51st Bombardment Squadron (Light)

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51st Bombardment Squadron
87th Bomb Squadron in Blythe California September 1942.jpg
Active 1941—1944: 1947-1949; 1949-1951
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Bombardment
Engagements Antisubmarine Campaign
51st Bombardment Squadron Emblem (approved 31 May 1943)[1] 51st Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png

The 51st Bombardment Squadron, Light is an inactive squadron of the United States Air Force last based at Birmingham Municipal Airport, Alabama. The squadron served on antisubmarine patrol early in World War II, then as a training unit until it was disbanded in 1944.

The squadron was reactivated in the Air Force Reserve in 1947. It was called to active service in March 1951 for the Korean War and its personnel used as fillers for other units. The 51st was inactivated on 20 March 1951.


World War II[edit]

The squadron was first activated as the 51st Bombardment Squadron (Light) in 1941. It was one of the four original squadrons of the 46th Bombardment Group. The 51st was equipped with Douglas A-20 Havoc aircraft at Hunter Field, Georgia.[1][2] The 51st participated in maneuvers, including desert maneuvers,[3] and flew anti-submarine warfare patrol and search missions over the Gulf of Mexico in early 1942.[2]

It later served as an operational training unit,[1] which involved the use of an oversized parent unit to provide cadres for "satellite groups."[4] In late 1943 the squadron mission changed to replacement training of individual pilots and aircrews.[1][4] Just before disbanding, it began to convert to North American B-25 Mitchells.[1]

However, the Army Air Forces found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization were proving 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.[5] This resulted in the squadron, along with other units at Morris Field, being disbanded and its personnel, equipment and functions transferred to the 333d AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Light Bombardment).[6][7]

Air Force Reserve[edit]

In 1947, the squadron was activated in the Air Force Reserve as an element of the 319th Bombardment Group at Mitchel Field, New York. The squadron and group moved to Reading Municipal Airport, Pennsylvania in June 1949 when Continental Air Command (CONAC) reorganized its flying units, implementing the wing base organization system, which made them part of the new 319th Bombardment Wing.[8] The squadron was inactivated in the fall of 1949 and replaced by elements of the 512th Troop Carrier Wing, when CONAC decided that Reading would become a troop carrier base.[1][9]

The squadron was reactivated a month later at Birmingham Municipal Airport, Alabama, absorbing resources of the 514th Troop Carrier Wing.[10] At Birmingham, the squadron received at least some Douglas B-26 Invader aircraft,[6] and trained under the supervision of the 2587th Air Force Reserve Training Center.[11] It does not appear that the unit was fully manned or equipped while part of the reserve. The squadron was ordered to active duty on 10 March 1951 as a result of the Korean War. Its personnel were used as fillers for other units[6] and the squadron was inactivated twelve days later.[1]


  • Constituted as the 51st Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Disbanded on 1 May 1944
  • Reconstituted and redesignated 51st Bombardment Squadron, Light on 26 May 1947
Activated in the reserve on 9 July 1947
Inactivated on 2 September 1949
Activated on 10 October 1949
Inactivated on 22 March 1951[1]


  • 46th Bombardment Group: 15 January 1941 - 1 May 1944
  • 319th Bombardment Group: 9 July 1947 – 2 September 1949
  • 319th Bombardment Group: 10 October 1949 - 22 March 1951[1]


Aircraft and Launch Vehicles Operated[edit]

  • Douglas A-20 Havoc, 1941–1944
  • North American B-25 Mitchell, 1944[1]
  • Douglas B-26 Invader, 1949-1951[6]


Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
American Campaign Streamer.png Antisubmarine [1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 217. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. 
  2. ^ a b Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 110. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  3. ^ Abstract, History of 46th Bomb Gp 1941-1944. Retrieved 26 June 2012
  4. ^ a b Craven, Wesley F; Cate, James L, eds. (1955). "Introduction". The Army Air Forces in World War II. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. p. xxxvi. LCCN 48-3657. 
  5. ^ Craven & Cate, p. 7
  6. ^ a b c d See Abstract, History of Morris Field, 1940-1944. Retrieved 26 June 2012
  7. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 7
  8. ^ Abstract, History 319 Wing 1942-1991 (retrieved 18 September 2013)
  9. ^ Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 278–289. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  10. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 281-283
  11. ^ Abstract History 2587 Air Force Reserve Training Center Jul-Sep 1950 (retrieved 18 September 2013)
  12. ^ Wilson, Art (2008). Runways in the Sand. Blythe, California: Art Wilson. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-615-21889-2. OCLC 316309702.  LCC D769.85.C21 B598 2008


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit]