Part of Tactical Air Command
|Country United States|
|Branch United States Air Force|
Role Command of tactical reconnaissance forces
The 837th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command's Ninth Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina where it was inactivated on 1 February 1963.
The division was activated in February 1958 as the headquarters for the 363d and 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wings at Shaw. It was also responsible for the Air Force's Advanced Tactical Reconnaissance Flying Training School, which was managed by the 432d Wing until the wing was inactivated in June 1959, then by the 4411th Combat Crew Training Group.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the division deployed most of its 363d Wing to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from which it conducted low altitude reconnaissance missions over harbors and military sites in Cuba. Shortly after the end of the crisis, in February 1963, the division was inactivated and its resources transferred to the USAF Tactical Air Reconnaissance Center, which was simultaneously activated at Shaw.
The 837th Air Division was activated at Shaw Air Force Base on 9 February 1958 when the 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated as Tactical Air Command (TAC)'s second tactical reconnaissance wing there. The 432d joined the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which had been at Shaw since April 1951. The two wings were equipped with a variety of reconnaissance aircraft including both WB-66 and RB-66 Destroyers, Republic RF-84F Thunderflash aircraft and McDonnell RF-101 Voodoos. The division's 837th Air Base Group absorbed the resources of the inactivating 363d Air Base Group and became the host unit for active duty United States Air Force units stationed at Shaw. Brigadier General Mack, the commander of the 363d Wing, became the first commander of the division. The division's units performed visual, photographic, electronic, and weather reconnaissance.
In March 1958, the Air Force's advanced tactical reconnaissance school was assigned to the division, but was operated by the 432d Wing. The 4411th Combat Crew Training Group was organized and assigned to the division on 8 April 1959 and began preparations to manage the advanced flying school. In June, the 432d Wing was inactivated and the 4411th Group assumed command of the school from the division.
Before President Kennedy announced the presence of Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, the division and its 363d wing were notified of the high altitude reconnaissance missions by Lockheed U-2 aircraft of Strategic Air Command, which had indicated the construction of missile sites in Cuba, and began preparing target materials for possible low-level reconnaissance flights over the island. On 21 October 1962, the 363d Wing deployed RB-66s and RF-101s to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, along with photographic interpreters and equipment from its 363d Reconnaissance Technical Squadron. For three weeks, beginning on 26 October, the wing conducted an intensive low level reconnaissance campaign over Cuba to detect missiles and short range Soviet Ilyushin Il-28 bombers. These sorties also provided the first evidence of a buildup of air defenses in Cuba when it detected SA-2 surface-to-air missiles.
The division was inactivated in February 1963 and its personnel formed the cadre for the USAF Tactical Air Reconnaissance Center, which was activated at Shaw the same day. The 4411th Combat Crew Training Group and the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing were assigned to the new center. Brigadier General Aynesworth, the division commander, became the commander of the center.