78th Fighter Group (USAAF)

78th Fighter Group (USAAF)

78th Fighter Group (USAAF)

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 78th Fighter Group served with the Eighth Air Force from 1943 until the end of the war, supporting the campaign in north-western Europe and the advance into Germany.

The group was constituted as the 78th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 January 1942 and activated on 9 February 1942. It trained with the P-38, before moving to Britain in November-December 1942 to join the Eighth Air Force.

Early in the planning for Operation Torch the 78th and its aircraft were allocated as a general fighter reserve, to be held in Britain until needed. The group's pilots and aircraft were then moved to Africa after the existing units taking part in the invasion began to run short of P-38s, which had the range to operate over the long distances involved in the fighting.

After losing its P-38s, the group converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt.

On 8 April the group became officially operational. At first it was used to fly fighter sweeps over the Dutch and French coasts, mainly to give the pilots combat experience.

The group was used on a wide range of missions, including bomber escort, attacks on German airfields and transport links and troop concentrations.

Between 20-25 February 1944 the group took part in 'Big Week', a series of attacks on the Luftwaffe and the German aircraft industry. It was took part in the preparations for the D-Day landings, and supported the landings themselves. In July it took part in the breakout at St. Lo. In September the group took part in Operation Market Garden, and was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for escorting the bomber and troop carrier aircraft and attack German targets.

In December 1944 the group converted to the P-51 Mustang. In December 1944-January 1945 the group took part in the Battle of the Bulge. The group received a second DUC for destroying a large number of German aircraft during a series of attacks on five Luftwaffe bases near Prague and Pilsen on 16 April 1945.

The group returned to the US in October 1945 and was inactivated on 18 October.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1942-February 1943: Lockheed P-38 Lightning
April 1943-December 1944: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
December 1944-1945: North American P-51 Mustang

Timeline

13 January 1942Constituted as 78th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
9 February 1942Activated
May 1942Redesignated 78th Fighter Group
November-December 1942To Britain and Eighth Air Force
October 1945To United States
18 October 1945Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Arman Peterson: May 1942
Lt Col Melvin F McNickle: Jul 1943
Col James J Stone Jr: 31 Jul 1943
Col Frederic C Gray Jr: 22 May 1944
Lt Col Olin E Gilbert: 29 Jan 1945
Col John D Landers: c. 22 Feb 1945
Lt Col Roy BCaviness: 1 Jul 1945-unkn

Main Bases

Baer Field, Ind: 9 Feb 1942
Muroc, Calif: c.30 April 1942
Hamilton Field, Calif: May-November 1942
Goxhill, England: December 1942
Duxford, England: April 1943-October 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: c.16-18 October 1945

Component Units

82nd: 1942-1945
83rd: 1942-1945
84th: 1942-1945

Assigned To

November-December 1942 to October 1945: Eight Air Force
1943: 65th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-September 1944: 66th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-Late 1945: 66th Fighter Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force


78th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History


78TH FIGHTER SQUADRON HISTORY

WORLD WAR II

.

Major Jim Tapp is in the process of writing a history of the 78 th and has graciously allowed me to present some of that history on this page. No part of this text may be reproduced without the permission of Major Tapp who may be reached at via the webmaster

