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21st Air Division

21st Air Division
Emblem of the 21st Air Division
Active 1942–1983
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Command and Control
Part of Tactical Air Command (ADTAC)
21st Air Division ADC/TAC/NORAD Region AOR 1966–1983
60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron McDonnell F-101B-95-MC Voodoo Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, 1970.

The 21st Air Division (21st AD) is an inactive Tactical Air Command, being stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base, New York. It was inactivated on 23 September 1983.


  • History 1
    • World War II 1.1
    • Strategic Air Command 1.2
    • Air Defense Command 1.3
    • Lineage 1.4
    • Assignments 1.5
    • Stations 1.6
    • Components 1.7
      • World War II 1.7.1
      • Strategic Air Command 1.7.2
      • Air Defense Command 1.7.3
        • Fighter-Interceptor units
        • Missile units
        • Radar units
        • Air Base units
  • Emblem 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


World War II

Initially established in 1942 as the 21st Bombardment Wing, the organization functioned as a staging wing for Second Air Force, and later as a command, processing heavy bombardment crews and aircraft for overseas movement, and then processing men returning from overseas, from 1942–1946. From December 1946, it performed routine training duties in the Air Force Reserve through 27 June 1949 when it was inactivated due to budget reductions.

Strategic Air Command

Reactivated as an intermediate command echelon of Strategic Air Command in February 1951 at Forbes AFB, Kansas. The 21st Air Division controlled B-47 Stratojet medium bombardment wings at Forbes AFB, Kansas and Lake Charles AFB, Louisiana. It was responsible for aircrew training, bomber replacement crews, and replacements for strategic reconnaissance slots until September 1964 when the B-47 was phased out of the inventory.

Air Defense Command

The command was reactivated by Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado and reporting was transferred to NORAD from ADC at Ent AFB in April 1966.

Under ADC the 21st AD was placed under First Air Force and assumed the jurisdiction of the former New York Air Defense Sector, controlling interceptor and radar units over eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the New York City/Long Island area and the coast of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Cape Cod. This included operations of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) blockhouse DC-01.

During this time, it participated in air defense training exercises, accomplished live and simulated intercepts, and directed numerous flying sorties until inactivation in December 1967 as part of an ADC consolidation of intermediate level command and control organizations, driven by budget reductions required to fund USAF operations in Southeast Asia.

The 21st AD was re-activated in November 1969 under Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) at Hancock Field, New York. The command provided air defense over most of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the New England area, commanding interceptor and radar stations. Also included were ADCOM radar stations located in Newfoundland, Canada. In addition command of the SAGE DC-03/CC-01 blockhouse was assumed by the 21st AD, as well as CIM-10 Bomarc surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile squadrons near Otis AFB, Massachusetts, Niagara Falls, New York and McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

In 1975, a new JCS Unified Command Plan designated Air Defense Command as a specified command and changed its name to the Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) on 1 July 1975. Air Defense ADCOM was reorganized on 1 October 1979. The atmospheric defense resources (interceptors and warning radars) of ADCOM. including the 21st AD were reassigned to Tactical Air Command (ADTAC). It moved to Griffiss AFB, New York in 1983 when Hancock Field was closed.

In 1983, when the air defense mission of CONUS was reassigned to the Air National Guard, the 21st Air Division (ADTAC) was inactivated.


  • Established as 21st Bombardment Wing on 16 December 1942
Activated on 22 December 1942
Redesignated I Staging Command on 27 September 1945
Inactivated on 3 April 1946
  • Activated in the Reserve on 20 December 1946
Redesignated: 21st Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy on 31 December 1946
Redesignated: 21st Air Division, Bombardment on 16 April 1948
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Redesignated 21st Air Division on 5 February 1951
Activated on 16 February 1951
Inactivated on 8 April 1952
Organized on 8 April 1952
Discontinued on 16 October 1952
  • Activated on 16 October 1952
Redesignated 21st Strategic Aerospace Division on 15 February 1962
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 September 1964
  • Reactivated on 20 January 1966
Organized on 1 April 1966, replacing New York Air Defense Sector
Assumed additional designations 21st NORAD/CONRAD Region, 1 April 1966
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 31 December 1967
  • Re-established and activated on 19 November 1969
Assumed additional designation 21st ADCOM Region, 8 December 1978
Inactivated on 23 September 1983, assets transferred to Northeast Air Defense Sector




World War II

  • 48th Staging Wing: 18 July 1945-c. 21 March 1946

Strategic Air Command

Air Defense Command

Fighter-Interceptor units
Suffolk County AFB, New York, 1 April 1966 – 1 December 1967
Otis AFB, Massachusetts, 4–31 December 1969
Missile units
Otis AFB, Massachusetts, 19 November 1969 – 30 April 1972
Niagara Falls Air Force Missile Site, New York, 19 November – 31 December 1969
McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 1 April 1966 – 1 December 1967; 19 November 1969 – 31 October 1972
Radar units
Thule AB, Greenland, 1 October 1976 – 1 October 1979
North Truro AFS, Massachusetts, 1 March 1970 – 1 January 1974
Charleston AFS, Maine, 1 March 19790-1 January 1974
Air Base units
  • 4683d Air Base Group
Thule AB, Greenland, 31 December 1969 – 31 March 1977
  • 4684th Air Base Group
Sondrestrom AB, Greenland, 31 December 1969 – 1 December 1979


The Division's emblem consists of a Shield divided by a diagonal line from the upper right to middle left, light blue and white, a sword slanting from upper left to lower right, the point to lower right base, the hilt and pommel yellow encircled with five stars, yellow, the lower blade of the sword over a branch of olive in base green. (Approved 17 July 1952)

See also


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

  • Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980. Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. 
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Winkler, David F.; Webster, Julie L (1997). Searching the skies: The legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program. Champaign, IL: US Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories.  
  • Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).
  • AFHRA Factsheet, 21st Air Division
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