The 449th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit that served in Italy from the start of 1944 to the end of the Second World War, taking part in the strategic bombing offensive.
The group was activated on 1 May 1943 and trained with the B-24 Liberator. It moved to Italy in December 1943-January 1944, as part of a large-scale buildup of the heavy bomber force based there, and joined the Fifteenth Air Force, the Italian branch of the US strategic bombing force.
The group spent most of its time attacking strategic targets in Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an unescorted attack on marshalling yards at Bucharest on 4 April 1944 when it was attacked by a large force of German fighters. A second DUC was awarded for an attack on the oil refinery at Ploesti on 9 July 1944.
The group was also used for some tactical missions. It was used to attack German airfields in the weeks before the Anzio landings, and on 19 January 1944 carried out a very effective raid on the reconnaissance airfield at Perugia, knocking it out of action for four crucial days.
In late January the group took part in an effective raid on German airfields around Udine in Austria, forming part of a high level raid that was used to draw German attention away from a low-level P-47 attack that hit the German fighter fields just as their formations were preparing to take off.
On 28 March 1944 it took part in the Fifteenth Air Force's first 'thousand-ton' raid, an attack during Operation 'Strangle', the efforts to cut off the German front line.
It was used to bombard German gun emplacements in the south of France before Operation Dragoon of August 1944, and in April 1945 attacked troop concentrations and transport links in northern Italy to help the advancing allied armies.
The group returned to the US in May 1945. It became the 449th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), and trained with a mix of B-17s, B-25s and B-29 Superfortresses. The group became part of Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, and was inactivated on 4 August 1946.
May 1943-May 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Summer 1945 onwards: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, North American B-25 Mitchell, Boeing B-29 Superfortress
|6 April 1943||Constituted as 449th Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|1 May 1943||Activated|
|Dec 1943-Jan 1944||To Italy and Fifteenth Air Force|
|May 1945||To US, redesignated 449th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)|
|21 March 1945||To Strategic Air Command|
|4 August 1946||Inactivated|
Col. A J Kerwin Malone: 1 May 1943
Col Darr H Alkire: 30 Jul 1943
Col Thomas J Gent Jr: 3 Feb 1944
Col Jack L Randolph: Oct 1944-c. Jun 1945
Capt Charles K Howell: c. Jul 1945
Maj Walter W Cross: 31 Jul 1945
Lt Col Leon Stann: 6 Aug 1945
Col William H Hanson: 15 Aug 1945
Col Richard M Montgomery: 16 Sep 1945-4 Aug 1946
Davis-Monthan Field, Ariz: 1 May 1943
Alamagordo AAFld, NM: 5 Jul 1943
Bruning AAFld, Neb: 12 Sep-3 Dec 1943
Grottaglie, Italy: c. 4 Jan 1944- 16 May 1945
Sioux Falls AAFld, SD: 29 May 1945
Dalhart AAFld, Tex: 24 July 1945
Grand Island AAFld, Neb: 9 Sep 1945-4 Aug 1946.
716th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
717th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
718th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
719th Bombardment Squadron (later 46th): 1943-1946.
1944-1945; 47th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force (Italy)