To see the 78th History Time-Line click on the P-51

The 78th Aero Squadron was activated at Waco, Texas on February 28, 1918 and moved to Hicks Field, Texas on the same date. On July 23, 1918 it was redesignated as Squadron A at Taliaferro Field, Texas. With other Squadrons it formed the Flying School Detachment at that field on November 3, 1918. It was reconstituted and consolidated with the 78 th Observation Squadron and designated the 78th Pursuit Squadron on May 8,1929.and assigned to the 20 TH Pursuit Group. It was activated as the 78 th Pursuit Squadron, 16th Pursuit Group on April 1, 1930 at France Field in the Canal Zone. It moved to Albrook Field, CZ, October 15, 1932 It became inactive September 1 1937. While at Albrook it flew P-12s. It was at Albrook that the Bushmaster snake head was adopted as its emblem. The Bushmaster is a much feared poisonous snake in Central America. The Squadron was reactivated at Wheeler Field, T. H. On February 1, 1940 with Captain D. W. Jenkins as its commander and Joseph A. Messaris was First Sergeant. The first pilot was assigned March 1, 1940 and the first aircraft were a handful of the open cockpit low wing Boeing P- 26 Pea Shooters and the more modern radial engined low wing Curtis Wright P-36 Hawks along with 2 OA-10s and 2 North American AT-6 Harvard advanced trainers.. Captain Jenkins was followed by Captain A. J. Hanna. Under him the number of pilots grew to 26. The first fatality occurred on August 29, 1940 when Lt. Farris failed to return from a mission. On January 6, 1941 Lt. Weigel was killed as a result of an air collision with Lt. Hanes. Lt. Hanes successfully bailed out. On April 30,1941 W. P. Fisher became commander and he was followed by W. R. Clingerman Jr. Master Sergeant Richey became First Sergeant in June 1941. The build up in forces and aircraft continued and the obsolete aircraft were replaced with the Curtis Wright P-40Bs. The P-40B had a 12 Cylinder V-12 Allison liquid cooled engine. It had two M-2 50 caliber machine guns accessible from the cockpit. These guns fired through the propeller. It also had two 30 caliber machine guns in each wing. Captain Clingerman was in command on December 7, 1941 when the Squadron and other units of the 14th Pursuit Wing were attacked at Wheeler Field. All of the Squadron's 17 P-40B aircraft were either destroyed or damaged. Sergeant Morris Stacy was killed by a strafing Japanese aircraft and Corporal Vincent N. Horan was killed by a bomb fragment. As a consequence of an exceptional effort by the squadron people four P-40s were repaired and flyable on December 8th.

Many incidents, humorous in hindsight, occurred on those eventful days. Ken Sweet and were on guard duty on the flight line. They had been issued the same five old 30.06 rounds that had been used for a long time. Ken said the bullets were loose in the shell casing. They fired at the Jap planes but the rounds barely had enough energy left in them to push the projectiles out of the barrel. With the five rounds expended they tossed the rifles aside and Clyde Mortensen says that he was on the way to the flight line with Capt. Clingerman who expounded "Someone is really going to catch hell for this".

The squadron was then dispersed at Wheeler and 30 men assigned to ground defense. The rest of the squadron was put to work rehabilitating the buildings and grounds. On February 1, 1942 the squadron was moved to Kaneohe Naval Air Station and equipped with the mid-engined Allison powered Bell P-39D Aircobras. The P-39D had the same machine gun configuration as the P-40B but also had a Browning 37 mm cannon that fired through the propeller hub. The move was part of the overall effort to disperse all pursuit aircraft away from Wheeler Field. Never again would the command be caught off guard All aircraft were henceforth dispersed, bunkered, and covered with camouflage netting when feasible. The major maintenance on the aircraft was performed at night resulting in very high (over 98%) in commission rates. Pilots for 12 aircraft performed ready room alerts each morning and evening and all day alerts every third day.

At Kaneohe the 78th aircraft were kept in bunkers along the North side of the airstrip or mat near the West or normal take off end. The bunkers had vertical concrete walls with some randomness in the placement of the openings to prevent presenting a multiple set of targets to enemy strafers. Camouflage netting was strung across the top of the bunkers. An example of the sturdiness of their construction occurred one night when the carrier air group was practicing night carrier landings. One Grumman F4F was given a wave off by the Landing Duty Officer and broke to the left as required and ran smack into one of the bunkers. By some miracle the pilot although badly injured survived. The bunker on the other hand hardly had a scratch on it. The bunkers held four P-40s. The fit was kind of tight. The fuel trucks couldn't conveniently get in to service the aircraft so two sets of 55 gallon drums were used for this purpose. The fuel of course had to be pumped by hand. When the aircraft went out on a mission the fuel truck would fill the barrels. This of course also provided a better defensive posture as well.

