379th Bombardment Wing

379th Bombardment Wing Insignia

The 379th Bombardment Wing traces its history back to 1942 when the 379th Bombardment Group was established November 3rd at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. For the first four months it was occupied with flight training in the B-17. On May 1943, the 379th Bomb Group was assigned to Kimbolton, England, where it was stationed for the next two years.

The group was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its raid on Oschersleben, Germany, Jan. 11, 1944, and a second award on the citation for "extraordinary heroism, determination and 'esprit de corps' in action against the enemy from May 29, 1943 to July 31, 1944".

The 379th Bomb Group also earned seven battle credits during its 23 months of combat. On July 15, 1945, the 379th, by then transferred to Air Transport Command, was deactivated at Casablanca, Morocco.

In 1954, Strategic Air Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (then Air Defense Command) asked Headquarters U.S. Air Force to perpetuate the histories and honors of World War II combat groups. Headquarters studied the request and, in 1954, agreed to bestow on SAC Wings, created during or after 1947, the honors and history of those bombardment groups with the same numerical designation.

Therefore, when the 379th Bombardment Wing was constituted and activated Nov. 1, 1955, at Homestead AFB, Fla., it inherited the honors, history and colors of the old 379th Bomb Group.

During the first five months, the 379th BMW concentrated on the manning and equipping of the unit and formulated a training schedule on April 20, 1956. Beginning in mid 1957, the wing deployed aircraft, crews, and support personnel to North African bases under the REFLEX ACTION program. This requirement continued throughout the rest of the wing's assignment at Homestead AFB. The 379th Combat Support Group, including six squadrons bearing the same numerical designation, was organized for the wing April 1, 1960, and during that same year, the 920th Air Refueling Squadron was transferred from Carswell AFB, Texas, to Wurtsmith, flying the KC-135A Stratotanker.

On Jan. 9, 1961, the 379th BMW transferred to Wurtsmith AFB and changed its designation to heavy bombardment wing. Four months after the transfer, the wing received its first B-52H bomber, number 60-00001, the first "H" model B-52 assigned to SAC. The aircraft was christened "The State of Michigan" during ceremonies on the Wurtsmith flight line on May 11, 1961.

After five months of intensive training, the wing was declared combat-ready in early October 1961. At the same time, the wing received its first AGM-28B "Hound Dog" missiles.

In 1969, 379th BMW aircrews once again saw combat as the "ARC Light" program came to Wurtsmith. This program included cross-training to "D" model B-52s and flying combat missions in Southeast Asia.

Members of the 920th Air Refueling Squadron participated in "Young Tiger" operations during this period, providing air refueling support to these missions.

December 1972 saw many of the same crews involved in the "Eleven Day War" with North Vietnam.

The 379th developed an operational short range attack missile (SRAM) capability in April 1974, and since then has achieved superior results during the "Bullet Blitz" follow-on tests and evaluations of the SRAM system.

The wing completed a major B-52 aircraft conversion in July 1977, resulting in the transfer of the wing's "H" models for "G" models from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. The accelerated copilot enrichment (ACE) program began in October 1977, following the assignment of five T-37 aircraft to Wurtsmith.

In April 1983, modifications were completed on Wurtsmith B-52s to support the Air Launched Cruise Missile, which continues to help the wing meet its challenges of deterrence and peace.

Adding to the many awards and honors in the 379th BMW's history, the wing's members blasted units from throughout SAC in November 1987 during the command's Bombing and Navigation Competition at Barksdale AFB, La. The 379th won the coveted Fairchild Trophy, recognizing the best bomber/tanker unit; the Curtis E. LeMay Bombing Trophy for the crew with the best high- and low-level bombing; and there other trophies, the Mathis, the John D. Ryan B-52; and the William J. Crumm Linebacker Memorial, were awarded for excellence in high- and low-level bombing.

The last B-52 left the site of Wurtsmith Air Force Base in July of 1993.

History of the 379th Bombardment Group

The 379th Bombardment Group was in activation for only 2 years, 7 months, and 29 days. From November 26, 1942, at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, until July 25, 1945, at Casa Blanca, Africa. During that time the 379th received two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first one for the January 11, 1944, mission to Oschersleben for which the entire First Bomb Division was cited, and the second for "extraordinary heroism, determination, and esprit de corps in action against the enemy from 29 May, 1943, to 31 July, 1944."

