The 451st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group that was based in Italy during 1944-45 and took part in the strategic bombing campaign as well as providing some support for the tactical air force in Italy.
The group was activated on 1 May 1943 and trained with the B-24. It was one of six B-24 groups that were originally expected to reach the Fifteenth Air Force by the end of December 1943. Only three of these groups arrived on time, including the 451st, although the group didn't officially arrive at its first Italian base until mid January 1944.
The group's main job was to take part in the strategic bombing campaign across Europe. It ranged across most of southern Europe, hitting targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. It attacked industrial targets, oil refineries, aircraft factories and other strategic targets.
From time to time the group took part in tactical operations to directly support the fighting on the ground.
On 29 March 1944 the group took part in the Fifteenth Air Force's first 'thousand ton' raid, part of Operation Strangle, the attempt to isolate the German front line in Italy.
On 17 May 1944 the group was one of ten B-24 groups to attack the Italian harbours of Piombino, San Stefano and Porto Ferraio (Elba), part of a wider effort to support the advance on Rome.
In August 1944 the group was used to support Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France.
In September 1944 it was even used as a transport unit, flying supplies to isolated positions in Italy.
In April 1945 the group helped support the final Allied advances in northern Italy that ended with the surrender of the German armies in the country.
The group received three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first came for an attack on the aircraft factory at Regensburg on 25 February 1944, the second for a raid on oil refineries and marshalling yards at Ploesti on 5 April 1944 and the third for an attack on a German airfield at Vienna on 23 August 1944. On each occasion the group reached its target despite heavy German fighter opposition.
The group returned to the United States in June 1945 and was inactivated on 26 September 1945.
May 1943-September 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
|6 April 1943||Constituted as 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|1 May 1943||Activated|
|Nov 1943-Jan 1944||To Mediterranean and Fifteenth Air Force|
|May 1945||End of combat|
|June 1945||To US|
|26 September 1945||Inactivated|
Col. Robert E L Eaton: c.1
Col James B Knapp: 19 Sep 1944
Col Leroy L Stefonowicz: Dec 1944
Maj William H McGuire: unkn-26 Sep '945.
Davis-Monthan Field, Ariz:
1 May 1943
Dyersburg AAFM, Tenn: 3 Jun 1943
Wendover Field, Utah: c. 18 Jul 1943
Fairmont AAFM, Neb: 9 Sep-26 Nov 1943
Gioia del Colle, Italy: c. 20 Jan 1944
San Pancrazio, Italy: c. 5 Mar 1944
Castelluccio Airfield, Italy: c. 6 Apr 1944- Jun 1945
Dow Field, Maine, c. 19 Jun-26 September 1945
724th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
725th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
726th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
727th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
1944: 47th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force (Italy)
1944-45: 49th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force