501st Combat Support Wing

501st Combat Support Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 501st Combat Support Wing

caption= Emblem of the 501st Combat Support Wing
dates= 12 May 2005
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
command_structure=United States Air Forces Europe
garrison=RAF Alconbury
motto=Action Not Words

* World War II: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1945)
The The 501st Combat Support Wing (501 CSW) is a United States Air Forces in Europe unit based at RAF Alconbury, England.


The 501st Combat Support Wing ensures four UK-based Air Base Groups are resourced, sustained, trained and equipped to exacting command standards in order to provide mission support that enables US and NATO war fighters to conduct full spectrum flying operations during expeditionary deployments, theater munitions movements, global command and control communications to forward deployed locations, support for theater intelligence operations and joint/combined training.


The 501 CSW currently oversees and supports four Air Base Groups operating a total of eleven installations and operating locations in the U.K. and Norway. These are:

* 420th Air Base Group at RAF Fairford and RAF Welford
* 421st Air Base Group at RAF Menwith Hill
* 422d Air Base Group at RAF Croughton
* 423rd Air Base Group at RAF Alconbury, including RAF Molesworth, RAF Upwood and Stavanger Air Base, Norway.

The 501st CSW also serves as the administrative agent for NATO in the United Kingdom. The mission of each of the installations is unique, but the goal is the same—to enable today’s war-fighter. Each mission has a direct impact on the Global War on Terrorism and military (and civilian) operations throughout the world.

The wing has almost 2,600 U.S. military and civilian employees directly assigned, including non-appropriated fund employees. There are also 117 U.K. personnel who work directly for the wing in appropriated and non-appropriated positions and more than 180 U.K. Ministry of Defense police assigned, along with a wide range of contractor support positions, This does not include personnel working for vital support agencies such as Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Defense Commissary Agency, Department of Defense Schools and our many tenant units along with family members and retirees who reside in the United Kingdom. See the unit's public website at [http://www.501csw.usafe.af.mil]


The wing's lineage and honors can be traced not just through it's own history, but through the history of three earlier organizations:

* The 501st Bombardment Group (501st BG) (1944-1946)
* The 701st Tactical Missile Wing (701st TMW) (1956-1958)
* The 501st Tactical Missile Wing (501st TMW) (1982-1991)

The 501st BG was a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization serving primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. The 501st BG was part of Twentieth Air Force and engaged in very heavy bombardment B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan.

The 701st TMW served in West Germany during the Cold War in the 1950s. The 501st TMW operated Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) at RAF Greenham Common, England during the Cold War in the 1980s.


* Established as 501st Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on 25 May 1944 : Activated on 1 Jun 1944: Inactivated on 10 Jun 1946
* Established as 701st Tactical Missile Wing, 3 Aug 1956: Activated on 15 Sep 1956: Inactivated on 18 Jun 1958
* Redesignated 501st Tactical Missile Wing on 11 Jan 1982. : Consolidated with 701st Tactical Missile Wing, 11 Jan 1982: Activated on 1 Jul 1982. : Inactivated on 31 May 1991.
* Redesignated 501st Combat Support Wing on 22 Mar 2005: Activated on 12 May 2005.


* Second Air Force, 1 Jun 1944 - 18 June 1945
* 315th Bombardment Wing, 19 June 1945 - 14 May 1946
* Twentieth Air Force, 15 May - 10 June 1946
* Twelfth Air Force, 15 Sep 1956 - 31 Dec 1957
* United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 Jan - 18 Jun 1958
* Third Air Force, 1 Jul 1982 - 31 May 1991
* Third Air Force, 12 May 2005 - Present

Bases Assigned

* Dalhart AAF, Texas, 1 Jun 1944 - 22 Aug 1944
* Harvard AAF, Nebraska, 22 Aug 1944 - 10 Mar 1945
* Fort Lawton, Washington, 10 - 17 Mar 1945
* Hickam AAF, Territory of Hawaii, 25 - 30 Mar 1945
* Northwest Field, Guam, 14 Apr 1945 - 10 Jun 1946
* Hahn AB, West Germany, 15 Sep 1956 - 18 Jun 1958
* RAF Greenham Common, England, 1 Jul 1982 - 31 May 1991
* RAF Mildenhall, England, 12 May 2005 - 30 April 2007
* RAF Alconbury, England, 1 May 2007 - Present

