352nd Fighter Group (USAAF))

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History

The 352nd Fighter Group (USAAF) was a fighter unit that proved bomber escorts for the Eighth Air Force, but also carried out ground attack missions and briefly came under the control of the Ninth Air Force during the Battle of the Bulge.

The group was formed in the United States in October 1942. It trained with the P-47 Thunderbolt, and also formed part of the air defences of the United States, before moving to Britain in June-July 1943 to join the Eighth Air Force. It used the P-47 in combat until April 1944, then converted to the P-51 Mustang.

The group became operational in September 1943. Its main role was to provide long range escorts for the Eighth Air Force's heavy bombers, and it was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an escort mission on 8 May 1944 in which it protected the bomber force heading for Brunswick, defeated a German fighter attack and then continued to harassed the German fighters until it ran short of fuel.

The group also carried out a number of ground attack missions while operating with the Eighth Air Force. During the D-Day campaign it was used to attack German communications. It also supported the breakout from St Lo in July and Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

The group took part in the Battle of the Bulge. In December 1944 part of the group was sent to Belgium, where it was attached to the Ninth Air Force. On 25 December the group provided most of the bomber escorts. On 26 and 27 December it escorted medium bombers and on both days clashed with German fighters. The group was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for its efforts on 1 January 1945, when the Luftwaffe made its last major effort of the war, an all out attack on Allied airfields. Twelve of the group's aircraft were taking off when 50 German fighters attacked their base. By this point the quality of Luftwaffe training had almost collapsed, and the group claimed half of the attacking force at no cost.

In February 1945 the 361st and 352nd Fighter Groups became the first in the Eighth Air Force to move entirely to the Continent, moving to Chievres in Belgium. VIII Fighter Command had moved to Charleroi in the previous month, but plans to move heavy bomber units were abandoned. The group remained in Europe until April 1945, taking part in the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. In April it returned to England, from where it continued operations. The group's last combat mission came a few days before V-E Day.

The group returned to the US in November 1945 and was inactivated on 10 November.

Books

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Aircraft

1942-April 1944: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
April 1944 onwards: North American P-51 Mustang

Timeline

29 September 1942 Constituted as 352nd Fighter Group
1 October 1942 Activated
June-July 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
September 1943 Entered combat
May 1945 Last combat
November 1945 To United States
10 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Edwin M Ramage: c. Oct 1942
Col Joe L Mason: 17 May 1943
Col James D Mayden: 17 Nov 1944- unkn

Main Bases

Mitchel Field, NY: 1 Oct 1942
Bradley Field, Conn: Oct 1942
Westover Field, Mass: Nov 1942
Trumbull Field, Conn: c. 15 Jan 1943
Republic Field, NY: c. 9 Mar-Jun 1943
Bodney, England: 7 Jul 1943
Chievres, Belgium: c. 27 Jan 1945
Bodney, England: c. 14 Apr- 3 Nov 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: c. 9-10 Nov 1945

Component Units

328th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45
486th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45
487th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45

Assigned To

October 1942-June 43: New York Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force

1943-September 1944: 67th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-1945: 67th Fighter Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 July 2014), 352nd Fighter Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/352nd_Fighter_Group.html

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