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49th Test and Evaluation Squadron

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Active  1917-present
Type  Squadron
Part of  Air Combat Command
Country  United States
Role  Test and Evaluation
49th Test and Evaluation Squadron
Branch  United States Air Force

The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. Its current assignment is with the 53d Wing, based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.


During World War II, the 49th Bombardment Squadron was a B-17 Flying Fortress squadron, assigned to the 2d Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force. It earned Two Distinguished Unit Citations.


The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron is home to several bomber operational test programs. Primary among these are the Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program, the bomber portion of the Air to Ground Weapon System Evaluation Program, and initial operational test of the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. The squadron is an Air Combat Command (ACC) unit tasked to support and conduct operational testing from all three Air Force bombers. The squadron’s main focus is on the B-52 with additional testing being conducted on the B-1 and B-2. To accomplish its mission, the squadron must use operational bombers as there are no test coded bombers in ACC.

49th Aero Squadron

Formed at Kelly Field #1, San Antonio, Texas on 6 August 1917. During its initial indoctrination training at Kelly Field, many squadron members were reassigned to other squadrons, however on 25 August, personnel from the 68th Aero Squadron were assigned to the 49th. After about a month of basic training as soldiers, the squadron was moved to the newly opened Kelly Field #2 where they began training with Curtiss JN-4 Jennys as a school squadron.

Deployed to England in late November 1917, spent six months training with the Royal Flying Corps, then an additional month of training at the Third Air Instructional Center at Issoudun Aerodrome, France for combat training.

Equipped with new Spad XIIIs, the 49th began flying operations with the First Army and was credited with participation in the Lorraine, St Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne campaigns. During its time in combat, the 49th Aero Squadron downed 25 enemy aircraft, losing six pilots killed, wounded, or missing.

166th Aero Squadron

The squadron was organized at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas on 18 December 1917. After several days, the squadron was moved to Wilbur Wright Field, Dayton Ohio where it received its first training in the handling of Curtiss JN-4 and Standard J-1 aircraft.

Moved to England in March 1919, spent several months with the Royal Flying Corps being trained. Transferred to the American Expeditionary Forces in France during August 1918. Assigned to the 1st Day Bombardment Group, First Army. Equipped with De Havilland DH-4 and became a Day Bombardment squadron. In combat during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, 18 October-11 November 1918.

After the 1918 Armistice with Germany, was assigned to the US Third Army, became part of the occupation forces in the German Rhineland, November 1918-April 1919. Returned to the United States, most squadron personnel demobilized in New York.

Inter-War period

Remained as part of the Air Service, moved to Ellington Field, Texas in July 1919 and was reformed with new personnel. Participated in demonstrations of effectiveness of aerial bombardment on warships, June–September 1921; mercy mission in relief of marooned inhabitants of islands in the frozen Chesapeake, 9–11 February 1936.

Began its association with testing when it received the first of the five Boeing YB-9, first all-metal monoplane bomber aircraft designed for the United States Army Air Corps, on 14 September 1932. The new bomber proved impossible to intercept during air exercises in May 1932, strengthening calls for improved air defense warning systems. Received the first of 12 B-17 Flying Fortresses delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps. Participated in good-will flights to Argentina, 15–27 February 1938, Colombia, 3–12 August 1938, Mexico, 9–15 June 1939, and Brazil, 10–28 November 1939. The trip to Buenos Aires represented the longest distance performance of its kind on record and won the 2nd Bombardment Group the Mackay Trophy in 1938. Following the 24 January 1939 Chillán earthquake in Chile, the XB-15, a prototype aircraft that had been assigned to the squadron to test the feasibility of operating very heavy bombers, flew a relief mission carrying medical supplies. Commanded by Major Caleb V. Haynes, the aircraft carried 3,250 lb (1,470 kg) of American Red Cross emergency supplies to Santiago, making only two stops along the way, at France Field in the Panama Canal Zone, and at Lima, Peru. Haynes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Order of the Merit of Chile, and the whole crew earned the MacKay Trophy.

The squadron also achieved a well-publicized success on 12 May 1938, when three squadron B-17s, led by group commander Lt. Col. Robert Olds and navigated by 1st Lt. Curtis E. LeMay, a member of the 49th, intercepted the Italian ocean liner Rex over 600 miles at sea during a training exercise.

World War II

During the early stages of the Second World War (WWII), the 49th conducted anti-submarine operations on both the Pacific and Atlantic coast prior to being sent to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). From 28 April 1943 to 1 May 1945, the 49th conducted air operations in both the Mediterranean and European theaters as part of the 2nd Bombardment Group (BG), 5th Combat Wing, 15th Air Force stationed at Navarin, Algeria, flying the B-17 Flying Fortress. During 1943, the group moved five times: to Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria; Ain M'lilia, Algeria; Massicault, Tunisia; Bizerte, Tunisia; Amendola, Italy. Some of the important missions the 49th participated in were: the monastery at Cassino, Italy, on 15 February 1944; enemy troop concentrations at Anzio beach-head on 2 March 1944; and the oil refineries at Ploiești, Romania, throughout the spring of 1944. The last mission was flown on 1 May 1945 against marshalling yards at Salzburg, Austria. On 29 October 1945, the group finally moved to Foggia, Italy, where it remained as part of the occupational forces and was inactivated on 28 February 1946. By the time the 49th was inactivated, it participated in 412 combat missions flown with the 2nd BG over Africa, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Hungary.

