405th Fighter Group

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History

The 405th Fighter Group (USSAF) served with the Ninth Air Force and took part in the D-Day landings, the advance across France, the battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine and the invasion of Germany.

The group was formed in the United States in February-March 1943 as the 405th Bombardment Group (Dive). It became the 405th Fighter Bomber Group in August 1943 and the 405th Fighter Group in May 1944.

The group moved to Britain in February-March 1944. The 405th became operational on 11 April, in the middle of the pre D-Day build-up of the Ninth Air Force.

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt with rocket launchers
Republic P-47D
Thunderbolt
with rocket launchers

Before the D-Day invasion the group operated against German airfields, marshalling yards and bridges. On D-Day it patrolled the area around Brest. During the battle of Normandy it flew armed reconnaissance missions to support the ground troops. It moved into the Normandy beachhead in late June.

For most of the rest of the war the group operated in support of the ground forces, often flying armed reconnaissance missions and responded to calls for close support.

On 29 July, early in the US break out, the group hit a German column trapped between Roncey and St-Denis-le-Vetu by elements of the US 2nd and 3rd Armoured Divisions. The group attacked this column from 3.10pm to 9.40pm. Ground investigations found 66 tanks, 204 vehicles and 11 guns destroyed in this attack.

On 14 August the group had a rare encounter with German fighters, when four P-47s were attacked by sixteen Germans. All four US aircraft were shot down but in return claimed three of the Germans.

On the same day the group actually took the surrender of a column of German troops north-east of Carrouges, acting in support of the 7th Armoured Division. The Germans flew white flags as the aircraft approached, and the pilots were then able to organise the Germans into a column and marched them into captivity!

By early September the group had three main tasks - to support Patton's advance east, to support operations in Brittany and to protect the southern flank of Patton's army against any German attack from south of the Loire. On 1 and 7 September the group attacked one German column coming from the south, under the command of Major General Eric Elster. This was part of the general German retreat from the south of France in the aftermath of Operation Dragoon. On 16 September Elster's column of nearly 20,000 men surrendered.

11 September saw a rare encounter with German fighters, when the group claimed six victories in return to two losses in a fight over Landau.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts on 24 September, when it responded to a call for help from the Third Army. In poor weather one squadron intervened directly in a fierce tank battle. A second hit a nearby convoy of trucks and tanks and a third squadron hit warehouses.

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 2 October the group attacked Fort Driant, part of the defences of Metz, still being held by the Germans.

On 26 December the group helped support III, VIII and XII corps, part of Patton's army moving north to help lift the siege of Bastogne. During the Battle of the Bulge it attacked transport links, including barges and road links, hit German troop concentrations and supply dumps.

On 23 February XXIX Tactical Air Command, which included the 405th, flew a record 613 sorties. The 405th operated in support of XIII Corps, and hit German transport links.

During the crossing of the Rhine of March 1945 the group attacked airfields and marshalling yards.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1943-1944: Douglas A-24 Banshee (SBD Dauntless ), Curtiss A-25 (SB2C Helldiver) , Bell P-39 Airacobra, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
1944-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

4 February 1943 Constituted as 405th Bombardment Group (Dive)
1 March 1943 Activated
August 1943 Redesignated as 405th Fighter-Bomber Group
Feb-March 1944 To Britain and Ninth Air Force
April 1944 Combat Debut
May 1944 Redesignated as 405th Fighter Group
June 1944 To Continent
July-October 1945 To United States
29 October 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Marvin S Zipp: 1 Mar 1943
Lt Col Mark E Hubbard: 2 Jul 1943
Maj Fred G Hook Jr: 12 Jul 1943
Col James Ferguson: 5 Nov 1943
Col Robert L Delashaw: 26 Apr 1944
Lt Col J Garrett Jackson: 22 Oct 1944-unkn.

Main Bases

Drew Field, Fla: 1 Mar 1943
Walterboro AAFld, SC: 14 Sep 1943-14 Feb 1944
Christchurch, England: 7 Mar- 22 Jun 1944
Picauville, France: 30 Jun 1944
St-Dizier, France: 14 Sep 1944
Ophoven, Belgium: 9 Feb 1945
Kitzingen, Germany: 30 Apr 1945
Straubing, Germany: 8 May-Jul 1945
Camp Patrick Henry, Va: Oct-29 Oct 1945

Component Units

509th (formerly 624th): 1943-1945
510th (formerly 625th): 1943-1945
511th (formerly 626th): 1943-1945
627th: 1943

Assigned To

15 September 1944-8 February 1945: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force
26 April-May 1945: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 October 2016), 405th Fighter Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/405th_Fighter_Group.html

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