350th Fighter Group (USAAF)

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 350th Fighter Group (USAAF) was formed in Britain as part of the Eighth Air Force, but quickly moved to North Africa and remained in the Mediterranean theatre for the rest of the war.

The group was activated in Britain on 1 October 1942, after the Eighth Air Force got permission to activate the group before it was officially constituted. At the same time the ground echelon was formed in the United States. In January-February 1943 both parts of the group moved to North Africa, where they joined the Twelfth Air Force. The group was part of the Twelfth for the rest of the war. The group lost several aircraft during the flight from Britain to Africa, with many forced to land in neutral Portugal.

The group's activities included fighter defence, convoy escort, reconnaissance and ground attack missions.

When it entered combat the group was mainly equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobra (and the P-400 Airacobra I), and a small number of P-38 Lightnings.

In August-September 1944 the group converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt.

The group took part in the Tunisian campaign. It took part in the first attempt to reach Tunis and was forced to retreat after the failure of this attack.

After the German surrender in Tunisia the group provided air defence for the Algerian coast, forming part of the Northwest African Coastal Air Force. The group could cope with an incoming German bombers, but its P-39s lacked the high altitude performance to intercept reconnaissance aircraft.

The group supported the invasion of Italy and the rest of the long campaign in Italy. It provided part of the fighter escort for the convoy heading for Salerno at the start of the Italian campaign (9 September 1943).

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 6 April 1944 when it flew ten sorties against German troops and installations despite heavy opposition. This was part of the wider attempt to isolate the German troops blocking the road to Rome in the spring of 1944.

For much of 1944 the group was based on Corsica (February-September 1944).

In June 1944 the group supported the invasion of Elba

In August 1944 the group took part in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France.

In August-September 1944 the group converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt. This allowed it to change from a defensive role to an offensive one with its more modern powerful fighters.

1st Lt Raymond L Knight was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on 24-25 April 1945. During a series of attacks on Luftwaffe airfields in northern Italy he destroyed at least 20 German aircraft. Sadly he was lost on 25 April while attempting to return to base in a badly damaged aircraft.

The group moved to the United States in July-August 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1942 to Aug-Sept 1944: Bell P-39 Airacobra, Bell P-400/ Airacobra I, Lockheed P-38 Lightning
Aug-Sept 1944 to 1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

1 October 1942 Activated in England with Eighth Air Force
2 October 1942 Constituted as 350th Fighter Group
Jan-Feb 1943 To North Africa and Twelfth Air Force
July-August 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Richard P Klocko: 14 Oct 1942
Maj Ariel W Nielsen: 24 Feb 1943
Lt Col Marvin L McNickle: 1 Mar 1943
Lt Col Ariel W Nielsen: c. Sep 1943
Lt Col John C Robertson, 22 Oct 1944
Col Ariel W Nielsen: c. Feb 1945
Col John C Robertson: 20 Jun 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Bushey Hall, England: 1 Oct 1942
Duxford, England: Oct 1942
Oujda French Morocco: 6 Jan 1943
Oran, Algeria: 14 Feb 1943
Maison Blanche, Algeria: May 1943
Rerhaia, Algeria: c. 17 Jul 1943
Sardinia: 5 Nov 1943
Corsica: 6 Feb 1944
Tarquinia, Italy: 8 Sep 1944
Pisa, Italy: 2 Dec 1944-14 Jul 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, NC: 25 Aug-7 Nov 1945

Component Units

345th: 1942-1945
346th: 1942-1945
347th: 1942-1945

Assigned To

1942: Eighth Air Force
1943-44: 63rd Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944-45: 62nd Fighter Wing; XXII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 January 2016), 350th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/350th_Fighter_Group.html

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