Second Air Force album

Second Air Force. Second to none under General Armstrong



Early in his regime as commander of the second air force, major general FrankA. Armstrong Jr. inspired the slogan, "second to none". Under his leadership, the yars that followed proved that the slogan was well conceived. Second Air Force "firsts" set forth in this book establish the record : Second Air Force - Second to none.

The B-47 Program .......................................1

EWP Refinement .......................................4

Air Republic .........................................4

Strategic Fighter Firsts ...................................5

Maintenance .........................................6

Awards and Trophies ....................................6

Flying and Ground Safety .................................7

Leadership and Morale ...................................8

Year by Year in General Armstrong's Career .......................9


The Second Air Force

First with the B-47s

Major General Frank A Armstrong Jr. became the commander of the Sixth Air Division at the MacDill AFB for the express purpose of equipping and training the FIRST B-47 Stratojet bomber wing in the US Air Force.

He brought to that Second Air Force command a record replete with notable FIRSTS achieved in peace and war.

The FIRST B-47 to arrive at MacDill slowed to a smooth stop on the runway five months and thirteen days after General Armstrong had taken over the Sixth. On that day, 23 October 1951, began an affinity between man and machine that lives on to this day, 1 June, 1955.

Successfully surmounting all obstacles that had retarded orderly progress toward conversion goals, General Armstrong held the B-47 program on course.Despite heartaches and doubts, despair and disappointments, the 306th Bomber Wing at MacDill set the pace, and became the FIRST fully equipped B-47 Wing during December 1952.

By that time, General Armstrong had become the commander of the Second Air Force, and was destined to lead it to a most significant FIRST. That FIRST was established when the Second Air Force became the FIRST Strategic Air Command air force to bring its entire medium bombardment and medium reconnaissance forces into the B-47 program.


Playing its role as the B-47 pioneer to the hilt, the Second Air Force worked fast once its 306th at MacDill was equipped and ready. Through SKY-TRY, the 306th tested the capability of the B-47 to carry out the medium bomber role in the Strategic Air Command's assigned mission.

SKY-TRY, the FIRST test of its kind, was conducted between the 22 January and 20 February 1953. Sky-TRY proved the B-47 eminently worthy of its medium bomber role in the Emergency War Plan.

Once tin combat readiness, the 306th Wing was assigned an EWP mission. And, deployed to the United Kingdom during June 193 for a 90-day rotational training mission.

Meanwhile, the 306th's companion wing in the Sixth Air Division was rushed into combat readiness at MacDill. During September 1953, the 305th replaced the 306th in the UK. And, 90 days later returned to MacDill to join the 306th.

There at MacDill, the Sixth Division maintained its proven combat readiness. And, as the FIRST of them all, the Sixth provided the hard core of experience essential to the early conversion of other units in the B-47 program. The lessons learned by the Sixth proved to be invaluable in converting not only other Second Air Force units but also all other SAC wings to B-47 combat readiness.

B-47 conversion progress in General Armstrong's Second Air Force set the pace in 1954 to achieve that earlier mentioned Significant FIRST. FIRST, Second to None, in SAC's B-47 program.

FIRST with the B-47s brought with it many headaches and perplexing problems.Some were associated with delays in aircraft delivery and in changes of plans due to shifts in geo-political situations or in economic policies at home.

But most difficult to solve was the problem created by the awesome noise made by the six-engined B-47. Early in the conversion program at MacDill, a long and loud cry of protest rent the air in Tampa. Citizens did not take kindly to the idea of being the FIRST to become exposed to the B-47 noise . the take-off approach pattern and landing of B-47s created noise and disturbances that aroused and alarmed people who lived adjacent to MacDill.

Proud of its community relations, the Second Air Force, through its Office of Information, thoroughly analyzed the problem of the protesting people.The analysis revealed that the people of Tampa had NOT been prepared for the arrival of the big jets with their noise and disturbances to the community.

Too late to prepare the people of Tampa in advance, a program to inform the problems involve in training to protect them from potential enemies was designed. Meetings were held between AF personnel and key citizens of the community. All media of the public relations were employed. Gradually the clamor subsided. And , in time, that which once seemed to be a disturbing B-47 noise became a reassuring sound of security.

And, out of the clamor came another FIRST for General Armstrong's Second Air Force. In adopting a policy to prepare communities adjacent to its bases which were to house B-47 wings long before the jets were due to arrive, the Second Air Force blazed a new trail for others to follow.. So successful was the Second Air Force's program of preparing communities IN ADVANCE that it was adopted SAC-wide first, and the Air Force-wide.

