The 6th Bomb Group

The Organization

Colonel Kenneth H. Gibson, Commanding Officer (1944-1945)


The 6th Bomb Group was part of the 313th Bombardment Wing of the 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force. The 20th Air Force was the first Air Force not put under the command of a Theater Commander, such as Eisenhower, McArthur or Nimitz. Instead General Curtis LeMay assumed direct command of the 20th Air Force. The mission of the 20th was to engage in the strategic destruction of Japan by air.

The 20th Air Force was originally intended to include several Bomber Commands, based in several locations: the 20th (based in India), the 21st (based in the Marianas), the 22nd (based in the Philippines or Formosa) and the 23rd (based in the Aleutians). 1 The Marianas proved to be the best location. The 22nd and 23rd Bomber Commands were never activated. The 20th Bomber Command was activated in 1943 and included the 58th Bombardment Wing. However, operations out of China proved impractical since all supply was from the air. The 20th Bomber Command was eventually deactivated and all Bombardment Wings were assigned to the 21st Bomber Command.

The 21st Bomber Command included the 58th, 73rd, 313th, 314th and 315th Bombardment Wings. (For a full listing, see the Table at the bottom of this page). The 313th Bombardment Wing included the 6th, 9th, 504th, 505th Bomb Groups and, later, the 313th Composite Squadron (the "Atom Bombers"). The 6th Bomb Group included the 24th, 39th and 40th Bombing Squadrons. The 313th Bombardment Wing also included several Service Groups (probably the 72nd, 77th, 358th and 359th Service Groups). The 6th Bomb Group also includes several Service Squadrons.


1. General Curtis E. LeMay and Bill Yenne, "Superfortress: The B-29 and American Air Power" (1988), p. 57.

A Quick Chronological History of the 6th Bomb Group

1944 The Group Prepares for War:


Activated as part of the 313th Bomb Wing of the XXI Bomber Command.
The three squadrons were the 24th, 39th and 40th Bombing Squadrons (Heavy).
Stationed at Dalhart, Texas.  Flying B-17s.


Moved to Grand Island, Nebraska.


The first B-29 arrives.


Extensive flight training begins.
1945 The Group Goes to War:


The B-29s land in Tinian.


First large scale Mission


Beginning of the "March Blitz" which results in 1st Distinguished Unit Citation.


Beginning of aerial mining missions which result in 2nd Distinguished Unit Citation.


Last Mission of the War.

The Group

Early and late versions of tail markings

The only decoration officially allowed was the Pirate insignia and a clever name.  ["Pirate's Log", p. 70]

Headquarters Staff

The Headquarters Staff was responsible for coordinating the completion of tasks necessary to accomplish the objectives assigned to the Group.  This involved coordinating efforts both inside and outside the Group - cajoling, coercing, phoning, visiting, requisitioning and filling out endless reports and forms in triplicate.

The 313 HQ building.

Several members of the HQ staff are described in the Pirates Log:

Deputy Commander

Lt Col Tucker was assigned to the, Sixth in July 1944, assuming command of the 40th Squadron. On 4 Mar 1945 he became Group Officer and on 25 May he was appointed Deputy Group Commander. He became Group Commander on 31 August and is serving in that today (1944). After two years at Ohio State he entered the Air Corps cadets and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the reserve 1 Feb 1939. A year later he was appointed to the regular Army. From 1940 to 1943 he served at various airfields in the U.S. and was director of training at Albuquerque AAB in August 1943 where he was promoted to his present rank. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff school at Ft. Leavenworth and the AAF staff school in Washington. He is a rated B-29 aerial observer.


24th Squadron Commander

Lt Col Sowers was the 24th Squadron Commander from March to June-1945 when he became Group Operations Officer. Receiving his wings and commission in May 1941, he joined the 11th Bomb Group and served with this group in Hawaii and the Southwest Pacific where he flew forty-six combat missions. He returned to the U.S. in Feb 1943; joined the Sixth in April 1944.


39th Squadron Commander

Lt Col Osborn assumed command of the 39th Squadron in May 1944 and served in that capacity until after V-J Day. He joined the Air Corps cadets in 1937 and was commissioned a year later. From 1941 to 1943 he was a B-17 pilot in West Coast anti-sub patrol. Following that he was assigned to the B-17 training program.


40th Squadron Commander

Lt Col Dixon, the only ranking officer of the Sixth lost in action, was missing after the 9 July mining mission. He was commissioned in the Regular Army after entering the cadets in 1937. He had served in the Caribbean Area before joining the Sixth as 40th Squadron Operations Officer. He became Squadron Commander on 4 March; was promoted to Lt Col 14 May 1945.


