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Top ETO Air Force fighter unit


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#1 Erich

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 09:55 PM

can't seem to find the 354th thread.....oh well.

9th AF 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group.

although coming into the North European Theater late, had set an unbelieveable pace. Following the end of WW2 its total offical confirmed victory score stood at 637 aerial kills. In actual fact this figure should be higher, for four XIX Tactical Air Command Victories Credit reports are missing. It is known that an additional 37 kills belonging to the 354th were on those reports, which would bring the total up to 674.
And although the 9th did not credit strafing victories to individaul pilots, 354th fg reports give the unit overall 234 a/c destroyed on the ground. The fg had 44 aces, of which 7 are still living, at least two reside in my beautiful state of Oregon.
Ground target totals ran into the thousands of locos, tanks, MT, railway lines cut, bridges blown and so forth. The 354th achieved three important firsts for the USAAF: it possessed the top scoring fighter unit (353rd fighter squadron), whcih had more aerial victories that any other army air force squadron in any theatre during the war; it was certainly the most outstanding P-51 group of the war; and can claim the only pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honor in Northern Europe........

so tell me anyone why there is only two books written about this unit, one of them by Osprey Pubs out of the UK.. ? Interesting to this day that the 8th Air Force fighters and bombers still get all the credit for the destruction of the Reich

E
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#2 Stevin

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 10:18 PM

Interesting point Erich. Really don't know. Guess they don't have the cloud FG's like the 4th or 78th have...

Indeed, the 9th seems all but forgotten. Not just their FG's but also the Medium Bomber Groups. All attentions seems focused on the 8th.

Well, guess it is up to us to change that! :D Will go through my books and see what I actually have on the 9th....

Did recently get a copy of OVER LORD - General Pete Quesada and the triumph of tactical air power. Which deals mainly with 2nd TAF. Thus mainly about the continental based units.

BTW Erich, what is that second book on the 354th?

[ 18. March 2003, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: Stevin Oudshoorn ]
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#3 Erich

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 10:36 PM

Yep it is a certifiable question. Why ? Not many on the 9th or the 15th while the 8th seems to have been the star in Europe. It is quite interesting.

I've got the 405th fg history... "Thundermonsters over Europe", which is pretty good. Rusts little softbound OOP 9th AF story. The microfische for the 422nd and 425th nfs which is taken from their long OOP booklets and from the US archiv's.
The 365th FG history is running well over 100.00 US if you can find a copy.
The 474th's P-38 book is still the best I have ever seen covering in photos a P-38 group. Cannot even tell you where to find a copy and I wish I could find one ;)

A customer and former pilot of the 394th BG, John Connely said their was nothing out till about 7 years ago and even this book is a little lo on par with pics and the text is not clear.

for the 354th I received a personally signed copy from the fighter group. "History in the Sky", 1992 and it looks like a copy from the 1950's. No historical text and the pics are terrible....and then there is the little soft bound on the 354th by Osprey which is actually pretty darn good, especially for the price.
Stevin, you may now understand why I have close ties to this US fighter group as two of the squadrons were based in northern Oregon with the P-39 before being shipped out overseas and re-equipped. One squadron was in Salem where my in-laws live and they remember the squadron pilots as tough, cocky kids. Just the right type for fighter boyz ! :D
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#4 Greg A

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 03:40 AM

I was close to saying there aren't any unit histories of the 15th AAF but you beat me too it Erich. I know you also go to ArmyAirForces.com and JPeters who was in the 15th during WWII has posted about it as well.

Hopefully Erik Dyrebourg's new book will cover some experiences from the 15th as well.

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#5 Erich

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 03:57 AM

Hi Greg ! yes you are right I am at armyairforces.com pretty regularly.

The 15th AF fighter units are covered somewhat. The 31st, 325th and the Tuskagee airmen, the 332nd in several books. Pilot Robert Goebel produced his book on the missions of the 31st called "Mustang Ace", and it's an enjoyable read.
Also osprey has done up the P-51 and P-47 aces of the 9th and 15th Af's......

