357th Fighter Group
The 357th Fighter Group was an air combat unit of the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. The 357th operated P-51 Mustang aircraft as part of the U. S. Eighth Air Force and its members were known unofficially as the Yoxford Boys after the village of Yoxford near their base in the UK, its victory totals in air-to-air combat are the most of any P-51 group in the Eighth Air Force and third among all groups fighting in Europe. The 357th flew 313 combat missions between 11 February 1944 and 25 April 1945, it is credited by the U. S. Air Force with having destroyed 595.5 German airplanes in the air and 106.5 on the ground. The 357th existed as a USAAF unit only during its immediate aftermath, its history and honors were bestowed on an Ohio Air National Guard group therefore the Ohio ANG considers itself a direct descendant of the 357th FG. See 121st Air Refueling Wing for additional lineage and history information Constituted as 357th Fighter Group on 1 December 1942 and activated the same day.
Inactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946Redesignated 121st Fighter Group. Allotted to ANG on 21 August 1946 IV Fighter Command, 1 December 1942 72d Fighter Wing, 7 October – 9 November 1943 66th Fighter Wing, 31 January 1944Attached to: 1st Bombardment Division, 15 September 1943 – 8 July 1945XII Fighter Command, 21 July 1945 – 20 August 1946 362d Fighter Squadron: 1 December 1942 – 20 August 1946 363d Fighter Squadron: 1 December 1942 – 20 August 1946 364th Fighter Squadron: 1 December 1942 – 20 August 1946 Hamilton Field, California, 1 December 1942 Tonopah Army Airfield, Nevada, 4 March 1943 Santa Rosa Army Airfield, California, 3 June 1943 Oroville Army Airfield, California, 18 August 1943 Casper Army Airfield, Wyoming, 7 October – 9 November 1943 RAF Raydon, England, 30 November 1943 RAF Leiston, England, 31 January 1944 – 8 July 1945 Fliegerhorst Neubiberg, Germany, 21 July 1945 – 20 August 1946. P-39 Airacobra, 1942–1943 P-51B/C/D/K Mustang, 1943–1945 Three fighter squadrons were constituted 16 December 1942, assigned to the group.
50th Service Group headquarters and detachment 469th Service Squadron 70th Station Complement 1177th Quartermaster Company 1076th Signal Company 1260th Military Police Company 1600th Ordnance Company 18th Weather Squadron 2121st Engineering Firefighting PlatoonSOURCES: Commanders, AFHRA website and Maurer Maurer. Cadre for the new group were drawn from the 328th Fighter Group at Hamilton. Two of the three designated squadron commanders had served in the Philippines during the first days of the war, Major Hubert Egnes with the 17th Pursuit Squadron, Captain Varian White with the 20th Pursuit Squadron, both had air-to-air victories over Japanese aircraft. On 3 March 1943, the group moved by rail to Tonopah, where it remained until 3 June. At Tonopah the members lived in and worked under primitive conditions, described as "tar-paper shacks", without enclosed hangar maintenance facilities, they inherited much-used P-39 Airacobra fighters from the 354th Fighter Group, training at Tonopah preceding them, began a regimen of six-day work weeks with six sorties a day practicing air-to-air combat and strafing maneuvers.
While adequately powered at low altitudes and suited for close support operations, the P-39 was prone to stalls at higher altitudes. Three pilots and a flight surgeon died in training accidents while at Tonopah, including Captain White, replaced by Major Thomas Hayes, another veteran of the early Pacific campaign. In June the group entered its next training phase, changing stations to Santa Rosa Army Air Field, California. There the group continued training on P-39s, flying bomber escort and coastal patrol practice missions. On 7 July 1943, a mid-air collision occurred between two P-39s, killing both pilots including Captain Clay Davis, commander of the 363 FS. On the same date the group commander, Lt. Col. Stetson, relinquished command, sources who were present at the time are contradictory about a possible connection: Olmsted states that Stetson was sent overseas to command a fighter group. Thirteen pilots and a flight surgeon died in P-39 training accidents in the United States, numerous aircraft were lost or damaged in non-fatal accidents.
