874th Tactical Missile Squadron
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|874th Tactical Missile Squadron|
Emblem of the Tactical Missile Squadron
|Branch||United States Air Force|
B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan
Activated in November 1943 as one of the initial B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadrons. The squadron trained in Kansas with early model B-29s, with frequent delays in training due to modifications of the aircraft to correct production deficiencies.
When training was completed, the squadron was moved to Isely Field, Saipan, in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese home islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.
Squadron pilots flew "shakedown" missions against Japanese targets on Moen Island, Truk, and other points in the Carolines and Marianas. The squadron conducted combat missions over Japan participating in wide area firebombing attacks, but the first ten-day blitz resulted in the Army Air Forces running out of incendiary bombs. Until more incendiary bonds were supplied, the squadron flew conventional strategic bombing missions using high explosive bombs.
The squadron continued attacking urban areas with incendiary raids until the end of the war in August 1945, attacking major Japanese cities, causing massive destruction of urbanized areas. Raids were also conducted against strategic objectives, bombing aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other targets in Japan. The squadron flew its last combat missions on 14 August when hostilities ended. Afterward, its B-29s carried relief supplies to Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan and Manchuria.
The squadron was largely de-mobilized on Saipan during the fall of 1945 and was reorganized as part of Continental Air Forces, Fourth Air Force at March Field, California in November 1945, being manned and equipped with low-hour B-29s returned from the Central Pacific. It later was transferred to the new Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, being one of SAC's initial bombardment squadrons. Demobilization, however, was in full swing and the unit turned in its aircraft and was inactivated on 31 March 1946.
United States Air Force
Operations and decorations
- Combat Operations: Combat in Western Pacific, 28 Oct 1944-14 Aug 1945.
- Campaigns: Air Offensive, Japan; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific.
- Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citations: Japan, 13 Dec 1944; Japan, 1-7 Jun 1945. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award: 8 Feb 1961-29 May 1963.
- Constituted 874th Bombardment Squadron on 19 November 1943
- Activated on 20 November 1943
- Inactivated on 4 August 1946
- Redesignated 874th Tactical Missile Squadron, and activated, on 25 April 1961
- Organized on 8 September 1961
- Inactivated on 8 July 1969
- 498th Bombardment Group, 20 November 1943 – 4 August 1946
- Pacific Air Forces, 25 April 1961
- 498th Tactical Missile Group, 8 September 1961 – 8 July 1969
Aircraft and missiles
- 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.