The 491st Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 341st Bombardment Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas where it was inactivated on 25 June 1961.
The squadron was first activated during World War I as the 79th Aero Squadron. It deployed to France in 1917 and was redesignated the 491st Aero Squadron. It served as a construction unit before returning to the United States, where it was demobilized in 1919. It was consolidated with the 491st Bombardment Squadron in 1936.
The 491st Bombardment Squadron was constituted as an Organized Reserve unit in 1924. It was activated in 1925, at Sand Point Airport, Washington, but was only nominally manned. The squadron was consolidated with the 491st Aero Squadron in 1936, but inactivated the following year. it was disbanded in May 1942, as were all the other Organized Reserve units in the Air Corps.
The 491st Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was constituted and activated in India during World War II. It participated in combat in the China-Burma-India Theater until the end of the war, when it returned to the United States and was inactivated.
The squadron was activated in the Air Force Reserves in 1947, but was discontinued when Continental Air Command reorganized its reserve units under the wing base organization plan. In 1958, it was consolidated with the first 491st Bombardment Squadron and activated at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas when Strategic Air Command expanded its Boeing B-47 Stratojet wings to four squadrons. The squadron was inactivated at Dyess in 1961.
The first predecessor of the squadron was organized as the 79th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas in August 1917. It deployed to the Aviation Concentration Center in Garden City, New York in November for shipment to France. It arrived in France the following month and moved to Saint-Nazaire, where it was redesignated the 491st Aero Squadron (Construction) and constructed and maintained facilities from February until December 1918. It returned to the United States in January 1919 and was demobilized. It was reconstituted c. 16 October 1936 and consolidated with the 491st Bombardment Squadron.
The 492d Bombardment Squadron was authorized in the Organized Reserves in March 1924. It was activated at Sand Point Airport, Washington in the Ninth Corps Area the following January and assigned to the 349th Bombardment Group. The squadron was only nominally manned before it was inactivated in the spring of 1937. Along with all other Air Corps Organized Reserve units, it was disbanded in May 1942. In August 1958 it was reconstituted and consolidated with the 492d Bombardment Squadron, Medium.
The 491st Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was activated in September 1942 as a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber squadron at Karachi, India. It was assigned to the newly activated 341st Bombardment Group of Tenth Air Force. The squadron did not receive a full complement of aircraft and personnel until the end of the year. After moving to Chakulia Airfield, the squadron began combat operations, flying its first mission on 10 January 1943. For the remainder of the year the squadron was primarily tasked with interdicting Japanese lines of communication in Burma.
The squadron was transferred to Fourteenth Air Force and moved to China in January 1944. Again the squadron's primary tasking was interdiction of Japanese lines of communication in China and eastern French Indochina (now Vietnam). In addition to strikes against airfields, bivouac and storage areas and bridges, the unit performed target of opportunity sweeps along roads, rivers and over the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea.
When Japan surrendered, sixteen squadron aircrews and several aircraft maintenance personnel were in India undergoing transition training to Douglas A-26 Invader. About 31 August 1945 the remaining 491st personnel joined those in India. Those determined to meet rotation requirements embarked on a transport ship and returned to the United States, arriving on 1 November. The squadron was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 2 November 1945.
The unit was redesignated 491st Bombardment Squadron, Light on 26 May 1947 and activated in the Air Force reserves on 5 June. The squadron was inactivated on 27 June 1949 when Continental Air Command reorganized its operational reserve units under the wing base organizational model.
The squadron was redesignated 491st Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 20 August 1958 and consolidated with the 491st Bombardment Squadron. It was activated on 1 November and assigned to the 341st Bombardment Wing at Dyess Air Force Base operating the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. The squadron was inactivated on 25 June 1961 as part of that draw down, and its aircraft were sent to storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
491st Aero SquadronOrganized as 79th Aero Squadron on 15 August 1917
Redesignated 491st Aero Squadron
on 1 February 1918
Demobilized on 31 January 1919
Reconstituted and consolidated c. 16 October 1936 with the '491st Bombardment Squadron
491st Bombardment SquadronConstituted as the 491st Bombardment Squadron and allotted to the reserve on 31 March 1924
Activated in January 1925
Consolidated c. 16 October 1936 with the 491st Aero Squadron
Inactivated on 2 March 1937
Disbanded on 31 May 1942
Reconstituted and consolidated on 20 August 1958 with the 491st Bombardment Squadron, Medium
491st Bombardment Squadron, MediumConstituted as the 491st Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 14 August 1942
Activated on 15 September 1942
Redesignated 491st Bombardment Squadron, Medium c. 1 August 1943
Inactivated on 2 November 1945
Redesignated 491st Bombardment Squadron, Light on 26 May 1947
Activated in the reserve on 5 June 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
Redesignated 491st Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 20 August 1958 and consolidated with the 491st Bombardment Squadron
Activated on 1 November 1958
Discontinued and inactivated, on 25 June 1961
Unknown, 15 August–December 1917
7th Aviation Instruction Center, December 1917-December 1918
Unknown, December 1918 - 31 January 1919
349th Bombardment Group, January 1925 - 2 March 1937
341st Bombardment Group, 15 September 1942 – 2 November 1945
341st Bombardment Group, 5 June 1947 – 27 June 1949
341st Bombardment Wing, 1 November 1958 – 25 June 1961.
B-25 Mitchell, 1942–1945
A-26 Invader, 1945
B-47 Stratojet, 1958-1961