Operational History

501st Bombardment Group

The 501st Bombardment Group was constituted on 25 May 1944 at Dalhart AAF, Texas, and activated on 1 June 1944. Operational squadrons of the group were the 21st, 41st, and 485th Bombardment Squadrons

Although designated as a Very Heavy (VH) group, as no B-29s were available, the group trained on B-17s. Following a period of organization, on 2 August 1944 the group was moved to Harvard AAF, Nebraska to begin working with the crews of the 505th Bomb Group, already training for combat operations. In November the 501st took sole control of the field, and in March 1945, the first of the group's aircraft arrived, the B-29B model.

The B-29B was a limited production aircraft, built soley by Bell-Atlanta. It had all but the tail defensive armament removed, since experience had shown that by 1944 the only significant Japanese fighter attacks were coming from the rear. The tail gun was aimed and fired automatically by the new AN/APG-15B radar fire control system that detected the approaching enemy plane and made all the necessary calculations. The elimination of the turrets and the associated General Electric computerized gun system increased the top speed of the Superfortress to 364 mph at 25,000 feet and made the B-29B suitable for fast, unescorted hit-and-run bombing raids and photographic missions.

Deployed in April 1945 to new airfields built on Guam. Assigned to 315th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Air Force. As the crews arrived they commenced ground school and shakedown missions over Rota, Pajoros and Truk. Entered combat on 19 Jun 1945 when its B-29’s bombed Japanese fortifications in the Truk Islands. Flew its first mission against Japan on 27 Jun 1945, and afterward operated principally against the enemy’s petroleum industry on Honshu. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacks on the Maruzen oil refinery at Shimotsu, the Utsubo oil refinery at Yokkaichi, and the petroleum center at Kawasaki.

All the Wing's missions were night attacks. This gave the crews the benefits of daylight take-offs and landings. No formation flying was employed by the Wing. The attacks were all by individual aircraft using what was called the compressability factor. Planes were staggered on their altitudes going to the target. The last ships, in what amounted to each element of three ships, were given the altitude with the most favorable wind. Then all flew according to the cruise control practices, they would reach the target area at approximately the same time, thus giving the effect of formation flying. This type of attack was extremely successful as attested to by the damage assessment reports and the lessened physical strain

501st BG crews flew 15 combat missions before the war ended, then flew numerous missions airdropping food and supplies for Allied prisoners in POW camps across Japan, Korea, Manchuria and China. In September 1945, several flights were made to Chitose Airfield in Hokkaido near Sapporo with gasoline for the first nonstop flight from Japan to the United States by Generals Giles and LeMay.

The Sunset Project gradually drained the group airfleet, in which B-29s were flown back to the states for mothballing. By Christmas, the group fleet was reduced to 30 or less planes and consolidation of the Groups became an impending probability. Merging of the various groups of the 315th BW began in February 1946, with the 16th, 331st and 502nd Groups merging into the 501st. The other groups were inactivated on 15 April 1946.

On May 5, many of the remaining veterans signed for "any conditions of travel" to get home, arriving three weeks later in Oakland, where troop trains scattered them for points of discharge close to their homes.

The 501st Bombardment Group was formally inactivated on 10 June 1946.

701st Tactical Missile Wing

The 701st Tactical Missile Wing was established on 3 August 1956 and activated on 15 September 1956 at Hahn Air Base, West Germany. The first tactical missile wing in the U.S. Air Force when activated, it replaced the 738d Guided Missile Group (Tactical) and controlled three tactical missile groups.

* 585th Tactical Missile Group (Bitburg AB)
* 586th Tactical Missile Group (Hahn AB)
* 587th Tactical Missile Group (Sembach AB)

Each of these groups were equipped with the Martin MGM-1 Matador. This was the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States, similar in concept to the German V-1 flying bomb.

