|7th Bomb Wing
|3 November 1947 – present
(76 years, 3 months)
|United States Air Force
|Eighth Air Force
|Dyess Air Force Base
|"MORS AB ALTO"
Latin: Death From Above
Operation Urgent Fury
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
|Col. Seth W. Spanier
|Col. Samuel A. Friend
|Current command chief
|CCM Richelle D. Baker
|7th Bombardment Wing shield (former) (approved 12 September 1952)
The 7th Bomb Wing (7 BW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Global Strike Command Eighth Air Force. It is stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, where it is also the host unit.
The 7 BW is one of only two B-1B Lancer strategic bombardment wings in the United States Air Force, the other being the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
Its origins date to the 1918 establishment of the 1st Army Observation Group (later 7th Bombardment Group), one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the United States Army before World War II.
The 7th Operations Group carries the lineage and history of its highly decorated World War II predecessor unit. It operated initially in the Philippines as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber unit assigned to Fifth Air Force but after the fall of the Philippines in early 1942, operated primarily with the Tenth Air Force in India as a B-24 Liberator unit. Active for over 60 years, the 7 BW was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's heavy bomber deterrent force throughout the Cold War.
The 7th Bomb Wing is commanded by Colonel Seth W. Spanier. Its Vice Commander is Colonel Samuel A. Friend. Its Command Chief is Chief Master Sergeant Richelle D. Baker.
On 17 November 1947, the 7th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy was organized at Fort Worth Army Air Field, Texas as part of the United States Air Force's wing base reorganization, in which combat groups and all supporting units on a base were assigned to a single wing. The wing mission was to organize and train a force capable of immediate and sustained long range offensive warfare and operations in any part of the world. The 7th Bombardment Group, flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses became its operational component. The wing's mission was to prepare for global strategic bombardment in the event of hostilities. Under various designations, the 7th Bomb Wing flew a wide variety of aircraft at the base until it moved in 1993.
Starting in June 1948 the wing received the first five Convair B-36A Peacemakers. The B-36As were delivered unarmed and were used for training and crew conversion.[note 2] The first B-36 was designated the "City of Fort Worth" (AF Serial No. 44-92015), and was assigned to the 492d Bombardment Squadron. When the wing base organization was made permanent in 1948, the wing was redesignated as the 7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 1 August. In November 1948, B-36B aircraft began to join the B-36As. On 7 December one of the new B-36Bs flew a nonstop simulated bombing mission to Hawaii, dropping a 10,000 lb simulated bombload in the ocean. The flight took over 35 and a half hours and covered more than 8,000 miles. The wing's last B-29 was transferred on 6 December to the 97th Bombardment Group at Biggs Air Force Base. For 10 years, the "Peacemaker" served as the United States' major deterrent weapons system.
The 11th Bombardment Group was activated on 1 December 1948 with the 26th, 42d, and 98th Bombardment Squadrons, Heavy assigned. The 11th Bomb Group was assigned to Eighth Air Force, but attached to the 7th wing and was also equipped with B-36As for training. A five ship B-36 formation was flown on 15 January 1949, in an air review over Washington, D.C., commemorating the inauguration of the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.
By December 1950 the wing and its attached groups had 38 B-36s on hand, including several B-36Ds with four General Electric J47 jet engines augmenting its six reciprocating engines and its B-36Bs began to be upgraded to B-36D standard. In January 1951, the 7th took part in a special training mission to the United Kingdom. This was the first flight of B-36s outside the continental United States since the simulated mission to Hawaii. The purpose of the mission was to evaluate the B-36D under simulated war plan conditions. Also, further evaluate the equivalent airspeed and compression tactics for heavy bombardment aircraft. The aircraft, staging through Limestone AFB, Maine, would land at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, following a night radar bombing attack on Helgoland, West Germany. From there the bombers would conduct a simulated bomb run on the Heston Bomb Plot, London, finally landing at[RAF Lakenheath. This was the first deployment of wing and SAC B-36 aircraft to England and Europe. For the next four days the flight flew sorties out of England. The aircraft redeployed to the states on 20 January arriving at Carswell on 21 January.
By September 1952, the B-36s assigned to the 7th Wing and its companion 11th Wing comprised two thirds of SAC's intercontinental bomber force.
On 1 September 1952, what was then thought to be a tornado rolled across the Carswell flight line, with winds over 90 miles per hour recorded at the control tower. By the time it had passed "the flight line was a tangle of airplanes, equipment and pieces of buildings." None of the 82 bombers on the base escaped damage, and SAC declared the entire 19th Air Division at Carswell non-operational. Maintenance personnel of the 7th Wing went on an 84-hour weekly work schedule and began work to restore the least damaged aircraft to operational status. More heavily damaged aircraft were worked on by personnel from the San Antonio Air Materiel Area, where the depot for the B-36 was located. The planes that had been most heavily damaged were towed across the field to the Convair plant where they had been manufactured. Within a month, 51 of the base's Peacemakers had been returned to service and the wing was again declared operational. By May 1953, all but two of the planes had been returned to service.[note 3]
On 10 December 1957, the 98th Bomb Squadron was detached from the wing and assigned to the newly activated 4123d Strategic Wing at Carswell. This would become the first Boeing B-52 Stratofortress unit at Carswell. During January 1958, the wing began transferring its B-36 bombers to various SAC wings. On 20 January, the wing transferred all B-52 equipment and property on hand to the 4123d Strategic Wing in order to facilitate that organization's conversion, which was scheduled several months ahead of the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell. The 7th Bomb Wing officially became a B-52 organization with the adoption of manning documents and equipping authorizations on 1 February 1958.
