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Random Musings: An explaination of USAF Maintenance Squadron Patches


Teamski
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Going to the Allentown show this weekend really re-awakened my interest in USAF patches. The vast majority of my collection is USAF, but I tended to ignore it in favor of paging through my army patches instead. Heck, army patches were all I had when I started collecting when I was 10!

 

Well, Looking through my haul, I realized that there is a rich history here that I and others tend to overlook. Checking out my sources in books and on-line, I found many of the patches are of units that have long since vanished. They were products of a cold war that no longer exists. Since I was a Crew Chief during my career, aircraft maintenance units naturally caught my attention. Visions of crew chiefs of old, blackened in worn-out cotton fatigues, working on aircraft now scraped at bases like Hunter AFB, Forbes AFB, Otis AFB, and many others that ceased to exist well before I joined in 1988, flashed through my mind. Here are some of those patches I got.

 

A little backround on USAF maintenance units. Since the 1950's, maintenance units have gone through quite a transformation. Starting in the 1960's most wings had 3-4 different maintenance squadrons. Your basic squadrons were the OMS, FMS, and AMS with A&EMS and MMS if required. Fighter units later developed AGS, EMS, CRS units, something that everybody adopted in 1991. Here are explanations of the units (Greatly simplified, as there are always exceptions!):

 

OMS- Organizational Maintenance Squadron. This unit was the primary flight line mx unit and in most cases consisted entirely of Crew Chiefs, the jack of all trades.

 

FMS- Field Maintenance Squadron. This unit had Engines, Hydraulics, Electrical, and Enviromental technicians. They worked both backshop and were dispatched out to the line when needed.

 

AMS- Avionics Maintenance Squadron. This unit had Communications, Navigation, and Avionics personnel for backshop and flightline personnel.

 

CAMS- Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Also a variation of the OMS, it included backshop functions as well. It was usually assigned to smaller numbers of aircraft at smaller bases.

 

MMS- Munitions Maintenance Squadron. Self explanitory.

 

A&EMS- Armament and Electronics Maintenance Squadron: Usually SAC and TAC, worked on those components particular to bombers and fighters.

 

AGS- Aircraft Generation Squadron. This is a variation of the OMS, except it had specialist personnel assigned full time for flight line MX.

 

EMS- Equipment Maintenance Squadron. Roughly acquivelant to the FMS. Provided backshop functions for Hydraulic, Engines and Electrical components. Also handled dock inspection duties in many wings.

 

CRS- Component Repair Squadron. Roughly equivelant to the AMS.

 

AMXS- Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Identical to the AGS, just another fancy name for the same unit.

 

There are a couple other odd units that were created depending on the mission. One patch like that will be shown below. The vast majority of maintenance units were numbered after the wing that they were assigned to. Now, if more than one type of aircraft was on station, then the additional MX units usually had a digit added to the number or the first number was changed. This is still done. For example, the 436th AMXS at Dover works on the C-5, while the recently activated 736th AMXS works on the C-17.

 

Let's look at some patches from this weekend.....

 

The first ones: (L-R)

 

1501st Flight Line MX Sq- Travis AFB 1957-1961 The precursor to the OMS

1617th OMS- Dover AFB 1960-1966- Worked C-124's and C-133's, I believe

99th OMS- Westover AFB 1956-1974 B-52's

90th OMS- Forbes AFB 1951-1960 B-52's

325th AGS- Tyndall AFB 1981- F-15's

440th CAMS- Milwaukee WI ca. 1980 C-130's

post-3043-1247684814.jpg

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A group of FMS patches: (L to R)

 

1607th FMS Dover AFB ca. 1966 supported C-124's, C-133's and C-5's

405th FMS Clark AB P.I. 1961-1974 C-130's

2nd FMS Hunter AFB, ca. 1962 B-52's

380th FMS Plattsburgh AFB ca. 1975 FB-111's

509th FMS Pease AFB ca. 1958-1970 B-52's, KC-135's

499th FMS Westover AFB 1963-1966 KC-135's

363rd FMS Shaw AFB ca. 1970's

post-3043-1247685463.jpg

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And finally.... (L to R)

 

p.s. I hope you excuse my indulgence in this thread. I got a hair.... ;)

 

551st Electronic Maintenance Squadron. Otis AFB. ca. 1962 EC-121's (note the lack of "Armament in the designation)

363rd AMS Shaw AFB ca 1975. F-16's

509th A&EMS Pease AFB ca. 1958 B-52's

1607th C&EMS (Communications and Electronic) Dover AFB 1959-1966 C-124's, C-133's

 

As you can see, a lot of history and locations.

