NEWS | Dec. 19, 2013

Memory Lane: Randolph assumed B-29 combat aircrew training role

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

(Editor's note: "Memory Lane" is a monthly column featuring the history of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.)

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph has long been acknowledged as an Air Force leader in the training of instructor pilots, but in the 1950s it served as a hub for the instruction of B-29 combat aircrews.

Sixty-three years ago this month, about six months after the outbreak of the Korean War, the first six B-29 combat crews trained at Randolph graduated.

Randolph assumed the role in August 1950, when the 311st Combat Crew Training Group was activated. Before Randolph, it was the Strategic Air Command to handle conventional medium bomber crew training.

In September 1950, Craig Air Force Base, Ala., "took over Randolph's pilot instructor training mission, as Randolph geared up to provide combat crew training for B-29 aircrews," according to the Air Education and Training Command History Office study "A History of Military Aviation in San Antonio."

However, Randolph continued to provide basic training for student pilots to meet the Air Force's demand of 7,200 pilots per year until July 1951.

It was not until July 1951, as the Air Force phased in nine new contract schools, that Randolph was able to concentrate its attention on B-29 training.

According to AETC history records, the training at Randolph consisted of two phases - the first for individual specialties such as pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and gunners, and the second for bringing the crew together. When training ended, each crew moved to SAC as a single unit ready for duty.

B-29 training at Randolph, which began in the Truman administration, concluded in 1956, the final year of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first term. By then, more than 21,500 crew members had been trained.