365th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 365th Fighter Group served with the Ninth Air Force, taking part in the D-Day campaign, the advance across France, Operation Market Garden, the battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Germany.

The group was activated in the US in May 1943, and moved to Britain at the end of the year. The 365th was the third fighter group to become operational in the Ninth Air Force in 1944, making its combat debut on 22 February (the same day as the 363rd).

In the period before D-Day the group flew a mix of bomber escort and dive-bomber missions, hitting German positions and transport links.

On 6 May four pilots from the 365th made a test attack on four V-1 'ski sites' to test out the effectiveness of very low level attacks. Three of the four hit their targets and inflicted enough damage to knock them out of action for several months, with no loss of aircraft. This helped settle a debate about the most effective way to attack these sites, and helped to prove that low level fighter bomber raids were far more effective than heavy or medium bomber attacks. However the bulk of the campaign was still conducted by the larger aircraft.

On D-Day the group hit gun emplacements and rail links.

On 7 June the 365th, 366th and 368th Groups flew 467 fighter bomber sorties over 35 missions, with many squadrons flying four missions on the same day. These missions were carried out south of the Aure River, to support the troops fighting on the Normandy beaches.

In July the group took part in the break-through at St Lo. It then supported the armies as they advanced through France.

On 25 August the 365th, 367th and 370th Groups, using information provided by the 'Y' service (listening in on Luftwaffe radio transmissions), hit airfields around Cognac and Dijon, destroying 33 aircraft on the ground.

On 11-12 September, after a period of low activity, the Luftwaffe reappeared as part of the efforts to defend the German border. On those days the 365th, 368th and 474th took part in three battles with German aircraft, claiming 25 victories in return for only 6 losses. Even taking into account the normal exaggeration of claims, this was still an impressive victory.

The group was awarded a Belgian citation for its actions between the D-Day landings and the start of the liberation of Belgium, covering the period 6 June-30 September.

In the autumn of 1944 the group took part in the battle of Aachen, the first German city to fall into Allied hands, and the general advance towards the Rhine. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for damaging a number of German fighters around Bonn and Dusseldforf on 21 October.

On 18 December, early in the battle of the Bulge, the 365th attacked and and badly damaged a German armoured column on the road from Stavelot to La Gleize to Stoumont. The group claimed to have destroyed 32 armoured and 56 soft skinned vehicles (although the number of armoured vehicles destroyed was probably much lower).

On 23 December the 365th, 367th and 368th Groups were transferred from IX TAC, which had come under the operational command of the British 2nd Tactical Air Force for the duration of the crisis caused by the Battle of the Bugle, to the XIX TAC, which was still providing air support to General Bradley's Army Group (VIII Corps and Patton's Third Army).

The group received a second Belgian citation for its role in the battle of the Bulge, covering the period from 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945.

In 1945 the group supported the advance into Germany and the crossing of the Rhine of March 1945. It was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for attacks on German airfields, transport links and ammo dumps on 20 April 1945 while it was supporting the advance into southern Germany.

After the end of the fighting the group took part in the disarmament programme. It returned to the US in September and was inactivated on 22 September 1945.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1943-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

27 April 1943 Constituted as 365th Fighter Group
15 May 1943 Activated
December 1943 To Britain
February 1944 Combat debut with Ninth Air Force
May 1945 End of combat
September 1945 To United States
22 September 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Lance Call: c. 15 May 1943
Col Ray J Stecker: 26 Jun 1944
Lt Col Robert C Richardson III: 26 Apr 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Richmond AAB, Va: 15 May 1943
Langley Field, Va: 19 Jul 1943
Dover AAFld, Del: 11 Aug 1943
Richmond AAB, Va: 18 Nov-4 Dec 1943
Gosfield, England: 22 Dec 1943
Beaulieu, England: 5 Mar 1944
Azeville, France: 28 Jun 1944
Lignerolles, France: 15 Aug 1944
Bretigny, France: 3 Sep 1944
Juvincourt, France: 15 Sep 1944
Chievres, Belgium: 4 Oct 1944
Metz, France: 27 Dec 1944
Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium: 30 Jan 1945
Aachen, Germany: 16 Mar 1945
Fritzlar, Germany: 13 Apr 1945
Suippes France: c. 29 Jul 1945
Antwerp, Belgium: c. 22 Aug-11 Sep 1945
Camp Myles Standish, Mass: 20-22 Sep 1945.

Component Units

386th: 1943-1945
387th: 1943-1945
388th: 1943-1945

Assigned To

May-December 1943: Philadephia Fighter Wing, I Fighter Command; First Air Force?
23 December 1944-30 January 45: XIX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 April 2016), 365th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/365th_Fighter_Group.html

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