The 357th received an influx of 60 new pilots and moved again, to bases at Oroville and Marysville, California in August 1943. It entered its final phase of training on 28 September with the squadrons redeploying to Second Air Force bases at Pocatello, Idaho. On 24 October after a final tactical inspection, the group was declared ready for overseas deployment. Beginning 3 November, the 357th turned in its P-39s and entrained for Camp Shanks, New York, where the entire group staged for embarkation aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth, departing New York City on 23 November 1943. Debarking at Greenock, Scotland, on 29 November, the group moved by train to its base in Suffolk. All mission dates and details from Roger Freeman, Mighty Eighth War Diary, by date of mission. German unit identifications are from Merle Olmsted; the 357th had been allocated to the Ninth Air Force as a P-51 t
Robert S. Johnson
Robert Samuel Johnson was a fighter pilot with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. He is credited with scoring 27 victories during the conflict flying a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Johnson was the first USAAF fighter pilot in the European theater to surpass Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I score of 26 victories, he finished. He was credited by the Eighth Air Force claims board with a 28th victory when a "probable" was reassessed as a "destroyed" reduced back to 27 when a post-war review discovered that the Eighth Air Force had inadvertently switched credits for a kill he made with a double kill made by a fellow 56th Fighter Group pilot, Ralph A. Johnson, on November 26, 1943, a day when Robert Johnson aborted the mission after takeoff. Johnson was born in Oklahoma, on February 21, 1920, the son of an automobile mechanic. In his war memoir, Thunderbolt!, he states that he first developed an interest in military aviation in the summer of 1928, when his father took him to see a United States Army Air Corps barnstorming team, "The Three Musketeers", appearing at Ft. Sill's Post Field.
Four years Johnson took his first flight, a 15-minute night excursion over Lawton in a Ford Tri-motor. Johnson attended Lawton public schools, was a Boy Scout, excelled in athletics. For acquiring the skills and aggressiveness he employed as a fighter pilot, Johnson credited an interest in shooting and hunting small game with a.22 rifle, boxing competitively to learn about controlling fear, playing high school and junior college football as a blocking guard. At the age of 11, Johnson began working as a laborer in a Lawton cabinet-making shop, working 8 or more hours daily after school to earn four dollars a week. At 12, he began applying his earnings to flying lessons, soloing after 5 hours and 45 minutes of instruction, he achieved his student license and logged 35 hours in four years of instruction, before suspending his flying lessons because of a newfound interest in girls. While attending Cameron Junior College, Johnson resumed flying in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, accumulated 100 hours total flight time by his second year.
Johnson gave up his full-time job to allow for his varied interests, but continued to hold a series of part-time jobs, including as a firefighter with the Lawton Fire Department. In the summer of 1941, Johnson enlisted as an aviation cadet in the United States Army, entered the service at Oklahoma City on November 11, 1941, as a member of Class 42F. Pre-Flight training was conducted at Kelly Field, beginning November 12 and was still in progress when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II. On December 18, 1941, Johnson reported to the Missouri Institute of Aeronautics, a civilian contractor school in Sikeston, for Primary Flying Training, his first five hours of the pre-solo training phase were flown in a PT-19A, in which he was instructed in spin recoveries and basic turning maneuvers. He began nearly sixty hours of Primary training in the more agile PT-18 Kaydet, practicing aerobatic maneuvers. All of the training, which included more than 175 landings, was conducted in open-cockpit trainers in the dead of winter.
On January 28, 1942, at the midpoint of Primary, he was forced to switch instructors by the school commander. His new instructor became a flying mentor, for which Johnson wrote: "I shall always be indebted to men like Zampini... willingness to turn the fledgling into an eagle." Johnson's classmates in Primary included several pilots who would become fighter pilots with him in the 56th Fighter Group, as well as Frank K. Everest, Jr. In February 1942, the USAAF regulation requiring aviation cadets to be unmarried was rescinded. Johnson married Barbara Morgan in Benton, Missouri, on February 21 upon completing Primary Flying Training. On February 27, 1942, Johnson began Basic Flying Training at Texas; as with the other phases of flying training, the 9-week course of instruction included ground school, military training, intensive flying practice, this time in the North American BT-9. He received 70 hours of instrument and night flying in March and April 1942. At the conclusion of basic, at the recommendation of his instructors, Johnson requested multi-engine school for his advanced training course.