The air group fighter squadron when aboard the station was located at the extreme West end of the mat with the 78th next door. The operations, engineering, armament, supply etc shacks were all in the area as well as the mess hall. The ready room and operations shack were closest to the runway and right next to each other. The front end of the ready room had some chairs and a table and the back end had double-decker bunks for the pilots to use on the early morning alerts. Above the door was a bell and a bank of four lights. These were red, white, blue and yellow to correspond to the flight colors. When the operations clerk got a scramble call from Fighter Control he would switch on the bell and the lights for the flight of flights that were next up. The assistant operations clerk would step out on the porch of the shack and blow the charge call on his bugle. All this activity set off an abrupt surge in activity. The pilots would take off on the run for the nearby bunkers or the carry all and the crew chiefs who had been sitting in the cockpits and keeping the engines warm would start the engines and the get out on the wing where he would hold the pilots parachute harness at ready for the pilot to get into. The buckling in was done quickly and the aircraft departed the bunkers for the runway or mat. The Kaneohe mat was so wide that four aircraft could comfortably take off at a time. Fighter Control started a clock when our ops clerk took the call and would stop it when the leader called in airborne on the radio. They would give the squadrons a monthly summary of these times. The 78th squadron consistently got in the air in under three minutes time and consistently led the command. Kaneohe also was a better night flying field than most of the other squadrons enjoyed. As a consequence we were given a lot of the early morning intercepts and dawn combat air patrols (CAP). Our scrambles for these usually occurred in pitch black darkness particularly with the stringent blackout conditions that were imposed on everyone. The CAPs always included all three flights of the tactical squadron. It was a little scary to arrive at your bunker with all four props spinning but with only the confused mixture of the dimmed red, green and white lights showing. You had to be very careful and make sure that you became properly oriented to prevent running into a prop. If you had been asleep in one of the ready room bunks when the scramble was sounded it only took one close call to give you insomnia in the ready room.

On the days when the squadron was not on an all day alert training missions would be flown. The morning alert would usually be over with around 0800 depending on the time of the year. Most morning alerts were CAP flights or intercepts. These were followed by breakfast in the mess. The training schedule kicked in at that time. There were usually two morning missions and one in the afternoon. Their content depended on the level of training that the pilots were at. There was very little influx of new pilots into the command until late July 1942. The top leaders had decided that the European Theater would receive priority because of the dire situation faced there. A dire situation developed in the South West Pacific too. The first influx to the 7th Fighter Command were pilots who had volunteered for immediate combat in fighters. These people were in the later stages of their training at the Advanced Flying Schools. They were graduated two weeks early and sent to the 311 th Fighter Squadron, 58th Fighter Group at Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Florida. Other pilots joined them there. An intensive but not too effect flight schedule was the order of the day. After a month they were loaded aboard a train and sent to San Francisco where they set sail for Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Republic. Carrier Air Group 5 was on the ship as well. Upon arrival at Pearl the people were split up and sent out to the various squadrons of the 7th Fighter Command. The 78th Squadron at Kaneohe NAS received 8 of this first contingent of new pilots. They were mostly people from the Gulf Coast Training Command class of 42F. They were Simonson, Tapp, Tennant, Wells, Wolf. As it turned out they relieved experienced pilots from the Squadron who were mainly sent to 5th Air Force in New Guinea and one to the Eighth Air Force in Europe. Some of the pilots were only with the squadron briefly and then sent on to New Guinea and some to Midway to join the 73rd Fighter Squadron which was assigned to Marine Air Group 22. During the Battle of Midway VMF 222 was pretty well decimated their Brewster Buffalos being no match against the Japanese carrier fighters. The 73rd was loaded aboard the Saratoga and brought part way to Midway. The squadron flew off the carrier and landed on East Island where MAG 22 was located. Shortly after the arrival of the arrival of the 42F pilots a contingent of pilots from the West Coast Training Command Class of 42G joined in the command. The 78th got its share of this class which was followed shortly by another 42G group this from the Gulf Coast Training Command. The two training commands were on slightly different schedules. At the same time the 78th Squadron began receiving P-40Ks as replacements for the old P-40Bs. The K had a little more power but more importantly had three 50 caliber machine guns in each wing which greatly increased the fire power.