EWP Refinement


The Second Air Force

As the b-47 force grew more and more powerful with unit after unit entering the EWP, General Armstrong and his Second Air Force had no inclination to rest upon its Second-to-None accomplishments. The Second Air Force hankered to find ways and means to make the best possible use of the mighty B-47 force it possessed.

Steady refinement in the EWP was achieved.

Two prime examples of the improved EWP concept are seen in success of HIGH GEAR AND LEAP FROG which tested the soundness of that concept.

Air Refueling Record

Hand-in-hand with the B-47 build up came advancement in air refueling operations. Air refueling improvements made possible the improved EWP.

Second Air Force leadership in air refueling produced another FIRST:

The 91st Air Refueling Squadron, Lockbourne Air Force Base, was the FIRST unit in the Strategic Air Command to transfer TWO MILLION GALLONS OF FUEL.


2AF Strategic Fighter


Firsts in the Second Air Force record are not owned only by medium bombardment wings. Strategic Fighter wings also have conbributed notable achievements.

In operations FOX PETER I, the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing of Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, distinguished itself and the Second Air Force. The 31st left Turner on 4 July 1952, reached its destination, Japan, 16 July, and accomplished the following enroute:

World's longest mass nonstop flight over water by jet fighter. (Travis AFB to Hickam, Hawaii - 2,142 miles)

FIRST mass movement of jet fighters across the Pacific Ocean.

FIRST mass mid-air refueling movement by jet fighters.

LONGEST mass flight by complete jet wing.

FOX PETER I was made possible through air refueling carried out by another SECOND AIR FORCE unit, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron (at that time neither the 31st nor its 40th Air Division sister, the 508th had air refueling units.)

The 31st flew nonstop from Turner across the North Atlantic, landing in the United Kingdom, and the 508th crossed the South Atlantic, landing in French Morocco.

LONG STRIDE was successful, thanks to air refueling...And, once again Second Air Force leadership was proven to be Second to None.


Second to None performance by pilots and aircraft is dependent on top maintenance programs effectively carried out.

"Planned Inspection," conceived and developed by the 301st Bomb Wing of the Second Air Force's 4th Air Division at Barkside AFB, was so successful that that the system was adopted SAC-wide, and finally AIR FORCE -wide.

Awards and Trophies

The coveted Mackay Trophy has been won twice by Second Air Force units.

On 29 July 1952, a Second Air Force crew flying an RB-45C made a nonstop flight from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, to Yokota Air Force Base Japan.

The distance: 4082 statute miles.

The time: Nine hours and 50 minutes with two in-flight refueling. (Approximately seven hours were flown on instruments because of bad weather.)

The flight won the FIRST Mackay Trophy for the Second Air Force. (The Second to None crew: Major Louis H. Carrington, A/C; Major Fredric W. Shook, navigator; Captain Wallace D. Yancey, pilot).

The 40th Air Division, Turner AFB, was awarded the Mackay Trophy in 1954 for its successful execution of LONG STRIDE, the non-stop mass movement of F84G jet fighters across the Atlantic.

First winner of the new Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was the Second Air Force's 31st Strategic Fighter Wing for its Successful execution of FOX PERTER I.

Flight and Ground Safety

The long list of "Firsts" achieved by the Second Air Force indicates utmost attention to safety programs. The Second Air Force has distinguished itself in that field also.

FLIGHT SAFETY: Turner AFB and Barksdale AFB won awards for "Meritoious Achievements in Flight Safety" for their Second-to-None records in 1953. Turner won the first-half competition that year, and Barksdale the second half.

Barksdale's 301st Bomb Wing won the second half competition in1954.

The award is given semi-annually by the USAF's Directorate of Flight Safety Research.

Ground Safety: The National Safety Council presented its highest award to the Second Air Force and Hunter AFB for 1953. The Council presents its "Award of Honor" to organizations that make the best records in ground-accident rate reductions. Second Air Force and Hunter won their 1953 awards for achieving significant reductions compared to their accidents rates for 1951 and 1952.

Moreover, the Second Air Force won every competition it was eligible in during SAC's 1954 "Safe Wheels" campaign. Those safety FIRSTS were:

Best overall Air Force.

Best overall base over 5,000 strength (Lake Charles).

Best overall base under 5,000 strength (Pinecastle).

