VI BOMBER COMMAND
IN DEFENSE OF THE PANAMA CANAL
1941 - 45
Areas of Interest:
VI Bombardment Command History:
6th BGp (Heavy)
3rd BS (Heavy)
29th BS (Heavy)
74th BS (Heavy)
397th BS (Heavy)
9th BGp (Heavy)
1st BS (Heavy)
5th BS (Heavy)
99th BS (Heavy)
430th BS (Heavy)
25th BGp (Medium)
12th BS (Medium)
35th BS (Medium)
59th BS (Medium)
417th BS (Medium)
40th BGp (Heavy)
25th BS (Heavy)
44th BS (Heavy)
45th BS (Heavy)
395th BS (Heavy)
Units Attached to VI Bomber Command
10th BS (Heavy)
15th BS (Light)
The Headquarters Squadron, 6th Bombardment Group (Medium) was activated February 1, 1940, assigned to the 19th Wing, Air Corps, and stationed at France Field, Canal Zone. At the time of its activation, the 6th Bomb Group was comprised of the Hq. & Hq. Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Squadron, 25th Bombardment Squadron, 74th Bombardment Squadron, and an attached unit, the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron (Long Range). The Hq. & Hq. Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Squadron, 7th Reconnaissance Squadron, and the 25th Bombardment Squadron were stationed at France Field; the 74th at Albrook Field, Canal Zone; and the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned at Howard Field, C. Z.
The 19th Wing became the 19th Bombardment Wing on November 20. The 19th Bombardment Wing consisted of the 6th Bombardment Group (Medium) and the 9th Bombardment Group (Heavy). The 6th Bombardment Group (Medium), upon the activation of the 19th Bombardment Wing, was redesignated as a "heavy" Group
The 74th Bombardment Squadron’s permanent duty station was changed to Howard Field (Fort Kobbe), CZ, on July 14.
The Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron of the 19th Bombardment Wing was inactivated on October 25, and all personnel and equipment became the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, VI Bomber Command.
In November, the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron moved to permanent station at Howard Field, Fort Kobbe, Canal Zone; and the 74th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) moved to Aguadulce, R. de P.
During the period December 7-11, the 3rd and 25th Bombardment Squadrons began their moves to Rio Hato; the 74th began its move from Aguadulce to Rio Hato; the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron initiated its move from Howard Field to David, R. de P.; and the Hq. & Hq. Squadron, which had moved an air echelon to Aguadulce on December 8, started movement to Rio Hato from both Aguadulce and France Field.
The 74th Bombardment Squadron moved from Rio Hato to Guatemala City, C. A., on December 23. A detachment of seventy-six officers and enlisted men departed from the operationally combined 3rd, 25th, and 74th bombardment squadrons on December 19 for Guatemala via tactical and Service Command aircraft. The balance of the 74th air echelon, consisting of 35 officers and enlisted men, departed on December 23 by air for Guatemala in tactical aircraft. The remainder of the 74th Bombardment Squadron departed by water transportation for Guatemala in a troop movement of five officers and 200 enlisted men, arriving approximately on January 1, 1942. Tactical aircraft accomplished the return of attached personnel of the 3rd and 25th Squadrons.
The 25th Bombardment Squadron made another temporary change of station to Salinas, Ecuador, pursuant to paragraph 4, Special Order Number 4, Headquarters VI Bomber Command, dated January 21, 1942. The 25th sent an air echelon of 80 officers and enlisted men to Salinas, Ecuador, employing Group tactical aircraft to effect the movement.
Twenty-one (21) members of the 25th Bombardment Squadron departed from Balboa on February 1, by water transportation, for Salinas, Ecuador, having moved from Rio Hato to Balboa by normal, daily motor convoy.
Seventy-eight (78) recruits assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group on April 2 were allocated to the squadrons. Forty-nine (49) went to Hq. Squadron; 25 to the 25th Bombardment Squadron; and four to the 3rd Bombardment Squadron. Tactical aircraft were used to transport those allotted to the 25th Squadron.
Two hundred fifty (250) recruits were assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group on April 8, and each of the five units was allocated 50. Tactical aircraft transported the recruits to the squadrons almost exclusively. The assigned recruits were returned to Service Command at the rate of 50 per month starting in July, and no transportation by the Group was involved in this return.
The LB-30's, arriving at the Group intermittently since March 15, totaled 13 on April 13, and were assigned to the 25th Bombardment Squadron at Salinas, Ecuador.
Ninety (90) enlisted men were attached to the 25th Bombardment Squadron from other units of the Group on April 14.
The 3rd Bombardment Squadron made another temporary change of station to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, on May 4, pursuant to paragraph 3, Special Order Number 105, Headquarters, Sixth Air Force, dated May 3, 1942. The ground echelon of the Third, consisting of one hundred and fifty-nine (159) officers and enlisted men, departed from Balboa by water transportation on May 6, enroute to the Galapagos Islands to establish facilities for tactical operation from that base.