Deputy Commander

Lt Col Kenzie was graduated from West Point in 1938 and won his wings at Kelly Field a year later. For over a year he was director of training at Lubbock AAB. Lt Col. Kenzie became 313th Wing Intelligence Officer 25 May 1945 after serving as deputy commander of the Sixth for thirteen months.


Group Operations

Lt Col Ort, Group Operations Officer from July 1944 to March 1945, entered the Air Corps cadets in June 1938 and was commissioned a year later, serving pursuit pilot. Before entering the Army he attended Hardin-Simmons University in Texas, his home state. He had been a squadron commander and an engineering officer prior to his joining the Sixth.


Group Executive

Lt Col Cone joined the Sixth as Group Executive Officer while the Group was at Dalhart and served in that capacity until March 1945. He enlisted in the Army in 1935 and was commissioned in the reserve corps in 1939. He bad a record of four years as an administrative officer prior to joining the Group.


Group Adjutant Major

Tatum joined the Sixth at Dalhart in April 1944 as 40th Squadron Executive Officer and was appointed Group Adjutant in July. In civilian life, Major Tatum was a lawyer and held a commission in the officers' reserve corps. He became Group Executive Officer 12 March 1945. Since his return to the U.S. he has been promoted to Lt Col.


Group Intelligence

Major Speers served as Group Intelligence Officer from April 1944 to September 1945. The Major was a newspaper editor at North Platte, Nebr. in civilian life, and entered the Army in 1942. For his work during the war he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He was Group Executive Officer in October and November 1945, returning to the U.S. in December 1945.


Group Maintenance Control

Capt Deterding was assigned to the 40th Squadron as an aircraft engineering officer at Grand Island in September 1944. In May 1945 he was appointed Group Maintenance Control Officer and held that position until the end of the war. His services in coordinating B-29 maintenance earned him the Bronze Star Medal, awarded in September 1945.

Service Personnel

The 22nd Photo Lab.  Pfc Eugene A. Lenschmidt is in the middle of the back row, arms behind his back.  The C/O, 2/Lt George J. Ginosvky, is in the middle of the first row.
Photo provided by 6BG, all rights reserved.

Service personnel were apparently assigned to the different squadrons.  The 22nd Photo Lab was attached to the 6th Bomb Group.  The are responsible for many of the fine pictures on this website.

The Squadrons

The 6th Bomb Group included the 24th, 39th and the 40th squadrons. Each squadron included air crews, ground crews and other service personnel. Each had their own separate tasks to perform in completing the missions assigned to the Group.

The Squadron Insignia

In accordance with Air Force tradition, each squadron had an official insignia. The 39th and 40th squadron insignia were "borrowed" from the 3rd and 4th anti-submarine squadrons. The "Fighting Cock" was given a cigar - perhaps in deference to Gen. LeMay.

The Air Crews

Each air crewman was typically assigned to a particular crew and plane and flew with that crew and plane for the duration. There were exceptions, of course.  Some air crew might be asked to fill in a vacancy with another crew. If their aircraft was not available, an air crew might be assigned to fly a different aircraft for a mission.

Here is a tentative listing of all air crew personnel:

24th Squadron
39th Squadron
40th Squadron

The Ground Personnel

The ground personnel included:

Aircraft Ground Crew
Squadron Service Personnel

A ground crew was assigned to each aircraft.  Each ground crew was under the command of a crew chief (whose name might be painted on the side of the aircraft).  The tasks of the ground crew were to perform routine maintenance on the aircraft, to patch up minor battle damage and to hunt for gremlins hiding in aircraft systems.

Each squadron included support personnel assigned to particular specialties.  These included aircraft refuelers and armorers, radio and radar technicians, and cooks and chaplains.

Here is a tentative list of all squadron ground personnel:

24th Squadron
39th Squadron
40th Squadron

The 72nd Air Service Group

Each Bomb Group was supported by an Air Service Group (ASG), which handled the big repair and maintenance jobs.  Each ASG included a Headquarters and Base Services Unit (HQ), an Air Engineering Squadron (AE) and an Air Material Squadron (AM).

The 6th Bomb Group was supported by the 72nd ASG, which included the 535th AE and the 579th AM.  They were located on the northeast corner of North Field.  Most of the personnel in the ASG were formerly members the 6th BG.  They were assigned to the ASG in an effort to centralize the maintenance function.

The 72nd ASG included the following units:

Headquarters and Base Services Unit
535th Air Engineering Squadron
579th Air Material Squadron

A Coordinated Effort

The 6th Bomb Group played a significant role in winning the war against Japan. This was due not only to the bravery of the air crews, but to the tireless efforts of the folks on the ground. It is significant that both of the Distinguished Unit Citations mention not only the risks involved in the missions, but the critical role played by the ground personnel. In the month of July, when all eyes were focused on the War in the Pacific, the 6th Bomb group led the Wing in hours flown and tonnage dropped, both in total and per aircraft. This kind of success required a constant, coordinated and dedicated effort by everyone member of the Group.

