368th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 368th Fighter Group served with the Ninth Air Force and took part in the D-Day invasion, the siege of Cherbourg, the advance across France, the attack on Germany and the Battle of the Bulge.

The group was activated in the United States on 1 June 1943 and moved to Britain in January 1944.

The 368th was the joint-fifth group to become operational with the Ninth Air Force during 1944, making its combat debut alongside the 366th on 14 March during a fighter sweep across the coast of France.

In the period before D-Day the group was used to attack airfields, transport links, anti-aircraft defences and V-weapon sites.

On D-Day the group supported the troops. 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 19 June the group's 395th Squadron moved to Cardonville, becoming the first US combat squadron to move permanently to the Continent. The entire group was across by 25 June.

On 24 June the group hit the defences of La Mare es Canards, north of Cherbourg, opening the way for a successful attack on the position later on the same day.

At the end of July the Ninth adopted a new operating procedure, with a flight of aircraft permanently over the front of each armoured column and an air support party with the ground units in direct communication with the aircraft. On the first day that this system was put in effect the 368th flew twenty-five support missions. The new tactic played a major part in the successful breakout from the Normandy beachhead and was used during the fighting at St Lo on 25 July.

On 25 August the group destroyed the bridge over the Seine at Oissel, destroyed a convoy of trucks that was on the bridge, and causing tailbacks that extended five miles back to the west. As a result the Germans were forced to abandon many of the vehicles that had escaped from the Normandy battlefield.

On 3 September the group flew seven missions, destroying a great deal of German transport assets and some ground positions. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts on the day.

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 cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for its efforts between 6 June and 30 September 1944.

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 concentrated on German transport links, armoured columns and artillery during most of the Battle of the Bulge.

The group was cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for its actions between 16 December 1944 and 25 January 1945.

After the war the group joined the United States Air Forces in Europe, and was inactivated in Europe on 20 August 1946.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1943-1946: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

24 May 1943 Constituted as 368th Fighter Group
1 June 1943 Activated
January 1944 To Britain and Ninth Air Force
14 March 1944 Combat Debut
20 August 1946 Inactivated in Germany

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Gilbert L Meyers: c. 3 Jun 1943
Col Frank S Perego: 1 Nov 1944
Maj Dennis Crisp: 18 Oct 1945
Lt Col John L Locke: 2 Nov 1945
Col Robert P Montgomery: 22 Apr-20 Aug 1946

Main Bases

Westover Field, Mass: 1 Jun 1943
Farmingdale, NY: 23 Aug-20 Dec 1943
Greenham Common, England: 13 Jan 1944
Chilbolton, England: 15 Mar 1944
Cardonville, France: 20 Jun 1944
Chartres, France: 23 Aug 1944
Laon, France: 11 Sep 1944
Chievres, Belgium: 2 Oct 1944
Juvincourt, France: 27 Dec 1944
Metz, France: 5 Jan 1945
Frankfurt-am- Main, Germany: 15 Apr 1945
Buchschwabach, Germany: 13 May 1945
Straubing, Germany: 13 Aug 1945-20 Aug 1946

Component Units

395th: 1943-1946
396th: 1943-1946
397th: 1943-1946

Assigned To

June-December 1943: New York Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
March-August 1944: 71st Fighter Wing; IX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force
3 December 1944-8 May 1945 : 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 May 2016), 368th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/368th_Fighter_Group.html

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