366th Fighter Group

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History

The 366th Fighter Group served with the Ninth Air Force and took part in the D-Day invasion, the advance across France, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Germany.

The group was activated in the US on 1 June 1943, and moved to the UK in December 1943-January 1944.

The 366th was the fifth fighter group to become operational with the Ninth Air Force in 1944, making its combat debut on 14 March during a fighter sweep along the French coast.

On 15 March the group carried out one of the Ninth Air Force's first fighter-bomber attack, when seven aircraft hit the airfield at St-Valery.

Between then and D-Day the group took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of France and Belgium, hitting German gun positions, transport links and other suitable targets.

On D-Day the group was used to fly fighter sweeps over the beachhead, hitting targets of opportunity (once again including transport lines and gun positions). The group concentrated on dive-bombing attacks on German fortifications and transport links for the rest of the war. It was also used to escort bombers and even dropped leaflets.

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.

On 11 June the group attacked the Panzer Lehr Division, which was then carrying out a futile counterattack. The group hit the Germans despite the cloud base only being at 1,000 feet, and claimed twenty-two tanks (later ground surveys supported this figure).

The group won a Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of attacks on German pillboxes around St Lo on 11 July 1944, during which it found and attacked a German armoured column.

On 7 August the group operated in support of the 2nd Armored Division during the attempts to trap the Germans at Falaise, destroying German targets hidden in woods near Brecy and a group of German 88s. On 13 August, during the same battle, the group hit a convoy of German tank transports, inflicting heavy damage along a mile and a half long stretch of road.

The group was cited in the Orders of the Day of the Belgian Army for its efforts between 6 June and 30 September 1944.

During Operation Market Garden the group hit German flak positions around Eindoven.

During the Battle of the Bulge it flew armed reconnaissance sweeps over the battle area, hitting targets of opportunities. The group was cited in the Orders of the Day for the Belgian Army for the period 18 December 1944-15 January 1945.

During the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 the group escorted bombers.

The group's last mission was an attack on the harbours at Kiel and Flensburg on 3 May 1945. After the war the group became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe, but it was inactivated on 20 August 1946.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1943-1946: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

24 May 1943 Constituted as 366th Fighter Group
1 June 1943 Activated
December 1943-January 1944 To Britain and Ninth Air Force
14 March 1944 Combat Debut
20 August 1946 Inactivated in Germany

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Morris C Crossen: 1 Jun 1943
Col Dyke F Meyer: 11 Jul 1943
Lt Col James P Tipton: 19 Apr 1944
Lt Col Donald K Bennett: 30 Apr 1944
Col Harold N Holt: c. 22 May 1944
Lt Col Ansel J Wheeler: 28 Apr 1945
Col Clarence T Edwinson: May 1946-unkn.

Main Bases

Richmond AAB, Va, I Jun
1943; Bluethenthal Field, NC, g Aug 1943;
Richmond AAB, Va, 3-17 Dec 1943; Membury,
England, 10 Jan 1944; Thruxton,
England, I Mar-12 Jun 1944; St Pierre du
Mont, France, 17 Jun 1944; Dreux/
Vermouillet, France, 24 Aug 1944; Laon/
Couvron, France, 8 Sep 1944;
Assche, Belgium: 19 November 1944
Munster/ Handorf, Germany: 11 April 1945
Bayreuth/ Bindlach, Germany, 25 Jun 1945; Fritzlar,
Germany, 14 Sep 1945-20 Aug 1946

Component Units

389th: 1943-1946
390th: 1943-1946
391st: 1943-1946

Assigned To

1943: Philadelphia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
March-August 1944: 71st Fighter Wing; IX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force
-24 November 1944-: IX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force
-8 May 1945-: XXIX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
1945-46: 64th Fighter Wing

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 May 2016), 366th Fighter Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/366th_Fighter_Group.html

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