95th Bomb Wing emblem


334th
                  Bomb Squadron Emplem 335th Bomb Squadron 336th Bomb Squadron emblem 


95th Bomb Wing

Biggs AFB, Texas

    The 95th Bomb Wing was established at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, on June 4, 1952 as the "95th Bombardment Wing (medium)".  The new unit was originally slated for B-50s, but was redesigned as a "Heavy" BW on November 8, 1952 and received B-36D in August of the following year.  The emblem of the "95th Bombardment Group (Medium)"  was approved for use by the new wing and three Bomb Squadrons were allocated to the 95th: the 334th, 335th and 336th.  Each squadron was equipped with ten aircraft.  In 1956 the wing started conversion to B-36H and J bombers, operating fifteen of each.  By 1957 the 95th operated only the B-36J, ultimately operating thirty two of this model. On May 22 of that year a wing B-36 inadvertently dropped a Mk 17 "Thermonuclear" (hydrogen) bomb 4 miles SE of Kirtland AFB, NM.  The bomb was being ferried to Kirtland for servicing.  The high explosive portion of the weapon detonated, but obviously not the nuclear portion as Albuquerque still exists.  A grazing cow was not so fortunate however.   A first hand account of this can be found in CONVAIR B-36: A Comprehensive history of America's "Big Stick" by Meyers K. Jacobsen (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997).  In 1959, the 95th had the distinction of operating SAC's last B-36 (52-2827) on a flight to Fort Worth, Texas, where the aircraft was placed on display at the Greater Southwest International Airport.  In 2005 it was moved to the Pima Air and Space Museum and in July, 2009 was placed on public display.  The 95th lost three aircraft to accidents due to various causes.  B-36D 44-92097, on Aug. 28, 1954 due to loss of power during landing (1 fatality), B36D 44-92029 on Feb. 8, 1955 due to "down draft" (wind shear in today's terms. No fatalities*) and finally, B-36D 44-92041 on Jan. 19, 1956 due to a hard landing (no fatalities**).  An additional B-36D, 44-92071, crashed while on a ferry flight from Carswell.

* "The information you have on B-36 029 and the total fatalities is incorrect. Several crew members were lost. The entire members in the aft cabin were killed. When they removed the blisters to evacuate, the fire and exhaust came in an killed them all. S/sgt Jerry Gates, the crew chief amongst them."  Nunzio J Castellani

**
" My Name is Nunzio J Castellani, Cmsgt. Ret. I was station at Biggs in 1953 when it opened  the 95 Bomb Wing until July 1963 when I was transferred over seas. I was the crew chief of  B-36  44-92041 ,and on board , when it crashed on January 19, 1956. We lost number 5 engine on takeoff. Blew and exhaust stack and had flames shooting out of the cowling. We were fully loaded, both bomb bays  full, and extra crew on board. Capt Bartel's , the aircraft commander, and one hell of a good pilot, wanted to continue on the our destination. But the wheel ordered us to return to Biggs. Gross weight, plus a cross wind shift at touchdown, caused us to break in half. With the rear half dragging on the runway. All pax escaped unharmed. The aircraft was totaled. "

 

     In 1959 the 95th Converted to B-52Bs, lost the 335th and 336th and gained the 917 Aerial Refueling Squadron, along with KC-135As.  At its peak the wing had nineteen B-52s and eight KC-135s.  The 95th participated in regular REFLEX excersizes to Andersen AFB, Guam during its existence.  In the September, 1965 issue of National Geographic (pg. 308) is a photo of B-52s standing alert on Guam.  At least three 95th BW birds are visible.  In late 1965 the Department of the Air Force announced that the B-52Bs in service would be retired.  This was due to several reasons, one being that with the build up in Viet Nam spare parts for BUFFs could become scarce.  The wing lost its B-52s in 1966 and officially inactivated on June 26.  With that deactivation, Biggs AFB was closed and the field turned over to the Army.

    During the B-52 era, the 95th lost two aircraft: 53-0390, which was lost on January 19, 1961 due to structural failure and 53-0380 (Ciudad Juarez). The latter was  shot down by an AIM-9 Sidewinder accidentally fired from a New Mexico Air National Guard (188th FIS) F-100A.