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See also

Notes

  1. ↑ Aircraft is Convair F-106A-90-CO Dart Serial 57-2504.
  2. ↑ Aircraft are (bottom to top) Republic F-84D-10-RE Thunderjets 48-678, 48-667, 48-680, 48-657
  3. ↑ Aircraft is Lockheed F-94C-1-LO Serial 59-641.
  4. ↑ Lockheed F-104A-15-LO Serials 56-772 and 56-776 are identifiable
  5. ↑ On 1 December 1950, ADC was reactivated and assumed the air defense mission from ConAC
  6. ↑ Project Arrow also reunited groups with their traditional squadrons. Buss, et al.

Citations

  1. ↑ 1.001.011.021.031.041.051.061.071.081.091.101.111.121.131.141.151.161.171.181.191.201.211.221.231.24 Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 142–144
  2. ↑"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group May 1942-Mar 1943". Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. ↑"Abstract, Presentation History 78 Fighter Group". Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This source also claims the group had the first triple ace, but does not identify the pilot.
  4. ↑"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Aug 1944". Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. ↑"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Sep 1944". Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. ↑"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Dec 1948-Dec 1949". Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. See Grant
  8. ↑ 8.08.1 Cornett & Johnson, p. 84
  9. ↑ Buss (ed), Sturm, Volan, & McMullen, p. 6
  10. ↑ Bailey, Carl E. (26 December 2007). "Factsheet 82 Aerial Targets Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency . Retrieved 10 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. ↑ Bailey, Carl E. (8 March 2010). "Factsheet 84 Flying Training Squadron (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency . Retrieved 10 May 2012 . Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. ↑ 12.012.1 Station number in Anderson

Bibliography

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.


The Arrival of the 78th Fighter Group at Duxford

The 78th Fighter Group was activated in January 1942 amidst the rapid expansion of the US military that occurred in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entrance into the Second World War just over a month before. In May 1942, the unit was expanded and trained in California, composed of the 82nd, 83rd and 84th Fighter Squadrons and equipped with twin-engined Lockheed P-38 Lightnings.

The following November, the Group was shipped overseas to England and by December had settled at former RAF station Goxhill in Lincolnshire. From late January, the 78th began to be equipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, single-engined fighter-bombers that became one of the main American fighters in the European Theatre of Operations.

During this same period, it was decided that the 78th would be temporarily moved to RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire in a wider effort by the US 8th Air Force to move its fighter groups closer to the bomber groups, or ‘big friends’, that they would be charged with escorting. In late March, men from the 78th began to arrive and by early April the whole group had completed its move.

Station 357 (DX)

Station 357 (DX)

Duxford, established by the Royal Flying Corps in 1918, had been an operational Royal Air Force fighter base since 1924 and had the distinction of being the home of the first squadron (No. 19) to be equipped with the new Supermarine Spitfire. From July to September 1940, Duxford had been crucial in the defence of Britain against the Luftwaffe onslaught, and was the base of the famed ‘Duxford Wing’ led by Douglas Bader.

J ust prior to the arrival of the 78th Fighter Group, Duxford served as the base of the RAF’s Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU), a technical research establishment that tested new aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang and developed fighter tactics.

With the arrival of the 78th, Duxford was officially designated as USAAF Station 357 (DX).

From the outset, the luxuries of Duxford quickly became apparent to the Americans, especially when compared with their basic and barely habitable accommodations at Goxhill. At Goxhill, the site was spread out such that the cold and dingy barracks were two miles away from the aircraft hangars, and worse, a mile away from the toilets and any running water.

Now the Americans were quartered in heated brick buildings with hot water, bathing facilities and nearby entertainment facilities such as a theatre, sports fields and an Officer’s Club complete with a bar and slot machines.

‘It was like the Grand Hotel!’, remembered Clark Clemons, an 84th Fighter Squadron pilot who arrived later in the war. The living quarters were grouped close together with the hangars situated just across the road, while the LNER train line at Whittlesford could take those with 48-hour leave passes to the historic sites and pubs of Cambridge or to the bright lights and dance clubs of London.