A book on the 450th bg maybe out of print but there are at least two private books written by former crewmen of the bomb group covering their career's......the Cotton Tails.....
The 449th is covered in one huge volume "Tucson to Grottagile" by Damon Turner the S-2 officer. A good book with some pretty interesting exerpts.
several other B-24 groups are covered and I think are due for re-publishing.
I do know that the B-17 groups the 2nd and the 99th have had books written about their history and I think the 2nd is reworking their volume for publication soon. In fact it may already be out.

E
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#6 Martin Bull

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 07:42 PM

You're absolutely right about the 9th and 15th being 'overshadowed' by the 8th.

But in just the last few years there has been a surge of interest about the 9th in the UK, sparked off by Roger A Freeman's book 'UK Airfields of the Ninth - Then & Now' (1998).

Since this book appeared, there have been others, together with an interest group called 'Buddies of the Ninth' ( as a counterpoint to the long-established 'Friends of the Eighth' ). There have also been a number of excellent articles in 'FlyPast', particularly about B26 Marauder units in East Anglia.

Overdue, yes - but it is happening at last !
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#7 Erich

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 07:50 PM

Martin, do you have Freeman's latest 9th AF edition.....then and now ?

E
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#8 Martin Bull

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:19 PM

If you mean the one referred to above ( the airfield book ) - yes, I bought it as soon as it came out.
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#9 Erich

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:24 PM

Ooooooooh, a question coming then......

what is the coverage on the 9th AF fighter unit the P-38 group throughout the war, the 474th ?

anything ?

E
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#10 Martin Bull

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:43 PM

Under the entry for Birch airfield, an incident is recorded on May 13th, 1944 when four P-38 Lightnings of the 474th landed at the still-unfinished airfield in low-cloud and heavy rain. Watched by an astonished audience of US Engineers, the P38s luckily missed all the construction equipment and landed safely.

The entry for Warmwell airfield, however, contains a full page describing the 474th's tenure there, commencing on March 12th, 1944 up to August 5th, the Group departing for France the next day.

Sadly, no pictures of the aircraft... :(
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#11 Erich

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 09:02 PM

Really no pics ? That was my next question and since I am just researching this P-38 unit, I thought it was based for a good deal of it's career in southern England ?

ok here ya go...some simple stats hopefully correct.....

colured spinners and special 3-point marking on the boom tail fin for ID. 428th, 429th and 430th squadrons. A huge book of significance is the 428th FS, Geyser Gang by John Steinko, whci I am trying to find. This book came out in the mid-80's and I remember then it was one of the finest photo/profile and historical books on any US fighter unit to come out......

25 April to 8 May of 45. 113 aerial kills and 90 plus on the ground. The only ETO 9th AF fighter unit to have the P-38 for it's full assignment. I see 6 different airfields used by the FG.....good grief ! more research needed.

E
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#12 Erich

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 12:01 AM

Here's a class act book......Aces, Pilots and A/C of the 9th, 12th and 15th USAAF by David Weatherill a Kookaburra Technical Publications PTy LTD Melbourne Austrailia 1978.
ISBN # 0 85880 032 2

OOP but if you can find it for a decent price, buy it

E
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#13 Military History Network

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 12:56 AM

9th, 12th, and 15th Air Forces sound more like MTO (Mediterranean Allied Air Force) than ETO.

Yes, I am aware they moved around and were at times based in the ETO, but I still think of them as Med forces.

For some detail on them, please take a look at:
http://www.milhist.net/usaaf/mto.shtml

#14 Erich

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 01:45 AM

Yes you are quite correct, the 12th in regard had medium units that were I believe absorbed into the 15th ? Still not up enough on these 3 AF's. The 9th flew out of southern England and of course the Heavy 15th out of different bases in Italy. So yes in this respect we could call it a mixed batch of both ETO and MTO units. The 12th especially is almost unknown.

E
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#15 Military History Network

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 02:58 AM

I have shifted discussion - at least my part of it - about the 9th, 12th, and 15th US Air Forces in the Mediterranean to a new thread/topic:

World War Two Forums » Theaters of the Second World War » North Africa and the Mediterranean » Mediterranean Allied Air Forces

This should permit this "Top ETO Air Force fighter unit" thread/topic to return to its original focus..

