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327th Bombardment Squadron

327th Bombardment Squadron
250px
Emblem of the 326th Bombardment Squadron
Active 1942–1963
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Bombardment

The 327th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 4170th Strategic Wing, stationed at Larson Air Force Base, Washington. It was inactivated on 1 February 1963.

History

World War II

Activated as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomb squadron in early 1942; trained by Third Air Force in the southeastern United States. As part of its training program, the Squadron flew anti-submarine operational missions. Deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England, one of the first squadrons being assigned to the command.

Initially assigned to RAF Bovingdon, squadron exchanged B-17Fs with the 97th Bombardment Group's B-17E aircraft. The 97th BG would move to North Africa and assigned to Twelfth Air Force as part of the Operation Torch landings. At Bovington, The squadron was directed to set up and operate the 1/11 CCRC (Combat Crew Replacement Center). The Squadron flew four combat missions beginning on 6 September 1942.

Moved to RAF Alconbury in January 1943 to re-equip, fly support missions to North Africa and train for combat. The 327th became the only to be equipped with the experimental Boeing YB-40 Fortress gunship from May through August 1943. The YB-40 was the bomber escort variant of the Flying Fortress, where the Y stood for "service test". It was developed to test the escort bomber concept for B-17 daylight bomber forces which were suffering appalling losses in their raids against German targets on the European continent.

Because there were no fighters capable of escorting bomber formations on deep strike missions early in World War II, the USAAF tested heavily armed bombers to act as escorts and protect the bomb-carrying aircraft from enemy fighters. Twelve of the 22 B-17F bombers modified to the YB-40 configuration were dispatched to Alconbury for testing and evaluation.

The first operational YB-40 sortie took place on 29 May 1943 against U-boat Sub pens at Saint-Nazaire, France.

Very early on, it was found that the net effect of the additional drag of the turrets and the extra weight of the guns, armor, and additional ammunition was to reduce the speed of the YB-40 to a point where it could not maintain formation with the standard B-17s on the way home from the target once they had released their bombs. The YB-40 could protect itself fairly well, but not the bombers it was supposed to defend. Consequently, it was recognized that the YB-40 project was an operational failure, and the surviving YB-40s were converted back to standard B-17F configuration or used as gunnery trainers back in the States. Squadron ended YB-40 operations on 29 July 1943. Was non-operational until 15 September 1943.

Re-equipped with operational B-17Gs and moved to RAF Podington on 15 September 1943. Began long-range strategic bombardment missions, primarily over Germany and resulted immediately in heavy losses. One of these missions was flown on Thursday, 14 October 1943, against the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt. For what was to become a famous mission called "Black Thursday".

Some of the notable successes of the squadron included missions against German troop concentrations in Normandy after D-Day. On 24 July 1944, the Squadron participated in a raid that virtually destroyed the elite "Panzer Lehr" armored division outside St. Lo. Artillery positions were wiped out, tanks overturned and buried, infantry positions flattened and all roads and tracks destroyed.

Another notable success was a raid against the virtually indestructible German submarine pens at IJmuiden. Using experimental rocket-propelled bombs, the Squadron destroyed these pens in a single raid after hundreds of conventional bombs dropped in earlier raids had failed.

The Squadron flew its last mission of the Second World War on 25 April 1945. By the end of the war against Germany, the group had flown over 300 combat missions, 154 aircraft missing in action and more than 150 returned with battle damage that it would not fly again.

Reassigned to Air Transport Command in June 1945 as part of the Operation Green Project and Blue Projects. Used B-17s as transports, flying demobilized personnel to ATC sites in Morocco and Azores from France. Aircraft turrets were removed and re-skinned, the bomb racks removed, flooring and seating installed to accommodate 30 passengers. The flight crew was reduced to pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer and radio operator. In addition the engineer and radio operator would act as stewards, to assist and calm the many first time flyers. Inactivated in February 1946.