Strategic Air Command

The 49th was reactivated on 1 July 1947 at Andrews Field, Maryland. The squadron soon moved to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, and received training on the Boeing B-29 Superfortress as part of the new SAC long-range strike force. The 49th's first deployment came on 9 August through 16 November 1948 to Lakenheath RAF Station, England. Upon returning home, the 49th moved to Chatham AFB, Georgia, and added the B-50 to their inventory. In September 1950, the squadron moved to Hunter AFB, GA and began flying training missions over the eastern half of the United States. For the next three years the 49th deployed to Mildenhall RAF Station and Upper Heyford RAF Station, England, in support of NATO exercises and RAF bombing competitions. Then in February 1954, the squadron entered the "jet age" by receiving the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. Shortly after achieving combat-ready status, aircrews began performing alert and deploying abroad. Overseas deployments included: Sidi Slimane AB and Nouasseur AB, Morocco; Brize Norton RAF Station, England; and three different bases throughout Spain. Not only were crews and aircraft performing alert at home, but at various overseas deployment bases also. The alert commitment at home was discontinued with the increase of deployed aircrews and aircraft. Most overseas alert tours would last from three to four weeks compared to the one week tour alert crews performed during the height of the Cold War. The 49th returned home to perform alert duties during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 before moving to Barksdale AFB. On 1 April 1963, the squadron was inactivated until 1986.

In July 1972, the 4201st Test Squadron was activated with a new mission to conduct operational test and evaluation (OT&E) of the Short Range Attack Missile AGM-69 SRAM. To establish continuing capability for conducting MAJCOM-directed OT&E of strategic airborne weapon systems, the 4201st was designated as a permanent organization in July 1974. At this time, the present location of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, was established for the squadron to conduct its mission. As part of SAC's initiative to provide combat-rich histories to relatively new organizations, the 4201st was inactivated and replaced by the 49th Test Squadron in July 1986.


49th Aero Squadron
  • Organized as the 49th Aero Squadron on 6 August 1917
  • Redesignated 49th Aero Squadron (Pursuit) in July 1918 Demobilized on 22 March 1919
  • Reconstituted and consolidated with the 49th Bombardment Squadron as the 49th Bombardment Squadronon 16 October 1936
  • 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron
  • Organized as the 166th Aero Squadron on 18 December 1917
  • Redesignated 166th Aero Squadron (Day Bombardment) in August 1918 Redesignated 49th Squadron (Bombardment) on 14 March 1921 Redesignated 49th Bombardment Squadron on 25 January 1923
  • Consolidated with the 49th Aero Squadron on 16 October 1936
  • Redesignated 49th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 6 December 1939 Redesignated 49th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy c. 6 March 1944 Inactivated on 28 February 1946
  • Redesignated 49th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy On 5 April 1946
  • Activated on 1 July 1947 Redesignated 49th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 28 May 1948 Inactivated on 1 April 1963
  • Redesignated 49th Test Squadron and activated on 1 July 1986
  • Redesignated 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron on 1 July 1992


    49th Aero Squadron

  • Post Headquarters, Kelly Field, 6 August-21 November 1917
  • Aviation Concentration Center, 3–23 January 1917
  • American Expeditionary Force, 23 January
  • Attached to the Royal Flying Corps for training, 24 January-28 July 1918 Attached to Third Air Instructional Center, 2–28 July 1918
  • 3d Pursuit Group, Air Service, 1st Army, AEF, 28 July-2 August 1918
  • 2d Pursuit Group, Air Service, 1st Army, AEF, 2 August-7 December 1918
  • 1st Air Depot, AEF, 7 December 1918-Undetermined
  • Unknown, Undetermined-22 March 1919
  • 166th Aero (later 49th Bombardment) Squadron

  • Post Headquarters, Kelly Field, 18 December 1917
  • Unknown, 24 December 1917 – 20 February 1918
  • Aviation Concentration Center, 20 February-5 March 1918
  • Attached to the Royal Flying Corps for training, 25 March-7 August 1918
  • Replacement Concentration Center, AEF, 14–18 August 1918
  • Air Service Production Center No. 2, AEF, 18–20 August 1918
  • 1st Air Depot, AEF, 22–25 August 1918
  • 1st Day Bombardment Group, September–21 November 1918
  • Air Service, Third Army, 22 November 1918 – 17 April 1919
  • 1st Air Depot, AEF, 17 April-3 May 1919
  • 1st Day Bombardment Group (later 2d Bombardment Group), 18 September 1919 to consolidation in 1936
  • Detached for operations with 1st Provisional Air Brigade, May–October 1921 Attached to Ordnance Department for service, August 1922-January 1928

    Consolidated Squadron

  • 2d Bombardment Group, from consolidation in 1936 to 28 February 1946
  • Attached to Newfoundland Base Command, December 1941-June 1942
  • 2d Bombardment Group, 1 July 1947
  • 2d Bombardment Wing, 16 June 1952 – 1 April 1963
  • Strategic Air Command, 1 July 1986
  • Attached to Strategic Air Combat Operations Staff, 1 July 1986-1 June 1992
  • USAF Air Warfare Center, 1 June 1992
  • 79th Test and Evaluation Group, 15 April 1993
  • 53d Test and Evaluation Group, 20 November 1998 – Present
  • References

    49th Test and Evaluation Squadron Wikipedia

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