24th Pursuit Group (USAAF)

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History

The 24th Pursuit Group was a fighter group that was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, but that was kept on the official list of active organizations for the rest of the war.

The group was activated on the Philippines on 1 October 1941. It had three squadrons of its own, and two attached (the 21st and 34th, part of the 35th Pursuit Group, which was meant to be following behind), and flew a mix of Seversky P-35s and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks.

The group was based at Clark Field on Luzon when the Japanese attacked the Philippines on 8 December 1941. The 24th took to the air in an attempt to intercept the first wave of attacks, but failed to make contact. The Japanese then caught the group on the ground and inflicted heavy damage on it.

Despite this disaster the group's remaining aircraft continued to fight on. It contained the first USAAF air ace of the Second World War in Lt Boyd D 'Buzz' Wagner, one of the few pilots to be evacuated to Australia.

On 23 December the group took part in an all-out attack on Japanese forces landing at San Miguel Bay on Luzon. This consisted of twelve P-40s and six P-35s from the 24th, and caused some damage (although one P-35 was lost). On the following day all units received orders to evacuate to Bataan. The remnants of the group, soon down to only fifteen pilots, became known as the Bataan Field Flying Detachment and came under the direct control of Brig Gen Harold H George, commander of the Interceptor Command.

By the end of December most of the ground crews had joined infantry units. The remaining aircraft continued to fight on until their pilots were either killed or captured.

Unusually the group was neither reconstituted nor inactivated and instead remained on the official active list of organisations until 2 April 1946.

Books

1941-1942: Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Aircraft

Text

Timeline

16 August 1941 Constituted as 24th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
1 October 1941 Activated on Philippines
8 December 1941 Suffers heavy losses when Japanese attack
2 April 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Orrin L Grover, 1 Oct 1941-Apr 1942.

Main Bases

Clark Field, Luzon: 1 Oct 1941
Mariveles, Luzon: c.1 Jan-May 1942

Component Units

3rd: 1941-1946
17th: 1941-1946
20th: 1941-1946

21st and 34th Squadrons attached 1941

Assigned To

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 September 2014), 24th Pursuit Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/24th_Pursuit_Group.html

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