#16 Erich

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 10:07 PM

I'm leaving the 9th right here thank you ! In many of the 9th AF vets minds they still feel they were an ETO force. when I mentioned this to my pilot/friend John Connelly of the B-26 group the 394th and gunner John Hatala of the 323rd bg, they both laughed and said baloney ! The time in the desert was one of exploration and defining our forces, nothing else.

hmmmmmmmmm interesting thought. Call up freidn Cary Salter of the 354th and of course this Pioneer Group P-51 was based out of Oregon to the UK right off, so really no info could be had from him. I'll check with some other guys.....

474th fg book on order/will give a run down of this 9th AF P-38 group soon......

E
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#17 Military History Network

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Posted 30 March 2003 - 12:11 AM

I get a little bit peeved when I read of any combat unit being belittled. And I will try to take the time to see myself that the poor reputation is deserved.

Erich recently posted here, in response to me:
"... In many of the 9th AF vets minds they still feel they were an ETO force. when I mentioned this [my posts related to the Ninth Air Force in the Mediterranean] to my pilot/friend John Connelly of the B-26 group the 394th and gunner John Hatala of the 323rd bg, they both laughed and said baloney ! The time in the desert was one of exploration and defining our forces, nothing else. ..."

Tell that to the troops on the ground in the North African and Sicilian Campaigns, and the Salerno landing. Then you'll know first-hand laughter and baloney. Look at the website below for confirmation of vital contributions.

Although my own focus is more on ground forces, I did not recall B-26s in the Mediterranean Ninth Air Force. I confirmed from the USAAF Chronology - http://paul.rutgers....wwii/usaf/html/ - that they were primarily B-24s, B-25s, C-47s, and P-40s, no B-26s.

What experience did Erich's veterans have for their opinion? I found, for the period in question, that Hatala's 323rd BG was then a part of the Eighth Air Force, and Connelly's 394th BG was still on paper or in the US:

(1) WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY 1943: EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force):
HQ 323d Bombardment Group (Medium) and it's 453d and 455th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) with B-26C's arrive at Horham, England from the US. The group will fly it's first combat mission on Friday.

(2) SATURDAY, 16 OCTOBER 1943: TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):
In the United Kingdom, HQ Ninth Air Force is established at Sunninghill as a tactical Air Force with Lieutenant General Lewis H Brereton as Commanding General. The 3d Bombardment Wing at Marks Hall is transferred from the VIII Air Support Command, Eighth Air Force to the IX Bomber Command commanded by Major General Frederick L Anderson. (HQ IX Bomber Command will not be established in England until Nov 43.) The four B-26 groups transferred [include]: ... 323d Bombardment Group (Medium) [453d, 454th, 455th and 456th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)].

(3) FRIDAY, 10 MARCH 1944 (Ninth Air Force):
Units arriving in England from the US: ... 394th Bombardment Group (Medium), at Boreham with B-26s (first mission is 23 Mar).

Are my esteem for, and defense of, the Ninth Air Force Mediterranean experience, merited? I leave it to you to decide for yourself. I cite just one rather significant sortie:

(4) SUNDAY, 1 AUGUST 1943 (Ninth Air Force):
In Rumania, 177 B-24's, of the IX Bomber Command (including B-24's on loan from the Eighth Air Force) are dispatched to bomb oil refineries at Ploesti and nearby Campina. The operation (TIDALWAVE) is costly, 54 planes and 532 airmen are lost, but damage to the targets is severe. 5 Medal of Honors are awarded for this mission.

The Ninth Air Force (including Connelly's and Hatala's groups) did a tremendous job operating later from England and France. I ask only that the Ninth Air Force be given equal honor for their earlier role in the Mediterranean.

#18 Erich

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Posted 30 March 2003 - 05:07 AM

MSN delivers the crushing blow.......by the way what is your real name ?

No doubt the 9th was learning what it was capable of in the North African/Med campaign before it was then transferred to the UK. would like to read of some earlier first person accounts of the struggles in 1943....... have any in mind ?

