434th Air Refueling Wing

434th Air Refueling Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=434th Air Refueling Wing

caption=434th Air Refueling Wing Emblem
dates= 1943 - Present
country=United States
branch=Air Force
command_structure=Air Force Reserve Command
garrison=Grissom Air Reserve Base
The 434th Air Refueling Wing, (434 ARW) is one of the key refueling units in the Air Force Reserve. The wing provides mid-air refueling with Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers to long-range bombers, fighters, and cargo aircraft.

The 434th Air Refueling Wing holds the record for most aerial refuelings in a one week period when the unit performed 290 aerial refuelings with over one million pounds of fuel offloaded. The unit also set a single day record of refueling 90 aircraft with over 283,000 pounds of fuel offloaded. These records were established in 1981.

The commander of the 434 ARW is [http://www.grissom.afrc.af.mil/library/biographies/bio.asp?id=8475 Brigadier General Dean J. Despinoy] .


The mission of the 434th Air Refueling Wing is to develop and maintain the operational capability of its units and train reservists for worldwide duty. Training consists of flight operations, deployments and weekend training. It also has special taskings to generate aircraft and crews in support of the Air Mobility Command. Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and 4th Air Force, March Air Force Base, Ca., provide command and supervisory guidance prior to mobilization.

The 434th Air Refueling Wing regularly participates in exercises and front-line operations to support America's national interests. The Air Force Reserve Command provides a substantial portion of the Department of Defense's total aerial refueling capability. Hence, the 434th receives its share of taskings both during peacetime and times of crisis to support our nation's active duty military forces.

In addition to being a self-contained combat ready unit, the 434th Air Refueling Wing also has the responsibility to operate and maintain Grissom Air Reserve Base. Grissom is one of only four Air Force Reserve Bases nationwide


* 434th Operations Group
** 434th Operations Support Squadron
** 72d Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135R) (Blue tail stripe)
** 74th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135R) (Red tail stripe)
* 434th Maintenance Group
* 434th MIssion Support Group

Included in these major organizations are such areas as flight operations, aircraft maintenance, plans and programs, safety, airfield management, security police, communications, medical support, information management, administration, and civil engineering.



* Established as the 434th Troop Carrier Group on 30 Jan 1943.
** Activated on 9 Feb 1943.
** Inactivated on 31 Jul 1946.
* Established as 434th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium
** Activated in the Reserve, on 1 Jul 1949.
** Ordered to Active Service on 1 May 1951.
** Inactivated on 1 Feb 1953.
** Activated in the Reserve on 1 Feb 1953.
** Ordered to Active Service on 28 Oct 1962.
** Relieved from Active Duty on 28 Nov 1962.
* Redesignated 434th Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 Jul 1967.
** Inactivated on 31 Dec 1969.
* Redesignated 434th Special Operations Wing on 12 Jan 1971.
** Activated in the Reserve on 15 Jan 1971.
* Redesignated: 434th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 Oct 1973
* Redesignated: 434th Air Refueling Wing, Heavy on 1 Jul 1987
* Redesignated: 434th Air Refueling Wing on 1 Feb 1992
* Redesignated: 434th Wing on 1 Aug 1992
* Redesignated: 434th Air Refueling Wing on 1 Oct 1994

Stations Assigned

* Alliance AAFld, NE, 9 Feb 1943
* Baer Field, IN, 3 Sep-Oct 1943
* RAF Fulbeck, England, 7 Oct 1943 (air echelon), c. 13 Nov 1943 (ground echelon);
* RAF Welford, England, Nov 1943 (air echelon), 10 Dec 1943 (ground echelon)
* RAF Fulbeck, England, 10 Jan 1944
* RAF Aldermaston, England, 3 Mar 1944
* Mourmelon-le-Grand, France, Mar-24 Jul 1945
* Baer Field, IN, 5 Aug 1945
* Alliance AAFld, NE, 15 Sep 1945
* George Field, IL, 11 Oct 1945
* Greenville AAB, SC, 2 Feb-31 Jul 1946
* Stout AAF, IN, 15 Mar 1947
* Atterbury AFB, IN, 1 Jul 1949
* Lawson AFB, GA, 23 Jan 1952-1 Feb 1953
* Atterbury (later, Bakalar) AFB, IN, 1 Feb 1953-31 Dec 1969.
* Grissom AFB (later ARB), IN, 15 Jan 1971- Present

Weapons systems

* Douglas C-47 Skytrain, 1943-1946, 1949
* Airspeed Horsa glider, 1944-1945
* CG-4 Waco glider, 1944-1945
* Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando, 1945-1946, 1949-1953, 1953-1957
* Beech C-45 Expeditor, 1953-1957
* Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, 1957-1969
* Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, 1971-1982
* Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, 1972
* Republic A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II, 1980-1987, 1992-1994
* McDonnel-Douglas KC-10 Extender, 1987-1994
* Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 1987-Present

Operational history

World War II

Constituted as 434th Troop Carrier Group on 30 Jan 1943. Activated on Feb 1943. Trained with C-47's for operations in Europe with Ninth AF. Moved to RAF Fulbeck, England in Oct 1943.

