The 361st Fighter Group (USAAF) provided fighter escorts for the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign and also carried out a number of ground attack missions.
The group was formed in the US in February 1943 and crossed the Atlantic to join the Eighth Air Force in November 1943. Its main role for the rest of the war was to provide fighter escorts for the Eighth's heavy bombers.
As with most of the Eighth Air Force's fighter units, the 361st also carried out a range of ground attack missions and fighter sweeps. It took part in the Big Week attack on the Luftwaffe (February 1944), supported the D-Day landings and the breakout from St Lo and Operation Market Garden (September 1944)
The group took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Bad weather limited the air involvement early in the battle, but it cleared at the end of the December. On 26 December the 361st carried out fighter sweeps and escorted medium bombers on a busy day for the tactical air forces.
In February 1945 the 361st and 352nd Fighter Groups became the first in the Eighth Air Force to move 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 returned to England in April 1945 and flew its last combat mission on 20 April 1945.
The group returned to the US in November 1945 and was inactivated on 10 November.
January-May 1944: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
May 1944 onwards: North American P-51 Mustang
|28 January 1943||Constituted as 361st Fighter Group|
|10 February 1943||Activated|
|November 1943||To England and Eighth Air Force|
|21 January 1944||Combat debut|
|20 April 1945||Last combat mission|
|November 1945||To United States|
|10 November 1945||Inactivated|
Col Thomas J J Christian
Jr: 10 Feb 1943
Col Ronald F Fallows: 14 Aug 1944
Lt Col Roy B Caviness: 31 Aug 1944
Lt Col Joseph J Kruzel: 20 Sep 1944
Lt Col Roy B Caviness: 3 Nov 1944
Col Junius W Dennison Jr: 2 Dec 1944
Lt Col Roy B Caviness: 15 Apr 1945
Col John D Landers: 29 Jun 1945-unkn.
Richmond AAB, Va: 10 Feb
Langley Field, Va: 26 May 1943
Millville AAFld, NJ: 20 Jul 1943
Camp Springs AAFld, Md: 28 Aug 1943
Richmond AAB, Va: 20 Sep-11 Nov 1943
Bottisham, England: 30 Nov 1943
Little Walden, England: 26 Sep 1944
Chievres, Belgium: 1 Feb-Apr 1945
Little Walden, England: 9 Apr-3 Nov 1945
Camp Kilmer, N J: 9-10 Nov 1945.
374th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945
375th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945
376th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945
July-September 1943: Philadelphia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
1943-1944: 66th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-: 67th Fighter Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1944-1945: 65th Fighter Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
23 Dec 1944-31 Jan 1945: Attached to 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command
1945: 66th Fighter Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1945: 65th Fighter Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force