6th Bomb Wing emblem6th Bomb Wing as carried on

6th Bomb Wing
Walker AFB, New Mexico

    The 6th Bombardment Wing (Medium) was activated Walker Air Force Base, New Mexico on January 2, 1951, attached to the Eighth Air Force.  The unit consisted of the 24th, 39th and 40th Bomb Squadrons and was equipped with B-29 Superfortress aircraft.  The 307th AREFS was also attached until 1952 and operated KB-29Ps. This unit insignia approved for this unit was the same as the 6th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) from WWII.  The 6th BG had also flown B-29s.  (The two unit insignia at the top of this page are the 6th Bombardment Wing patch and the unofficial 6th BW patch applied to aircraft and worn on uniforms.)  

     As a general rule a bomb wing in the Strategic Air Command would come under the command of an Air Division and the Sixth was no exception, coming under the command of the 47th Air Division.  The 509th Bomb Wing also came under the 47th AD.  On  1 May, 1962 the Air Division was re- designated as the 47th Strategic Aerospace Division, only to revert to the 47th Air Division  1 July, 1963.  The 47th AD was inactivated on 27 February, 1987.

    In 1952 the unit was redesigned as the 6th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) and re-equipped with B-36s.  Initially the unit was equipped with B-36Fs.  Later Featherweight III  B-36Js were added, with each squadron operating both types.    During this time the "Pirate Head" emblem was applied to the right side of the aircraft with the SAC "Milky Way".  Each squadron painted the tip of the vertical stab, the lip of the jet intakes and the "nose cone" of the jet itself in squadron colors:  Yellow for the 24th, red for the 39th and blue for the 40th. 

    During the late 40s and early 50s SAC used tail markings that consisted of a combination of geometric shapes and letters.  In the case of the 6th BW a large triangle enclosing the letter "R" was used.  The shape would indicate the numbered Air Force, with a triangle representing the 8th AF, which was the Air Force the 6th BW was assigned to.   A triangle was used for the 8th AF, a circle for 15th AF and a square for 2nd AF.  This system was phased out about 1953.

   In 1957 the B-36s were replaced with B-52E Stratofortress aircraft.  The unit lost the 24th BS, but gained the 4129th Combat Crew Training Squadron and the 6th AREFS along with KC-135A Stratotankers.  On 1 May, 1962 the unit became the 6th Strategic Aerospace Wing.   From 1961 until 1965 the 579th Strategic Missile Squadron and its Atlas missiles were part of the wing.  The 39th and the 4129th both left in 1963.  In 1967 Walker was closed and the 6th BW became the 6th Strategic Wing and relocated to Eielson AFB, Alaska on March 25.  On April 1,  1988 the designation became the 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, only to be inactivated on September 1, 1992. The unit was re-activated on September 4, 1994 at MacDill AFB, Florida as the 6th Air Base Wing, becoming the 6th Aerial Refueling Wing on October 1, 1996.   The final change (for now) came on January 1, 2001 as the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

Special thanks to Senior Master Sergeant Gary Lisenbee (Ret), Master Sergent Mike Jones USAF (Ret)  and  Harold Simon.

6th BW B-36J in flight 6th BW B-36J nose
6th BW B-52E landing
1                                  2                                 3

(1)  49-2683 and another B-36F in flight over what looks like West Texas or Southern New Mexico.  The "Pirate Head" is carried on the fuselage, but the squadron color is not applied to the fin cap.  The nose area of the jet appears to be either red or blue.  My guess is red, which would mean these aircraft belong to the 39th BS.  (USAF)
(3)  An unidentified  B-36J showing the Pirate Head carried on the right side of the nose.  Note the Santa Claus inside the nose greenhouse.

(3)  B-52E 56-0640 on landing at Walker AFB sometime in the 1960s.  The markings are rather plain and from this photo it is not evident whether or not the "Pirate Head" is carried.  (USAF)

6th SAW B-52E

    I have had several veterans correspond with me and state that at least the 6th BW emblem was carried on the right side of the wing's BUFFs and I have finally found proof of that.  This photo of 56-0651 is cropped from a group picture of the 6th OMS and clearly shows the official 6th Bomb Wing patch.  During July, 2006 I was contacted by Phil Rogers who confirmed that the 6th BW aircraft carried the patch.  Phil had been assigned to the 6th FMS paint shop and had place many of the patches on the aircraft himself.

    Msgt Michael A. Jones USAF(Ret) had this comment for the photo:  "The photo of the 6th OMS was taken after the 3 B-52s from Walker returned from England.  The reason the photo was taken in front of 651 was because the 3 that went to England had been sent to the Depot in Oklahoma and were painted and made to look like new for the trip. 651 was one of the 3. After they came back  it still looked like new, so it was chosen for the the photo shoot.   A few weeks later, the RAF flew a Vulcan to Walker and I had a private tour of it."

