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39th Air Base Wing

39th Air Base Wing
Airmen of the 39th Air Base Wing inspect BAK-12 barrier system cables at Incirlik Air Base in 2014
Active 1941–1945; 1963–1965; 1966-present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Air Base Support
Size Wing
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
Garrison/HQ Incirlik Air Base
  • World War II
American Theater (1941–1943)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1944–1945)
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Japan, 10 May 1945, 23–29 May 1945
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 11 Awards (1974–2003)
39th Air Base Wing emblem (approved 21 November 1994)[1]

The 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Third Air Force. It is stationed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The wing is also the host unit at Incirlik.

The mission of the 39 ABW is to support and protect United States and NATO assets and people throughout Turkey while providing a full spectrum of capabilities to the warfighter. A non-flying unit, the 39 ABW also supports three geographically separated units.

Its origins begin with its predecessor, the World War II 39th Bombardment Group (39th BG) which was part of Twentieth Air Force. The 39th Bomb Group's aircraft engaged in very heavy bombardment B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a solid black square painted on the tail with an "P" inside. Active for over 40 years, the 39th Bombardment Wing was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force during the Cold War.

The 39th Air Base Wing is commanded by Colonel Craig D. Wills. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Anthony W. Johnson.


  • Overview 1
  • Units 2
  • History 3
    • World War II 3.1
    • Strategic Air Command 3.2
    • United States Air Forces in Europe 3.3
  • Lineage 4
    • Assignments 4.1
    • Stations 4.2
    • Operational Units 4.3
      • World War II 4.3.1
      • post World War II 4.3.2
    • Aircraft 4.4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Bibliography 6.2
  • External links 7


Although the wing has no permanently assigned aircraft, it provides excellent facilities and supports the following areas:

  • Training deployments and regional exercises—besides its real-world operational support, Incirlik offers many training facilities. These facilities complement the area's cooperative weather, sparsely populated terrain and uncongested airspace. Pilots fly training sorties, including air-to-air, air-to-ground and low-altitude operations.
  • Communications for National Command Authority taskings—Incirlik is a key communications link in the southern region.
  • Hub support for various units—Incirlik provides vital support for numerous tenant and three geographically separated units located throughout Turkey. Key support includes medical services, supply, security and force protection, base infrastructure maintenance, communications support, transportation services, airlift, services and personnel support.

For US personnel stationed in other Turkish locations and surrounding countries, the 39th ABW acts as a hub of support. Key areas include supply, base infrastructure maintenance, security, medical services, airlift, and other services.

The 39th ABW has been providing support to Operation Enduring Freedom as C-17s supported by the unit provide airlifting of supplies and troops to Afghanistan.



World War II

Emblem of the 39th Bombardment Group
39th BG B-29s at North Field Guam – Summer 1945
39th Bombardment Group B-29s

Established as the 39th Bombardment Group as a pre-World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomb group, activated at Fort Douglas, Utah in January 1941. After training, was assigned to Gieger Field, Washington as part of the Army Air Corps Northwest Air District in July. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the group initially flew antisubmarine patrols along the Northwest Pacific Coastline.

Reassigned to II Bomber Command at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona in February 1942 where the group became a B-17 Operational Training (OTU) unit for newly formed heavy bomb groups; later a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) for replacement bomber crew members. Inactivated on 1 April 1944 with the end of heavy bomber training.

Reactivated the same day at Smoky Hill Army Airfield, Kansas as a Very Heavy B-29 Superfortress bomb group, began training under Second Air Force for deployment to the Pacific Theater. During April and the early part of May 1944, personnel was being assigned to the new Group in small numbers, but no aircraft were yet available. Four squadrons, the 60th, 61st, 62d and 402d were assigned to the group. On 10 May the 402d was inactivated due to personnel shortages, with its assets redistributed to other squadrons in the group. On 15 May the group was reassigned to Dalhart Army Airfield, Texas where the ground echelon was formed, and the operational squadrons trained with old II Bomber Command B-17s. In August, the unit returned to Smoky Hill where limited B-29 training was begun while waiting for the 499th Bomb Group to complete training and deploy to the Pacific.

