15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force

15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force

caption= 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force emblem
dates= 30 October 1943 - Present
country= United States of America
branch= United States Air Force
command_structure=Air Mobility Command
garrison=Travis Air Force Base, California

* World War II: European Campaign (1943-1945)
The Fifteenth Expeditionary Mobility Task Force (15 EMTF) is one of two EMTFs assigned to the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. It is headquartered at Travis Air Force Base, California. The 15 EMTF was a redesignation of Fifteenth Air Force, effective 1 October 2003.

The 15th EMTF reports to Headquarters, Eighteenth Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois,


The mission of 15 EMTF is to provide strategic and theater airlift for all Department of Defense agencies as well as air refueling for the Air Force in both peace and wartime. This includes the aeromedical evacuation of sick and injured..

15 EMTF provides rapid and flexible Global Reach for America from six major Air Force bases in the United States and 47 locations throughout the Pacific. More than 71,000 people, including active duty and gained Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard personnel, operate and support airlift, tanker and aeromedical aircraft as part of the 15 EMTF.

Primary aircraft assigned to its units are the C-5 Galaxy, C-9 Nightingale, C-17 Globemaster III, C-21, C-130 Hercules, KC-10 Extender, and KC-135 Stratotanker.


Primary operating units of 15 EMTF are:
*22d Air Refueling Wing: McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas
*60th Air Mobility Wing: Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California
*62nd Airlift Wing: McChord Air Force Base, Pierce County, Washington.
*92nd Air Refueling Wing: Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Washington.
*317th Airlift Group: Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas.
*375th Airlift Wing: Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Illinois
* 615th Contingency Response Wing: Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California
* 715th Air Mobility Operations Group : Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, HawaiiThe 15 EMTF commander is also the Commander, Task Force 294 (TF 294), which provides aerial refueling to aircraft assigned to the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) in time of war. TF 294 includes 28 units from the 15 EMTF and 21 EMTF, the Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve Command. The 15 EMTS staff assures the operational readiness of its units by conducting readiness assessment visits and staff assistance visits. It acts as an advocate for its subordinate units and enforces higher headquarters policies and directives.



Since its establishment 1 November 1943, in Tunis, Tunisia, under the command of Major General James Doolittle, the 15 EMTF, previously designated Fifteenth Air Force (15th AF), has flown almost every type of aircraft in the Air Force inventory and has participated in every war and major contingency in which the United States has been involved.

Originating during World War II as a overseas Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces, it became part of Strategic Air Command in 1946. In 1991, it became part of Air Mobility Command, and is currently engaged in operations as part of the Global War on Terrorism. The command was inactivated at the Numbered Air Force echelon and activated at the Task Force echelon, being assigned to Eighteenth Air Force on 1 October 2003.


* Constituted as Fifteenth Air Force on 30 Oct 1943. : Activated on 1 Nov 1943: Inactivated on 15 Sep 1945
* Activated on 31 Mar 1946: Inactivated on 1 Oct 2003: Redesignated and activated as 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force, 1 Oct 2003


* Headquarters, United States Army Air Forces, 1 Nov 1943 - Feb 1944
*United States Strategic Air Forces, Feb 1944 - 31 Mar 1946
*Strategic Air Command, 15 Sep 1946 - 1 Jan 1942
*Air Mobility Command, 1 Jan 1992 - 1 Oct 2003: Eighteenth Air Force, 1 Oct 2003 - Pres.


World War II Wings
* 5th Bombardment: 1943-1945.
* 42d Bombardment: 1943
* 47th Bombardment: 1944-1945
* 49th Bombardment: 1944-1945
* 55th Bombardment: 1944-1945
* 304th Bombardment: 1943-1945.
* 305th Bombardment: 1943-1945
* 306th Fighter: 1944-1945
* 307th Bombardment: 1944.