Other 20th Air Force B-29 Groups and Wings

Other B-29 Groups and Wings were located on Tinian, Saipan and Guam. They were all part of the 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force. (The 58th Bombardment Wing was originally part of the 20th Bomber Wing, which was deactivated in March 1945.)

Bomb Wing Bomb Group Squadrons Stationed at: Tail Marking
58th 40th 25th, 44th, 45th Tinian, West Field Triangle S
  444th 676th, 677th, 678th Tinian, West Field Triangle N
  462nd 768th, 769th, 770th Tinian, West Field Triangle U
  468th 792nd, 793rd, 794th Tinian, West Field Triangle I
73rd 497th 869th, 870th, 871st Saipan, Isley Field A Square
  498th 873rd, 874th, 875th Saipan, Isley Field T Square
  499th 877th, 878th, 879th Saipan, Isley Field V Square
  500th 881st, 882nd, 883rd Saipan, Isley Field Z Square
313th 6th 24th, 39th, 40th Tinian, North Field Circle R
  9th 1st, 5th, 99th Tinian, North Field Circle X
  504th 398th, 421st, 680th Tinian, North Field Circle E
  505th 482nd, 483rd, 484th Tinian, North Field Circle W


509th 393rd Tinian, North Field Circle Arrow
314th 19th 28th, 30th, 93rd Guam, North Field Square M
  29th 6th, 43rd, 52nd Guam, North Field Square O
  39th 60th, 61st, 62nd Guam, North Field Square P
  330th 457th, 458th, 459th Guam, North Field Square K
315th 16th 15th, 16th, 17th Guam, West Field Diamond B
  331st 355th, 356th, 357th Guam, West Field Diamond L
  501st 21st, 41st, 485th Guam, West Field Diamond Y
  502nd 402nd, 411th, 430th Guam, West Field Diamond H
Attached Units      
    3rd Photo Recon    
    4th Emergency Rescue    
    41st Photo Recon    
    55th Recon (LRW)    

Other Air Service Groups

Other Air Service Groups were assigned to the 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force.   They were located on Tinian, Saipan and Guam.  Here is a list sorted, as above, by Bomb Wing and Bomb Group:

ASG Sorted
Bomb Wing
HQ = HQ and Base Services
AE = Air Engineering
AM = Air Material
Stationed at:
28th 58th 40th HQ, 39th AE, 585th AM Tinian, West Field
25th 58th 444th HQ, 35th AE, 578th AM Tinian, West Field
86th 58th 462nd HQ, 349th AE, 584th AM Tinian, West Field
87th 58th


HQ, 355th AE, 589th AM Tinian, West Field
31st 73rd 497th HQ, 5th AE, 574th AM Saipan, Isley Field
69th 73rd 498th HQ, 305th AE, 575th AM Saipan, Isley Field
89th 73rd 499th HQ, 502nd AE, 501st AM Saipan, Isley Field
90th 73rd


HQ, 508th AE, 507th AM Saipan, Isley Field
72nd 313th 6th HQ, 535th AE, 579th AM Tinian, North Field
77th 313th


HQ, 534th AE, 576th AM Tinian, North Field
358th 313th


HQ, 568th AE, 567th AM Tinian, North Field
359th 313th


HQ, 570th AE, 569th AM Tinian, North Field
390th 313th 509th HQ, 603rd AE, 1027th AM Tinian, North Field
31st 314th 19th HQ, 56th AE, 574th AM Guam, North Field
69th 314th 29th HQ, 305th AE, 575th AM Guam, North Field
89th 314th 39th HQ, 502nd AE, 501st AM Guam, North Field
90th 314th


HQ, 508th AE, 507th AM Guam, North Field
24th 315th 16th HQ, 551st AE, 552nd AM Guam, West Field
73rd 315th 331st HQ, 586th AE, 580th AM Guam, West Field
75th 315th 501st HQ, 587th AE, 581st AM Guam, West Field
76th 315th


HQ, 588th AE, 582nd AM Guam, West Field

After the War

During the 1950s, the 6th Bomb Group continued to fly the largest Air Force bomber - the B36.

The 6BG is now the 6th Operations Group, stationed at MacDill AFB in Florida.  The 24BS became the 24th Reconnaissance Squadron before being deactivated in 1994.  The 39BS is now the 9th Special Operations Squadron stationed at Eglin AFB in Florida.  The 40BS became the 40th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and is on indeterminate status, probably stationed at Diego Garcia.