 

-Ski

post-3043-1247685964.jpg

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Proud Kraut

I do not collect USAF insignia but these patches really look great! Thanks for posting all these abrevations and background informations.

I will save this thread; it will surely help me to ID many USAF patches quickly in the future! :thumbsup:

 

Lars

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NICE patches! I have included a scan of the 9th Periodic Maintenance Squadron, Mountain Home AFB. This was a predecessor to OMS squadrons.

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NICE patches! I have included a scan of the 9th Periodic Maintenance Squadron, Mountain Home AFB. This was a predecessor to OMS squadrons.

 

 

Now that is a nice patch! I have the 9th OMS version of it when the unit worked on U-2's at Beal AFB. This highlights how the units and patches changed through the years. The patches below the 9th patch show the progression of the 60th AMXS from Travis AFB:

 

1501st Flight Line MX Sqdn 1957-1961

1501st OMS (not shown) 1961-1966

60th OMS 1969- ca. 1992

60th AGS 1992-ca. 2005

60th AMXS 2005-current

 

It's sad to see units change patches outright like this. The 60th OMS was my first squadron after tech school.

 

-Ski

post-3043-1247712753.jpg

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And finally.... (L to R)

 

p.s. I hope you excuse my indulgence in this thread. I got a hair.... ;)

 

551st Electronic Maintenance Squadron. Otis AFB. ca. 1962 EC-121's (note the lack of "Armament in the designation)

363rd AMS Shaw AFB ca 1975. F-16's

509th A&EMS Pease AFB ca. 1958 B-52's

1607th C&EMS (Communications and Electronic) Dover AFB 1959-1966 C-124's, C-133's

 

As you can see, a lot of history and locations.

 

-Ski

 

Ski,

 

Three corrections:

 

In 1958 the 509th still operated B-47's They did not Convert to B-52D's till Mid 1965

the second is the 363rd AEMS / AMS ID is incorrect it's the 366th AEMS / AMS. England AFB, LA; Da Nang AB, Cam Ranh Bay AB, and Mountain Home AFB, ID. 1617th OMS- Dover AFB 1960-1966- Worked C-133's (The 1607th OMS supportted the C-124's) The 1617th was Redesignated as the 617th OMS, when MATS's became MAC on 08 Jan 1966.

 

A couple of years ago I wrote an progression chart showing the progression thru Redesignations and realignment or responsibites starting in Sept 1947. If it's here at the apartment in CA I will post it this weekend or I may have to wait until I get back to my house in Kansas

 

Terry L. Horstead

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And finally.... (L to R)

 

p.s. I hope you excuse my indulgence in this thread. I got a hair.... ;)

 

551st Electronic Maintenance Squadron. Otis AFB. ca. 1962 EC-121's (note the lack of "Armament in the designation)

363rd AMS Shaw AFB ca 1975. F-16's

509th A&EMS Pease AFB ca. 1958 B-52's

1607th C&EMS (Communications and Electronic) Dover AFB 1959-1966 C-124's, C-133's

 

As you can see, a lot of history and locations.

 

-Ski

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Great patches. Used to be the maint stuff was overlooked and easy to come by. I don't have any proof or documentaion but I believe that the 1607th C&E Maintron was not A/C maint but was a Communications Sqn. The only thing I have to go by other that having had the patch ID'd as a Comm Sqn for many years is the patch it self. It has all the common symbols for communications equipment but nothing indicating A/C maint.

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A couple of years ago I wrote an progression chart showing the progression thru Redesignations and realignment or responsibites starting in Sept 1947.