For enlisted ranks, which included those that served as ground crew, the experience was not always quite as glamourous. Some were quartered in small huts with just a stove for heat. ‘I had to live in the shanties and we froze to death in the winter time’, remembered Harold Carlson, who served as a mechanic and then as a clerk. ‘[We] had overcoats and everything else on the top of our beds, and we were still cold’.

Despite these hardships, the men still managed to make Duxford home. ‘The barracks walls were decorated with pin-up girls such as Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Alexis Smith and Varga’s calendar girls … popular dance bands heard on Armed Forces Radio helped relaxing after the day’, recalled Staff Sergeant James Tudor. [from ‘Eagles of Duxford’ by Garry L Fry, 1991].


78th Fighter Group

A " flying " tribute to the 78th Fighter Group, this P-47D is a part of the "Fighter Collection" maintained at the Duxford Air Field, Cambridgeshire, U.K.. The markings represent the P-47D, "No Guts, No Glory", an aircraft flown by Lt. Colonel Ben Mayo of the 82nd Squadron, 78th Fighter Group.(Picture source: John M. Dibbs)

Duxford 78th Fighter Group Association

The " Duxford 78th Fighter Group Association - WWII " has designated this web site as their " Official Home Page ".

This Association was founded by veterans of the USAAF, 78th Fighter Group, to maintain a focal point of information for it's members, co-ordinate reunion activities and in general further the memory and honor of this WWII combat Unit. The Association pages include:

2004 Reunion re-scheduled for Florida April 28 - May 1, 2005

The "Hurricane Delayed" 2004 Reunion of the 78th Fighter Group Association will be held in Kissimmee, Florida this April. Click above for additional information and a registration form. Investissement en loi pinel

The " Checkerboard " Newsletter
( Postings - Past Issues )
" Goxhill Today "
" "Duxford Eagles", a new artwork by Nicolas Trudgian. Signed by Clark Clemons and Wayne Coleman"
" Remembering Jack C. Price "
" Betty and Joyce's "
" Robert E. Smith's recollections of the missions of 1-15-45 and 2-22-45 "
Message Board
( A Message Board is provided for veterans and friends of the 78th. Please, post your "78th Fighter Group " inquiries here! )

Search the Web Site : DMZ Dustoff
Due to the extensive amount of information presented on this web site, it was necessary to install a search engine. We trust this will help our visitors navigate more easily and locate specific information.

General Interest Section
( Reports and stories of general interest regarding the 78th Fighter Group)

More " Lost and Found " Aircraft of the 78th Fighter Group
( Lost aircaft of th 78th recovered through the efforts of dedicated aviation archeologists )
" The Seversky BT-8 "
( A personal recollection / pictures contributed by Jerry E. Brasher, 82nd Fighter Squadron)
" 8th Air Force Fighter Command, Official Training Documents "
( "Long Reach" and "Down to Earth", published by the 8th Air Force Fighter Command addressed fighter / fighter-bomber tactics employed successfully against Germany in the ETO. The format for these documents included personal surveys of combat commanders and pilots, including members of the 78th Fighter Group. )

" Archives"
( Previous " General Interest Section " postings )
Internet Search Results for 78th Fighter Group References . . .
( The internet was recently searched for references to the 78th Fighter Group. In addition to locating a number of historical reference sites, it was surprising to find numerous web articles and postings regarding specific 78th Fighter Group personnel . These findings are posted as follows on several pages along with appropriate source credits and web addresses. )

" We feel it is necessary to include these references on the "History and Tribute" site because they do contribute in part in telling the complete story of the "Eagles of Duxford". "

T/Sgt. William Blystone, 82nd Fighter Squadron, from 1942 to 1943, Personal Interviews

Lt. Colonel John D. Landers, Headquarters Squadron, Group CO, 2-22-45 to 6-28-45, Personal Biography

2nd Lt. George C. Maitland, 83rd Fighter Squadron, 1-44 to 3-8-44, KIA, Crash Site Recovery Project Report

2nd Lt. Frederick J. Regner, 83rd Fighter Squadron, 3-27-45 to EOW, Obituary

1st. Lt. Robert E. Wieland Jr., Headquarters Squadron, 1942 to 1943, Personal Web Site / Newspaper Article

