This distinctive insignia was designed by Eugene Clay an artist, engineer and friend of Col. James A. Philpott, first commander of the 490th. This “winged skull” adorned the nose of the Lockheed Hudson that Col. Philpott ferried to China after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the initial cadre organized the 490th they need an insignia and the design seemed the natural choice. The emblem was approved for use by the 341st Bomb Group commander in late 1942 and adorned the forward fuselage of the Mitchells belonging to the Squadron during the time it saw action against the Japanese in India, Burma and China. It was never officially approved by the USAAF, however, the emblem adorns a “Morale Badge” of the current 490th Missile Squadron, the descendant of the 490th Bomb Squadron, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.
Constituted 490th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 14 Aug 1942. Activated on 15 Sep 1942. Inactivated on 2 Nov 1945. Redesignated 490th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 11 Mar 1947. Activated in the reserve on 4 Apr 1947. Inactivated on 27 Jun 1949. Redesignated 490th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 7 Jun 1955. Activated on 1 Sep 1955. Discontinued and inactivated on 25 Jun 1961. Redesignated 490th Strategic Missile Squadron, and activated on 18 Dec 1961. Organized on 1 May 1962.
Assignments. 341st Bombardment Group, 15 Sep 1942-2 Nov 1945. 341st Bombardment Group, 4 Apr 1947-27 Jun 1949. 341st Bombardment Wing, 1 Sep 1955-25 Jun 1961. Strategic Air Command, 18 Dec 1961; 341st Strategic Missile Wing, 1 May 1962—.
Stations. Karachi, India, 15 Sep 1942; Ondal, India, 5 Jan 1943 (operated from Chakulia, India, 20-25 May 1943); Kurmitola, India, 25 May 1943; Dergaon, India, 26 Aug 1944; Moran, India, 20 Oct 1944, Warazup, Burma, 29 Nov 1944, Hanchung, China, 13 Apr-13 Sep 1945 (detachment operated from Hsian, China, 16 Apr-4 Aug 1945); Camp Kilmer, NJ, 1-2 Nov 1945. Dow Field, Maine, 4 Apr 1947-27 Jun 1949. Abilene AFB, Tex, 1 Sep 1955-25 Jun 1961. Malstrom AFB, Mont, 1 May 1962—.
Aircraft. B-25, 1942-1945. B-47, 1956-1961.
Operations. Combat in CBI, 18 Feb 1943-20 May 1944 and 5 Jul 1944-4 Aug 1945, flew supplies from Chittagong, India to Imphal, India, 20 May-30 Jun 1944, and dropped leaflets for the U.S. Office of War Information, Jan-Aug 1945. Training for operations with Minuteman, 1 May 1962—.
Service Streamers. None.
Campaigns. India-Burma; China Defensive; Central Burma; China Offensive.
Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Central Burma, 1 Oct-31 Dec 1944. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award: 22 Oct 1962-31 Dec 1963.
Emblem. On a shield per fess nebuly azure and grey, a target issuing from dexter base of the first and or; the bull’s eye pierced by a sword’s point proper, hilt and pommel or, grip of the last and gules, between two lightning bolts of the last, fimbriated argent; in chief a semee of stars of the last. (Approved 11 Jul 1956.)