Postwar Air Divisions
* 1st Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 Sep 1988-1 Sep 1991
* 4th Air Division, 31 March 1970-23 August 1988
* 12th Air Division, 10 Feb 1951-16 Jun 1952; 16 Jun 1952-1 Jul 1989
* 13th Strategic Missile Division, 1 Jul 1959-1 Jul 1963; 1 Jul 1965-2 Jul 1966
* 14th Air Division, 10 Feb 1951-16 Jun 1952; 16 Jun 1952-1 Sep 1991
* 17th Air Division, 31 March 1970–30 June 1971
* 18th Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 Jul 1959-2 Jul 1968
* 21st Air Division, 16 July 1952–16 October 1952
* 22d Strategic Aerospace Division, 9 Sep 1960-1 Jul 1965
* 40th Air Division, 7 July 1989–14 June 1991
* 57th Air Division, 16 Apr 1951 16 Jun 1952; 16 Jun 1952 - 4 Sep 1956; Jan 1975 - 14 Jun 1991
* 58th Air Division, 31 Mar - 1 Nov 1946
* 73d Air Division, 31 Mar-31 May 1946
* 311th Air Division, 1 May 1946-31 Mar 1947
* 802d Air Division, 28 May 1952 - 1 Jul 1955; 1 Jan 1959-20 Jun 1960
* 810th Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 Apr 1955 - 1 Jul 1963; 2 Jul 1966-30 Jun 1971
* 813th Strategic Aerospace Division, 15 Jul 1959-2 Jul 1966
* 818th Air Division 11 Oct 1954 - 1 Jul 1955
* 819th Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 Feb 1956-1 Jul 1965
* 821st Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 Jan 1959-30 Jun 1971


*Tunis, Tunisia, 1 Nov - 31 Dec 1943
*Bari, Italy, 1 Dec 1943 - 31 Mar 1946
*Colorado Springs, Colorado, 15 Sep 1946 - 7 Nov 1949
*March AFB, California, 7 Nov 1949 - 1 Jan 1992
*Travis AFB, California, 1 Jan 1992 - Present

Operational History

World War II

Fifteenth Air Force (15th AF) was established on November 1, 1943 in Tunis, Tunisia as part of the United States Army Air Forces in the World War II Mediterranean Theater of Operations as a strategic air force and commenced combat operations the day after it was formed. The first commander was General Jimmy Doolittle.

15th AF resulted from a reorganization of Doolittle's Twelfth Air Force into the 15th with Doolittle in command, and the Ninth Air Force (9th AF) with Lewis H. Brereton in command. The new air force was activated with a strength of ninety B-24 Liberators and 210 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inherited from the Twelfth Air Force and Ninth Air Force. In December, new groups, most of which were equipped with B-24s soon started arriving from the United States. Thirteen new groups were added.

It was hoped that the 15th AF stationed in the Mediterranean would be able to operate when the Eighth Air Force (8th AF) in England was socked in by bad English weather. The 9th AF would later move to England to serve as a tactical unit to take part in the invasion of Europe. Once bases around Foggia in Italy became available, the 15th was able to reach targets in southern France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans, some of which were difficult to reach from England.

Operational Units

* 5th Bombardment Wing (B-17 Flying Fortress) "Y" Tail Code: Transferred from: Twelfth Air Force: Headquartered: Foggia, Italy, 13 Dec 1943 - 2 Nov 1945: 2d Bombardment Group "Circle-Y": 97th Bombardment Group "Triangle-Y": 99th Bombardment Group "Diamond-Y": 301st Bombardment Group "Square-Y" (Green): 463d Bombardment Group "Wedge-Y" (Yellow): 483d Bombardment Group "Y-Star" (Red):: Transferred from MacDill Field, Florida, 2 Mar 1944: Attached: 68th Tactical Reconnaissance Group::: Nov 1943 - Apr 1944Airfields: Amendola (2d BW), Celone (463d BW), Cerignola (97th BW), Foggia (2d BW, 463d BW), Lucera (301st BW), Manduria, (68th RG), Maricianise (97th BW), Sterparone (483d BW), Torotella (99th BW, 483d BW)

* 47th Bombardment Wing (B-24 Liberator) "The Pyramidiers" "Triangle" Tail Code: Transferred from Ninth Air Force: Headquartered: Manduria, Italy, 11 Nov 1943 - May 1945: 98th Bombardment Group Triangle (Yellow/Black Tail Stripe) : 376th Bombardment Group "Triangle Circle 2": 449th Bombardment Group "Triangle Circle 3": 450th Bombardment Group "Triangle Circle 5"Airfields: Brindisi (98th BG), Grottaglie (449th BG), Lecce (98th BG), Manduria (98th BG), San Pancrazio (376th BG, 450th BG)

