501st Combat Support Group
|501st Combat Support Group
|Active||1945–1948, 1953–1955, 1982–1991|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Defense Command|
|Equipment||F-86 Sabre 1953–1955|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|501st Combat Support Group Emblem (approved September 1983)|
The 501st Combat Support Group is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was last active as part of the 501st Tactical Missile Wing at RAF Greenham Common, England, where it provided support for the wing and tenant organizations as the host organization for Greenham Common.
The group was originally activated as the 501st Air Service Group, a support group, at the end of World War II and continued this mission with the American occupation forces in Germany through the beginning of the Berlin Airlift, when it was inactivated as United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) implemented the wing base organization system. In 1982 the group was consolidated with the 501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, a Second Air Force unit that provided base support at Great Bend Army Air Field, Kansas from 1943 to 1944.
The group was activated once again in 1953 as the 501st Air Defense Group, when ADC established it as the headquarters for a dispersed fighter-interceptor squadron and the medical, aircraft maintenance, and administrative squadrons supporting it. It was replaced in 1955 when ADC transferred its mission, equipment, and personnel to the 56th Fighter Group in a project that replaced air defense groups commanding fighter squadrons with fighter groups with distinguished records during World War II.
World War II and Occupation of Germany
The earliest predecessor of the 501st Combat Support Group was the 501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, which was organized in 1943 as the base headquarters for Great Bend Army Air Field, Kansas, a World War II very heavy bombardment training base. Great Bend was one of the original bases where Boeing B-29 Superfortress units received their training before deploying to the China Burma India Theater. However, the Army Air Forces found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization were proving themselves less well adapted to the training mission. Accordingly, a more functional system was adopted in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit. This resulted in the 501st, along with other units at Great Bend, being disbanded and its personnel, equipment and functions transferred to the 243d AAF Base Unit (Operational Training Unit, Very Heavy).
The 501st Air Service Group was established toward the end of World War II to provide support for flying units in Germany and Austria from 1945 to 1948 as part of a reorganization of Army Air Forces (AAF) support groups in which the AAF replaced Service Groups that included personnel from other branches of the Army and supported two combat groups with Air Service Groups including only Air Corps units. It was designed to support a single combat group. Its 919th Air Engineering Squadron provided maintenance that was beyond the capability of the combat group, its 743rd Air Materiel Squadron handled all supply matters, and its Headquarters & Base Services Squadron provided other support. The group moved to Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany, where it replaced the 97th Airdrome Squadron as the primary support unit for the airfield. It briefly supported the Berlin Airlift before inactivation in 1948. It was replaced by elements of the 7150th AF Composite Wing in the Air Force Wing/Base reorganization in 1948. which was adopted to unify control at air bases It was disbanded later in 1948.
Air Defense of the United States
During the Cold War, the group was reconstituted, redesignated as the 501st Air Defense Group, and activated by ADC at O'Hare International Airport on 16 February 1953 with responsibility for air defense in the Great Lakes area. It was assigned the 62d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), which was already stationed at O'Hare, flying North American F-86 Sabres as its operational component. The 62d FIS had been assigned directly to the 4706th Defense Wing. The group replaced the 83rd Air Base Squadron as USAF active duty host organization at O'Hare IAP. It was assigned three squadrons to perform its support responsibilities.
The group added a second operational unit, the 42d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was activated at O'Hare eight days later, and also Flew F-86s. In March 1953, the 62d FIS converted to newer radar equipped and Mighty Mouse rocket armed F-86Ds. The group was inactivated and replaced by the 56th Fighter Group in 1955 as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars.
Ground Launched Cruise Missile Support
In the early 1980s USAF began deploying Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the European theater. The 501st Tactical Missile Wing was organized at RAF Greenham Common as the first USAF wing equipped with the BGM-109 Tomahawk missile. The 501st group was redesignated the 501st Combat Support Group and activated as the headquarters for organizations supporting the wing and hosted all USAF organizations at Greenham Common. As the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was implemented, the USAF withdrew its missiles from Europe and the wing and group were inactivated.