Best motor vehicle record.

Leadership and Morale

Sound leadership and high morale contribute to Second-to-None performances in all fields. Here's where the Second Air Force stands in that respect:

SAC awards a Leadership and Morale trophy each year by quarters. Numbered air divisions, ZI and overseas, are scored on the following factors:

Ground Safety index

AWOL rate

Delinquency rate

(based on crimes and offenses in Sec D, SAC Form 33)

ZI and overseas bases are rated separately with an award in each category. If a trophy is won three consecutive times, it is retained permanently.

From the first quarter of 1954 through the first quarter of 1955, SECOND AIR FORCE WON EACH QUARTERLY AWARD in the ZI competition!

Thus, the Second Air Force has permanent possession of one trophy and two legs on a second.

Yes, the Second-to-None record of the Second Air Force is marked with FIRSTS in every area of activity.

And, The "Firsts" Just Keep Comin' In

Last February, on the 23rd , a B-47 crew from the 301st Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB set a transcontinental speed record.

Major John C. Lewis, pilot; Major John C. Moak, co-pilot; and Lt. Col. Oscar S. Black, observer; flew the Second Air Force B-47 from March AFB, California, to Hunter AFB, Georgia, in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 35 seconds, an average of 641 miles per hour.


Year By Year


General Armstrong's Career

1923 Graduates from Wake Forest College with BA degree

1925 Receives BS degree from Wake Forest

1928 Becomes Flying Cadet at Brookes Field, Texas

1929 Graduates from flying school.

Assigned to 2nd Bombardment Group, Langley

Field, Virginia

1930 Assumes duties as flying instructor, serves at Kelly Field, Texas; March Field, California; and Randolph Field, Texas

1934 Receives special training in navigation and instrument flying at Rockwell Field, California, and became chief pilot of Air Mail Operations at Salt Lake City, Utah

1935 Serves with the 78th Pursuit Squadron, Albrook Field, Panama Canal Zone.Transfers to the 44th Observation Squadron at that station in November 1936.

1937 Returns o United States . Assigned to 13th Attack Squadron, Barkside, Louisiana

1939 Assigned to 13th Bombardment Squadron at Barksdale Field

1940 Assumes command of 13th Bombardment Squadron . Enters Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Alabama, and after graduation resumes command of the 13th. Late in the year goes to England for duty as a Military Observer

1941 Assigned to 90th Bombardment Squadron, Savanna Air Base, Georgia..

Serves with Third Interceptor Command, Tampa, Florida...

Reports for duty at Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

1942 Ordered to England for duty with 8th Bomber Command,

Headquarters, European Theater of Operations.

Serves as a bombardment Group Commander, Wing Commander, and Division Commander.

Leads first daylight raid by US over Axis territory

1943 His Group bombs Wilhelmshaven in FIRST heavy bomber raid over Germany proper.(The Book and movie "Twelve O'Clock High", based on experiences preparing for and making that raid).

Back in USA, commands training unit at Dalhart, Texas

1944 Commands training unit at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Becomes commanding general, 315th Bomb Wing, Peterson Field, Colorado

1945 Assigned to 21st Bomber Command in the pacific.

Resumes command of the 315th Bomb Wing in that theater.

Flies numerous missions over oil targets in Japan.

Flies longest very heavy bombing raid (Guam to Honshu) in the war, without bomb-bay tanks and with extremely heavy bomb load.

War ends.He flies FIRST nonstop flight from Hokkaido, Japan, to Japan to Washington, D.C.

1946 Serves as Chief of Staff for operations of pacific Air Command. Becomes senior flying instructor at Armed Forces College, Norfolk, Virginia

1948 Appointed Chief of Staff, Alaskan Air Command. Assumes command of the Alaskan Air Command

1949 Pioneers (with other members of AAC) an air route from Alaska to Norway and from Norway to New York

1951 Assumes command of Sampson Air Force Base, New York. Becomes commander of 6th Air Division, MacDill AFB, Florida. FIRST AF unit to convert to the B-47

1952 Becomes commander of Second Air Force, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, his current duty as a 1 June 1955

Second Air Force album
Album covering General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr.'s command of the Second Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. Entitled "Second Air Force... Second to none under General Armstrong..." Includes photograph of General Armstrong and images of jets. Includes text on the B-47 program, air refueling, awards and trophies, and dates from Armstrong's career.
Original Format
21cm x 27cm
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Location of Original
East Carolina Manuscript Collection
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