Source: 7th Bomb Wing B-36 Association
(Excerpt includes information about the 492nd Bomb Squadron through WWII)
The 492nd Bombardment Squadron had its origin in the 80th Aero Squadron, which was organized at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, on 15 August 1917. Early the next month the service nature of the unit became clearly apparent when it was redesignated the 80th Aero Squadron (Construction). Near the end of October the unit left San Antonio on the first lap of its journey overseas, and arrived at Garden City, New York, on 3 November. The Carpathia, on which it sailed for Europe some three weeks later, docked at Le Havre, France, on 14 December 1917.
Three days after arriving in France the 80th Squadron took station at the 2d Aviation Instruction Center in Tours. There it performed construction work until the end of World War I. Meanwhile, on 1 February 1918, it had been redesignated the 492nd Aero Squadron (construction). The unit returned to the United States aboard the Frederick late in January 1919 and was disbanded at Garden City on 13 February 1919.
In order to perpetuate the history and traditions of the 492nd Aero Squadron, the unit was reconstituted on 5 December 1936 and consolidated with the 492nd Bombardment Squadron which had been constituted and allotted to the Organized Reserve on 31 March 1924. The consolidation of the two units under the bombardment designation thus served to extend the history of the reserve squadron back to 15 August 1917. The 492nd Bombardment Squadron was stationed at Seattle, Washington, from the time it was constituted in 1924 until it was disbanded on 31 May 1942.
On 19 September 1942, less than four months after the 492nd Bombardment Squadron was disbanded, the 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H) was constituted. Having been assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group (H), it was activated at New Delhi, India, on 25 October 1942. There was no relation between this 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H) and the earlier 492nd Bombardment Squadron until 31 March 1960, when the Department of the Air Force, acting on the recommendation of the USAF Historical Division, consolidated the histories of the two units.
When the "new" 492nd Bombardment Squadron was activated in October 1942 it took station at Karachi Air Base, India, and immediately began preparations to enter combat with its parent group in the India-Burma Theater of Operations. The initial cadre consisted of one officer, First Lieutenant Herbert C. Boettcher, who assumed command of the unit and ten enlisted men. Personnel strength grew slowly at first. Yet by 1 February 1943, with 48 officers and 388 enlisted men, the squadron was considered a complete fighting unit. By that time it was equipped with eight B-24 Liberator aircraft, a number which ultimately grew to fourteen.
The squadron actually entered combat on 24 January 1943 when, operating from its base at Gaya, India, it bombed docks, shipping, and warehouses at Rangoon, Burma. That raid was followed early in February with an attack upon a railroad bridge at Myitnge. During the next five months, the squadron participated in repeated attacks on enemy communications lines in central and southern Burma, particularly in the area around Rangoon. Major targets in that respect included bridges, docks, and railroad yards at Rangoon; railroad bridges at Myitnge, Pyinmana, and Sinthe; docks at Moulmein; and shipping in the Gulf of Martaban. The squadron's Liberators struck also at the Mingaladon Airport, a Japanese fighter base near Rangoon; the Mantu lead mines; and the Thilawa oil refinery.
The monsoon season, commencing in May 1943, slowed down combat operations. Only eight missions were flown in that month, for instance only four were completed in June. Squadron officers took advantage of this slack period to initiate a number of special training courses. They included armament, the geography of Burma, naval craft identification, navigation, radio code practice, and weather. In July 1943, however, the unit attacked enemy shipping in the far distant Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. During August, it persistently harassed shipping lanes in the Gulf of Martaban from Rangoon down to the Andaman Islands. A significant mission for September was an attack upon the Syrian oil refineries on the river opposite Rangoon.
During the last three months of the year, following the breakup of the monsoon, the squadron increased the tempo of its combat activities. In October communications lines in the Rangoon area and shipping lanes in the Andaman Sea felt the brunt of its bombers. The highlight of the unit's raids during November 1943 was an attack upon the Insein yards at Rangoon, reportedly the only place in Burma with facilities for repairing locomotives. In December, there were two 2,300-mile roundtrip flights to Bangkok, Thailand, the first for an attack upon the government docks there, and the second to bomb the Terminus Railroad Station.
On 22 January 1944, the 492nd Squadron took station at Madhaiganj Army Air Base, India. It began the second year of combat activities with continued efforts to destroy enemy-held communications into and within Burma by bombing bridges, docks and warehouses, locomotives and rolling stock, and railway marshalling yards on land, and cargo vessels and naval craft on the adjacent waters. Such attacks were interspersed at times, particularly in the late spring of 1944, with raids on airdromes, barracks areas, depots, gasoline plants, landing strips, supply dumps, and troop concentrations.
In mid-June 1944, after the beginning of the monsoon period, the squadron moved to Tezgaon-Kurmitola, India, and for the time being ceased combat operations. Instead, it began transporting gasoline across the "Hump" to the Fourteenth Air Force in China. The first cargo was flown to Kunming on 20 June. These operations continued until after the first of October. During the period involved the unit had transported approximately 500,000 gallons of gasoline to China. Effective 5 October the squadron moved back to Madhainganj and began a "refresher" training course which included gunnery practice, formation flying, and dry-run bombing. Near the end of the month, much to the satisfaction of all personnel, the unit resumed regular combat activities.