* 49th Bombardment Wing (B-24 Liberator) "Red Tail": Transferred from Greenville AAB, South Carolina 6 Apr 1944: Headquartered: Bari, Italy, 6 Apr 1944 - 16 Oct 1945: 451st Bombardment Group "Red Tail Red Dot": 461st Bombardment Group "Red Tail Red Dash": 484th Bombardment Group "Red Tail Red Bow"Airfields: Gina del Colle (451st BG), San Pancrazio (451st BG), Torretta (484th BG)

* 55th Bombardment Wing (B-24 Liberator) "Yellow/Black Tail": Transferred from: MacDill Field, Florida: Headquartered: Taranto, Italy, Mar 1944 - Jul 1945: 460th Bombardment Wing "Yellow/Black Tail Square Dot": 464th Bombardment Wing "Yellow/Black Tail Square l": 465th Bombardment Wing "Yellow/Black Tail": 485th Bombardment Wing "Yellow/Black Tail Square X"Airfields: Gioia (464th BG), Panatella (464th BG), Spinazzola (460th BG), Venosa (485TH BG)

* 304th Bombardment Wing (B-24 Liberator) "Black Diamond": Activated in Italy: Headquartered: Cerignola, Italy, 29 Dec 1943 - Sep 1945: 454th Bombardment Group "Black Diamond": 455th Bombardment Group "Black Diamond Yellow Tail": 456th Bombardment Group "Black Diamond Red Tail": 459th Bombardment Group "Black Diamond Yellow/Black Check Tail"Airfields: Giulia (455th BG), San Giovanni (454th BG, 455th BG, 456th BG)

* 305th Fighter Wing (Provisional) (P-38 Lightning): Transferred from Twelfth Air Force, 1943: Headquartered::: Foggia, 29 Dec 1943 - 19 Jan 1944:: Spinazzola, 19 Jan - 6 Mar 1944 :: Bari, 6 Mar - Dec 1944:: Torremaggiore, Dec 1944 -9 Sep 1945: 1st Fighter Group:: 27FS (HV Red), 71st (LM Black), 94th (UN Yellow): 14th Fighter Group : 82d Fighter Group Airfields: Gioia del Colle (1st FG), Leisna (14th FG 82d FG), Salosa (1st FG), Triolo (14th FG), Vincenzo (82d FG)

* 306th Fighter Wing (P-51 Mustang): Activated in Italy : Headquartered: :: Bari, Italy, 15 - 27 Jan 1944:: Foggia, Italy, 27 Jan - 23 Feb 1944:: Lucera, Italy, 23 Feb - 8 Mar 1944:: Torremaggiore, Italy, 8 Mar - 3 Sep 1944:: Lesina, Italy, 3 Sep 1944 - 5 Mar 1945:: Fano, Italy, 5 Mar - 15 Jul 1945: 31st Fighter Group Red diagonal tail stripe:: 307FS (MX), 308FS (HL), 309FS (WZ) : 325th Fighter Group : (P-47 Thunderbolt, B-26 Marauder, P-51 Mustang) :: Black/Yellow chex Tails:: 317FS (10-39), 318FS (40-69), 319FS (70-99): 52d Fighter Group (Yellow Tails):: 2FS (QP) 4FS (WD), 5FS (VF) : 332d Fighter Group : 'Tuskegee Airmen' / 'Red Tail Angels':: 99FS (A00 - A39, Blue), 100FS (1-39, Black), 301FS (40-69, White), 302FS (70-99,01-09, Yellow)Airfields: Capodichino (332d FG), Cattolica (332d FG), Madna (52d FG), Mondolfo (31st FG. 325th FG), Montecorvino (332d FG), Piagiolino (52d FG), Ramitelli (332d FG), Rimini (325th FG), Vincenzo (325th FG)

.* Sent to Aghione, Corsica from 10 to 21 August 1944 for Operation DRAGOON (Invasion of Southern France)

* 15th Special Group (Provisional): Reported directly to Fifteenth Air Force: Assigned to 15th Air Force in June 1944:: Stationed at Brindisi :: Re-designated 2641st Special Group (Provisional):: 859th BS flew Carpetbagger operations out of England until September 1944 before being moved to MTO:: 885th BS was initially known as 122nd BS assigned to 68th Reconnaissance Group operating B-17s in the MTO. Assigned to the 15th Special Group in January 1945.