My original thought was to post only about the 9th in the ETO but if you would like to cover the three US air forces in some personal detail this would be great ! whether here or on the other thread you have started. Belittleing the 9th was not my intention, fore if it was I would never have started this thread in the first place.
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#19 Military History Network

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Posted 30 March 2003 - 09:56 PM

Erich -

Please accept my apology if you thought my reference about 'belittling' referred to you. Your voice is one of the more lucid ones here.

My comment was rather toward the two veterans, were were not associated with the Ninth Air Force at that time and place, its Mediterranean genesis, and who thought its reputation there laughable and 'baloney'. I, in deferrence to and appreciation of the value of their later service, say no more in that regard.

As to my true name, it can be readily found in my primary website, (http://www.milhist.net) which is cited in my Forum profile: it is Patrick Skelly.

That my name is not directly in the profile might be excused because these profile fields do not provide for 'real name', which I would have given. I am not the only one in this venue who seems to have the a similar 'alter ego' problem. I will next try to 'tune' my profile to force my proper name to appear there.

I look forward to future spirited, yet profitable, exchanges between us. Thank you.

- Pat Skelly

#20 Erich

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Posted 30 March 2003 - 10:15 PM

No apology needed and yes I did take your comments the wrong way. A real problem as this can be associated to FFZ as we don't have a video to telephone connection at least not just right yet. Feelings are high right now from all over the world and we all take things a little on the touchy end for the present. My sources I realize were not the best to be mentioned especially Mr Hatala who has some untold secrets in his past.
will clear that up with another more helpful vet that did serve in the ealier "hot" campaign before his transfer with his unit to England. Now to find his phone number again......

Pat, good to me you sir, and personally I much more enjoy a good chat with a person of first name basis. An Alias is fine at times but .....

anyway would enjoy more information on these three airforces as my book selection is a bit meagre for the time being. Do have quite of material on 9th AF 422nd and 425th nfs and also the 416th which I think flew Mossies out of Italy ? dang I am not sure as it has been some years that I have really gone indepth with this unit.

E
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#21 Military History Network

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 12:10 AM

Erich -

I'll dig up what I can on the 416th, 422nd, 425th for you and post it over on the Med folder.

Unfortunately for us, while the http://paul.rutgers....wii/usaf/html/, USAAF Chronology, speaks of unit and place relocations, it does not indicate unit participations in sorties. That's why I could only say how many 9 AF B-24s hit Ploesti, but not from which BG(Med)s.

(Military security: we'll tell you where all the B-24s were based, but not which ones were involved on any specific day 60 years ago.)

- Pat

#22 Erich

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 12:19 AM

this would be excellent Pat, as I do have the microfische of the 422nd and 425th nfs and the 416th but the text from the rolls was so bad, I may have easily placed incorrect figures for rounds expended, bombs, towns hit and times of engagements.....anything added would be of most help.

The B-24 bases sounds like a great idea ! I've really only got info from late 44 through wars end on the 9th, and 15th. practically nil on the 12th. Ploesti as a target I am familiar with only from the German defences .

thumbs up !

E
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#23 Erich

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 12:34 AM

Last one for tonight. Pat if you can find materials on the 12th and 15th Photo recon groups this would be another helpful addition.
I am receiving a book by author Tom Ivie on the 15th TRS of the 10th Photo Recon Group in the 9th very soon.

Erich
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#24 Military History Network

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 11:13 AM

Erich -

There's relatively little detail of the 416th, 422nd, and 425th Night Fighter Squadrons for me to dredge up. But what little I see on the 416th suggests it would be a very interesting unit for someone aviation-minded to research. They flew Beauforts and Mosquitos.

The info I've dug up for you on 12th and 15th Photo Recon Squadrons (not Groups) will be posted in a few minutes over in the Mediterranean Allied Air Force folder.

But please do some digging yourself in the http://paul.rutgers....wii/usaf/html/, USAAF Chronology. Everything I'm giving you comes from there.

- Patrick Skelly

#25 Erich

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 04:32 PM

Pat :

thanks for the 12th AF squad photo recon chronolgy !

Too bad about the nfs stuff. oh well. glad I was able to obtain the microfische of these through membership with the night fighter association when it was still active. The 416th actually flew several missions in April 1945 with the P-61 before hostilites end.

thumbs up !

E
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