 

Terry L. Horstead

 

 

 

The File was in my computer:

 

A couple of years ago I wrote an progression chart showing the progression thru Redesignations and realignment or responsibites starting in Sept 1947. (See Below)

 

Terry L. Horstead

 

 

Maintenance & Supply Group 1948

Maintenance Squadron, Maintenance & Supply Group 1948 **

Supply Squadron, Maintenance & Supply Group 1948

 

 

Maintenance Squadron, Maintenance & Supply Group 1952

(Reorganized as Field Maintenance Squadrons in Large Units)

(Reorganized as Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons in SmallUnits)

KC-10 Units due to massive Contractor Support dedicated MX Squadron were

designated as Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons

 

Equipment Maintenance Squadrons (All Commands by: ) 1989

All Maintenance Assets were combined in Maintenance Squadrons

1992

 

Electronics Shops Formed the:

Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadrons 1952

Or:

Communications & Electronics Maintenance Squadrons 1952

Electronics Maintenance Squadrons (ADC Airborne Early Warning Units) 1952

 

 

Redesignated: Avionics Maintenance Squadrons 1968

Redesignated: Component Repair Squadrons (All Commands by: ) 1989

Disbanded: 1992

 

 

 

Aircraft Inspections / Maintenance Docks (Heavy Maintenance )

(and Some Commands also added Crew Chiefs & Flightline Mx to the):

Periodic & Electronics Maintenance Squadrons 1952

Some Commands formed:

Flight Line Maintenance Squadrons 1952

Redesignated: Organizational Maintenance Squadrons 1960

Redesignated: Aircraft Generation Squadrons (All Commands by: )

1989

Disbanded 1992

Line Maintenance reassigned to Flying Squadrons

 

 

Some Bases were also assigned:

Aviation Field Depot Squadrons (Special Weapons) 1952

Redesignated: Aviation Depot Squadrons 1957

Redesignated: Munitions Maintenance Squadrons 1960

Disbanded: 1992

 

Some Bases were also assigned:

Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadrons 1961 - 1975

 

Logistics Support Squadrons 1992

Redesignated as: Maintenance Operations Squadron

 

 

 

Production Orientated Maintenance Concept / Organization

 

Mid to Late 1970’s Fighter Units realigned Maintenance Units

By 1989 Air Staff mandated all Commands adopt this system

 

Aircraft Generation Squadrons

(Flight Line MX assigned to AMU’s Attached to Fighter Squadrons)

 

Equipment Maintenance Squadrons

(Inspection Docks, Weapons Storage, Engine Shops)

 

Component Repair Squadrons

(All Inshop / Backshop Maintenance Functions)

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but I believe that the 1607th C&E Maintron was not A/C maint but was a Communications Sqn.

 

 

I like Ski retired from Dover (in 1986), I have if it's not at home in Kansas the same patch designated 436th Avionics Maintenance Squadron

 

Terry L Horstead

post-3627-1247730862.jpg

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Great patches. Used to be the maint stuff was overlooked and easy to come by. I don't have any proof or documentaion but I believe that the 1607th C&E Maintron was not A/C maint but was a Communications Sqn. The only thing I have to go by other that having had the patch ID'd as a Comm Sqn for many years is the patch it self. It has all the common symbols for communications equipment but nothing indicating A/C maint.

 

Terry,

 

Thanks for the clarifications. Your encyclopediac knowledge of AF patches is unequaled!! If you could find your progression chart, please share it.

 

dilligaff,

 

Thanks for your comments. The 1607th C&EMS was definately an aircraft maintenance squadron. The tower is an odd choice for the patch, though. The 436th AMS inherited the insignia of the old 1607th. I was able to get the 436th AMS and the 436th FMS patches below when I was TDY at Dover during Desert Shield in late 1990. I walked around the different units and got a patch from them. The 436th AMS patch has way too much going on!

 

The sad thing is with the new ABU's, with the exception of flying units, the day of the squadron patch is gone..... :(

 

-Ski

post-3043-1247751485.jpg

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  • 13 years later...

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