* 305th Bombardment Wing: Activated in Italy, 29 Dec 1943, No units assigned until 13 Jun 1945 : Headquarters: Torremaggiore, Dec 1944 - Sep 1945: 1st Fighter Group: 14th Fighter Group: 31st Fighter Group: 52d Fighter Group: 82d Fighter Group: 325th Fighter Group: 332d Fighter Group

Initial Operations

The 15th Air Force began its operations on 2 November 1943, attacking the Messerschmitt factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. On 1 December 1943, the Headquarters was moved to Bari, Italy.

On 4 January 1944, Fifteenth, along with Twelfth Air Force were organized into the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF), along with the Royal Air Force 205 Group. MAAF was the southern component of U.S. Strategic Air Forces, Europe (USSTAF), the overall USAAF command and control organization in Europe.

The first major operation carried out by Fifteenth Air Force was bombing missions in support of the Anzio Landings in Italy, Operation Shingle beginning on 22 January 1944. Strikes on German and fascist Italian targets were carried out and caused widespread damage to Axis forces.

Big Week

"Big Week" was the name of an intense Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces series of attacks on Germany in a series of co-ordinated raids on the German aircraft industry. The plan, code-named "Operation Argument", was to use both American strategic air forces in Europe, with support by the Royal Air Force with night bombing raids to destroy or seriously cripple the German ability to produce combat aircraft.

The Americans were facing strong Luftwaffe fighter opposition to their daylight bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe, and it was planned to initiate Operation Argument at the earliest possible date.

On 22 February 1944, Fifteenth Air Force made its first attack on Germany, with an attack on Regensburg. The Fifteenth dispatched a force of 183 bombers to the Oberstraubing Messerschmidt assembly plant. Some 118 bombed with good results but fourteen were shot down. The next day the 15th sent 102 bombers to the Steyr ball-bearing works in Austria where they destroyed twenty percent of the plant. On the 24th, over 180 Liberators inflicted considerable damage to the Messerschmitt Bf 110 assembly plant at Gotha, losing 28 aircraft. On 25 February, 114 B-17s and B-24s were dispatched to Steyr again, but the force became separated and the Liberators bombed the Fiume oil refinery instead. Seventeen bombers were lost.

Despite these losses, it was believed that the USSTAF had dealt the German aircraft industry a severe blow.

Oil Industry Targets

In April, General Eisenhower ordered the USSTAF to attack German fuel production centers by striking both the oil refineries and the factories producing synthetic fuels. The 15th started the offensive on 5 April when it dispatched 235 B-17s and B-24s from Italy to transportation targets in the vicinity of the Ploesti oilfields in Romania. The refineries were attacked again on 15 and 24 April, inflicting additional damage.

Attacks on oil targets had assumed top priority by October and vast fleets of heavy bombers, escorted by P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fighters escorted missions to attack refineries in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The P-51 escorts were able to establish an environment of air superiority, enabling the bombers to roam widely across southern and eastern Europe, attacking targets at Brux in Czechoslovakia, Budapest, Komorom, Gyor and Pertfurdo in Hungry, Belgrade and other cities in Yugoslavia and Trieste in north-eastern Italy.

oviet Support

By June 1944, the 15th Air Force was bombing railway networks in south-east Europe in support of Soviet military operations in Romania. Throughout the summer of 1944, Austrian aircraft manufacturing centers at Wiener Neustadt were bombed and oil producing centers were attacked. On 2 June, 15th Air Force flew its first "shuttle" mission when 130 B-17s and P-51 escorts landed in Russian controlled territory after a raid in Hungary. Two more shuttle missions followed.

Operation Anvil

In July, the 15th began attacking targets in Southern France in preparation for Operation Anvil, the invasion of Southern France. Marseilles, Lyon, Grenoble and Toulon were all attacked by B-24s and B-17s.

The end of the Third Reich

The largest 15th Air Force operation of all occurred on 15 April 1945 when 1,235 bombers were dispatched to Wowser near Bologna. The last major air battle took place on 18 April when 305 B-17s and 906 B-24s, plus more than 1,200 fighters were sent to attack Berlin. Jadeschwader 7 "Hindenburg" had managed to assemble forty Messerschmitt Me 262 jets and they tore into the heavy bomber formations. The Messerschmidts were far too fast for the American P-51, which stood little chance against them which managed to shoot down two of them. The Me-262s managed to shoot down twenty five bombers with their rockets. However, the fact was that the German jets were too few and too late to stop the Allied aerial armadas from simply overwhelming the Luftwaffe and leveling their targets.

The end came on 25 April when 15th Air Force B-17s bombed the Skoda factory at Pilzen in Czechoslovakia, while B-24s prevented German troops from escaping north into Germany by bombing roads in Austria and rail lines in the Brenner Pass.

With the German surrender in Italy, 15th Air Force aircraft began dropping parachutes of supplies and evacuating Allied Prisoners of War.

A total of around 2,110 bombers were lost on operations by its fifteen B-24 and six B-17 bombardment groups, while its seven fighter groups claimed a total of 1,836 enemy aircraft destroyed. The Fifteenth was de-activated in Italy September 15, 1945.

Postwar Era

On March 31, 1946, Fifteenth Air Force was reactivated at Colorado Springs AAB, Colorado and assigned to the ten day old Strategic Air Command. 15th AF assumed the assets and personnel of the former Continental Air Forces Second Air Force, which was inactivated on 30 March.

The original bomb groups assigned to 15th Air Force were:
* 28th Bombardment Group: Activated at Grand Island AAF, Nebraska on 4 Aug 1946: Transferred to Eleventh Air Force, Elmendorf AAF, Alaska, 20 Oct 1946: Reassigned to 15th AF at Rapid City AAF, South Dakota 3 May 1947: Established as 28th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 28 Jul 1947*

* 92nd Bombardment Group: Activated at Ft Worth AAF, Texas, 4 Aug 1946: Reassigned to Smoky Hill AAF, Kansas, Oct 1946: Reassigned to Spokane AAF, Washington, Jun 1947: Established as 92d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 17 Nov 1947*

* 93rd Bombardment Group: Activated at Castle Field, California, 21 Jun 1946: Established as 93d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 28 Jul 1947*

* 97th Bombardment Group: Activated at Smoky Hill AAF, Kansas, 4 Aug 1946: Established as 97th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 11 Sep 1947*: Reassigned to Eighth Air Force, 16 May 1948

* 301st Bombardment Group: Activated at Clovis AAF, New Mexico on 4 Aug 1946: Inactivated 16 Jul 1947: Reactivated at Smoky Hill AAF, Kansas, 16 Jul 1947: Established as 301st Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 15 Oct 1947*: Reassigned to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana , 7 Nov 1949

* 307th Bombardment Group: Activated at MacDill AAF, Florida on 4 Aug 1946: Established as 307th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), 28 July 1947*

* 311th Reconnaissance Wing: Reassigned to MacDill AAF, Florida on 17 Apr 1946: Transferred to Fifteenth Air Force on 1 May 1946 : Redesignated as 311th Air Division (Reconnaissance) on 6 Apr 1948

.*Group became subordinate element to wing.

However, demobilization was in full swing and few of these groups were fully equipped or manned. All of these groups were equipped with B-29 Superfortresses, most or all of which were aircraft which returned from Twentieth Air Force groups which returned from the Pacific War. When SAC was established in 1946, it's primary bomber aircraft was the B-29. Although there were many in storage they were war-weary. The plane was greatly improved and soon new models, designated the B-50 Superfortress, began joining the inventory replacing the older aircraft.

On 16 September 1947, the Army Air Forces became the United States Air Force as a separate and equal element of the United States armed forces. The fledging Air Force quickly established its own identity. Army Air Fields were renamed Air Force Bases and personnel were soon being issued new uniforms with new rank insignia. Once the new Air Force was free of army domination, it's first job was to discard the old and dreadfully inadequate ground army organizational structure. This was the "Base Plan" where the combat group commander reported to the base commander, who was often regular army, with no flying experience.

General Carl A. Spaatz established a new policy, "No tactical commander should be subordinate to the station commander." This resulted in a search for a better arrangement. The commander of the 15th Air Force, [http://www.af.mil/bios/bio.asp?bioID=4743 Major General Charles Born] , proposed the Provisional Wing Plan, which basically reversed the situation and put the wing commander over the base commander. The USAF basic organizational unit became the Base-Wing.

Under this plan, the base support functions - supply, base operations, transportation, security, and medical were assigned to squadrons, usually commanded by a Major or Lt. Colonel. All of these squadrons were assigned to a Combat Support Group, commanded by a Base Commander, usually a Colonel. Combat fighter or bomber squadrons were assigned to the Combat Group, a retention of the USAAF Group. All of these groups, both combat and combat support, were in turn assigned to the Wing, commanded by a Wing Commander. This way the Wing Commander commanded both the combat operational elements on the base as well as the non-operational The Wing Commander was an experienced air combat leader, usually a Colonel or Brigadier General. All of the hierarchical organizations carried the same numerical designation. In this manner, for example, the 28th became the designation for the Wing and all the subordinate groups and squadrons beneath it. As a result, the base and the wing became one and the same unit. On 16 June 1952, the legacy combat groups were inactivated and the operational Combat Squadrons were assigned directly to the Wing. The World War II history, lineage and honors of the combat group were bestowed on the Wing upon its inactivation

The USAAF Wing then was redesignated as an Air Division, which was commanded Brigadier General or higher, who commanded two or more wings usually, but not always, on a single base. Numbered Air Forces (NAF) commanded both Air Divisions or Wings directly, and the NAF was under the Major Command (SAC, TAC, ADC, etc.).

The 15th AF returned to a combat-ready role as a result of the 1948 Berlin Crisis, A squadron from the 301st Bombardment Group was deployed with its B-29s at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. SAC immediately ordered the group's other two squadrons to Goose Bay Air Base, Labrador to prepare for immediate deployment to Germany. The 307th and 28th Bombardment Groups were placed on alert and ordered to be ready to deploy within three and twelve hours respectively. Within a few weeks, the other 301st Bomb Groups squadrons had joined the first. Later in July the 28th Bombardment Group left Rapid City AFB, South Dakota for RAF Scampton, England. The 307th Bombardment Group left MacDill AFB, Florida for RAF Marham and RAF Waddington England.

On 7 November 1949, Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force was relocated to March AFB, California. As part of this realignment, Most SAC bomber forces west of the Mississippi River were reassigned to 15th AF. Those east of the Mississippi were assigned to SAC's other strategic air force, Eighth Air Force, was reassigned to Westover AFB, Massachusetts, where it commanded all SAC bases in the eastern United States.

Korean War

On 25 June 1950, the armed forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) invaded South Korea. On 27 June the United Nations Security Council voted to assist the South Koreans in resisting the invasion. President Harry Truman authorized General Douglas MacArthur (commander of the US occupying forces in Japan) to commit units to the battle. MacArthur ordered General George E. Stratemeyer, CIC of the Far Eastern Air Force (FEAF) to attack attacking North Korean forces between the front lines and the 38th parallel.

At that time, the 22 B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force 19th Bomb Group stationed at Andersen Field on Guam were the only aircraft capable of hitting the Korean peninsula, and this unit was ordered to move to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and begin attacks on North Korea. These raids began on 28 June. On 29 June, clearance was given for B-29 attacks on airfields in North Korea.

On July 8, a special FEAF Bomber Command was set up under the command of Major General Emmett O'Donnell. Although President Truman wasn't willing to risk extensive use of the U.S. bomber force in the United States, which was being used as a deterrent for possible Soviet aggression in Europe, a few groups of B-29 bombers — that were not part of the nuclear strike force — were released. On July 13, the FEAF Bomber Command took over command of the 19th Bombardment Group and of the 22nd (8th AF) and 92nd Bombardment Group (15th AF) which had been transferred from SAC bases in the United States. Later in July, the 98th (8th AF) and 307th Bombardment Group (15th AF) were sent to Japan to join the FEAF. The 92nd and 98th BGs and the 31st SRG operated from bases in Japan, whereas the 19th, 22nd, and 307th BGs were based in Okinawa.

When the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, the B-29s had flown over 21,000 sorties, nearly 167,000 tons of bombs had been dropped, and 34 B-29s had been lost in combat (16 to fighters, four to flak, and fourteen to other causes). B-29 gunners had accounted for 34 Communist fighters (16 of these being MiG-15s) probably destroyed another 17 (all MiG-15s) and damaged 11 (all MiG-15s). Losses were less than 1 per 1000 sorties.

Cold War

With the end of fighting in Korea, President Eisenhower, who had taken office in January 1953, called for a "new look" at national defense. The result: a greater reliance on nuclear weapons and air power to deter war. His administration chose to invest in the Air Force, especially Strategic Air Command. The nuclear arms race shifted into high gear. The Air Force retired nearly all of its propeller-driven B-29/B-50s and they were replaced by new Boeing B-47 Stratojet aircraft. By 1955 the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress would be entering the inventory in substantial numbers, as prop B-36s were phased out of heavy bombardment units rapidly.

Also after the deployment of forces to Far East Air Force to engage in combat over Korea, the history of Fifteenth Air Force becomes indistinguishable from that of Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, Fifteenth Air Force aircraft stood nuclear alert, providing a deterrence against an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union. During the Vietnam War, squadrons of 15th Air Force B-52 Stratofortesses (B-52Ds mostly, some B-52Gs) were deployed to bases on Guam, Okinawa and Thailand conducting Arc Light strikes on communist forces.

Post Vietnam

Between the Vietnam War and 1991, 15th AF units commanded reconnaissance aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Fifteenth Air Force became exclusively a tanker command on 1 September 1991. When Strategic Air Command was inactivated 1 June 1992, and its assets divided between the newly created Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command, Fifteenth Air Force became part of Air Mobility Command.

Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force moved from March Air Force Base to Travis Air Force Base on 2 July 1993 with the closure of March, and merged its tankers with the airlift aircraft of the Twenty-Second Air Force. The Twenty-Second Air Force's flag moved to the Air Force Reserves at Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia.

As a result of the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, Fifteenth Air Force was redesignated the Fifteenth Expeditionary Mobility Task Force, and is currently engaged in operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.


"I could see omens of the war’s end almost every day in the blue southern sky when, flying provocatively low, the bombers of the American Fifteenth Air Force crossed the Alps from their Italian bases to attack German Industrial targets.” –-"Inside the Third Reich, Memoirs of Albert Speer", Hitler's Minister for Armaments

Further reading

* "50 Mission Crush", by Donald R. Currier, out of print, ISBN 0-94259-743-5
* "B-24 Liberator Units of the Fifteenth Air Force", by Robert F Dorr, Pub NY Osprey, ISBN 1-84176-081-1
* "The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B24s over Germany, 1944-1945" , by Stephen Ambrose, Pub NY Simon & Schuster, 2001.
* "P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Ninth and Fifteenth Air Force", by Jerry Scutts, Pub Osprey, ISBN 1-85532-906-9
* "Bloody Skies: A 15th AAF B-17 Combat Crew, How They Lived and Died", by Melvin W. McGuire and Robert Hadley, Yucca Tree Press, 1993, ISBN 1-881325-06-7
* "Flying Colt: Liberator Pilot in Italy", by Robert S. Capps, Manor House (1997). ISBN 0-9640665-1-3
* "456th Bomb Group History: Steed's Flying Colts 1943-1945", 456th Bomb Group Association, Turner Publishing (1994). ISBN 1-56311-141-1

It is my clear understanding that the 14th FG was comprised of the 37th FS, the 48th FS and the 49th FS, not the 47th FS. See John Stanaway's "P-38 Lightning Aces of the ETO/MTO" ISBN 1-85532-698-1.

External links

* [http://www.376hbgva.com/history/15thairforce.html The 15th Air Force]
* [http://www.psln.com/pete/pow_bomb_groups.htm WWII Bomb Groups - European Theater of Operations (ETO)]
* [http://www.2ndbombgroup.org 2nd Bombardment Group Association]
* [http://www.99bombgroup.org The 99th Bomb Group in WWII]
* [http://www.301bg.com 301st Bombardment Group Heavy]
* [http://www.463rd.org 463rd Bombardment Group Historical Society]
* [http://www.461st.org/ 461st Bombardment Group Heavy / 764th, 765th, 766th, 767th sqdn]
* [http://www.483rd.com 483rd Bombardment Group Website]
* [http://www.armyairforces.com A website about the U.S.A.A.F.]
* [http://www.50missions.net/index.html B-17 Bombardier with the 463rd BG]
* [http://www.josephgomer.com/index.html Honor Thy Father: A Tuskegee Airman]
* [http://www.merkki.com/moberlycoleman.htm Sgt. Coleman D. Moberly, 463rd BG, Stalag Luft I POW]
* [http://www.thehewitt.net/sam.html Sam Hewitt, 301st BG, Stalag Luft 4 POW]
* [http://www.michael-reimer.com/CFS2/CFS2_Profiles/MTO_Allies_15_USAAF.html 15th Army Air Force]
* [http://www.frankambrose.com/pages/15th.html 15th Air Force]

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