A B-17 Crew

The orange circle represents the Rising Sun of Japan; immediately next to that circle is a sundial - when reading a sundial, start at the top of the clock at 12, then read clockwise 1,2,3, etc., then start at the top of the clock again and read counter clockwise, 12, 11, 10, 9, etc.; the top-turret guns of the B-17 are firing at the 3 in the sundial, the tail guns at the 7, and the left waist guns at the 9, which gives you the designation 379; the bombs indicate that of a bomb group; and the B-17 is , of course, the plane used in operation; the inner circle of orange represents Hitler - the zig-zag line is for the lock of hair that always fell over Hitler's left eye, and the black square in the center is his moustache; "Potestas Accuratioque" means "Power and Precision."

Carol Dawn delivers her load

The 379th was credited with more sorties than any other group in the Eighth Air Force, had a lower loss rate than that of any B-17 group which was in the war from 1943 on, and had a lower abortive rate for the entire period of the war than that of any comparable unit. In April of 1944, the 379th attained an operational "grand slam" with the best bombing, greatest tonnage, greatest number of aircraft attacking, lowest losses and lowest abortive rate of all units in the Eighth Air Force. They bombed with greater over-all accuracy than any other group in the First Air Division, dropped a greater tonnage of bombs during any single month of 1944 and 1945 than any other group.

Bombs Away!

The target is a factory at Ludwigshaven

The Aftermath

AAF Station 117 - Kimbolton

Originally build for use by RAF bombers in 1941 this airfield had a main runway of only 1,340 yards and 30 aircraft hardstands. The main runway was extended to 2,000 yards making it a Class A airfield and 20 additional hardstands were build increasing the number to 50. Additional living sites were built with the majority of the personnel accommodations being to the south of the airfield close to the adjacent town of Kimbolton.

The first unit to occupy Station 117 was the USAAF 91st Bombardment Group which arrived fresh from the States in September 1942. But the 91st moved to Bassingbourn after only a month because the runways were not strong or long enough for the safe operation of the B-17 Flying Fortress. The 17th Bombardment Group, operating the B-26 Marauder took over residency at the station, but again stayed for only one month at with time the unit was transferred to Africa.

Improvements were made to the field to facilitate the operation of fully-loaded B-17s readying Station 117 for its new occupants, the most successful of all the Eighth Air force heavy bomber groups, the 379th.

Hanger accommodations at Kimbolton were provided by the standard two T2s dispersed on the western and southern sides of the airfield.



379th Bomb Group Original Assignment Aircraft

Activation:
3rd November 1942

Squadrons:
524th, 525th, 526th, 527th

Command:
Eighth Air Force

Command Wing:
First Bombardment Wing

Combat Wing:
103rd Provisional bombardment - May 1943
41st Combat Bombardment - 16th September 1943

Stations:
Bovingdon - Air Echelon in 26th April 1943
Kimbolton - Air Echelon in May 1943, Ground Echelon in 19th May 1943

Aircraft Assignments
The following aircraft constitute the original B-17Fs assigned the the 379th Bombardment Group in Sioux City, Iowa between approximately the 16th and 20th of March 1943.

42-3099 42-5809 42-29772 42-29875 42-29891
42-3113 42-5813 42-29773 42-29876 42-29892
42-3114 42-5816 42-29829 42-29878 42-29893
42-3132 (2) 42-5821 42-29830 42-29879 (1) 42-29896
42-3138 42-5822 42-29864 42-29886 42-29898
42-3143 (3) 42-5827 42-29866 42-29889 42-29901
42-3145 42-5828 42-29869 42-29890 42-29942 (4)
42-3148 42-5929 42-3154 42-5830

(1) 42-29879: Wrecked at Kearney about 9 April 1943 (not to UK)
(2) 42-3132: Lost in Atlantic Ocean, 23 April 1943
(3) 42-3143: Crashed in Northern Ireland on arrival from Gander
(4) 42-29942: Crashed landing at Prestwick at end of Transatlantic ferry flight
NOTE: Only 39 aircraft are listed, there is possibly one more that could not be located.


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