Strategic Air Command

History of the Strategic Air Command
Page 4 - 1948

The Cold War Begins


      In October of 1917, the Russian people overthrew the monarchy of Czar Nicholas and the country fell under the control of the Communist Party.  It's leaders quickly squelched all political opposition, resulting in it becoming the only political party.  It established a new government.  It was based on the experimental Communist system whereby all land, factories, and other property were owned and controlled by the government, which was run by the Communist Party.  Although there were elections, voters could only choose from one candidate, that chosen by the Communist Party.  For all practical purposes the CommuniAll government officials were .  Joseph Stalin soon became it's absolute ruler.  He used his power ruthlessly and forced an alliance of adjacent and nearly nations into what became known as the Soviet Union.  Economically, it was a backward country.  
     The United States, on the other hand, was a well established country, based on a democratic form of government, whereby political officials were elected to office.  rose to become The Communist party had total control of power and s     


In the Spring of 1945, three armies converged on Germany.  From the east, the Soviet forces were on the outskirts of Berlin, the capital of  Nazi Germany.  American and British forces were over a hundred miles west of it.  Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower saw no point in racing toward the city simply to spend lives to capture.  It's fate was sealed, so he permitted it to be taken by the Soviet Union.  
      Germany surrendered on --------.  The Soviet armies then occupied Poland, Checkslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the eastern half of Germany.  France, Belgium, and the Netherlands had been liberated by the Allies.  Their forces occupied the western half of Germany.  One result of this decision was the division of Germany into East and West, controlled by the Soviet Union and the Allies respectfully.  Berlin was located in East Germany, surrounded by Soviet-occupied East Germany.  The Allies divided the city into four sectors, each administered by a different country: Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union.
     The Communist party ruled the Soviet Union.  It's leader, Joseph Stalin, was a ruthless dictator.  Under the Communist system, the government owned all property and tightly controlled the lives of citizens.  The Allies were democracies that had popular elected leaders.  They were capitalistic.  Property was owned by individuals and companies.  The economy was characterized by free enterprise.  Thus there were two fundamentally different systems of government.
     World War II had been far devastating to the Soviets than it had the allies.  Many of it's cities had been destroyed and over twenty million people had been killed.  

 For many years, the Soviets had watched America and British companies The  


     On June 22, 1948, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade, cutting off all ground routes for the Allies to enter or leave Berlin.  It was clearly an act of defiance and test of Allied resolve.  It seems as if the Allies would have no choice other than to evacuate the city.  The Strategic Air Command prepared for war. 
     A squadron of the 301st Bombardment Group was then TDY with its B-29s at Furstenfeldbruck, West Germany.  SAC immediately ordered the group's other two squadrons to Goose Air Base Labrador to prepare for immediate deployment to Germany.  The 307th and 28th Bombardment Groups were placed on alert and ordered to be ready to deploy within three and twelve hours respectively.  The remainder of the SAC bomber force was placed on 24-hour alert status. 
     General Curtis LeMay was then commander of the U.S. Air Force Europe.  He saw the crises as an opportunity to demonstrate American air power.  He believed that the Allied forces could be supported by air.  He turned Major General William H. Tunner, who had been an airlift commander in the Hump - the aerial resupply of China from India during World War II, and put him in command of the operation.  The Army Air Corps called it Operation Vittles, the British called it Operation Plainfare, but to the world it became famous as the Berlin Airlift.  Within a few days, a fleet of army transport planes were flying supplies into the besieged city.
     Within a few weeks, the other 301st Bomb Groups squadrons had joined the first.  Later in July the 28th Bombardment Group left Rapid City AFB, South Dakota for RAF Scampton, England.  The 307th Bombardment Group left MacDill AFB Florida for RAF Marham and Waddington England.
     A month after the blockade was imposed, On July 22, 1948, three B-29s from the 43rd Bombardment Group departed Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona in an attempt to fly around the world.T

he Russians were undoubtedly surprised by the American resolve.   had no idea of how many of these B-29s carried atomic bombs.  By quickly asserting its force, SAC blunted any thoughts that the Soviets might have had for pushing their armies into Europe.

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