Johnson began Advanced training at nearby Kelly Field on May 3, 1942. Although in training for transition to bombers, because multi-engine trainers were not yet available his 93.5 hours of Advanced Flying Training were performed in variants of the North American T-6 Texan: the BC-1 basic combat trainer and the AT-6 advanced trainer. Johnson completed his flight training on June 28, was commissioned July 9, 1942, as a second lieutenant. Although he requested transition training in the Douglas A-20 Havoc, he instead received orders to report to the 56th Fighter Group. Johnson reported to the group's 61st Fighter Squadron on July 1942, in Bridgeport, Connecticut; the unit had just received the first production P-47B Thunderbolts, and, in effect, was flight testing the new fighter as it trained. While the 56th FG was responsible for many of the modifications that made variants a successful fighter-bomber, the training resulted in more than forty crashes and 18 fatalities, many of which Johnson blamed on the inadequacy of the small airport at Bridgeport.
However, he asserted that many more lives would have been lost, had not the P-47 proved to have an exceptionally rugged airframe. The P-47 became the first USAAF aircraft to provide an understanding of compressibility and it
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
William Ellsworth Kepner
William Ellsworth Kepner was an officer in the United States Army, United States Army Air Corps and United States Air Force, a pioneer balloonist and airship pilot. He was born on 3 January 1893 in Indiana. From 1909 to 1913, Kepner served in the US Marine Corps. By 1916 he was a second lieutenant in the Indiana National Guard. After a short spell in the US cavalry, in 1917 he transferred to the infantry as a captain and commanded a company at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, he subsequently lead the 3rd Battalion of the 4th US Infantry in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In 1920, at the age of 27, he transferred to the US Army Air Corps and trained as a balloon pilot subsequently as an airship pilot. From 1927 to 1929 he participated prominently in several US national and international balloon races, most notably winning the prestigious Gordon Bennett Cup with co-pilot William Olmstead Eareckson in June 1928. In August 1929 he was commissioned as test pilot of the radical metal-hulled airship ZMC-2, newly completed at Grosse Ile, Michigan.
After a successful series of evaluation flights, he flew the airship in September of that year to what was to become its sole home base at Lakehurst, New Jersey, arriving without mishap except for a small perforation in the envelope which press reports of the time claimed to be the result of a pot-shot en route from someone on the ground. Promoted to the rank of major in October 1930, he took command of the Materiel Division's Lighter-than-Air Branch at Wright Field, Ohio. In the period 1930-32, he learned to fly fixed-wing aircraft. In the summer of 1934, Kepner took command of the joint National Geographic Society - US Army Air Corps Stratosphere Flight near Rapid City, South Dakota to make an attempt with the specially constructed balloon Explorer on the manned balloon altitude record. On 29 July, the balloon ascended with himself and two fellow US Army Air Corp officers, Capt. Albert W. Stevens and Capt. Orvil A. Anderson as crew. However, the attempt nearly ended in tragedy when the balloon envelope ruptured near maximum height, sending the spherical pressurized gondola plunging earthwards.
As the gondola reached lower altitudes, all three occupants were able to exit and safely parachute to earth shortly before it crashed. Ascending through the ranks, in February 1942 he was promoted to Major General in April 1943, in September of that year took command of VIII Fighter Command in the European Theatre. There he supervised the vital role that the fighters played both as guardians of the 8th Air Force's bombers and as ground-attack support for ground forces, not least in the crucial period around D-Day. In August 1944, Kepner took command of the 8th Air Force's 2nd Bomb Division. During the war he flew 24 combat missions in fighters and bombers and received various decorations from his own country and from several allied nations. After the war he took command of the 12th Tactical Air Command. Various appointments followed, including command of the Atomic Energy Division, U. S. Air Force Headquarters. In 1950, Kepner was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and became commander-in-chief of US Air Force Alaska Command.
He retired from military service on 28 February 1953, after moving to Orlando, died there on 3 July 1982. The Explorer I crew - Major William Kepner, Captain Albert Stevens, Captain Orvil Anderson, on July 28, 1934 "Howard County Hall of Legends: William Kepner". Kokomo Herald. 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2018-05-15
20th Operations Group
The 20th Operations Group is a component of the 20th Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command. It is stationed at South Carolina; the 20th Operations Group is a successor organization of the 20th Pursuit Group, one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the US Army before World War II. During World War II the 20th Fighter Group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England. Assigned to RAF Kings Cliffe in 1943, it was the oldest USAAF group to be assigned to the Eighth Air Force for an extended period, flying 312 combat missions. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a sweep over Germany on 8 April 1944; the 20th Operations Group is the flying component of the 20th Fighter Wing. The unit employs 80 F-16CJ fighter aircraft in a mission-ready, multi-role capability to mobilize and tactically employ forces worldwide for any contingency in support of US national objectives, it is responsible for providing the people and resources necessary for conventional air-to-surface, air superiority, suppression of enemy air defenses, destruction of enemy air defenses and maritime operations.
