History of the 327th Bomb Squadron
The 327th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was formed on the 28th of January, 1942. The squadron patch was designed shortly thereafter and has remained unchanged ever since. Armed with B-17E Flying Fortresses, the Squadron conducted training at Mac Dill and Sarasota Fields, Florida. As part of its training program, the Squadron flew anti-submarine operational missions.
In June of 1942, the Squadron moved to Bangor, Maine. They received new B-17F aircraft. In August, the Squadron became part of the first heavy bomber unit to fly the North Atlantic ferry route to Prestwick, Scotland as it deployed to England and then on to Bovingdon AB. The 92nd Bomb Group was directed to exchange their new B-17F aircraft with the 97th Bomb Group's B-17E aircraft. The 97th BG would move to North Africa. The 92nd BG was directed to set up and operate the 1/11 CCRC (Combat Crew Replacement Center). The Squadron flew four combat missions beginning on September 6, 1942.
In January, 1943 the 92BG, 325th, 327th and 407th Squadrons moved to Alconbury AB to re-equip, fly support missions to North Africa and train for combat. The 327th Bomb Squadron would receive and operate the YB-40 in May 1943 and escort bombing groups. The YB-40 program, was not as successful as hoped, and they were withdrawn in August. They were returned to the US at RFC Ontario, where they were scrapped in 1945. One YB-40 was lost in combat. On September 15, 1943, the 92BG moved to Podington AB, where they would remain until June, 1945. The 92BG, 305BG and 306BG were now the 40th Combat Wing of the 1st Division, 8th Air Force.
In the fall of 1943 longer range raids began, and resulted immediately in heavy losses. One of these missions was flown on Thursday, October 14, 1943, against the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt. For what was to become a famous mission called "Black Thursday", the 326th led the mission with Capt J K McLaughlin and Co-Pilot Colonel Budd J. Peaslee, the Mission Commander and led the group in the lead wing with 21, 92BG aircraft; one 326th Squadron and two other Group aircraft aborted, and of the 12 group aircraft that made it back to England, only 3 came home that day.
This loss of six is sobering enough, but it was not the only loss suffered by the 92nd BG during the war, and two more years of combat flying lay ahead. By the end of the war against Germany, the group had flown over 300 combat missions, 154 aircraft missing in action and more than 150 returned with battle damage that it would not fly again. It was a war of grim determination, grinding hard work, and heroic acts on an everyday basis.
Some of the notable successes of the squadron included missions against German troop concentrations in Normandy after D-Day. On the 24th of July, 1944, for example, the Squadron participated in a raid that virtually destroyed the elite "Panzer Lehr" armored division outside St. Lo. General Bayerlein, the Panzer division commander, described this raid, "Back and forth the bomb carpets were laid. Artillery positions were wiped out, tanks overturned and buried, infantry positions flattened and all roads and tracks destroyed. By midday, the entire area resembled a moon landscape...The shock effect on the troops was indescribable."
Another notable success was a raid against the virtually indestructible German submarine pens at Ijmuiden. Using experimental rocket-propelled bombs, the Squadron destroyed these pens in a single raid after hundreds of conventional bombs dropped in earlier raids had failed. The Squadron flew its last mission of the Second World War on April 25th, 1945, against the chemical plants at Pilsen. One 327th aircraft was lost, and Germany had lost the war. The group and squadrons were selected to run the Green Project and Blue Project using their B-17s as transports. The B-17s were modified for transport duty; turrets were removed and re-skinned, the bomb racks removed, flooring and seating installed to accommodate 30 passengers. The flight crew was reduced to pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer and radio operator. In addition the engineer and radio operator would act as stewards, to assist and calm the many first time flyers. The squadron was inactivated on February 28, 1946.
Following the Second World War, the Squadron was inactivated, and then re-activated as the 327th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on August 4, 1946, at Fort Worth. The Squadron was then armed with the B-29 Superfortress, and with a detour to Smoky Hill AAFld on October 26, 1946 to re-equip with B-29s, moved to its permanent home in Spokane at Spokane Army Air Field on July 15, 1947. The squadron was again re-designated in 1948, this time as the 327th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, as the B-29 became a smaller bomber when compared to the B-36 which was being introduced at the time. The years of 1947 to 1950, was a period of training and operations directed by the Strategic Air Command (SAC). The 92nd BG and 325th, 326th, and 327th squadrons would also deploy as an instrument of Power Projection of the United States. In March 1948 the group deployed to England and Germany to support the Berlin Airlift.