    On August 8, 1966 the 95th was reactivated as the "95th Strategic Wing" based at Goose Bay, Labrador.  Having few aircraft of its own, the 95th SW became responsible for providing support to KC-135 units deployed to Goose AB.  The 95th SW was deactivated on September 30, 1976.

    Once again the 95th was resurrected when it was reactivated as the "95th Air Base Wing" on October 1, 1994 at Edwards AFB, California.  On 13 July, 2012 the 95th Air Base Wing became the 412th Test Wing.

Known serial numbers:

B-36D 44-92027, -92029, -92036, -92038, 92039, -92040, -92041, -92045, -92047, -92049, -92052, -92053, -92054 and -92097.

B-36J  52-2214, -2217 (preserved at the Strategic Air & Space Museum), -2219, -2220 (on display at the US Air Force Museum), -2224, -2226, -2813,  -2820, -2824 and -2827 (Preserved at the Pima Air and Space Museum).

B-52B 53-0377. -0378, -0379 , -0380 ("Ciudad Juarez"), -381, -0383, -0385, -0386, -0387,  -0388 (the first "City of El Paso"), -0389, -0390, -0391 (the second "Ciudad Juarez"1), -0392, -0394 (the second "City of El Paso"),  -0395, -0396, -0397 and -0398.  

KC-135A 58-0054, -0085 and 62-3559.

HU-16B 51-0006

C-123B 54-0655  (Base Flight)

U-1A 55-3256, 55-3257 and 58-1696

1.  Bob Williams stated:  "The second B-52 named Ciudad Juarez was tail number 30391. It was the last B-52 to leave Biggs. I know this because I was the gunner. There was quite a ceremony and lunch at the Officers Club with the Mayor of Juarez in attendance and some other dignitaries. The flight nearly had a tragic end as we were struck by lightning not far from the bone yard in Tucson. The airplane was severely damaged, radars blown out, right wing end blown up, number 7&8 engine pod was nearly blown off the wing."




B-36 Era
1953 - 1959

B-36J 52-2220 95thBW 95thBW B-36J


    When the 95th Bomb Wing was activated in 1953, it was equipped with B-36Ds.  Over the ensuing years those would give way to B-36Hs and B-36Js, with two of the surviving B-36s being ex95th birds. 52-2220 went to the Air Force Museum in 1959 where she is now displayed indoors.  The above photo is of her before restoration.  (USAF)

    The other unidentified bird is under an overcast sky at an unknown location.

B-36D 44-92039 of the 95th Bombardment Wing B-36D aircraft at Biggs AFB, 1956.


    B-36D 44-92039 at an unknown location sometime in 1956.

    A row of B-36Ds on the ramp at Biggs.  The first B-36 is serial 44-92036, in the background are numerous B-36s, mobile maintenance docks, the VHB Hangar with the Franklin mountains in the distance.  This photo seems to be one in a series.  In Meyers K. Jacobsen book on the B-36 (pg 122) is a photo taken from on top of 036 looking down this line of bombers, which are lined up for inspection.  This photo was probably taken when the aircraft were being prepared for that inspection.



    The above photos are courtesy of J.W. Sheffield.  The photos are captioned (not visible in the thumbnails) and were taken during October, 1956.  From the terrain visible it is possible that  the formation is in the area of McNary, Texas.

B-36D in maintenance docks at Biggs AFB in 1954

    The B-36 was what would be considered today a "maintenance hog".  It was a very complex machine requiring a great  many man hours to keep operational, but it was also the backbone of SAC for several years.  Due to the strategic importance it held, it was worth every penny needed to keep it aloft.  The following thumbnail panels are pages scanned from a yearbook on the 810th Air Division published in 1954.  Some of the linked photos are very large.

B-36 engine maintenance

    As can be imagined, the lion's share of effort was spent on keeping the R-4360 engines in top shape.  The first two panels illustrate this point very well.  Many of the photos in the last three panels are of pre-flight and post flight procedures.  The bottom photo in the third panel shows an aircrew inspecting the wheel well of a B-36.  Both are wearing parachutes.