The wing was inactivated on 18 June 1958 and replaced by 38th Tactical Missile Wing.

501st Tactical Missile Wing

The Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile in 1975 caused major concern in the NATO alliance. The longer range, greater accuracy, mobility and striking power of the new missile was perceived to alter the security of Western Europe. In 1980 it was announced that the United States would deploy the General Dynamics BGM-109G Ground Launced Cruise Missile (GLCM) to Europe to counter this threat.

The wing was redesignated as the 501st Tactical Missile Wing on 11 January 1982, it was activated on 1 July 1982, at RAF Greenham Common, England, to operate GLCMs. The honors and history of the inactivated 701st TMW were consolidated into the reactivated 501st. The first squadron of the 501st Tactical Missile Wing received its weapons in November 1983; they were flown onto the base by C-5 Galaxys.

A series of meetings held during August and September 1986 culminated in a summit between United States President Ronald Reagan and the General Secretary of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavík, Iceland, on 11 October 1986. To the immense surprise of both men's advisers, the two agreed in principle to removing INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which led to the removal of all nuclear missiles from the base.

The 501 TMW was inactivated on 31 May 1991 after ratification of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty resulted in decommissioning of the BGM-109G.

The USAFs first GLCM wing when it stood up, it was the also the last GLCM wing to be inactivated.

501st Combat Support Wing

The unit was redesignated the 501st Combat Support Wing on 22 March 2005 and activated on 12 May 2005 at RAF Mildenhall, England

The wing's mission is to manage and support geographically separated USAF units, installations and activities in the United Kingdom not directly supporting operations at RAF Mildenhall or RAF Lakenheath.

Effective 1 May 2007, it relocated to RAF Alconbury.

Wing Commanders

*Capt Harry L. Young, 27 Jun 1944
*Lt Col Arch G. Campbell, Jr., 6 Jul 1944
*Col Boyd Hubbard, Jr., 11 Aug 1944
*Col Vincent M. Miles, Jr., 15 Apr – 20 May 1946
*Not manned, 21 May – 10 Jun 1946
*Lt Col Robert F. Zachmann 15 Sep 1956
*Col Theodore H. Runyon 7 Jan 1957 – 18 Jun 1958
*Col Robert M. Thompson, 1 Jul 1982
*Col John Bacs, 25 Jan 1985
*Col William E. Jones, 2 June 1987
*Col Richard P. Riddick, 21 Jul 1988
*Col Wendell S. Brande, 7 Jan – 31 May 1991
*Col Blake F. Lindner, 12 May 2005
*Col Kimberly K. Toney, 21 Jun 2007

LEADERSHIP ISSUES:The 423 ABG commander, Col. Robert G. Steele, was dismissed from his position on 18 January 2008 by the 501 CSW commander after only 6 months in command. The reason Col. Kimberly Toney gave was "I lost confidence in Col. Steele's ability to lead the group." No criminal charges were filed against Col. Steele. [1] The group commander of RAF Croughton, Col. John Jordan, was brought in to dually command the group at RAF Alconbury. The 501 CSW commander acknowledged the period was a "Painful challenge" and the 501 CSW commander (Col. Kimberly Toney) made a statement in an interview to the Stars and Stripes newspaper that indicated the members of the 423rd ABG "blame themselves" for the sacking of Steele. [2]

Unit Decorations and Honors

Bestowed Honors

*Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer
**Air Offensive
**Japan Eastern Mandates
**Western Pacific


* Japan 6 – 13 Jul 1945
* 15 Sep 1956 – 30 Apr 1958
* 1 Jul 1982 – 30 Jun 1984
* 1 Jul 1987 – 31 May 1989
* 1 Jun 1989 – 31 May 1991
* 1 Jan 2006 - 31 Dec 2007

See Also

* 315th Air Division


* Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil Air Force Historical Research Agency]

External links

* [http://www.501csw.usafe.af.mil 501st Combat Support Wing]
* [http://www.315bw.org/501bg.html 501st Bombardment Group]
* [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/rso/wings_groups_pages/0501csw.asp 501st CSW at AFHRA]

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