircraft sorties. The 2nd Air Division operated the Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft from airfields in Norfolk, England. Within the 2nd Air Division, six groups received presidential citations for outstanding actions. Five airmen received the highest US award for bravery, the Medal of Honor, and four of them posthumously. A total of 1,458 B-24 aircraft were lost in action and 6,700 men lost their lives.

Cold War[edit]

From January 1949 to May 1951, West Germany it participated in numerous training exercises. Activated in April 1953, it remained unmanned and existed in name until moving in March 1954 to Dhahran Airfield, Saudi Arabia where it remained until the Saudi government terminated US rights to the field in 1962.

Vietnam War[edit]

The 2nd Air Division was organized in Saigon at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in October 1962 under the authority of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam to control local USAF operations. From December 1962, it controlled all activities and units in Southeast Asia, initially, USAF tactical forces FARM GATE C/H- 47, B/RB-26, T-28, and U-10 counterinsurgency forces, and MULE TRAIN C-123 assault airlift forces. Forces assigned and attached to the 2nd Air Division trained Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) and Royal Thai Air Force personnel, flew reconnaissance, airlift, and defoliation missions, and operated a tactical control system. Until the build-up of American forces in 1965, the 2nd Air Division provided air support to the forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Escalation of fighting in South Vietnam in early 1965 brought new offensive assignments. On 8 February 1965 USAF and VNAF aircraft assaulted targets north of the demilitarized zone in the first of a series of continuing strikes. On 19 February 1965, USAF F-100 Super Sabres and B-57 Canberras attacked the Viet Cong inside South Vietnam, the first use of jets for such offensive actions. In July 1965, a major reorganization of the division saw tactical fighter wings established at Bien Hoa Air Base and Danang Air Base, and five separate combat support groups at other South Vietnamese bases. The rapid expansion of the division's personnel and facilities continued well into 1966, with a matching expansion in both the volume and variety of air operations.

Originally, the unit consisted of propeller-driven aircraft, but the build-up in US forces saw the arrival of jet aircraft and, by the end of 1965, the US had deployed nearly 500 US combat aircraft in South Vietnam.[1] On 1 April 1966, the division's resources were absorbed by the newly activated Seventh Air Force; and by this time it consisted of nearly 1,000 aircraft and approximately 30,000 personnel.

Special Operations[edit]

2nd Air Division aircrews received an important role in the vice president's South Florida Drug Task Force[vague]. Aircrews from the 20th SOS helped curb the flow of illegal drugs into the United States through the Bahamas in Operation BAT (Bahamas and Turks) by transporting Bahamian authorities and American drug enforcement agents to sites of drug action. In almost two and a half years, the squadron flew more than 1,100 sorties which supported the capture or destruction of more than $1.5 billion in drugs, vessels, aircraft, equipment and weapons. During the operation, one 20th SOS UH-1N helicopter crashed at sea resulting in the death of three squadron members.

In late October 1983, the 2nd AD provided three AC-130H Spectre gunships and five MC-130E Combat Talons to support Operation Urgent Fury on the island of Grenada, off the coast of Venezuela. The U.S. government considered Americans, primarily medical students studying in Grenada, in imminent danger from anti-American elements. The U.S. organized a joint task force of Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine elements to expedite their rescue with the 1st SOW aircraft leading the air assault.

From March 1983 to February 1987, 2nd Air Division forces, with worldwide responsibilities and assignments, engaged in deployment, exercise and training programs. Subordinate units flew drug interdiction missions under Operation BAT.


  • Established as 2nd Bombardment Division on 30 August 1943
Activated on 13 September 1943
Redesignated 2nd Air Division on 19 December 1944
Disestablished on 28 August 1945.
  • Reestablished on 14 January 1949
Organized on 1 June 1949
Discontinued on 7 May 1951.
  • Activated on 20 April 1953
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 April 1962.
  • Activated on 10 September 1962
Organized on 8 October 1962
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 April 1966.
  • Activated on 1 March 1983
Inactivated on 1 February 1987




Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles[edit]

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.


  1. ^ Marc Leepson, ed. Webster's New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999, p. 464.


  • Bailey, Mike and Tony North. Liberator Album: B-24s of the 2nd Air Division USAAF. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-85780-060-5.
  • Bowman, Martin W. Bomber Bases of WW2 – 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force USAAF, 1942–45: Liberator Squadrons in Norfolk And Suffolk. Pen and Sword Books, 2007. ISBN 1-84415-547-1.
  • Bowman, Martin W. Fields of Little America: an Illustrated History of the 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division, 1942–45. Norwich, Norfolk, UK: Wensum Books Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-903619-19-9. (republished 1983 and 1988 by Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-130-2).
  • Hoseason, James. The 1000 day Battle: An illustrated account of operations in Europe of the 8th Air Force's 2nd Air Division −1942-1945- including particularly its 448th Bomb Group and the other B-24 units based in East Anglia's Waveney Valley. Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK: Gillingham Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-9506768-0-2.
  • Martin, Robert J.(ed). 2nd Air Division. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 1994 (republished 1997). ISBN 1-56311-142-X.

External links[edit]