Randolph Air Force Base - History - 1940s To 1970s

1940s To 1970s

In June 1941, the Air Corps became the Army Air Forces. Basic flying training at Randolph continued until March 1943, when the Army Air Forces Central Instructors School (CIS) was created. For the next two years, training instructors for ground schools, instructor pilots (including civilian contract instructors) for all three phases of flying training, and officers destined for administrative duties at air training command bases were trained by the CIS. Randolph produced 15,396 instructor graduates from this course before it moved to Waco Field in 1945. When the CIS moved to Waco Field it was replaced by the Army Air Forces pilot school, which specialized in transition training for B-29 bomber pilots, copilots and engineers. Primary pilot training returned to Randolph from Goodfellow Field in December 1945. Class 42-X gave 235 pilots their wings in an experimental course that sent pilot candidates directly to instructor training without first attending primary school, but though the course was considered a success, AAF Flying Training Command rejected its adoption. The Central Instructors School returned to Randolph in November 1945, was redesignated the AAF Pilot Instructors School, and relocated to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, on 12 March 1946.

Like many military installations during World War II, Randolph fielded an intercollegiate football team, nicknamed the Randolph Field Ramblers. In 1943, under Coach Frank Tritico, the team achieved a 9-1-0 record, and was invited to play in the 1 January 1944 Cotton Bowl Classic, where they battled the University of Texas to a 7-7 tie. In the 1944 season, stocked with such stars as former All-American and National Football League Rookie of the Year Bill Dudley and All-American running back Glenn Dobbs, as well as eight other former NFL players, the team went undefeated and untied in 11 games, and was voted #3 in the nation by the Associated Press poll.

The Army Air Forces also planned to return basic pilot training to Randolph on 1 February 1946. Even though basic training transferred from Goodfellow Field in February 1946, the Army Air Forces suspended all pilot training when it found itself with a shortfall of maintenance personnel. The U.S. Air Force became a separate service on 18 September 1947, and Randolph Field was officially renamed Randolph Air Force Base on 13 January 1948.

When Randolph resumed flying training activities in March 1948, primary pilot training was deleted from its program, and in August 1948 the 3510th Pilot Training Wing (Basic) was activated. On 7 August 1950, during the Korean War, the 3511th Combat Crew Training Group was established as part of the 3510th PTW to train crews for the B-29 Superfortress, and the instructor pilot school was transferred to Craig Air Force Base, Alabama. On 11 June 1952 the pilot training wing was redesignated as the 3510th Flying Training Wing (Medium Bomber), and again in October 1954 (to reflect more accurately its actual mission) to the 3510th Combat Crew Training Wing.

On 1 April 1952, the Air Force established the Crew Training Air Force (CTAF) with its headquarters at Randolph to administer nine bases and combat crew training wings, including the 3510th. B-29 training by the 3511th Flying Training Group (Medium Bomber) continued for five years, ultimately producing 21,519 crew members. In 1954, with the requirements for B-29 crewmen reduced, the CTAF instituted instrument training for four-engine transport crews using the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, and added Martin B-57 Canberra crew training to Randolph's activities, although a shortage of qualified instructors cut short the latter program after two years. The USAF Helicopter School was based at Randolph from June 1956 to July 1958. The 3510th conducted Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker crew training from June 1957 to July 1958, after which the Strategic Air Command assigned a tenant wing to Randolph, the 4397th Air Refueling Wing, to instruct crews until 15 June 1962.

The Crew Training Air Force was discontinued on 1 July 1957, and the headquarters of the Flying Training Air Force relocated to Randolph. Shortly after, between 1 August and 30 September, the headquarters of ATC itself relocated to Randolph from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. In early 1958 ATC assumed responsibility for all Air Force training activities and all other training commands including the Flying Training Air Force were abolished. The 3510th CCTW was redesignated the 3510th Flying Training Wing on 1 June 1958 with the primary mission of qualifying USAF jet pilots.

In 1961 pilot instructor training (PIT) returned to the 3510th Flying Training Wing. Randolph became the Air Force's primary PIT base as the Air Force completely revamped its pilot training program, abolishing the nine independent pilot training squadrons (contract instructors) that had been performing primary training for a decade and gearing up to conduct all undergraduate pilot training (UPT) in jet aircraft. Class 62-FZ produced 25 pilots who completed their training in the new Northrop T-38 Talon, then undergoing test and evaluation, only the second class of candidates to receive their wings at Randolph (Class 42-X was the first class to do so). Requirements for new pilots during the Vietnam War saw PIT shifted again, from Randolph to Perrin and Tyndall Air Force Bases, and on 16 May 1967, while retaining its "flying training" designation, Randolph resumed primary training in the Cessna T-37 to become the ninth UPT wing. 1,269 pilots earned their wings at Randolph before UPT was discontinued at Randolph on 2 October 1971. The PIT squadrons at Perrin and Tyndall both returned to Randolph in June 1971 and it became the only source of UPT instructor pilots for the USAF.

To preserve the lineage and histories of combat units, the Air Force directed ATC to replace its four-digit flying and pilot training wings with two-digit designations. The 3510th FTW became the 12th Flying Training Wing (12 FTW) on 1 May 1972, taking on the designation of the tactical fighter wing inactivated in Vietnam the previous November. The 12th FTW remained the host unit at Randolph AFB for nearly 38 years, until 31 January 2010, when the 502d Air Base Wing became the host unit after Randolph became a component of Joint Base San Antonio.

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