Operational squadrons were:

* 71st Troop Carrier Squadron (CJ)
* 72d Troop Carrier Squadron (CU)
* 73d Troop Carrier Squadron (CN)
* 74th Troop Carrier Squadron (ID)

The 434th TCW was assigned to the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing. Shortly after its arrival at Fulbeck, the group was reassigned to RAF Aldermaston in the Salisbury Plain area to co-locate with 101st Airborne Division in preparation for the invasion of northern France.

The 434th was one of the groups trained and designated to deliver gliders on D-Day. As the assigned delivery group for Mission Chicago, the 52 C-47s of the 434th TCG each towed a Waco CG-4A glider to Normandy, losing one aircraft to flak in the darkness. For this, and two follow-up missions with gliders and supplies, the group was later awarded the coveted Distinguished Unit Citation.

The 434th TCG spent the summer of 1944 mainly in carrying freight, fuel and troops to France. It was not involved in the invasion of southern France (as were several of the UK based C-47 groups) and its next combat operation was `Market', the airborne operation in Holland on 17 September.

Two serials (the term for a specifically-briefed formation) of 45 C-47s each dropped paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division in the Veghcl sector. Heavy flak shot down four aircraft and damaged 10 of the first serial and another plane was lost from the second serial plus nine damaged. Next day, 80 of the group's aircraft towed gliders to a landing zone in the Son area. Seven gliders landed prematurely, two of them in the sea, and flak brought down two C-47s and damaged 33.

Some 82 aircraft towing gliders were despatched on 19 September and one C-47 failed to return. A total of 20 gliders were lost before reaching release point. This most intensive period of troop carrier operations continued on the 20th when 53 C-47s took off on a re-supply mission to Overasselt. The drop was scattered but all aircraft returned. A final re-supply mission was carried out from Ramsbury but by now the situation on the ground was beyond retrieval.

The 434th remained at Aldermaston until 12 February 1945 when the group moved to an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Mourmclon-le-Grand airfield (ALG A-80) in France. From France, the group participated in the airborne assault across the Rhine, dropping paratroops over the east bank on 24 Mar. In addition to these airborne operations, the group reinforced ground troops in the St Lo area during the breakthrough in Jul 1944; provided supplies for Third Army during its drive across France in Aug, an action for which the group was cited by the French Government; and resupplied troops at Bastogne in Dec 1944 in the effort to stop the German offensive in the Ardennes. Also engaged in numerous transport missions, hauling mail, rations, clothing, and other supplies from England to bases in France and Germany, and evacuating the Allied wounded.

After V-E Day, transported gasoline to Allied forces in Germany and evacuated prisoners of war to relocation centers in France and Holland. Returned to the US, Jul-Aug 1945. Trained with C-46's. Inactivated on 31 Jul 1946.

Cold War

Trained as a Reserve troop carrier wing under supervision of the 2466th Air Reserve Training Center, Jul 1949-Feb 1951. Ordered to active service and flew airlift missions and participated in tactical exercises, May 1951-Jan 1953. Also provided C-46 combat crew training in support of Far East requirements, Sep 1952-Jan 1953.

Trained as a Reserve troop carrier wing, Feb 1953-Oct 1958, using C-46s as primary training aircraft to Jan 1957 and C-119s thereafter. Began Air Reserve Technician (ART) program in Oct 1958 and soon began flying overseas missions.

Went on one-month active duty in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis.

The wing in Jun 1969 converted one group to U-3A aircraft with a forward air control training mission but for only six months.

Trained for special operations missions, 1971-1973 and for close air support missions, 1973-1987. The 45th TFS provided combat crew training in A-37 aircraft for USAF and friendly foreign nations until Jun 1980. The A-37s were then transferred to active-duty units with the squadron converting to A-10s in 1981 when the wing's mission changed to training forward air controllers (FACs).

At Grissom the 434th TFW provided A-10 tactical fighter training for reserve and guard pilots, Oct 1981-Jun 1987. The A-10s were then transferred to the 930th TFG, and the wing was redesignted as the 434th Air Refueling Wing and absorbing the personnel, equipment, and worldwide air refueling mission of the inactivated 931st Air Refueling Group at Grissom AFB with KC-135A/Es

The wing deployed personnel and equipment to Southwest Asia and to locations within the U.S. in support of operations in the Persian Gulf, 1990-1991.

Post-Cold War

On 1 May 1992 it was again reassigned to Air Mobility Command's Fifteenth Air Force. Because of the Persian Gulf War it was called back into active duty as the 434th Wing on June 1, 1992. It was once again redesignated as the 434th Air Refueling Wing in the early 1990s.

The 1993 BRAC directed realignment of Grissom AFB to the Air Force Reserve and the active-duty 305th Air Refueling Wing phased out operations there in 1994.

The 72d AR converted to the KC-135R concurrently with the drawdown of the 305th ARW. Transferred it's older KC-135Es to the 63d ARS at Selfridge ARB, Michigan. The 74th AR was activated as the active-duty units withdrew from Grissom in 1994.


Some of the text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the Grissom Air Reserve Base website, http://www.grissom.afrc.af.mil, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource. That information was supplemented by:

* Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
* Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
* 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.

External links

* http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usaf/434arw.htm

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