2nd Lt. Lloyd L. Eadline, 83rd Fighter Squadron, 10-15-44 to 2-24-45, KIA, Collingwood, NJ Memorial Web Site
Captain Robert E. Belliveau, 84th Fighter Squadron, 4-22-43 to 4-18-44, to US, Veterans Project Personal Interview

1st. Lt. Cyril Thomas Bendorf, 84th Fighter Squadron, from 11-10-44 to EOW, Crash Site Recovery Project Report
2nd. Lt. Vernon Y. Jones, 82nd Fighter Squadron, from 11-43 to 2-10-44, KIA, Personal Biography
1st. Lt. John A. Kirk, 83rd Fighter Squadron, 11-30-44 to EOW, Modelling Club Article / Obituary
1st. Lt. William F. Neel, 82nd Fighter Squadron, from 2-16-43 to 1-24-44, MIA, Personal Biography
1st. Lt. Hayden E. Richards, 82nd Fighter Squadron, 5-44 to 9-44, to US, D-Day Ceremony Interview, Duxford, 2004
2nd. Lt. Franklin B. Resseguie, 84th Fighter Squadron, 10-43 to 10-18-43, Evader, Book Review
1st. Lt. Grant M. Turley, 82nd Fighter Squadron, 11-43 to 3-6-44, KIA, Personal Biography
1st. Lt. Neal Hepner, 84th Fighter Squadron, 3-28-45 to EOW, Newspaper Article
1st. Lt. James B. Stallings, 84th Fighter Squadron, 4-6-44 to 9-6-44, to US, Personal Interview / Book Review


History [ edit | edit source ]

World War II [ edit | edit source ]

Republic P-47C-2-RE Thunderbolts of the 82d Fighter Squadron

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang of the 83rd Fighter Squadron

The 78th Fighter Group was activated at Baer Field, IN as the 78th Pursuit Group in January 1942, receiving its cadre from the 14th Fighter Group. Ώ] and redesignated as a fighter group four months later. It initially trained for combat with P-38's and served as part of the west coast air defense organization. ΐ] It moved to England in November 1942 and was assigned to Eighth Air Force. The group lost its P-38's and most of its pilots in February 1943 when they were assigned to the Twelfth Air Force for service in the North African campaign. ΐ]

The group was reassigned to Duxford airfield in April 1943 and reequipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. ΐ] Aircraft of the group were identified by a black/white chequerboard pattern.--

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

From Duxford, the 78th flew many missions to escort Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers that attacked industries, submarine yards and docks, V-weapon sites, and other targets on the Continent. ΐ] In 1943, the group had the first American ace in Eighth Air Force. Α] The group also claimed a victory over a German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter. Β] The unit also engaged in counter-air activities and on numerous occasions strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, canal locks, barracks, and troops. ΐ]

In addition to other operations, the 78th participated in the intensive campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20–25 February 1944 and helped to prepare the way for the invasion of France. ΐ] The group supported the landings in Normandy in June 1944 and contributed to the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July. ΐ]

The group converted to North American P-51 Mustangs in December 1944 ΐ] and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, from December 1944 to January 1945. It also supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in March.

The 78th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for activities connected with the Operation Market-Garden combined ground and airborne attack through on Holland in September 1944 when the group covered troop carrier and bombardment operations and carried out strafing and dive-bombing missions. ΐ] It suffered its heaviest casualties of the war in this operation. Γ] The group received a second DUC for destroying numerous aircraft on five airfields near Prague and Pilsen on 16 April 1945. ΐ]

The 78th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey and October 1945 and was inactivated on 18 October. ΐ]

Cold War [ edit | edit source ]

78th Fighter-Interceptor Group Republic F-84B Thunderjets 1949 Aircraft are (bottom to top) Republic F-84D-10-RE Thunderjet 48-678, 667, 680, 657

Lockheed F-94C-1-LO Starfire 59-641 of the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron

The 83d FIS showing off their brand-new Starfighters in 1958. Lockheed F-104A-15-LO Starfighters 56-0772 and 56-0776 are identifiable

Convair F-106A-90-CO Delta Dart Serial 57-2504 of the 84th FIS.

