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486th Air Expeditionary Wing
486th Air Expeditionary Wing.PNG
486th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
Active 1943–1945
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force

The 486th Air Expeditionary Wing (486 AEW) is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command. As a provisional unit, it may be activated or inactivated at any time.

The unit was last known to be active during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 486th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force heavy bombardment unit in England, stationed at RAF Sudbury. The group operated chiefly against strategic objectives in Germany until May 1945, flying 188 missions and losing 33 aircraft.


World War II[]

B-24s (Square-O) of the 486th Bomb Group. Identifiable is Ford B-24M-5-FO Liberator Serial 44-50561 of the 833d Bomb Squadron. This aircraft survived the war and was sent to RFC Walnut Ridge Arizona on 3 January 1946 for scrapping.

B-17s (Square-W) of the 486th Bomb Group. Identifiable is Douglas-Long Beach B-17G-15-DL Fortress Serial 42-37891 of the 833d Bomb Squadron.

"A FATAL TRAGEDY". Memorial plaque remembering the aviation accident that happened in 1944 in Sudbury, Suffolk

586th Tactical Missile Group - Emblem

Constituted as 486th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943 and activated on 20 September Moved to England in March 1944 and assigned to Eighth AF.

The 486th was assigned to the 4th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code initially was a "Square-O". When the group converted from B-24s to B-17s during the summer of 1944, the Group ID was changed to "Square-W", perhaps to avoid confusion with the Square-D on B-17s of the 100th Bomb Group. The 486th was the only group to change its ID.

The group flew both the B-24 Liberator and the B-17 Flying Fortress as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign and operated chiefly against strategic objectives in Germany until May 1945. Targets included marshalling yards in Stuttgart, Cologne, and Mainz; airfields in Kassel and Münster; oil refineries and storage plants in Merseburg, Dollbergen, and Hamburg; harbours in Bremen and Kiel; and factories in Mannheim and Weimar.

Other missions included bombing airfields, gun positions, V-weapon sites (total of nine "No Ball" missions beginning 20 June),[1] and railway bridges in France in preparation for or in support of the invasion of Normandy in June 1944; striking road junctions and troop concentrations in support of ground forces pushing across France, July–August 1944; hitting gun emplacements near Arnheim to minimize transport and glider losses during the airborne invasion of Holland in September 1944; and bombing enemy installations in support of ground troops during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 – January 1945) and the assault across the Rhine (March–April 1945).

The 486th Bomb Group returned to the Drew AAF Florida during August 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November.

Cold War[]

On 30 September 1954 the 69th Pilotless Bomber Squadron was assigned to Hahn AB, West Germany, assigned to the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing. The 69th was attached to the renamed 50th Fighter Day Wing on 14 March 1955. The 69th PBS was assigned to the 7382d Guided Missile Group, which became the 7382d Tactical Missile Group in January 1956.

The 69th PBS was renamed to 69th Tactical Missile Squadron 15 April 1956. The unit manned the TM-61A Matador, which was later replaced by the TM-61C Matador. On 3 August 1956, the 69th Tactical Missile Squadron became part of the 701st Tactical Missile Wing, headquartered at Hahn AB with the discontinuation of the 7382d Tactical Missile Group.

On 18 June 1958, the 69th TMS was inactivated and replaced at Hahn by the 405th Tactical Missile Squadron when the 701st Tactical Missile Wing was inactivated and replaced with the 38th Tactical Missile Wing. The TM-76 A Mace replaced the TM-61C.

The 586th Tactical Missile Group was activated at Hahn Air Base as part of the new 38th TMW and became the headquarters for the 405th TMS, the 586th MMS, and the 586th SS. The 405th TMS operated the TM-76A Mace missile. The group trained and remained prepared for tactical missile operations.

The 586th Tactical Missile Group was inactivated 25 September 1962, and a new launch squadron, the 89th Tactical Missile Squadron was created to share duties with the 405th TMS. All missile units of the former 586th TMG at Hahn then reported directly to the 38th Tactical Missile Wing at Sembach AB.

On 25 September 1966 all TM-76A, then renumbered to MGM-13A, Mace tactical missile operations at Sembach AB and Hahn AB were inactivated.

In the 1980s, the 486th Tactical Missile Wing was the final GLCM (Ground Launch Cruise Missile) wing to activate in Europe and the first to inactivate (27 August 1987) following the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. 64 missiles supposed to be assigned, however wing did not receive any missiles before beginning to phase down on 20 September 1988.

Global War On Terrorism[]

The 486th Air Expeditionary Wing was activated as part of the GWOT. It was most recently located at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait.


  • Established as 486th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943
Activated on 20 September 1943
Redesignated 486th Bombardment Group, Heavy on 25 January 1944
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Consolidated (10 October 1984) with the 586th Tactical Missile Group, which was established on 3 August 1956
Activated on 15 September 1956
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 September 1962
  • Consolidated establishment redesignated 486th Tactical Missile Wing on 10 October 1984
Activated on 27 August 1987
Inactivated on 30 September 1988
Redesignated 486th Air Expeditionary Wing, and converted to provisional status, on 30 January 2003


  • 16th Bombardment Operational Training Wing, 20 September 1943
  • 21st Bombardment Wing, 9 March 1944
  • 92d Combat Bombardment Wing, 4 April 1944
Attached to: 4th Combat Bombardment Wing (Provisional), 15 November 1944-c. February 1945



BGM-109G Missile site located at: 51°26′21″N 004°21′09″E / 51.43917°N 4.3525°E / 51.43917; 4.3525 (69th TMS)

Matador/Mace dispersed missile locations

Closed since 1967. Missile shelters torn down, in very dilapidated state, appears to be used as a storage yard.
Abandoned since 1961. Shelters torn down, site very obscured by trees and other vegetation in thick woodland area.
After 405th TMS left this site was transferred to US Army and converted into a Nike-Hercules Air Defense missile site; operational 1970-1979. The area was transferred back to USAF in 1982 and was converted again; this time into a Cruise missile Ground Alert Maintenance Area. The 38th Tactical Missile Wing became operational with its BGM-109 Gryphon cruise missiles at this location 1985 and was inactivated 1991 after the signing of the INF treaty.

Aircraft and missiles[]

See also[]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[]

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