The 20th OG flies the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon. Its tail code is "SW", consists of the following squadrons: 55th Fighter Squadron, "Fighting Fifty-Fifth" "Shooters" Organized on 9 August 1917; the "Fighting Fifty-fifth" has been awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, World War I Theater of Operations and World War II American Service Streamers, Air Combat European, Middle Eastern, Air Offensive Europe, the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait Campaign Streamers.77th Fighter Squadron, “Gamblers” Organized on 20 February 1918. In February 2003, the squadron deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.79th Fighter Squadron, “Tigers” First activated in February 1918. In June 1999, the 79th deployed F-16CJs in support of Operation Allied Force to a bare base in Southwest Asia.20th Operations Support Squadron, “Mustangs”First organized on 25 January 1943, as the 20th Airdrome Squadron. The squadron is responsible for all airfield activities and associated support of the 20th Fighter Group's fighter missions.
For additional history and lineage, see 20th Fighter Wing The 20th Balloon Group was authorized as an inactive organization of the United States Army Air Corps on 18 October 1927. It was redesignated as the 20th Pursuit Group in 1929 and activated on 15 November 1930 at Mather Field and consisted of the 71st Service Squadron and two flying squadrons: 55th Pursuit Squadron 77th Pursuit Squadron 78th Pursuit Squadron 79th Pursuit Squadron The 20th flew Boeing P-12 single-seat, biplane fighters which featured two.30 caliber machine guns, an open cockpit, a 500 horsepower Pratt and Whitney engine, a top speed of 180 miles per hour. Upon activation, the group welcomed the arrival of the first of many famous airmen to grace its ranks. Major Clarence L. Tinker, its first commander, led the group until 13 October 1932. Major Tinker, part Osage Indian, gained fame as Major General Tinker, World War II Commander of the Seventh Air Force in the Pacific Theater. Tinker Air Force Base, was named in his honor a year after his death during the Battle of Midway in 1942.
On 15 May 1931, the 20th PG made a cross-country trip while going on maneuvers. These maneuvers were part of the first of its kind for the Air Corps. “The Great Air Armada” put on shows in Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC. The maneuvers consisted of all Air Corps aircraft with the exception of basic trainers, around 640 aircraft; the Group remained at Mather Field for a little less than two years until 15 October 1932. On that date an advance party of more than 200 officers, enlisted men, their dependents, under the command of Captain Thomas Boland, sailed from San Francisco aboard the USAT U. S. Grant, they traveled through the Panama Canal and debarked at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 30 October 1932. On the following day, they arrived at Louisiana. Just prior to its transfer to Barksdale, the group was assigned, along with the 3rd Attack Group, to the 3rd Attack Wing in June 1932; the 3rd Attack Wing and Group operated out of Texas. By February 1933 when Barksdale Field was formally dedicated, the group's training program was in full operation.
Its aerial training mission focused on the development of procedures and techniques for engaging enemy aircraft and provided for the protection of vital industrial centers and bombardment aircraft. In October 1934, the group, made its first aircraft transition—from the P-12 to the Boeing P-26 Peashooter; this open cockpit monoplane had a top speed of 253 miles per hour. Like the P-12, it possessed two.30 caliber machine guns. Unlike its predecessor, it featured wing-mounted bomb racks. P-26s were operated by the group until January 1938, when pilots of the unit flew their complement of 14 to the Rockwell Field Air Depot in California; the 20th Pursuit Group acquired its first aircraft with a closed cockpit, the Curtiss P-36 Hawk, in September 1938. The P-36 had a 1,050 horsepower engine, a top speed of 303 miles per hour, it could carry up to 400 pounds of bombs underslung. During this time, the 20th began training, participating in maneuvers and tactical exercises, conducting aerial reviews and aircraft demonstrations.
On 15 November 1939 the 20th moved to California.