Occupation of Germany

The 78th FG was reactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946, replacing the 368th Fighter Group (which was inactivated, redesignated the 136th Fighter Group, and allotted to the National Guard) at AAF Station Straubing, Germany and flew the former 368th's P-47 Thunderbolts from the airfield. The group was reactivated due to the Air Force's policy of retaining only low-numbered groups on active duty after the war.

In Germany the group was assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe's XII Tactical Air Command for duty with the occupation force. The group was assigned to AAF Station Straubing, The group was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to Mitchel Field, New York in June 1947. ΐ]

Air Defense of the United States

At Mitchel, the group remained active and was assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC). The group was manned with a small cadre of personnel, ΐ] being equipped with a few P-51D Mustangs. On 16 November 1948, the 78th was reassigned to Hamilton AFB, California where it was assigned to ADC's Fourth Air Force. At that time the 78th Fighter Wing was established under Hobson Plan, and the 78th Fighter Group became the operational component of the wing, controlling its flying resources.

On 1 March 1949, the 78th Fighter Group received the first of the new production F-84 Thunderjets, Δ] with these aircraft going to the 82d, 83d and 84th Fighter Squadrons. The F-84s became problematic with cracks appearing in wing spars or skin beginning in September. The group lost four jets in accidents by the end of the year.

On 1 July 1949, Air Defense Command was inactivated as a major command, and Continental Air Command (ConAC) assumed the air defense mission. In January 1950 the wing and group were redesignated as the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group and the squadrons became Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons (FIS). ΐ]

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the 78th Fighter Group was the only remaining ConAC F-84 unit with an air defense commitment. The group lost many personnel which were reassigned to Far East Air Force units engaging in combat with deployed units. The personnel losses were replaced with less-experienced federalized Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard personnel. At the same time, ConAC placed the 78th Fighter Group on 24/7 air defense alert status, with the three squadrons rotating among themselves for one day on and two days off alert periods.

Throughout this period, the F-84s remained problematic with wing integrity, the group having only 50 of its authorized 70 aircraft operational, as a third of its aircraft had been sent to Republic Aircraft or Air Materiel Command depots for repairs. This led to excess hours being put on the remaining aircraft, reducing their designed operational life. By the first quarter of 1951, the number of operational aircraft on station was reduced to 44, with only 34 actually being combat ready. The manpower shortage was worse, with only seven of the forty combat-rated pilots being available, the remainder being assigned Europe or combat duty in Korea.

In June 1951, the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group received the first four F-89B Scorpions, as a replacement for the F-84 Thunderjets. The Scorpions were assigned to the 83d and 84th FIS, while the 82d FIS retained the best of the groups remaining F-84s, while the remainder were either shipped as replacement aircraft to South Korea or sent to Republic for refurbishing.

By the end of 1951, the 82d FIS stood alert during daylight hours while the other two squadrons rotated night and foul weather duties. The F-89s, however, were rushed into service too rapidly. There were not enough trained pilots and radar operators, and there were not enough maintenance personnel who knew the intricacies of the complex and troublesome Hughes E-1 fire control system. The in-service rate of the F-89B was appallingly low, and crashes were all too frequently.

The 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group was inactivated along with the wing on 6 February 1952 along with its parent wing as part of a major ADC Ε] reorganization, which replaced fighter wings organized under the Hobson Plan with regional defense wings. Ζ] Its operational units were transferred to the 4702d Defense Wing and Hamilton was placed under the 566th Air Base Group. Η] Two of the inactivated 78th's squadrons moved as ADC dispersed its fighter force. The 82d FIS moved to Larson AFB, Washington and was reassigned to the 4703d Defense Wing the 83d FIS to Paine AFB, Washington and transferred to the 4704th Defense Wing. Only he 84th remained at Hamilton AFB.