Highlights of bombing operations for the remainder of the year were raids on the Ban Dara and the Geang Luang bridges on the Bangkok-Chiengmai railroad, an attack on the Pyinmana railroad yards, and a series of strikes along a 60-mile stretch of the Bangkok-Thanbyuzayt railway yards. For the greater part of December 1944, however, the squadron switched from blasting enemy lines of communications to destroying enemy stores. In December, also a small component of the 492nd Squadron left on six weeks of detached service in China. Based at Luliang, it engaged in hauling gasoline and other supplies to Sui-chuan and Liang-shan.
Early in 1945, the 492nd Bombardment Squadron supported British ground forces in the region north of Mandalay and east of the Irrawaddy River. After a resumption of attacks upon communications lines, it participated in a 2,500-mile mission in which it blasted railway roundhouses, rail sidings, and warehouses at Jumporn, a port on the Malay Peninsula south of Bangkok. In March, the squadron went all out against enemy communications in southern Burma, Thailand, and the Tenasserim Peninsula. That involved two raids on the Ban Tak Kam Bridge at Bandon, Thailand. In each instance the Liberators were in the air for over 17 hours, thought to be a record at the time for heavy bombers. Other highlights of the unit's combat activities during the closing weeks of the Burma campaign included a night raid up and down an 82-mile section of the Bangkok-Thanbyuzayt railroad, during which it destroyed two locomotives and numerous railroad cars. Later in the month the 492nd participated in a massive effort with other units of the 7th Bombardment Group to destroy the Burma-Thailand railroad. Using the unit's Liberators as "dive-glide" bombers on that occasion, the aircrews destroyed nine bridges.
After the fall of Rangoon on 7 May 1945, the 492nd Bombardment Squadron moved to Tezpur, India, and once again took on the mission of airlifting gasoline over the Hump into China. Some six weeks were required to refit the heavy bombers as substitute cargo carriers. The first mission was flown on 20 June. Normal operations continued throughout the summer. On 9 September, the squadron was notified that its airlifting mission would be considered as accomplished when it had transported a specified amount of gasoline to China. Speeding up operations, the aircrews completed the allotted task by 18 September. Six weeks later the squadron moved to Dudhkundi, India and thence to Kanchrapara on 19 November. It sailed from Calcutta aboard the General Black on 7 December 1945, and arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 5 January 1946. The unit was inactivated at Camp Kilmer the following day.
Organized: 80th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas Effective 15 August 1917 SO 83, Hq., Kelly Field, Texas
Redesignated: 80th Aero Squadron (Construction) effective 5 September 1917 SO 104, Hq., Kelly Field, Texas
Redesignated: 492nd Aero Squadron (Construction) effective 1 February 1918 Disbanded Garden City, New York, 13 February 1919 Allotted to the Organized Reserves: 31 March 1924 Reconstituted: 5 December 1936 WD Ltr. AG 320.2, 23 November 1936 Consolidated: 492nd Aero Squadron (Construction) with 492nd Bombardment Squadron Effective 5 December 1936
(Consolidated unit retained designation 492nd Bombardment Squadron) Disbanded: 31 May 1942 WD Ltr. AG 320.2 Org Res, 20 October 1942 Consolidated: 492nd Bombardment Squadron (organized as the 80th Aero Squadron, 15 August 1917 and disbanded on 31 May 1942, with the 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H), constituted on 19 September 1942) DAF Ltr. AFOMO 379m, 31 March 1960 Constituted: 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H) WD Ltr. AG 320.2, 18 September 1942 Activated: New Delhi, India Effective 25 October 1942 GO 30, Hq., Tenth Air Force, 20 October 1942 Inactivated: Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, 6 January 1946 GO 14, Hq., Army Service Forces (New York Port of Embarkation, 6 January 1946, pursuant to WD Ltr. AG 322, 18 September 1945). Redesignated: 492nd Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, 1 October 1946 WD Ltr. AG 322, 27 September 1946 Activated: Fort Worth Army Air Field, Texas Effective 1 October 1946 Go 75, Hq., Fifteenth Air Force, 22 October 1946 Redesignated: 492nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy DAF Ltr. 322 AFOOR 796e, 2.0 July 1948 ASSIGNMENTS
Unknown 15 August 1917 - February 1918
Headquarters, Air Service, 1 February 1918 - 9 December 1918
Service of Supply (Detachment attached to Second Aviation 15 April 1918 - 9 December 1918 Instruction Center)
Unknown 9 December 1918 - 13 February 1919
7th Bombardment Group (H) 25 October 1942 - 6 January 1946
7th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy 1 October 1946 - 16 June 1952
7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy 16 June 1952 - 15 June 1959
4228th Strategic Wing (H, Jet) 15 June 1959- AWARDS
Distinguished Unit Citation: Thailand, 19 March 1945
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award: 6 October 1959 - 15 July 1960
Service Streamers: Theater of Operations (WW I) CAMPAIGNS
India-Burma (WW II)
China Defensive (WW II)
Central Burma (WW II)
China Offensive (WW II)
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