55th Operations Group
The 55th Operations Group is a component of the 55th Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command. The group is stationed at Nebraska. During World War II the group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England, it claimed 216.5 ground aircraft destroyed. It flew its last mission on 21 April 1945; the 55th Operations Group, the U. S. Air Force's largest operations group, located at Offutt Air Force Base, has operational control over 12 squadrons and two detachments worldwide; the group consists of 3,200 personnel. The group's mission is to provide worldwide reconnaissance, real-time intelligence and control, information warfare and combat support to U. S. leaders and commanders. It employs 46 aircraft, including 13 models of seven different types. Mission responsibility includes the Air Force's most diverse flying operations supporting worldwide reconnaissance and control, Presidential support, nuclear treaty verification; the 55th Operations Group uses the tail code OF for its aircraft 38th Reconnaissance Squadron 45th Reconnaissance Squadron 55th Intelligence Support Squadron 55th Operations Support Squadron 82d Reconnaissance Squadron Operates from Kadena AB, Japan 95th Reconnaissance Squadron Operates from: RAF Mildenhall, England Operates from: Souda Bay, Crete 97th Intelligence Squadron 338th Combat Training Squadron 343d Reconnaissance Squadron 390th Intelligence Squadron 488th Intelligence Squadron For additional history and lineage, see 55th WingThe 55th Operations Group traces its lineage to the 55th Pursuit Group during World War II.
During the war, the 55th Pursuit Group garnered two Distinguished Unit Citations. The group fostered 16 aces. After the war, Strategic Air Command activated and redesignated the 55th Fighter Group as the 55th Reconnaissance group at MacDill Field, operating the RB-17; the newly activated group's mission consisted of aerial photography, mapping and photo reconnaissance missions, some of which flew around the globe. Activated after the end of the Cold War, the 55th Operations Group has maintained an unmatched operational tempo, supporting every US contingency worldwide; the history of the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth began in January 1941, when the 55th Pursuit Group was activated at Hamilton Field, California. Training along the west coast, the group move to England, August- September 1943 and was assigned to VIII Fighter Command; the 55th FG began operations with Lockheed P-38H Lightnings on 15 October 1943, was the first to use these aircraft on long-range escort missions from the UK. The P-38H differed from earlier versions in being powered by 1425 hp Allison V-1710-89/91 engines.
The Lightnings' engines were troubled by the addition of alcohol used as an anti-knock compound in their fuel supply. Another British attempt to correct fuel composition caused lead metal deposits to coat cylinders and foul plugs throughout the squadron; the -H series Lightnings did not have adequate cooling for extended high-power usage, as their engine development had outstripped the cooling capacity of the integral intercooler which ran through the wing's leading edge. Pilots were instructed to restrict their periods of highest engine power to defined time limits, but many did not; as a result of these various influences, the Group's Lightnings suffered a high rate of attrition. 55FG P-38H pilots provided cover for missions against aircraft plants during Big Week in February 1944. Lt. Col. Jack Jenkins led the group on 3 March 1944, when they became the first Allied fighters to reach Berlin on an escort mission. On 16 April 1944 the group moved to RAF Wormingford to accommodate the arrival of the 398th Bomb Group.
The 55FG converted to North American P-51D Mustangs in July 1944, continuing their primary task of escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers that attacked such targets as industries and marshalling yards in Germany, airfields and V-weapon sites in France. In July the group attacked gun emplacements during the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July 1944, transportation facilities during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945; the group patrolled the air over the English Channel and bombed bridges in the Tours area during the invasion of the Continent in June 1944. The unit patrolled the Arnhem sector to support the airborne invasion of the Netherlands in September 1944 along with strafing trucks and oil depots near Wesel when the Allies crossed the Rhine in March 1945; the unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for eight missions to Germany between 3 and 13 September 1944 when the group not only destroyed enemy fighters in the air to protect the bombers it was escorting, but descended to low levels, in spite of intense anti-aircraft fire, to strafe airfields and to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground.
Received second DUC for operations on 19 February 1945 when the organization flew a sweep over Germany to hit railway tracks, oil cars, goods wagons, troop cars and military vehicles. The 55th Flew last combat mission on 21 April 1945; the 55th Fighter Group moved to AAF Station Kaufbeuren Germany on 22 July 1945 as part of the occupation forces. It was assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. While on occupation duty, the group was one of the units to receive the first U. S. operational jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star in July 1946. However, the Group continued to fly P-51s and according to. One source, A-26s. On 29 April, the unit moved to AAF Station Giebelstadt, Germ
Selfridge Air National Guard Base
Selfridge Air National Guard Base or Selfridge ANGB is an Air National Guard installation located in Harrison Township, near Mount Clemens. Selfridge Field was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the United States entry into World War I in April 1917; the host organization is the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, but a variety of Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Army Reserve, Army National Guard and active duty Coast Guard units use the facility as well. In 1971, Selfridge ANGB became the largest and most complex joint Reserves Forces base in the United States, a position it held until surpassed by NAS JRB Fort Worth in the late 1990s. "U. S. Army Garrison-Selfridge serves the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command supporting tank construction in the Detroit area." Civil Air Patrol civilian organizations at Selfridge are the 176th Selfridge Composite Squadron and the headquarters of the Michigan Wing. Selfridge is home to Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines and Marine Wing Support Group 47 The on-base Selfridge Military Air Museum is operated by the Michigan Air Guard Historical Association, exhibits photos and artifacts of military aerospace history, has an outdoor Air Park of over 30 aircraft.