Strategic Air Command

Reactivated as a Strategic Air Command B-29 Superfortress squadron in July 1946. Performed strategic bombardment training and operations directed by the Strategic Air Command (SAC). In March 1948 deployed to England and Germany to support the Berlin Airlift.

Deployed to Far East Air Forces and flying combat missions over North Korea. Under control of the FEAF Bomber Command (Provisional) until 20 October, the squadron bombed factories, refineries, iron works, hydroelectric plants, airfields, bridges, tunnels, troop concentrations, barracks, marshalling yards, road junctions, rail lines, supply dumps, docks, vehicles and other strategic and interdiction targets.

Released from combat by General MacArthur on 20 October 1950. Many of the still operational B-29s remained with Far East Air Forces to serve on with the 19th BG and 307th BG at Kadena AB, Okinawa; and the 98th BG at Yokota, Japan. Returned without most personnel and equipment to Spokane AFB, Washington in late October and November 1950.

Re-equipped with B-36 Peacemaker intercontinental strategic bomber in 1951. Engaged in training operations on a worldwide scale. Deployed n August 1953 to the Far East was to survey suitable bases for B-36 use and to reinforce the Korean armistice of July 1953. 20 B-36D aircraft landed at Kadena AB, for 'Operation Big Stick'. B-36 aircraft visited Yokota AB and Anderson AFB Guam. The squadron returned to Fairchild after a short stay. Redeployed to Guam 14 October 1954 for 90 days, which established a succession of deployed B-36 squadrons to maintain a heavy bomber presence in the western Pacific. Returned for its second 90-day deployment in April 1956.

During the 1956 deployment to Guam, four 327th B-36J aircraft were deployed to Hickam AFB HI. They would support the 1956 Eniwetok Tests. B-36 operations were not without casualties. On 15 April 1952, a borrowed 327th B-36 with a 326th crew crashed on takeoff, killing 15 crewmen, 2 survived, severely burned. The Magnesium Overcast would burn very hot. In May 1955, the 327th was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for Operation Big Stick.

In October 1956, the Squadron was scheduled to convert to the B-52D Stratofortress retaining its designation. Events in the fall of 1956 would delay the conversion to B-52. The Suez Crisis and Eastern Europe conflicts required the wing and squadrons to remain operational, and were on "cocked ground alert" into the second week of December. The 327th was not operational from 5 February 1957 to 1 June 1957. 327th B-52 operations continued through February 1963, with training missions to improve and maintain proficiency, served on Ground Alert, and participated in a seven-month test of Airborne Alert missions during 3 March, to 6 October 1959. The airborne alert test would earn the second AFOUA.

In July 1960, the 327th began the movement of the squadron’s personnel, aircraft and equipment to Larson AFB, WA. This was the completion of the dispersal program to reduce vulnerability of large (three squadron 45 B-52) unit at one base. The 326th would move to Glasgow AFB MT in February 1961. On setup at Larson, the squadron resumed alert duties and training under the command of the 4170th Strategic Wing.

In an effort to honor heritage units of the past, on 1 February 1963, the 4170th SW and 327th BS when SAC inactivated its provisional Strategic Wings, redesignating them permanent Air Force Wings. Squadron was inactivated with aircraft/personnel/equipment being redesignated 768th Bombardment Squadron in an in-place, name-only transfer.

Lineage

  • Constituted 327 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
Activated on 1 March 1942
Redesignated 327 Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 29 September 1944
Inactivated on 28 February 1946
  • Redesignated 327 Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 15 July 1946
Activated on 4 August 1946
Redesignated: 327 Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 28 May 1948
Redesignated: 327 Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 16 June 1951
Discontinued and inactivated on 1 February 1963, aircraft and personnel reassigned to the 768th Bombardment Squadron.

Assignments

Attached to 92d Bombardment Wing, 16 February 1951-15 June 1952

Stations

Aircraft

See also

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References

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

External links