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408th Bombardment Squadron

408th Bombardment Squadron

22d Bombardment Wing Boeing B-47E-55-BW Stratojet 51-2394
Active August 20, 1917-January 1, 1962
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
408th Bombardment Squadron emblem

The 408th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the Strategic Air Command 22d Bombardment Wing stationed at March AFB, California. It was inactivated on January 1, 1962.

The squadron is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force, its origins dating to 16 June 1917, being organized at Rockwell Field], San Diego, California, as a pilot training Squadron during World War I. The squadron saw combat during World War II, and became part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Cold War.


Established in the summer of 1917 as the Air Service 18th Aero Squadron, providing flying training to aviation cadets during World War I at Rockwell Field in Southern California. Became a permanent flying squadron at Rockwell until the demobilization of the air service in late 1918.

Re-established at Bolling Field, D.C. in 1921 as the 18th Observation Squadron, flying aerial photographic missions with Army units in Northern Virginia, and as an airborne observation post during maneuvers; in 1925 becoming the primary host unit at Bolling responsible for station administration. Inactivated in 1928 with personnel being redesignated as Headquarters Detachment, Bolling Field.

Re-established in 1935 at Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York assigned to the GHQ Air Force 2d Wing. Equipped with Martin B-10 bombers and flew reconnaissance and coastal patrol flights over Long Island Sound and southern New England. Received B-18 Bolos in 1937 along with a mixture of obsolete attack and light observation aircraft. In the build-up of the and received early model B-26 Marauders while retaining the B-18s.

After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the squadron was transferred to the West Coast, flying anti-submarine patrols from Muroc AAF, California from December 1941 to the end of January 1942. It was then assigned to the new Fifth Air Force, originally based on the Philippines, leaving the B-18s at Muroc, being redesignated as the 408th Bombardment Squadron. By the time the squadron arrived in the theater the situation on the Philippines was desperate, and the squadron was based in Australia. From there it attacked Japanese targets on Papua New Guinea and New Britain. In October 1943 the B-26 Marauders were joined by B-25 Mitchells, and for the rest of the year the group continued to operate in support of Allied troops on New Guinea.

In February 1944 the unit was redesignated as a Heavy Bombardment Squadron, and was assigned very long range Consolidated B-24 Liberators, built by Ford and optimized for long range bombing missions in the Pacific. With its new heavy bombers the group attacked targets on Borneo, Ceram and Halmahera, amongst them the crucial oil fields of the Dutch East Indies. In September 1944 the squadron moved its attention to the Philippines, attacking targets on Leyte. It moved onto Leyte on 15 November 1944. From then until August 1945 it flew against targets on Luzon, as well as supporting the campaign on Borneo and even ranging out as far as China. Finally, on 15 August 1945 the unit moved to Okinawa, from where it flew a number of armed reconnaissance missions over southern Japan to make sure the surrender terms were being obeyed. The squadron was demobilized on Okinawa after the war, being inactivated as a paper unit in the Philippines in early 1946.

The squadron was activated in 1958 as a result of Strategic Air Command phasing out the B-47 Stratojet, and additional squadrons were activated as part of the consolation of Stratojet wings, and the replacement of the B-47 by B-52 Stratofortresses. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. and the squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1962 as part of the drawdown of the USAF B-47 force.


  • Organized as 18th Aero Squadron (II)* on August 20, 1917
Redesignated Squadron B, Rockwell Field, Calif, on July 23, 1918
Demobilized on November 23, 1918
  • Reconstituted and consolidated (March 17, 1925) with 18th Squadron which was authorized on August 30, 1918
Organized on October 1, 1921
Inactivated on July 23, 1922
  • Redesignated 18th Observation Squadron on January 25, 1923
Disbanded on February 18, 1925
  • Reconstituted and consolidated (March 17, 1925) with Headquarters Detachment, Bolling Field, DC, which was organized on July 11, 1922
Redesignated: Headquarters Squadron, Bolling Field, DC, on October 6, 1924
Redesignated: 18th Headquarters Squadron on March 17, 1925
Inactivated on March 31, 1928
Disbanded on October 1, 1933
  • Reconstituted and consolidated (1964) with 18th Observation Squadron (Long Range, Light Bombardment) which was constituted on March 1, 1935
Redesignated: 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, and activated, on September 1, 1936
Redesignated: 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium Range) on December 6, 1939
Redesignated: 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) on November 20, 1940
Redesignated: 408th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on April 22, 1942
Redesignated: 408th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on February 3, 1944
Inactivated on April 29, 1946
  • Redesignated 408th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on October 6, 1958
Activated on January 1, 1959
Discontinued, and inactivated, on January 1, 1962.

* Another 18th Aero Squadron was activated at Kelly Field, Texas in June 1917. It was re-designated as the 23d Aero Squadron (Repair) in September 1917. Today the squadron's lineage and history is held by the USAF 23d Bomb Squadron


Attached: February 1, 1940 – April 24, 1942
Associated with: 1st Photographic Charting Group, 10 Jun 1941-22 Apr 1942 (Training)
Assigned: April 24, 1942 – April 29, 1946



  • Apparently included JN-4, JN-6, and S-4, during period I.917-1918
  • Unknown, 1921–1922
  • In addition to DH-4, M-1,O-2, PW-9, and P-1, evidently included 0-1 during period 1922–1928
  • In addition to B-10, 1936–1937, and B-18, 1937–1941
  • Included A-17, C-8, OA-4, and OA-8, during period 1936–1940
  • B-25 Mitchell, 1941
  • B-26 Marauder, 1941–1943
  • B-24 Liberator, 1943–1944;1944–1945
  • B-47 Stratojet, 1959–1961.

See also


External links

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