Selfridge Air National Guard Base is named after 1st Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge. Selfridge was detailed for aeronautical duty in April 1908 after being an assistant to Professor Alexander Graham Bell, conducting aeronautical experiments in Nova Scotia, he was killed on 17 September 1908 while flying as a passenger with Orville Wright at Fort Myer, Virginia. Selfridge was the first person to be killed in a crash of a powered aircraft; the origins of Selfridge Air National Guard Base date to 1916 when a large tract of land on Lake St. Clair, was acquired by the Packard Motor Car Company at the urging of Packard president Henry B. Joy, who took a great interest in aviation and led the company to begin developing aircraft engines for use in aircraft engaged in World War I combat in Europe. In the spring of 1917, lobbying began in Washington to locate a military airfield at the site of the Joy Aviation Field on Lake St. Clair; the United States had just entered World War I on 7 April. Proponents of the site pointed out the advantages of the field's proximity to the auto capital of the nation and the availability of the lake for practice bombing.
In May 1917, it was announced that Joy Aviation Field would be included as a training Camp as part of the expansion of the Air Service, becoming one of only nine military airfields in the country at the time. The United States Army leased the 640 acres of land, construction commenced to provide the necessary road and rail access to the site. Within a month, the newspaper was reporting that 1,000 men were at work at the field constructing hangars, supply depots, machine shops and a school building. On 9 July, the first training aircraft, a Curtiss JN-4D arrived at the new airfield, the base was gearing up to train men in flying, bombing and photography for the war effort; the first pilots were members of the 8th and 9th Aero Squadrons, Captain Byron Q. Jones was the first commander at Selfridge. Actual training of pilots began on 16 July 1917; some of these students, a few of them from Mount Clemens area, were given a few flights and within two weeks, were whisked overseas for advanced training and to meet the enemy.
During the summer of 1917, 72 men logged over 3,700 flying hours. From that time on, hundreds of young men passed through Selfridge Air Pilot School for the four weeks of training which qualified them for a commission, they were on their way as instructors to the front or to the other flying schools. Being established throughout the country. Training units assigned to Selfridge Field were: Post Headquarters, Selfridge Field – October 1919 40th Aero Squadron, August 1917Re-designated as Squadron "A", July–November 1918380th Aero Squadron, January 1918Re-designated as Squadron "B", July–November 1918Squadron "C", August–November 1918 Squadron "D", August–November 1918 Squadron "E", August–November 1918 Flying School Detachment, November 1918 – November 1919Flying was considered impractical in Michigan during the winter months, so the student pilots were sent to Gerstner Field at Lake Charles, to Chapman Field at Miami and Selfridge was transformed into a mechanics school for the winter months.
From this school, which lasted until the end of March 1918, 700 qualified mechanics were graduated. Six squadrons from Kelly Field, were sent to Selfridge for study in the shops; the training center suffered an early setback in March 1918, as the Clinton River flooded the entire site and all personnel were evacuated to schools and churches in nearby Mount Clemens. On 1 April 1, 1918 preparations got underway for the opening of a new gunnery school. Instructors were borrowed from the French and Canadian flying corps. By July 1918, Selfridge had reached its peak performance in gunnery training. Over 250 students were enrolled at one time, on one occasion 52 planes were in the air over the field simultaneously. Classes were so filled that 150 Lewis air guns, 60 Lewis ground guns, 80 Marlin air guns, 90 camera guns and 10 aerial cameras were in use daily. By the end of World War I, the young base had 200 officers, it had trained 72 pilots and 700. Mechanics, 1,002 men had attended gunnery school; the 1918 Armistice with Germany ended World War I.
The end of the war, produced some major changes. From a traini