    This C-123B 54-0704 was more than likely assigned to Walker AFB, or the 47th Air Division overseeing the base.  C-123s were a common site on SAC bases.

    When the 6th Strategic Aerospace Wing was disbanded and Walker Air Force Base closed, the aircraft left for other assignments, or in some cases storage.  The first B-52E (56-0640) left for the 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle AFB on 28 December, 1966.  The last B-52 (56-0656)  left for Castle as well on 26 January, 1967.  The first KC-135A to leave (58-0043) headed west to March AFB and the 22nd Aerial Refueling Squadron on 29 December, 1966.  The last to leave (57-1433) left for the 28th AREFS at Ellsworth AFB on 30 January, 1967.  A list of aircraft transfers to other units can be found in this table.  This list was kindly provided by Terrance J. Maddeaux. 

    The last B-52E to leave Walker AFB was ironically, 56-0656 which had been christened Sir Pride of Roswell.  These two newspaper clippings from 1967 detail the departure. ( Terrance J. Maddeaux)

B-52E Sir Pride of Roswell
Sir Pride of Roswell

47th Air Division

47th Air Division

    This provides a very brief list of the squadrons and aircraft of the 6th.  Red indicates the units and stay at Walker.  The Dark Blue indicates history after Walker.

6th Bombardment Wing (Heavy)   January 2, 19511 -  April 30, 1962
6th Strategic Aerospace Wing  May 1, 1962 -  March 24, 1967
6th Strategic Wing  March 25, 1967 - March 31, 1988
6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing  April 1, 1988 - September 1, 19922
6th Air Base Wing January 4, 19941 -  September 30, 1996
6th Air Refueling  October 1, 1996 - December 31, 2000
6th Air Mobility Wing  January 1, 2001 - Current

1 indicates activated
2 indicates inactivated

6th Air
                Refueling Squadron

6th Air Refueling Squadron (Heavy)
April 1, 1957 1 -  January 25, 19672
 6th Air Refueling Squadron
January 3, 1989 1 - Current

 KC-135  1957 - 1967

 KC-10  1989 - Current

24th Bomb Squadron

24th Bombardment Squadron 
January 2, 19511 - January 25, 19672
B-29       1951 - 1952
B-36       1952 - 1957
B-52E    1957 - 1967

24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron
March 25, 1967 -  July 7, 19922
KC-135  1967 - 1992
RC-135  1967 - 1992
EC-135  1967 - 1992

39th Bomb Squadron

    39th Bombardment Squadron 
    January 2, 1951
1 - September 15, 19632

 B-29       1951 - 1952
B-36       1952 - 1957
B-52E    1957 - 1963

 40th Bomb Squadron

  40th Bombardment Squadron 
    January 2, 19511 - January 25, 19672

B-29       1951 - 1952
B-36       1952 - 1957
B-52E    1957 - 1967

91st Air Refueling Squadron

91st Air Refueling Squadron
October 1, 19961 - Current
KC-135R  1996 - Current

307th ARFS

    307th Air Refueling Squadron
    August 1, 19511 - Jun 16, 19522
KB-29P   1951 - 1952

310th ARFS

    310th Air Refueling Squadron
    January 25, 19651 - January 25, 19672
KC-135A  1965 - 1967

310th AS

310th Airlift Squadron
January 1, 20011 - Current
CT-43A    2001
EC-135N 2001 - 2003
C-37A      2001 - Current

 579th Strategic Missile Squadron

  579th Strategic Missile Squadron

    September 1, 19611 - March 25, 19652
Atlas F   1961 - 1965

4129th Combat Crew Training Squadron

    4129th Combat Crew Training Squadron
    January, 19591 - September 15, 19632
B-52E       1959 - 1963
KC-135A 1959 - 1963

1 indicates activated
2 indicates inactivated

Other units lacking specific details and dates:

6th Combat Support Group

 6th Armament and Electronics Squadron
 Discontinued 25 March, 1967

6th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron

 6th Civil Engineering Squadron

 6th Combat Defense Squadron

 6th Field Maintenance Squadron.

 6th Headquarters Squadron

 6th Organizational Maintenance Squadron

 6th Services Squadron

 6th Supply Squadron

 6th Transportation Squadron

 37th Munitions Squadron

   This page is a "work in progress".  I hope to add to it as time goes by, but for some reason the units at Walker AFB and Biggs AFB are not well recorded.

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  Comments and suggestions:

Clifford Bossie

Page created 1-19-02
Updated 12-24-13