B-36 turrets

    With an empty weight of around 170,000 lbs and a max gross takeoff weight of up to 410,000 lbs (B-36J), some serious muscle was needed to move airplanes.  In the upper left photo, first panel a Federal  F-55-AF tug is shown towing a B-36.  The F-55-AF was a license built version of the Coleman CF-55-AF.  In the lower right photo, second panel behind the crew hooking up a tow bar is a B-36  marked with a large triangle on the vertical tail.  That triangle denoted the 8th Air Force and was used in the early part of the 1950s.  It was phased out shortly after the 95th was formed in 1953 and was never (supposedly) carried by 95th BW aircraft.  It therefore must have represented an aircraft assigned, or recently transferred from either the 6th BW (Triangle R), 7th BW (Triangle J), 11th BW (Triangle U), or the 28th BW (Triangle S).  As the geometric tail markings disappeared SAC aircraft became rather plain until the introduction of the SAC "Milky way" band on all aircraft and the anti flash white belly on bombers.






B-36D bomb bay B-36 wheel change

    The three crew members standing in the bomb bay give a good indication of the massive size of the B-36.  A tire change is never a fun task and on large aircraft it can be very dangerous.  (USAF)

    A very plain looking B-36D parked on the ramp at Biggs.  Contrary to what the caption reads the aircraft in the foreground is a C-124, not a KC-97.  Once again, a pesky censor has scratched out the serial number from the negative. (USAF)

A B-36D passing over the camera.  As with all radial engine powered aircraft, this one has various oil streaks and stains.  "You must remember, a radial does not leak.  It just marks its territory."  (USAF)

B-36J taking off from Biggs AFB.

    A Featherweight B-36J taking off from Biggs AFB.  This is late in the B-36's career, the belly is white, the SAC band is carried on both sides of the nose, the 95th emblem on the right and the SAC patch on the left.  The leading edge of the jet intake is painted in the squadron color also.  (US Army)



  
     B-36J 52-2827 prior to her retirement flight on February 12, 1959.  That flight was to the Greater Southwest Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.  She was to remain in Fort Worth, shuttled about to various locations until finally going (by truck)  to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson during the summer of 2005.  (Larry Payne)


    827 is now on display at the Greater Southwest Airport in Fort Worth in this undated photo.  It was most likely sometime after this that the airplane picked up the name "The City of Fort Worth", which it never seemed to carry while in service.


(There are some B-36 reference photos posted on Photobucket.)




    The following photos were made available by the Pima Air and Space Museum.  They were donated to Pima and though no details were provided they appear to be from the end of the B-36 era in.  That would date them from the late 1950s.  These photos are full size unfortunately.




    While 52-2827 does not appear in any of the photos, the next to the last shot shows 52-2220 which is now on display in the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

    Any details of the individuals would be greatly appreciated.  The James Dean pose in the final photo is a classic!



B-52 era
1959 - 1966





    Ciudad Juarez possibly when she was still with the 93rd BW and prior to being named.  (Larry Payne)



B-52B 53-0380 Ciudad Juarez 53-0380


    B-52B 53-0380 was the first Ciudad Juarez, the aircraft shot down by a New Mexico ANG F-100A.  (John Paul Jones)

B-52B Stratofortress at Biggs AFB
B-52B 53-0383 95th Bomb Wing Biggs AFB


    Two views of 53-0383 at Biggs.  The second photo shows a B-52 without a fuel load, or bomb load, resulting in the out rigger wheels not touching the ground on both sides.


B-52B 53-0388 City of El Paso 53-0388 B-52 City of El Paso



    53-0388 was the first City of El Paso(John Paul Jones)

  
B-52B 53-0394 City of El Paso Nose art on second City of El Paso



     The second City of El Paso was 53-0394.  This aircraft was eventually flown to the US Air Force Museum, but was sadly scrapped in the early 1990s.  The B-52B was retired before the B-52 fleet received camouflage in the mid 1960s.  The B-52Bs flown by the 95th were aluminum over gloss white.  During the early 1960s gloss white was added above the crew area on the 95th's B-52s.

    The second photo is of the City of El Paso at Biggs.  (USAF)

    The final photo shows 394 parked in front of the USAFM annex.  (NMUSAF)

    The nose art as carried by the second City of El Paso.



B-52B Ciudad Juarez in August, 1959.




    The series of photos above were sent to me by Piet Truren with the attached note: "
As a young cadet, together with a few other men of the Royal Netherlands Air Force we were trained on several bases in the US in 1958 and 1959. In August 1959 we visited Biggs AFB and got a few tours on the base and in the B-52's (and of course Juarez at night)."  Piet retired from the Royal Netherlands Air Force in 1996.