On 30 May, Memorial Day, the last of the B-36s in the wing were retired with appropriate ceremonies and an "Open House" event on the base. Air Force and civilian personnel of the base, their families, and civilians from surrounding communities were on hand to bid the "Peacemaker" a fond farewell. This last flight of a B-36 completely phased out B-36 operations in the wing.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the primary mission of the wing was training in global strategic bombardment and air refueling operations. On 13 April 1965, the 7 BW deployed its forces to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to support SAC combat operations in Southeast Asia. Most of the wing's bombers and tankers, along with aircrews and some support personnel, were deployed. At Andersen AFB, the wing flew more than 1,300 missions over Vietnam, and returned to Carswell in December 1965.
In 1964 and 1965, the wing's B-52Fs were selected for modification under programs South Bay and Sun Bath. These modifications enabled the wing's bombers to double their bomb load from 24 to 48 750 lb bombs by the installation of external bomb racks. With these modifications, the wing's planes, along with those of the 320th Bombardment Wing at Mather AFB, were the first to deploy to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam and the first to fly Arc Light bombing missions. The modified B-52Fs were the only SAC bombers to deploy for Arc Light missions until 1966, when the B-52Fs were replaced by B-52Ds with the Big Belly modification than enabled them to carry a larger and more varied bomb load.
Later B-52 crews were sent through an intensive two-week course on the B-52D, making them eligible for duty in Southeast Asia. B-52Ds assigned to combat duty in Vietnam were painted in a modified camouflage scheme on the upper surfaces with the undersides, lower fuselage, and both sides of the vertical fin being painted in a glossy black. The USAF serial number was painted in red on the fin over a horizontal red stripe across the length of the fin.
The B-52 effort was concentrated primarily against suspected Viet Cong targets in South Vietnam, but the Ho Chi Minh trail and targets in Laos were also hit. During the relief of Khe Sanh, unbroken waves of six aircraft, attacking every three hours, dropped bombs as close as 900 feet from friendly lines. Cambodia was increasingly bombed by B-52s from March 1969 onward.
By mid-1973 most wing KC-135 resources had redeployed, and most B-52 resources returned by January 1974. The wing resumed nuclear alert status on 3 January 1974. From 4 December 1973 to May 1975, the wing conducted B-52D replacement training, and from January 1974 also conducted B-52D combat crew training, i.e., providing B-52 flight training to novice crews. Beginning in June 1974 the wing also conducted B-52 and KC-135 Central Flight Instructors' courses. Participated in numerous USAF and NATO exercises worldwide. Used B-52s for ocean surveillance and ship identification in joint naval operations.
Wing KC-135 aerial refuelers supported tanker task forces worldwide. In October – November 1983, the wing supported the invasion of Grenada with aerial refueling. In the 1980s the base received several new weapons systems, including modified B-52H aircraft as the B-52D aircraft were retired. In 1983, B-52 crews began training with a new weapon system, the SRAM (Short Range Attack Missile) and later, in 1985, the ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile). Also, the wing flew numerous atmospheric sampling missions during 1986 and 1987 in response to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.
Deployed air refueling personnel and equipment to provisional wings in Southwest Asia, August 1990 – February 1992. The wing hosted the first Soviet START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) exhibition inspection team in September 1991.
As "host unit" for Carswell AFB, the 7th Bomb Wing began preparations for Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC)-directed base realignment of Carswell AFB in January 1992 and transfer of most of the installation to the U.S. Navy as Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth / Carswell Field to replace nearby Naval Air Station Dallas, which was also being closed due to BRAC. Concurrent transfer of Carswell's remaining USAF-specific aspects to the Air Force Reserve Command's tenant activities at Carswell, Headquarters, 10th Air Force (10AF) and the 301st Fighter Wing, was also accomplished. 7th Bomb Wing was released of all operational capabilities at Carswell AFB on 1 January 1993.
The 7th Bomb Wing closed Carswell AFB on 30 September 1993, transferring the installation to the U.S. Navy as NAS JRB Fort Worth and to Air Force Reserve Command as Carswell Air Reserve Station and moved to Dyess AFB, Texas without personnel or equipment on 1 October 1993.
At Dyess, they became the 7th Wing, a composite wing equipped with B-1B and C-130 aircraft. In 1997, the wing assumed responsibility for all B-1B initial qualification and instructor upgrade training for Air Combat Command. On 1 April 1997, the wing again became the 7th Bomb Wing when the C-130 airlift mission transferred to Air Mobility Command. Since 2000, the 7th Bomb Wing has provided bombing, training and combat support to combatant commanders.
In the spring of 2015, the Department of the Air Force announced effective 1 October 2015, the 7th Bomb Wing, along with the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, would be reassigned to the new Air Force Global Strike Command, reuniting all the Air Force's bomber and strategic missiles under a single command for the first time since Strategic Air Command was disestablished 23 years earlier.
Fort Worth Army Airfield (1942)/Griffiss Air Force Base (1948)/ Carswell Air Force Base (1948):
Carswell Air Force Base:
Dyess Air Force Base: