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26th Air Refueling Squadron

26th Air Refueling Squadron
Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter 53-816.jpg
Active 28 May 1952 - 1 April 1955
1 April 1955 - 7 August 1957
7 August 1957 - 15 September 1964
Country 23x15px United States
Branch 22x20px United States Air Force
Type Aerial refueling
Part of Strategic Air Command
26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
4050th Air Refueling Wing
380th Bombardment Wing
  • 150px
    Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Emblem of the 26th Air Refueling Squadron 125px

The 26th Air Refueling Squadron (26 AREFS) was a squadron of the United States Air Force that flew the KC-97E/F/G Stratofreighter, An early Cold War air refueling squadron, it primarily supported B-47 Stratojets of the Strategic Air Command Eighth Air Force during the 1950s and early 1960s. The squadron was inactivated in September 1964 as part of the phaseout of the KC-97 from SAC.


The 26th Air Refueling Squadron was formed at Lockbourne AFB Ohio in May 1952. Equipped with the new Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker, it was assigned as the air refueling component of the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, primarily supporting the wings RB-47 Stratojets. It provided aerial refusing support for a variety of SAC directed exercises and operations that included numerous simulated combat missions and deployments, ranging from a few days to a few months. The exercises took the squadron's aircraft to such bases as Eielson AFB, Alaska; Thule AFB, Greenland; Royal Air Force stations at Upper Heyford and Fairford, United Kingdom; Sidi Slimane in Morocco; Goose Bay, Laborador; and Lajes Field in the Azores.[1]

In August 1953, the squadron refueled F-84G fighters from the 506th Strategic Fighter Wing participating in the Operation Longstride. They refueled seventeen F-84Gs from Turner AFB, Georgia to RAF Lakenheath, Great Britain during a non-stop 4,485-mile trip. During the second phase of Operation Longstride in October 1953, the 26th helped refuel eight F-84s of the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing from Turner AFB, Georgia to Nouasseur Air Base, French Morocco. The aircraft covered 3,800 miles in 10 hours and 20 minutes, thanks to in-flight refueling in the vicinity of Bermuda and the Azores. Crews and aircraft from the 26th deployed to Lajes AB Portugal in September 1954 for 45 days to refuel the 26th SRW's reconnaissance aircraft.

In April 1955, the squadron was reassigned to the new 4050th Air Refueling Wing under the SAC 57th Air Division at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts. From Westover, the squadron carried out air refueling primary for Eighth Air Force B-47s transiting the Atlantic from either the United States or returning from SAC's REFLEX bases in Europe and North Africa. On 22 May 1957, the 26th was moved from Westover to Plattsburgh AFB, New York, being reassigned to the 380th Bombardment Wing under the 820th Air Division.[2]

From its base at Plattsburgh, the squadron continued to support training in air refueling for B-47 and B-52 crews as well as deploying to bases in Newfoundland and Greenland. Aircraft and crews were at Sondrestrom, Greenland, when JFK was assassinated, to guard against any potential "sucker punch" that the USSR might try while our country grieved. The squadron was inactivated in September 1964 as part of the retirement of the KC-97 from SAC service.


  • Established as the 26th Air Refueling Squadron on 28 May 1952
Inactivated on 15 September 1964




See also

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  1. ^ History of the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
  2. ^ Chronology of the 4050th Air Refueling Wing (Medium) (AREFWG)
  3. ^ "Factsheet 820 Strategic Aerospace Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. October 11, 2007. Archived from the original on October 30, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 


12px This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.