The 341st Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 4038th Strategic Wing. It was last stationed at Dow Air Force Base, Maine, and was inactivated on 1 February 1963.
During World War II, the 341st Bombardment Squadron was a B-17 Flying Fortress squadron, assigned to the 97th Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force. It earned Two Distinguished Unit Citations.
Established as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomb squadron in early 1942; trained under Third Air Force in Florida. While training flew antisubmarine patrols over Gulf of Mexico and over Florida Atlantic coastline. Deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO) in June 1942, being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England with B-17E aircraft.
Combat operations by the group began on 17 August 1942, when the squadron participated in the first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber mission of the war, attacking the Rouen-Sotteville marshalling yards in France. Continued long range strategic bombardment of occupied Europe, attacking airfields, marshalling yards, industries, naval installations, and other targets in France and the Low Countries.
Deployed to Algeria in November 1942, assigned to the new Twelfth Air Force in North Africa and upgraded to B-17Fs. Raided shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and airfields, docks, harbors, and marshalling yards in north Africa, southern France, Sardinia, Sicily, and the southern Italian mainland in a campaign to cut supply lines to German forces in north Africa. Helped force the capitulation of Pantelleria Island in June 1943. Bombed in preparation for and in support of the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy in the summer and fall of 1943.
Reassigned to the new Fifteenth Air Force and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in southern Italy, November 1943, flying combination of B-17Fs and new B-17Gs. From Southern Italy engaged in very long range strategic bombardment missions, attacking targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece, attacking oil refineries, marshalling yards, aircraft factories, and other strategic objectives. Participated in first shuttle-bombing mission to Russia (Operation Frantic) in June 1944.
Returned to the United States after the German Capitulation in May 1945, prepared for transition to B-29 Superfortress aircraft and deployment to Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific Theater. Japanese Capitulation in August ended training activities, squadron was demobilized and inactivated in October.
Reactivated in 1946 under Strategic Air Command. Equipped with B-29 Superfortresses and participated in numerous exercises, operational readiness inspections, and overseas deployments. Became part of SAC nuclear deterrent force. Began upgrading to the new B-50 Superfortress, an advanced version of the B-29 in 1949. The B-50 gave the unit the capability to carry heavy loads of conventional weapons faster and farther as well as being designed for atomic bomb missions if necessary.
By 1951, the emergence of the Soviet Mig-21 interceptor in the skies of North Korea signaled the end of the propeller-driven B-50 as a first-line strategic bomber. Received B-47 Stratojet jet bombers in 1955 and despite initial difficulties, the Stratojet became the mainstay of the medium-bombing strength of SAC all throughout the 1950s, deployed frequently to North Africa and England for REFLEX exercises. Began sending its B-47s to AMARC at Davis-Monthan in 1959 when the aircraft was deemed no longer capable of penetrating Soviet airspace.
In 1960 was reassigned to SAC provisional 4038th Strategic Wing, being re-equipped with B-52D Stratofortress intercontinental heavy bombers. Was reassigned to Dow AFB, Maine by SAC to disperse its heavy bomber force. Conducted worldwide strategic bombardment training missions and providing nuclear deterrent. Was inactivated in 1963 when SAC inactivated its provisional Strategic Wings, redesignating them permanent Air Force Wings. Squadron was inactivated with aircraft/personnel/equipment being redesignated 596th Bombardment Squadron in an in-place, name-only transfer.Constituted 341st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942
Activated on 3 Feb 1942
Inactivated on 29 Oct 1945
Re-designated 341st Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 15 Jul 1946
Activated on 4 Aug 1946
Re-designated: 341st Bombardment Squadron (Medium)
on 28 May 1948
Re-designated: 341st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)
on 1 Oct 1959
Discontinued and inactivated on 1 Feb 1963; aircraft/personnel/equipment redesignated 596th Bombardment Squadron
97th Bombardment Group, 3 Feb 1942-29 Oct 1945; 4 Aug 1946
97th Bombardment Wing, 16 Jun 1952
4038th Strategic Wing, 15 Feb 1960-1Feb 1963
B-17 Flying Fortress, 1942–1945
B-29 Superfortress, 1946–1950
B-50 Superfortress, 1950–1955
B-47 Stratojet, 1955–1959
B-52G Stratofortress, 1960–1963