368th Bombardment Squadron
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|368th Bombardment Squadron|
Emblem of the 368th Bombardment Squadron
|Branch||United States Air Force|
The 368th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Active during the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War, its last assignment was with the 306th Bombardment Wing stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
The squadron was established as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomb group in early 1942. Trained under Second Air Force before deploying to England in September 1942, it became one of the first heavy bomber squadrons of the VIII Bomber Command 1st Bombardment Division. It was a highly decorated squadron during the air offensive over Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, engaging in strategic bombardment operations until the end of the war in Europe, in April 1945. After the war, the squadron assisted in demobilizing personnel using B-17s as transports along ATC routes from Western Europe, Italy and the United Kingdom to Gibraltar, and north and west Africa.
The 368th was reassigned to United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces in late 1945, engaging in photographic mapping and strategic reconnaissance operations over Western occupation zones of Germany as well as the Soviet zone. Reassigned to Istres-Le Tubé Air Base, France, it absorbed parts of demobilized squadrons and then returned to Germany as part of the American occupation forces. It was demobilized in Germany at the end of 1946.
Reactivated as a Strategic Air Command B-29 Superfortress squadron at MacDill Field, Florida in 1948, the squadron began upgrading to the new B-50 Superfortress, an advanced version of the B-29, in 1950. The B-50 gave the unit the capability to carry heavy loads of conventional weapons faster and farther; it was also designed for atomic bomb missions if necessary.
The squadron began receiving the first production models of the new Boeing B-47 Stratojet jet bomber in 1951 and despite initial difficulties, the Stratojet became the mainstay of the medium-bombing strength of SAC all throughout the 1950s. It began sending its B-47s to AMARC at Davis-Monthan in 1963 when the aircraft was deemed no longer capable of penetrating Soviet airspace. The 368th was inactivated in 1963 with phaseout of the B-47.
The 368th emblem was designed by B-17 gunner Thomas Albert Donlon, Jr., of the bomber "Lady Winifred".
- Constituted 368th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
- Activated on 1 March 1942
- Inactivated on 25 December 1946
- Redesignated 368th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 11 June 1947
- Activated on 1 July 1947
- Redesignated 368th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 11 August 1948
- Inactivated on 1 April 1963
- 306th Bombardment Group, 1 March 1942 – 25 December 1946
- ETO Fuselage Code: BO
- Not operational, 3 January-1 April 1963
- B-17 Flying Fortress, 1942–1946
- B-29 Superfortress, 1948–1951
- B-50 Superfortress, 1950–1951
- B-47 Stratojet, 1951–1963
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.5