42nd Air Division


The 42nd Air Division was a unit of the United States Air Force. It was established as the 42 Bombardment Wing (Dive) on 8 February 1943. The wing first saw combat in September 1943. It was inactivated in 1991.

42nd Air Division
B-52G (7701444978).jpg
B-52G as flown by division wings in the 1980s
Active1943–1945; 1951–1958; 1959–1969; 1970–1991
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleCommand of strike forces
DecorationsFrench Croix de Guerre with Palm
42nd Air Division emblem (Approved 29 December 1965)[1]42d Air Division crest.jpg


Activated in 1943 as the 42nd Bombardment Wing and controlled Martin B-26 Marauder groups as part of Twelfth Air Force. "The wing first saw combat in the invasion of Italy, where its units flew close support missions to stop the German counterattack on the beachhead at Salerno during September 1943. As the Allied forces progressed, the 42nd took a leading part in interdicting Axis road and rail transport, and later in 1944, in the attacks against the monastery at Cassino. In August 1944, it supported the Allied landings in southern France. As the war drew to a close the 42nd attacked German positions along the Siegfried Line and, in support of the Allied forces in their sweep across southern Germany, bombed enemy strong points, and communications and supply facilities."[1]

The French Bretagne Bombardment Group was attached in 1943.

Reactivated an intermediate command echelon of Strategic Air Command in March 1951, the 42nd Air Division "equipped and trained its assigned units to conduct strategic air warfare using nuclear or conventional weapons anywhere in the world. It also trained and maintained air refueling assets. Tankers from units assigned to the 42nd supported the Eielson Tanker Task Force and, over the years, occasionally deployed to Spain for Spanish Area Support. The division conducted numerous staff assistance visits and simulated no notice inspections, and participated in exercises such as Buy None and Global Shield."[1]

Aircraft and personnel from units assigned to the division, at various times in the late 1960s and early 1970s, deployed to Southeast Asia and took part in Operation Arc Light and Operation Young Tiger missions. Subordinate units of the 42nd deployed aircraft and personnel in support of the Vietnam War.[1]

The division was inactivated in 1991 as part of the post-Cold War reduction of USAF forces.[1]


  • Established as the 42nd Bombardment Wing (Dive) on 8 February 1943
Activated on 16 February 1943
Redesignated 42nd Bombardment Wing (Medium) on 31 July 1943
Redesignated 42nd Bombardment Wing, Medium on 23 October 1944
Inactivated on 25 October 1945
  • Redesignated 42nd Air Division on 2 March 1951
Organized on 10 March 1951
Discontinued on 16 June 1952
  • Activated on 16 June 1952[2]
Inactivated on 8 January 1958
  • Activated on 15 July 1959.
Redesignated 42nd Strategic Aerospace Division on 1 June 1962
Redesignated 42nd Air Division on 1 July 1963
Inactivated on 2 July 1969
Activated on 1 January 1970
Inactivated on 9 July 1991[1]







Aircraft and missilesEdit

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, 1940 Martin B-26 Marauder, 1943–1945 Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 1943[1]

Convair B-36 Peacemaker, 1951–1957 Republic F-84 Thunderjet, 1951–1958 Boeing KB-29 Superfortress, 1953–1957 McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, 1957–1958 Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter, 1957–1958[1]

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, 1963–1969 Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 1963–1969 LGM-25C Titan II, 1963–1969 Boeing EC-135, 1966–1969[1]

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, 1970, 1973–1988 Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 1972–1988 LGM-25C Titan II, 1970, 1973–1982 Boeing EC-135, 1970–1973, 1982–1988 McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, 1982–1988 Rockwell B-1 Lancer, 1988–1991 Minuteman-III (LGM-30G), 1988–1991[1]


This unit earned the following unit decorations:


Per chevron inverted azure and light blue between in chief a fleur de lis or enarched with four mullets of four points above two of same argent, all between two lightning bolts gules fimbriated of the fourth and in base saltirewise a palm and an olive branch of the last, in fess point a cloud formation of the like and over all in pale a winged mace displayed or, all within a diminished border of the last. (Approved 29 December 1965)

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Factsheet 42 Air Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  2. ^ The simultaneous discontinuation and activation on 16 June 1952 represent only a change between a Table of Distribution unit and a Table of Organization unit.


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.