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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

4239th Strategic Wing
449th Bomb Wing

From 1961 to 1977 the 449th Bombardment Wing was based at Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan flying B-52Hs, with units including the 716th Bombardment Squadron.

In the 1950s the Air Force adopted a policy of dispersing Strategic Air Command bombers and tankers. At Kincheloe the runway was extended to 12,000 feet to accommodate 15 B-52H bombers and ten KC-135 tankers. The original cost of the undertaking was estimated at $30 million. In May 1958 the 438th Fighter Squadron was temporarily transferred to Sawyer AFB near Marquette, while the massive runway construction project was under way at Kincheloe. The squadron returned in October, 1958.

The B-52H bombers started to arrive in November, 1961. On May 1, 1962 the SAC Wing at Kincheloe was declared operationally ready. The 93rd Bomb Squadron operated the B-52H from August 1961 to February 1963 while assigned to the 4239th Strategic Wing at Kincheloe. The 716th Bomb Squadron operated the B-52H from February of 1963 to December of 1977 while assigned to the 449th Bomb Wing at Kincheloe. The 449th Bomb Wing shared the base with the 507th Fighter Wing.

In December 1965 the Department of Defense announced its decision to close Kincheloe by October, 1971. The 507th Fighter Group was deactivated in October, 1968, and the 438th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was relocated to Griffiss AFB, New York. In May, 1971, the decision to close the base was reversed. In an Air Force-wide realignment program, Kincheloe would be kept open and come under the control of the Strategic Air Command. On July 1, 1971, the 449th Bombardment Wing (SAC) assumed command of the base. That 1971 reversal proved to be only a six-year reprieve.

The base was inactivated on September 30, 1977, and declared excess on November 15, 1977.

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