Full-time training was finally initiated in October 1944 and ground school instruction began for all men of the unit. In January 1945, the air echelon deployed to Batista Army Airfield, Cuba for flying and bombing training. The ground echelon departed on 8 January for Seattle, where it embarked on the S. S. Howell Lykes for North Field, Guam. In the meantime, the air echelon had returned from Cuba and the Group was in the last stages of preparation for the ferrying of personnel and the new operational B-29s received from Boeing-Wichita.

The unit formed at North Field, Guam in mid-February 1945. On 18 February, the group was assigned to its permanent unit, the 314th Bomb Wing, which had just arrived from Colorado. Upon arrival the group's personnel were engaged in Quonset hut construction. By mid-March most personnel were able to move into the huts from the initial tents which they were assigned on arrival

The group conducted its first mission against the Japanese home islands in April 1945. Supported Allied invasion of Okinawa by attacking airfields that served as bases for kamikaze pilots. Bombed military and industrial targets in Japan and participated in incendiary raids on urban areas from mid-May until the end of the war.

The 39th Bomb Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack against the Otake oil refinery and storage area on Honshū on 10 May 1945. Received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing industrial and dock areas in Yokohama and manufacturing districts in Tokyo, 23–29 May 1945.

The group returned to the United States in November–December 1945 for inactivation. Actor and Hollywood star Charles Bronson served as an aerial gunner on a B-29 Superfortress in the 39th Bombardment Group in 1945. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his combat missions against the Japanese home islands.[2]

Strategic Air Command

4135th Strategic Wing Patch

4135th Strategic Wing

The origins of the 39th Bombardment Wing began on 1 December 1958 when 301st Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Eglin from Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 72d Bombardment Wing and the 54th Aviation Depot Squadron was activated to oversee the wing's special weapons.[3] Starting in 1960, one third of the squadron's aircraft were maintained on fifteen-minute alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. This was increased to half the squadron's aircraft in 1962.[6] The 4135th (and later the 39th) continued to maintain an alert commitment until inactivated. In addition, the wing conduct final testing of the GAM-77 Hound Dog and the GAM-72 Quail air-launched cruise missiles from its B-52s as part of the testing program carried out by the Armament Division of Air Force Systems Command. The fist launch of a Hound Dog by SAC was made by a wing crew on 29 February 1960 and the first Quail launch a few months later, on 8 June.[7] In 1962 the 4135th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron was activated in November 1962 to maintain these missiles.

39th Bombardment Wing Patch

39th Bombardment Wing

However, SAC Strategic Wings could not carry a permanent history or lineage and SAC looked for a way to make its Strategic Wings permanent. In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate Air Force controlled (AFCON) units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history.[8][9] As a result, the 4135th SW was replaced by the newly constituted 39th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (39th BW),[10] which assumed its mission, personnel, and equipment on 1 February 1963.[11] In the same way the 62d Bombardment Squadron, one of the unit's World War II historical bomb squadrons, replaced the 301st BS. The 54th Munitions Maintenance Squadron was also reassigned to the 39th. The 4135th's component maintenance and security units were replaced by units with the 39th designation of the newly established wing. Under the Dual Deputate organization, all flying and maintenance squadrons were directly assigned to the wing, so no operational group element was activated. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of its predecessor.

The 39th BW trained to maintain combat readiness for strategic bombardment on global scale, maintaining airborne alert, ground alert, and participated in numerous exercises.[10] On 25 June 1965 The growing United States commitment to the Vietnam War meant funds were also needed to cover the costs of combat operations in Indochina and the 39th Bombardment Wing was inactivated on 25 June 1965. The wing's 62d BS was reassigned to the 33d Tactical Fighter Wing,[12] which took over the SAC facilities at the base.

