18th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 18th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a fighter unit that suffered heavy losses at Pearl Harbor but recovered to operate over the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines and Formosa.

The group was formed in Hawaii in 1927, and spent the inter-war period on the islands, taking part in Army-Navy manoeuvres and standard peace-time flying. The group converted to the P-41 in 1941, and was using that aircraft when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The group suffered heavy losses and was only able to get two aircraft into the air, both of which were quickly shot down.

The group needed some time to recover from this damage, but was soon able to being flying patrols from Hawaii. This was a short-lived role, and in March 1943 the group was allocated to the Thirteenth Air Force and moved to the South Pacific.

The group moved to the Solomon Islands, and provided air cover for the USAAF bases on the islands. They then moved on to flying bomber escort missions over the Bismarck islands as well as supporting the wider campaign in the Solomon Islands. The group helped support the invasion of Bougainville, providing part of the air cover on the first day of the invasion in November 1943. They shot down seven Japanese aircraft without loss.

In August 1944 the group moved to New Guinea, and converted to the long range P-38 Lightning. It was used to escort bombers on long range missions to the Philippines, Borneo and the Dutch East Indies.

The group was awarded a distinguished unit citation during the fighting on Leyte. On 10 November 1944 the group attacked a Japanese convoy bringing reinforcements to Ormoc Bay, pressing their attack despite heavy flak and Japanese fighter opposition.

In January 1945 the group moved to the Philippines, where it was one of the first groups to move onto the new strip at Lingayen. It was used to support the invasions of Luzon, Palawan and Borneo. They also carried out direct attacks on Formosa and provided escorts for bombers operating over a wide area, including French Indochina, Borneo and Formosa.

The group remained in the Philippines after the end of the war, before moving to Korea in 1950.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

To 1941: Various including DH-4, Boeing PW-9 , Boeing P-12, Boeing P-26, Curtiss P-36 Hawk
1941-1942: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
1942-1944: Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, Douglas P-70 Nighthawk
1944 onwards: Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Timeline

Jan 1927 Organised in Hawaii as 18th Pursuit Group
1939 Redesignated 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
1942 Redesignated 18th Fighter Group
Feb 1942 To Seventh Air Force
March 1943 To South Pacific and Thirteenth Air Force
Jan 1945 To Philippines

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Unkn: 1927-1940
Maj Kenneth M Walker: 22 Mar 1940
Maj William R Morgan: 1941
Lt Col Aaron W Tyer: Dec 1941
Lt Col W H Councill: 10 Dec 1943
Col Milton B Adams: 8 Jul 1944
Col Harry L Donicht: 24 May 1945
Lt Col Bill Harris: 1 Aug 1945
Lt Col Wilbur J Grumbles: 18 Oct 1945-unkn;

Main Bases

Wheeler Field, TH: Jan 1927
Espiritu Santo: 11 Mar 1943
Guadalcanal: 17 Apr 1943
Sansapor, New Guinea: 21 Aug 1944
Lingayen, Luzon: c. 13 Jan 1945
San Jose, Mindoro: c. 1 Mar 1945
Zamboanga, Mindanao: 4 May 1945
Palawan: 10 Nov 1945

Component Units

6th: 1927-1943
12th: 1943-
19th: 1927-1943
44th: 1941-1942, 1943-.
67th: 1945-
68th: 1945-
70th: 1943-1945
73d: 1929-1931, 1941-1942
78th: 1940-1943
333rd: 1942-1943
419th: 1943-1944

Assigned To

1931-1940: 18th Bombardment Wing (Hawaii)
1942-1943: VII Fighter Command; Seventh Air Force
1943-1946: XIII Fighter Command; Thirteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 September 2014), 18th Fighter Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/18th_Fighter_Group.html

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