68th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF)

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History

The 68th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) was originally formed as an Observation Group in the United States in the summer of 1941, before serving in the Mediterranean Theatre as a reconnaissance, ground attack and electronic countermeasures group.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor the group was used to fly patrols along the Mexican border and over the Gulf of mexico.

In February 1942 the group began to prepare for a move overseas, originally as part of the 8th Air Force, based in Britain. The move didn't come until October-November 1942, and instead of Britain the group moved to the Mediterranean and the Twelfth Air Force. The move was difficult, with many of the group's P-39s forced to land in Portugal. The A-20s, which came across the South Atlantic, also had a tricky journey, at least in part because of the inexperience of their crews at this date. Thirty-six A-20s left Florida in early November. Twenty-three reached Oran by 28 November, another ten in December and three were lost.

The group took part in the difficult battles that came soon after Operation Torch, as the Allies struggled to advance east into Tunisia.

The group was soon split into its individual squadrons and scattered across North Africa. During this period it carried out a wide range of duties. It was used to patrol the Mediterranean and for reconnaissance missions over Tunisia, Sicily and Italy. It was also used to control artillery fire.

The group was also used for a surprising number of non-reconnaissance missions in North Africa, including ground attack missions in support of the fighting in Tunisia and as a fighter training unit.

In November 1943 the group moved to Italy where it joined the Fifteenth Air Force. Its main duties now were more traditional, and including visual and photographic reconnaissance and weather flights, ranging across Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans.

The group also took part in electronic countermeasures, including ferret missions along the Italian and French coasts (designed to locate enemy radar and other electronic installations), testing captured enemy equipment. It also provided aircraft to escort bomber formations and detect incoming enemy fighters.

The group returned to North Africa in April 1944 and was disbanded there in June 1944, but its squadrons remained in action and were allocated to other groups (and sometimes in new roles - the 122th Liaison Squadron became the 122th Bombardment Squadron).

Books

 

Aircraft

Douglas A-20 Havoc, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Supermarine Spitfire, Lockheed P-38/ F-4 Lightning, Cessna C-78 Bobcat (AT-17), Beechcraft C-45, North American P-51/ F-6 Mustang, North American A-36 Mustang, O-38, O-47, O-49, O-52, O-59, YO-50, O-57, O-58

Timeline

21 August 1941 Constituted as 68th Observation Group
1 September 1941 Activated
Oct-Nov 1942 To Mediterranean and Twelfth Air Force
May 1943 Redesignated 68th Reconnaissance Group
November 1943 Redesignated 68th Tactical Reconnaissance Group
November 1943 To Italy and Fifteenth Air Force
April 1944 To North Africa
15 June 1944 Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Unkn: Sep-Dec 1941
Lt Col Guy L McNeil: 15 December 1941
Major John R Fordyce: 30 June 1942
Lt Col Eugene C Woltz: 13 Mar 1943
Col Charles D Jones: 8 Aug 1943-c. 15 Jan 1944
Capt Harper L McGrady: unkn
Col [ ?] Smith: unkn
Col Monro MacCloskey: Mar-c. May 1944.

Main Bases

Brownwood, Tex: 1 Sep 1941
New Orleans AB, La: 17 Dec 1941
Daniel Field, Ga: 8 Feb 1942
Smith Reynolds Aprt, NC: 9 Jul 1942
Morris Field, NC: c. 17 Aug-18 Oct 1942
Casablanca, French Morocco: Nov 1942
Oujda, French Morocco: c. Nov 1942
Berrechid Airfield, French Morocco: 24 Mar 1943
Berteaux, Algeria: 5 Sep 1943
Massicault, Tunisia: Oct 1943
Manduria, Italy: Nov 1943
Blida, Algeria, c. Apr-15 Jun 1944.

Component Units

16th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-44
111th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-44
122nd Liaison Squadron: 1941-44
125th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1941-42
127th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1941-42
154th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1941-44

Assigned To

November 1942-November 1943: 5th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
November 1943-: Fifteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 January 2015), 68th Reconnaissance Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/68th_Reconnaissance_Group.html

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