On June 25th 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea without warning, and the United States intervened on South Korea's behalf. Although our fighters quickly won air supremacy, their ground attack abilities were very limited. Thus on July 4th, 1950 the 92ndBG and 327th Bombardment Squadron was ordered to deploy to Yokota, Japan and fly missions against North Korea. Just eight days later, the Squadron conducted its first attack. Although there were no North Korean fighters left at the time, the enemy put up a ferocious anti-aircraft defense, and several aircraft of the group were lost. Nevertheless, the Squadron pressed the attack so fiercely that within three months there were no industrial or strategic targets left in North Korea. The Squadron turned to attacking supply lines and troop concentrations, and was released from combat by General MacArthur on October 20, 1950. Accidents do happen; on November 16, 1949, a 326th B-29, 44-86364, was in a Mid-Air collision with a 325th B-29, 44-69939 near Stockton California. Nine crewmembers died in each aircraft, one 326th crewman survived and two 325th crewmen survived. An engine fire of a 326th B-29 resulted in the loss of one crewmember.
1951 was used for the conversion from B-29 to B-36 aircraft. Many of the still operational B-29s returned to Korea to serve on with the 19th BG and 307th BG at Kadena AB, Okinawa; and the 98th BG at Yokota, Japan.
Once the now 92nd Bomb Wing H completed conversion, operational training and nuclear mission was established. The deployment of the wing in August 1953 to the Far East was to survey suitable bases for B-36 use and to reinforce the Korean armistice of July 1953. 20 B-36D aircraft led by Colonel James V Edmundson, Commander, 92nd BW landed at Kadena AB, for 'Operation Big Stick'. B-36 aircraft visited Yokota AB and Anderson AFB Guam. The wing returned to Fairchild after a short stay. The wing and squadrons would deploy to Guam October 14, 1954 for 90 days, which established a succession of deployed B-36 wings to maintain a heavy bomber presence in the western Pacific. The 92nd Bomb Wing would return for its second 90 day deployment in April 1956. When relieved in July, the new unit was a B-47 Bomb Wing. During the 1956 deployment to Guam, four 327th B-36J aircraft were deployed to Hickam AFB HI. They would support the 1956 Eniwetok Tests. B-36 operations were not without casualties. On April 15, 1952, a borrowed 327th B-36 with a 326th crew crashed on takeoff, killing 15 crewmen, 2 survived, severely burned. The Magnesium Overcast would burn very hot. In May 1955, the 327th was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for Operation Big Stick.
In October of 1956, the Squadron was scheduled to convert to the B-52D Stratofortress retaining its designation. Events in the fall of 1956 would delay the conversion to B-52. The Suez Crisis and Eastern Europe conflicts required the wing and squadrons to remain operational, and were on "cocked ground alert" into the second week of December. The 327th was not operational from February 5, 1957 to June 1,1957. 327th B-52 operations continued through February 1963, with training missions to improve and maintain proficiency, served on Ground Alert, and participated in a seven month test of Airborne Alert missions during March 3, to October 6, 1959. The airborne alert test would earn the second AFOUA.
In July, 1960, the 327th began the movement of the squadron’s personnel, aircraft and equipment to Larson AFB, WA. This was the completion of the dispersal program to reduce vulnerability of large (three squadron 45 B-52) unit at one base. The 326th would move to Glasgow AFB MT in February, 1961. On setup at Larson, the squadron resumed alert duties and training under the command of the 4170th Strategic Wing. The 43rd Air Refueling Squadron arrived in the fall of 1960. A Titan I ICBM squadron (568th SMS) was activated and established. In an effort to honor heritage units of the past, on February 1, 1963, the 4170th SW and 327th BS were inactivated and replaced by the 462nd Strategic Aerospace Wing and 768 BS. The 568SMS and the Titan I ICBM (HGM25A) would inactivate in April, 1965, and Larson AFB would close in 1966. All units would inactivate except for the 43rd ARS which would move to Fairchild and continue operations. The 327th Bomb Squadron remains inactive.