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390th Strategic Missile Wing
USAF - 390th Strategic Missile Wing.png
390th Strategic Missile Wing Insignia
Active 1943 – 1945 (USAAF)
1962 – 1984 (USAF)
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Bombardment
Part of Strategic Air Command

The 390th Strategic Missile Wing was a United States Air Force Strategic Air Command organization. Its mission was to maintain and operationally control intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 390th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Framlingham. The group flew 300 combat missions with 8,725 sorties. Its last mission was on 20 April 1945. Aircraft MIA: 144.

History[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Emblem of the 390th Bombardment Group

"Liberty Belle" lands at Duxford, England in July, 2008. This aircraft is painted to represent Lockheed-Vega B-17G-35-VE Fortress 42-97849, of the 390th Bombardment Group

Douglas/Long Beach B-17G-95-DL Fortress Serial 44-83884 "Yankee Doodle Dandy" of the 390th Bomb Group shown with James Cagney. An aircraft painted to represent 44-83884 is now is on static display at Eighth Air Force Headquarters, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Activated 26 January 1943 at Geiger Field Washington. Formation did not begin until late February 1943. Training at Geiger until 6 June 1943 when the Group moved to Great Falls AAB, Montana. The aircraft went overseas on 4 July 1943 taking the northern ferry route from Iceland to Prestwick, where the first aircraft arrived on 13 July 1943. The ground unit left for Camp Shanks, New York on 4 July 1943 and sailed on the USS James Parker on 17 July 1943, and they arrived in Liverpool on 27 July 1943. Assigned to Eighth Air Force. The 390th was assigned to the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Square-J".

The group operated as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign and operated chiefly against strategic objectives, flying many missions with the aid of pathfinders. The 390th began combat on 12 August 1943. Five days later, the group attacked the Messerschmitt aircraft complex at Regensburg and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission.

The 390th received a 2d DUC for a mission on 14 October 1943 when the group braved unrelenting assaults by enemy fighters to bomb the antifriction-bearing plants at Schweinfurt. Participating in the intensive Allied assault on the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20–25 February 1944, the organization bombed aircraft factories, instrument plants and air parks. Other strategic missions included attacks on marshalling yards at Frankfurt, bridges at Cologne, oil facilities at Zeitz, factories at Mannheim, naval installations at Bremen and synthetic oil refineries at Merseburg.

The group sometimes flew interdictory and support missions. Bombing the coast near Caen fifteen minutes before the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. Attacked enemy artillery in support of ground forces during the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July. Cut German supply lines during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945. Hit airfields in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

The 390th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission on 20 April 1945. In over 300 missions, they dropped 19,000 tons of bombs. They lost 181 aircraft and seven hundred and fourteen airmen were killed. The group dropped food supplies to the Dutch during the week prior to V-E Day.

Redeployed States in June/August 1945. the aircraft left from Framlingham on the 25 and 26 June 1945. the ground unit sailed from Greenock on the Queen Elizabeth on 5 August 1945 and arrived in New York on 11 August 1945. The group was established at Sioux Falls AAFd South Dakota and inactivated there on 28 August 1945.

Cold War[edit | edit source]

Titan II Missile Sites

Titan II Missile in its silo

On 20 April 1960, the Fifteenth Air Force announced selection of the base to support a Titan II missile wing. The 1 January 1962, activation of the 390th Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) marked the first standing up of a Titan II missile wing.

Its two component squadrons were the Arizona Sites 570th and the 571st Strategic Missile Squadrons.

Launcher locations for the 570th SMS were at Oracle, Three Points, Rillito (4 silos), and Oracle Junction (3 silos). The 571st SMS silos were located at Benson (2 silos), Mescal, Pantano, Continental (2 silos), Palo Alto, and Three Points. On 31 March 1963, site 570-2 (Three Points) was turned over to SAC for operational use. Additional silos joined the SAC inventory until 30 November, when the 18th and final Titan II went on alert. See missile squadron links for list of missile silos and geographic locations.

The 390th SMW became the first operational Titan II missile wing in the Air Force.

With a requirement to keep all 18 missiles on alert status around the clock, maintenance personnel often put in 80- to go-hour work weeks. Eventually, response times to act on maintenance problems were loosened to allow crews to react during normal working hours. Maintenance did ease at the end of 1964, as the Davis-Monthan silos became the first to receive "Project Green Jug" treatment entailing the installation of dehumidifier equipment that eased corrosion problems within the silos. Additional modifications would be made to increase missile reliability, survivability, and reaction time. Also toward the end of 1964, the 390th SMW underwent the first operational readiness inspection for a Titan II unit.

On 25 January 1965, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey toured complex 571-7. One month later, the 390th SMW performed the first operational launch test of one of its Titan 11s at Vandenberg AFB, California. Many more successful tests followed.