The 7th Reconnaissance Squadron (Long-Range) was redesignated the 397th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), and assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group on May 11.
The 1st Observation Squadron was attached to the 6th Bombardment Group on May 16, and arrived at Rio Hato from David, R. de P., in two echelons.
The air echelon of the 3rd Bombardment Squadron departed for the Galapagos Islands by tactical aircraft on June 4, and was comprised of 23 officers and enlisted men.
Seventy (70) officers and enlisted men of the then tactically inoperative 397th Bombardment Squadron were detached to Guatemala City on June 15, for duty with the 74th Bombardment Squadron.
The 74th Bombardment Squadron was relieved from assignment to the 6th Bombardment Group on July 4, and reassigned to the 40th Bombardment Group
The Hq. & Hq. Squadron of the 6th Bombardment Group was inactivated pursuant to General Orders No. 41, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, dated August 8, 1942. The officers and enlisted men were dispersed among the remaining units. Nineteen (19) went to the 397th Bombardment Squadron at Tulara, Peru; 16 to the 3rd Bombardment Squadron at Galapagos; and 17 to the 25th Bombardment Squadron at Salinas, Ecuador. The remainder was assigned to the 395th Bombardment Squadron at Rio Hato.
The 397th Bombardment Squadron departed David on August 11 for Tulara, Peru. This unit remained tactically inoperative until all facilities for tactical function were completed at their new station.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was released from assignment with the 40th Bombardment Group, and assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with temporary station at Rio Hato, pursuant to General Order 7, VI Bomber Command, dated September 21, 1942. The 395th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was redesignated the 395th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), pursuant to the last named General Order.
The 25th Bombardment Squadron, 6th Bombardment Group, at Salinas, Ecuador, the 29th Bombardment Squadron, 40th Bombardment Group, at Aguadulce exchanged personnel, station, and designation on December 1.
The deployment of the 6th Bombardment Group on December 5 found the Hq. & Hq. Squadron and the 395th Bombardment Squadron at Rio Hato, R. de P.; the 3rd Bombardment Squadron at the Galapagos Islands; the 25th Bombardment Squadron at Salinas, Ecuador; and the 397th Bombardment Squadron at Tulara, Peru.
The 74th Bombardment Squadron at Guatemala City, Guatemala, and the 29th Bombardment Squadron at Aguadulce, R. de P., exchanged personnel, station, and designation, under the authority of Special Orders Number 2, Headquarters, VI Bomber Command, dated January 4, 1943.
A new squadron arrived from the United States and was assigned to the 29th Bombardment Squadron, per Special Orders No. 14, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, dated January 14, 1943. Captain Cramer was the Commanding Officer of the new Squadron.
The 29th Bombardment Squadron at Anton, R. de P., and the 3rd Bombardment Squadron at David, R. de P., exchanged personnel, station, and designation on February 25.
The 3rd Bombardment Squadron was transferred to the Army Air Base at Tulara, Peru, pursuant to Movement Order No. 1, Headquarters, VI Bomber Command, March 27, 1943.
The air echelon of the 3rd Bombardment Squadron, consisting of 20 officers and 24 enlisted men, proceeded to Tulara by air on April 1. The ground echelon left David April 27, and arrived at Tulara, Peru, on May 4. The arrival of the ground echelon completed the Squadron's move and allowed the 397th Bombardment Squadron to be relieved. The same transport carried the 397th to Howard Field for return of the personnel to the States for reassignment.
The 29th Bombardment Squadron departed Anton on May 12, and proceeded to Balboa, Canal Zone, where they embarked on the U.S. Army Transport, "Frederick C. Johnson," arriving at the Galapagos Islands on May 15 to relieve the personnel of the 45th Bombardment Squadron which were a part of the departing 40th Bombardment Group
The 29th and 74th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) were released from assignment to the 40th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy), by General Orders No. 31, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, dated May 12, 1943. The same General Orders assigned the 25th and 395th Bombardment Squadrons from the 6th to the 40th Bombardment Group
Three weeks after its arrival at Tulara, the 3rd Bombardment Squadron was ordered to pack up and move to Salinas, Ecuador, to relieve the 40th Group's 25th Bombardment Squadron. The Third left Tulara for Salinas on May 25, by plane (old LB-30's), and boat (a very small one). The planes arrived at Salinas the morning and afternoon of May 25, and the boat in the morning of May 26. The boat was unloaded immediately upon the Squadron's arrival at Salinas, and was quickly loaded with the 25th's men and equipment. The 25th departed Salinas the morning of May 27.
The departure of the 40th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in June 1943 for redeployment in the United States, left the VI Bomber Command with only the 6th Bombardment Group which consisted of the 3rd at David, the 29th at Galapagos, the 74th at Guatemala City, and the 397th at Rio Hato. The 6th Group Headquarters and the VI Bomber Command Headquarters were then pooled to form a joint headquarters.
Headquarters, 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was inactivated in October 1943, leaving only the headquarters of the VI Bomber Command.