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.
95th Bomb Wing
Biggs AFB, Texas
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.
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.
C-123B 54-0655 (Base Flight)
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."
1953 - 1959
unidentified bird is under an overcast sky at an unknown
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.)
Any details of the individuals would be greatly
appreciated. The James Dean pose in the final photo is
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.
Ciudad Juarez possibly when she was still with the 93rd BW and prior to being named. (Larry Payne)
53-0380 was the first Ciudad
Juarez, the aircraft shot down by a New Mexico
ANG F-100A. (John Paul Jones)
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
53-0388 was the first City of El Paso. (John Paul Jones)
This photo from a yearbook on the 95th BW shows 58-0085 at a later date. The 95th insignia 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 possible assigned to the 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Webb AFB. (USAF)
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 portion of the engine nacelles
that had been white is now Aircraft Gray. (USAF)
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."
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.)