History of the 146th Airlift Wing
Published October 16, 2008
The 146th Airlift Wing has been part of Southern California's rich aviation history since the mid-1920s. The wing traces its roots to the fledgling days of the 115th Observation Squadron, an early military aviation unit of the California National Guard's 40th Infantry Division. The 115th Observation Squadron was founded in the summer of 1924 at Clover Field in Santa Monica, the site of today's Santa Monica Airport.
Throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, the 115th operated a variety of aircraft including the World War I-vintage Curtiss JN4-D 'Jenny', Douglas 02-H, Consolidated 0-17, and Douglas 0-38. In October 1938 the 115th began flying the North American 0-47, the unit's first all-metal monoplane.
Other aircraft flown by the wing since the late 1940s include truly classic military aircraft such as the B-26 Invader, B-45 Tornado, F/P-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-86 Sabrejet, and the C-97 flown for combat air support missions in the early 1950s in the Korean War, and again in the 1960s in the Southeast Asia Conflict.
1960 brought a new mission and a new aircraft. With transportation recognized as a critical wartime need, the 146th was selected to receive the C-97 "Stratofreighter" and was re-designated the 146th Air Transportation Wing. The 1970s brought a new name - the 146th Tactical Airlift Wing; a new command; and a new aircraft - the C-130E Hercules, aircraft we continue to fly even into the new millennium in addition to the C-130J.