501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron
- Constituted as the 501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron
- Activated on 26 January 1943
- Disbanded on 1 April 1944
- Reconstituted on 11 January 1982 and consolidated with the 501st Air Defense Group as the 501st Combat Support Group
501st Combat Support Group
- Constituted as 501st Air Service Group on 16 December 1944
- Activated on 1 June 1945
- Inactivated on 1 July 1948
- Disbanded on 8 October 1948
- Reconstituted and redesignated 501st Air Defense Group on 21 January 1953
- Activated on 16 February 1953
- Inactivated on 18 August 1955
- Redesignated 501st Combat Support Group on 11 January 1982 and consolidated with the 501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron
- Activated on 1 October 1982
- Inactivated on 31 May 1991
- Second Air Force, 26 January 1943 – 1 April 1944
- Unknown (probably European Air Transport Service) 1 June 1945 – ca. June 1946
- Headquarters Command, United States Air Forces Europe ca. June 1946 – 1 July 1948
- 4706th Defense Wing (later 4706th Air Defense Wing), 16 February 1953 – 18 August 1955
- 501st Tactical Missile Wing, 1 October 1982 – 31 May 1991
- Great Bend Army Air Field, Kansas, 26 January 1943 – 1 April 1944
- Bensheim, Germany, ca. 1 June 1945
- Tulln Air Base, Austria 25 Aug 1945
- Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany 1 June 1946 – 1 July 1948
- O'Hare International Airport, Illinois, 16 February 1953 – 18 August 1955
- RAF Greenham Common, England, United Kingdom, 1 October 1982 – 31 May 1991
- 42d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 24 February 1953 – 18 August 1955
- 62d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 16 February 1953 – 18 August 1955
- F-86A Sabre, 1953
- F-86D Sabre, 1953–1955
- F-86F Sabre, 1953–1955
Awards and Campaigns
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1982 – 30 June 1984||501st Combat Support Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1987 – 31 May 1989||501st Combat Support Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 June 1989 – 31 May 1991||501st Combat Support Group|
|American Theater of World War II||26 January 1943 – 1 April 1944||501st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron|
|World War II Army of Occupation||6 May 1945 – 1 July 1948||501st Air Service Group|
- Approved insignia for: 501st Combat Support Group (September 12, 1983) National Archives
- "Abstract, History Army Air Base Great Bend Kansas Sep 1942 – Jan 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- Craven & Cate. p. 7
- "Abstract, Base History of Army Air Base Great Bend, KS Mar 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- Coleman, p. 208
- "Abstract, History of 501 Air Service Group, Jan 1947". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Abstract, History of 501 Air Service Group, Jun 1948". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Abstract, History of 7150 Composite Wing, Jul 1948". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Goss, William A. in Craven & Cate, Vol. VI, Chapter 2, The AAF
- Department of the Air Force Letter, 322 (AFOOR 887e), 8 October 1948, Subject: Disbandment of Certain Inactive Air Force Units
- Cornett & Johnson, p. 82
- Cornett & Johnson, p.117
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 239
- Cornett & Johnson, p. 146
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p.195
- Cornett & Johnson, p.115
- Maurer, Combat Units, p. 119
- Robertson, Patsy (May 18, 2009). "Factsheet 56 Operations Group (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on August 5, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Buss, Sturm, Volan, & McMullen, p.6
- Haulman, Daniel L. (December 28, 2007). "Factsheet 501 Combat Support Wing (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Edmonds, Jack. "Tulln Air Base". Earthlink.net. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
- "Abstract, History of 501 Air Service Group, June 1946". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Robertson, Patsy (May 22, 2009). "Factsheet 62 Fighter Squadron (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- See "Abstract, History of 501 Infirmary Jan–Jun 1955". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- "Air Force Recognition Programs". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved 23 February 2014. (search)
- Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, (1956)
- Coleman, John M (1950). The Development of Tactical Services in the Army Air Forces. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
- Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center.
- Craven, Wesley F; Cate, James L, eds. (1955). The Army Air Forces in World War II. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. LCCN 48003657.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
- 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.
- Grant, C.L., (1961) The Development of Continental Air Defense to 1 September 1954, USAF Historical Study No. 126
- Leonard, Barry (2009). History of Strategic Air and Ballistic Missile Defense (PDF). Vol I. 1945–1955. Fort McNair, DC: Center for Military History. ISBN 978-1-4379-2131-1.