    The first photo shows Piet  (middle) along with two of his buddies in front of the Ciudad Juarez.  The photo clearly shows that the legend was carried on both sides of the bomber.  (
Truren)

    The second photo shows the Ciudad Juarez in the morning sun, August, 1959. 
(Truren)

    The Ciudad Juarez as seen from the cockpit of 53-0385. 
(Truren)

    Piet Truren is to the left in both of the last photos. 
(
Truren)

    The photo showing the engine pod indicates that the intake covers have changed over the years.  There appears to be a canvas bag on the lower center line of the cover and in all honesty I have no idea what that is for.  Later B-52 covers were one piece affairs.  The last photo shows the MD-5 fire control system.  The 95th operated aircraft with both the MD-5, or  A-3A FCS which must have complicated supply and maintenance.


53-0380 in July, 1959

53-0388 July, 1959


    Paul Detige was TDY at Biggs while serving with the Belgian Air Force.  He took the photos above during July, 1959. 

    53-0380 (Ciudad Juarez) is on display at the 1959 Biggs open house.  (Detige)

    The second shot shows 380 on roll out after dropping the chute.  (Detige)

    The final photo show 53-0388 (The City of El Paso) on roll out with the chute still attached.  (Detige)





    The second Ciudad Juarez, 53-0391.  This aircraft took the place of 53-0380 after she was shot down.


MB-2 tug towing a B-52B

    Aircraft movement does not change much through time.  In this photo an MB-2 tug is towing a B-52B into position.  (USAF)



KC-135





58-0054 July, 1959

95th Bomb Wing KC-135A 52-3559



    While equipped with the BUFF, the 95th also operated KC-135As. 
The KC-135s also remained in a natural metal finish.

    KC-135A 58-0054 of the 95th Bomb Wing in July, 1959.  At the time of these photos the 95th emblem has not yet been applied and the engine nacelles appear to be white.  In actuality, they are ADC gray. This aircraft also has the short tail, seen only on the earlier KC-135As.  (JohnPaulJones)

    The same aircraft as above at a Biggs open house in during July, 1959.  (Paul Detige)

     This photo from a yearbook on the 95th BW shows 58-0085 at a later date.  The 95th badge is now in place on the International orange panel on the nose.  It is hard to see, but this airplane also has the International orange stripe on the tail like the aircraft above.  The F-86L in the foreground  is possibly assigned to the 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Webb AFB.  (USAF)

  62-3559 at an even later date.  This photo was scanned from an old postcard and is somewhat grainy, but it shows that by this time period (probably about 1963) SAC bands are now in effect and the 95th BW badge is applied over the band.  Note that the portions of the engine nacelles that had appeared to be white are now clearly Aircraft Gray.  (USAF)




Various aircraft

95th BW HU-16


    During the 1950s and 1960s SAC operated a number of HU-16 Albatross amphibians for various duties.  The 95th BW operated this HU-16B (51-0006).  This aircraft is now on display at the Strategic Air&Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.




    The C-123B was also used extensively for support by SAC.  54-0655 is shown at Biggs in 1964.  Whether or not 655 was assigned to the 95th, or directly to Biggs is unknown.  The photo to the left shows a pre-flight and the one to the is during engine start up.  (USAF)

Regarding "655" I received this tidbit from Frank Henson "Having been in the 95th OMS at the time of this photo I can tell you this aircraft was assigned to base flight and did not have the 95th BW markings."

U-1A Otter 95th Strategic Wing

U-1A Otters 95th Strategic Wing Goose Bay Labrador


    U-1A Otters at Goose Bay Labrador during the 1960's.  Three U-1As (55-3256, 55-3267 and 58-1696) were inherited by the 95th Strategic Wing from the 4082nd Strategic Wing at Goose Bay Labrador.  This happened when the 4082nd was re-designated as the 95th SW.  The caption to the first two photos state that the aircraft is 55-3312, however that aircraft is not in the list of Otters operated by the 95th.  It is quite possible that it is another aircraft misidentified, or was just overlooked.  The float carries a number that appears to be "267", so it is most likely 55-3267.  267 is also the aircraft in the background of the third photo. (Don Garrett collection)

 


For anyone interested in the full history of B-36J 52-2827 this CD is a must.  It also contains a wealth of details about the B-36 in general.  (The picture is linked to the website.)

 

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