The 362nd Fighter Group (USAAF) served with the Ninth Air Force, and took part in the D-Day invasion, the advance across France, the battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Germany.
The group was activated in the United States on 1 March 1943 and trained with the P-47 Thunderbolt, the same aircraft that it took into combat. The group moved to Britain in November 1943 and was assigned to the new Ninth Air Force.
The 362nd Fighter Group (USAAF) was the second fighter group to become operational in the Ninth Air Force during 1944, entering combat on 8 February, when it escorted a formation of B-24s on an attack on V-weapons sites near the Pas de Calais. In February-April 1944 the group spent most of its time operating as a bomber escort group.
In April-May the group turned to ground attack duties, hitting German communication links in northern France and Belgium.
On D-Day the group provided a fighter escort for the transport groups dropping paratroops on the western flank of the beachhead. It was then used for close support of the armies fighting in Normandy and during the breakout into the rest of France.
Although the Luftwaffe was largely absent on D-Day it did begin to appear in larger numbers as the Normandy campaign went on. By now the bulk of German pilots were badly under-trained. Even when the American units were outnumbered they were thus able to hold their own. On 20 August eight aircraft from the 362nd ran into a much larger German formation, losing two aircraft but claiming six victories. Even if one halves that total it was still a good performance.
The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on the German fortress of Brest on 25 August 1944 when it pressed on to its targets despite poor weather and heavy German flak.
In October the group supported Patton's army. Amongst its achievements were the destruction of four German command posts near Chateau-Salins on 2 October and the breaking of the Etang-de-Lindre dam near Dieuze on 20 October (carried out to prevent the Germans from destroying the dam as the Americans advanced below it).
During the battle of the Bulge the group also operated in support of General Patton's Third Army, on the southern flank of the German salient.
It received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions over the Moselle-Rhine triangle in support of the infantry on 16 March 1945.
The group's last combat mission came on 1 May 1945. It returned to the United States in August-September 1945. There it converted to the P-51 before being inactivated on 1 August 1946.
1943-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
1945-1946: North American P-51 Mustang (in US)
|11 February 1943||Constituted as 362nd Fighter Group|
|1 March 1943||Activated|
|November 1943||To Britain and Ninth Air Force|
|8 February 1944||Combat Debut|
|July 1944||To Continent|
|1 May 1945||End of operations|
|August-September 1945||To United States|
|1 August 1946||Inactivated|
Col Morton D Magoffin:
1 Mar 1943
Col Joseph L Laughlin: 10 Aug 194-1 Aug 1946
Westover Field, Mass: 1 Mar
Bradley Field, Conn: 22 Jun 1943
Groton Field, Conn: 2 Aug 1943
Mitchel Field, NY: 19 Oct-12 Nov 1943
Wormingford, England: 30 Nov 1943
Headcorn, England: 13 Apr 1944
Lignerolles, France: 2 Jul 1944
Rennes, France: 10 Aug 1944
Prosnes, France: 19 Sep 1944
Rouvres, France: 5 Nov 1944
Frankfurt, Germany: 8 Apr 1945
Furth, Germany: 30 Apr 1945
Illesheim, Germany: 3 May 1945
Straubing, Germany: 12 May-Aug 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, NC: 5 Sep 1945
Biggs Field, Tex: 3 Dec 1945-1 Aug 1946.
March-November 1943: New York Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
3 April-15 April 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; IX Fighter Command; Ninth Air Force
15 April-2 July 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Air Support Command; Ninth Air Force, under operational control of IX Fighter Command
12 August 1944-8 May 1945: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force