Competing in SAC's first ever missile competition called "Project Curtain Raiser" in 1967, the 390th SMW garnered the first "best crew" trophy. Since 1967, the Wing earned many additional accolades at these competitions which became known as "Olympic Arena."

In October 1981, President Ronald Reagan announced that as part of the strategic modernization program, Titan II systems were to be retired by 1 October 1987. Deactivation began at Davis-Monthan on 1 October 1982. During the operation, titled "Rivet Cap", the missiles were removed and shipped to Norton AFB, California for refurbishment and storage. Explosive demolition began at the headworks of missile complex 570-7 on 30 November 1983. During the following May, the last Titan II at Davis-Monthan came off alert status.

Two months later, SAC inactivated the 390th Strategic Missile Wing.

Lineage[edit | edit source]

  • Constituted as 390th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 15 January 1943
Activated on 26 January 1943[1]
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Established as 390th Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 23 March 1953
Redesignated 390th Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM–Titan), and activated, on 28 November 1961
Organized on 1 January 1962
Inactivated on 31 July 1984

Assignments[edit | edit source]

Attached to: 402d Provisional Combat Bombardment Wing, July 1943

Components[edit | edit source]

Stations[edit | edit source]

Aircraft and missiles[edit | edit source]

Distinguished Flying Cross Recipients from 390th BG[edit | edit source]

Herbert H. Alexander Kenneth Allebach John H. Alvey Andrew Anzanos
Andrew J. Archipole Ray Armstrong Darwin E. Arnold Walter A. Backman
Charles R. Bennett James S. Bennett Richard C. Berryman Robert J. Billington
Wade Birmingham Vincent J. Black Lester E. Boettcher William H. Bowman
William H. Breeze Max Brier Jack T. Bright Robert N. Brown
Robert H. Buhrmaster Richard B. Bushong Bernard M. Campbell William A. Catto
William R. Centerwall Orman M. Coffin Fletcher F. Conn Harold M. Cummings
Robert L. Datz Samuel O. Davis Louis W. Dolan Kenneth E. Dougherty
Henry C. Douglas, Jr. George W. Durkee John A. Embry Edgar C. Engelbrecht
Delmer D. Everly James P. Fitzsimmons Richard A. Foster Scott P. Gerhart
Jack M. Giles Robert O. Good William K. Gower Chester P. Gunn
Robert N. Hale Ray R. Hall Elmer C. Hanselman High H. Hardwicke Jr.
Crockett L. Harmon Warren L. Hasse Warren H. Hawes Maurice M. Heaton Jr.
Edgar C. Heeseler Robert A. Heiser Robert M. Henry John J. Hickey
Patrick H. Hodgkin Philip D. Holman Elbert R. Hoover Milton S. Houser
Robert S. Jacobs Charles S. Jager Thomas S. Jeffrey Ora L. Jenkins
Clifford H. Jernigan Marvin C. Johns Stanley A. Johnson George F. McInerney
Edwin McMichael Howard F. Menadier Jack Miller Joseph A. Moller
Edgar W. Moody Frederick W. Ott Robert H. Padbury Robert M. Parker
David P. Parry William F. Pennebaker Robert F. Redlinger Robert W. Sabel
Edmund D. Shaw Marshall B. Shore Berton S. Spring Clarence A. Strawn
Robert G. Stutzman Robert M. Tuttle George W. Von Arb Robert W. Waltz
Robert W. Watts Gene O. Williams Edgar M. Wittan Calvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington

References[edit | edit source]

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

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Per Wilson, activated 23 February 1943 at Blythe Army Air Base, California and transferred to Orlando, Florida the next day. Wilson, Art (2008). Runways in the Sand. Blythe, California: Art Wilson. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-615-21889-2. OCLC 316309702.  Library of Congress Classification D769.85.C21 B598 2008

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Anzanos, Andy. My Combat Diary With Eighth Air Force B-17s 390th Bomb Group. Lulu.com, 2006. ISBN 1-4116-9830-4.
  • Drain, Richard E. 390th Bomb Group: History of the Aircraft Assigned. Selfpublised manuscript, 1993.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Milliken, Albert E. (ed.) The Story of the 390th Bombardment Group (H): The Unit History of the Square J Group of the Eighth Air Force, European Theater of Operations, 1943–1945. New York: Eilert Printing Company, 1947.
  • Perry, Richard H. (ed.) The 390th Bomb Group Anthology, Volume II. Tucson, Arizona: 390th Memorial Museum Foundation, 1985.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Richarz, Wilbert H. with Richard H. Perry and William J. Robinson. The 390th Bomb Group Anthology. Tucson, Arizona: 390th Memorial Museum Foundation, 1983.
  • Richarz, Wilbert H. with Richard H. Perry and William J. Robinson. The 390th Bomb Group Anthology, Volume II. Tucson, Arizona: 390th Memorial Museum Foundation, 1985.
  • 390th Bombardment Group: 50th Anniversary Commemorative History. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 1994. Republished 1997.

External links[edit | edit source]

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