45th Air Division


45th Air Division
Shield Strategic Air Command.png
A 509th Bombardment Wing FB-111A aircraft drops Mark 82 high drag practice bombs along a coastline during a training exercise DF-ST-91-02468.jpg
A 509th Bombardment Wing FB-111A dropping Mark 82 high drag practice bombs
Active1943–1945; 1954–1958; 1958–1989
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleCommand of strategic strike forces
Part ofStrategic Air Command
EngagementsEuropean Theater of World War II
Gen Archie J. Old Jr., Gen John C. Meyer
45th Air Division emblem (Approved 12 May 1960)[1]45th Air Division crest.jpg

The 45th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Eighth Air Force at Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire. It was inactivated on 14 June 1989.


As the 45th Bombardment Wing, the unit was one of the primary Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy strategic bombardment wings of the Eighth Air Force 3d Bombardment Division in World War II. Groups from "the wing began bombing operations against German occupied Europe on 14 September 1943. Its bombers attacked targets in such German cities as Bremen, Emden, Kiel, Ludwigshafen, Munster, Saarbrücken, Schweinfurt, and Wilhelmshaven. In June 1944 the 45th supported the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, with tactical missions, against enemy airdromes, airfields, bridges, coastal defenses, field batteries, gun positions, and railway junctions."[1]

On 21 June 1944, Colonel Archie J. Old Jr., commanding officer of the 45th Combat Bombardment Wing, served as the task force commander of a shuttle bombing mission to the Soviet Union. The task force raided a synthetic oil plant just south of Berlin, and then proceeded to Poltava, Ukraine, in the Soviet Union, where a large number of the 45th's bombers were destroyed on the ground during a raid by German bomber and fighter aircraft. About eighty German aircraft combined in one of history's most effective bombing raids, lasting over two hours. Heinkel He 111Hs began with level bombardment, followed by low-altitude strafing by Ju 88s. He 177As provided before-and-after reconnaissance.[2] According to the internal history: "43 Fortresses were destroyed or damaged beyond repair; 3 C-47s and 1 F-5 were likewise destroyed. 26 Fortresses, 2 C-47s and 1 C-46, and 25 Russian aircraft (mainly Yak fighters) were heavily damaged but repairable; over 450,000 gallons of gasoline were destroyed and over 500 gallons of aircraft oil; over 3200 bombs, 26,000 bomb fuses, and 1,360,000 cartridges were destroyed."[3] 25 Russians were killed on the night of the raid, but anti-personnel bomblets continued to go off for weeks after the attack, causing continuing casualties.[4]

The surviving bombers bombed "an oil plant at Drohobycz, Poland, while returning from Poltava to Foggia, Italy. Shortly before the German surrender, in late April 1945, the wing flew five 'Chow Hound' mercy missions, dropping food and other supplies to the people in [the still occupied western part of the Netherlands]. After the German surrender on 8 May 1945, it helped transport displaced Europeans back to their respective native countries."[1]

Reactivated an intermediate command echelon of Strategic Air Command in October 1954, the 45th Air Division "assumed responsibility for the training and combat readiness of its assigned units. It achieved this goal through staff assistance visits and supervising or participating in exercises such as Golden Hour Tango, Rubber Ball, and Sky Shield."[1]

The 42nd, 380th, and 509th Bombardment Wings were the last wings assigned to the division, which were reassigned elsewhere in March 1989. The division was inactivated in June 1989 due to budget constraints and the reduction of forces after the end of the Cold War.[1]


  • Established as the 45th Bombardment Wing (Medium) on 15 February 1943
Activated on 1 April 1943
Redesignated: 45th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) on 6 April 1943
Redesignated: 45th Combat Bombardment Wing (Heavy) on 30 August 1943
Redesignated: 45th Combat Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 24 August 1944
Disbanded on 18 June 1945
  • Reestablished and redesignated 45th Air Division on 24 September 1954
Activated on 8 October 1954
Inactivated on 18 January 1958
  • Activated on 20 November 1958
Inactivated on 15 June 1989[1]






Aircraft and Missiles

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Factsheet 45 Air Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  2. ^ Infield
  3. ^ Hansen, 373
  4. ^ History, E.C.


Public Domain 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.