United States Air Forces in Europe

39th Tactical Group Patch (1966–1993)

The 39th Bombardment Group was redesignated 39th Tactical Group and activated on 1 April 1966 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and replaced the 7216th Combat Support Group to control permanent support units and deployed weapons training detachments. The redesignation was part of the USAFE takeover of the base and its support functions. Known as TUSLOG (The United States Logistics Group) Detachment 10 within Turkey until 1 October 1982, it supported the USAFE and NATO operational missions in the Middle East. It provided disaster relief and mercy missions as required during fires, floods, earthquakes, and other such disasters. The group provided support for US and NATO forces during operations in Southwest Asia, Eastern Europe, and Iraq, August 1990–present.

On 31 January 1984, the group was consolidated with the 39th Bombardment Wing. The consolidated unit retained the designation of 39th Tactical Group. It was redesignated the 39th Wing and resumed wing status on 1 October 1993. Since then the unit has provided operational and logistical support for all U.S. forces in Turkey and operated a Supreme Allied Command Europe Quick Reaction Alert Force.

From September 1997 – May 2003, the wing became the major force provider for the provisional 39th Air and Space Expeditionary Wing, which supported Operation Northern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


39th Air Base Wing

  • Constituted as 39th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated 39th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy on 28 March 1944
Inactivated on 1 April 1944
Activated on 1 April 1944
Inactivated on 27 December 1945.
Redesignated 39th Tactical Group, and activated, on 14 March 1966 (not organized)
  • Organized on 1 April 1966
Consolidated with 39th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on 31 January 1984
Redesignated 39th Wing on 1 October 1993
Redesignated 39th Air Base Group on 6 July 2003.
Redesignated 39th Air Base Wing on 12 March 2004[1]

39th Bombardment Wing

  • Constituted as 39th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 15 November 1962 and activated (not organized)
Organized on 1 February 1963
Discontinued and inactivated on 25 June 1965
Consolidated with 39th Tactical Group as 39th Tactical Group on 31 January 1984[1]



Operational Units

World War II

post World War II

  • 39th Operations Group: 1 October 1993 – 16 July 2003
39th Operations Squadron: 16 July 2003 –


See also



  1. ^ a b c Robertson, Patsy (2008-06-23). "Factsheet 39 Air Base Wing (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Corrections". 18 September 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  3. ^ a b Mueller, p. 140
  4. ^ "Abstract (Unclassified), Vol 1, History of Strategic Air Command, Jan-Jun 1957 (Secret)". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Factsheet 822 Air Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 10 November 2007. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Abstract (Unclassified), History of the Strategic Bomber since 1945 (Top Secret, downgraded to Secret)". Air Force History Index. 1 April 1975. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Knaack, p. 275
  8. ^ MAJCON units could not carry a permanent history or lineage
  9. ^ Ravenstein, Guide to Air Force Lineage, p. 12
  10. ^ a b Ravenstein, Combat Wings, pp. 67-68
  11. ^ Although the 39th Wing was a new organization, it continued, through temporary bestowal, the history, and honors of the World War II 39th Bombardment Group. It was also entitled to retain the honors (but not the history or lineage) of the 4135th. This temporary bestowal ended when the wing was inactivated.
  12. ^ Ravenstein, Combat Wings, pp. 58-60


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

  • Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems. Vol. 2, Post-World War II Bombers 1945–1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947–1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History.  
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). A Guide to Air Force Lineage and Honors (2d, Revised ed.). Maxwell AFB, AL: USAF Historical Research Center. 

Further Reading

  • 39th Bomb Wing At
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4
  • Ravenstein, C. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings: Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Office of Air Force History: Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-912799-12-9

External links

  • B-29 "City Of Allentown" 44-69786, 457th Bomb Squadron, Guam, Marianas
  • 39th Bomb Group Organization
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