The unit was reactivated in 1955 by replacing the 566th Air Defense Group Η] at Hamilton AFB as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which reactivated fighter units that had achieved distinction in the two word wars. ⎖] The 84th FIS, already at Hamilton was assigned to it and the Its 83d FIS returned without personnel or equipment to Hamilton and was reassigned to the group, taking over the personnel and equipment of the 325th FIS, which moved without personnel or equipment to Truax Field, Wisconsin. ⎗] The group also became the host for Hamilton AFB and was assigned a number of support organizations to fulfil this mission. On 18 October 1956, the 78th Fighter Wing was once again activated and the group transferred its maintenance and support functions to the wing. The group flew numerous interceptors for West Coast air defense until its inactivation on 1 February 1961 when group components were assigned directly to the 78th Fighter Wing as the 78th converted to the dual deputy organization.


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See also

Notes

  1. ^ Aircraft is Convair F-106A-90-CO Dart Serial 57-2504.
  2. ^ Aircraft are (bottom to top) Republic F-84D-10-RE Thunderjets 48-678, 48-667, 48-680, 48-657
  3. ^ Aircraft is Lockheed F-94C-1-LO Serial 59-641.
  4. ^ Lockheed F-104A-15-LO Serials 56-772 and 56-776 are identifiable
  5. ^ On 1 December 1950, ADC was reactivated and assumed the air defense mission from ConAC
  6. ^ Project Arrow also reunited groups with their traditional squadrons. Buss, et al.

Citations

  1. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxy Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 142–144
  2. ^"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group May 1942 – Mar 1943" . Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 .
  3. ^"Abstract, Presentation History 78 Fighter Group" . Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 . This source also claims the group had the first triple ace, but does not identify the pilot.
  4. ^"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Aug 1944" . Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 .
  5. ^"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Sep 1944" . Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 .
  6. ^"Abstract, History 78 Fighter Group, Dec 1948 – Dec 1949" . Air Force History Index . Retrieved 11 May 2012 .
  7. ^See Grant
  8. ^ ab Cornett & Johnson, p. 84
  9. ^ Buss (ed), Sturm, Volan, & McMullen, p. 6
  10. ^ Bailey, Carl E. (26 December 2007). "Factsheet 82 Aerial Targets Squadron (ACC)" . Air Force Historical Research Agency . Retrieved 10 May 2012 .
  11. ^ Bailey, Carl E. (8 March 2010). "Factsheet 84 Flying Training Squadron (AETC)" . Air Force Historical Research Agency . Retrieved 10 May 2012 .
  12. ^ ab Station number in Anderson

Bibliography

  • Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II (PDF) . Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016 . Retrieved 7 July 2012 .
  • Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, 1956
  • Cornett, Lloyd H Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946 – 1980 (PDF) . Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p.㻔.
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBNـ-900913-09-6
  • Grant, C. L. "The Development of Continental Air Defense to 1 September 1954, USAF Historical Study No. 126" (PDF) . Research Studies Institute, USAF Historical Division, Air University . Retrieved 17 August 2014 .
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN  0-912799-02-1 . LCCN� .
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 . Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN  0-912799-12-9 .

78th Fighter Squadron [78th FS]

The 78th Fighter Squadron was inactivated on 30 June 2003, as part of the Air Force's FY 2003 force structure changes, leaving Shaw with three F-16CJ squadrons. The 78th Fighter Squadron activated on 01 January 1994, after having last been assigned to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, UK. The 20th Fighter Wing returned to Shaw AFB that same day, having spent more than 40 years in the United Kingdom. Its subordinate units from Royal Air Force Upper Heyford, England, including the 55th, 77th and 79th Fighter Squadrons, also activated at Shaw on that date after having been inactive for a brief period.

The 78th Fighter Squadron "Bushmasters" are a combat ready F-16C/D squadron tasked with air-to-air, air-to-surface and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses missions as directed by the wing or component commander in support of friendly forces. The squadron maintains and operates Block 50 Mini-D variant F-16 Fighting Falcons in support of complex training and operational taskings, while maintaining proficiency in the employment of a full array of munitions and tactics. The squadron is one of four F-16 units assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., under the direction of Headquarters 9th Air Force/U.S. Central Command Air Forces and Headquarters Air Combat Command.

The squadron was organized on Feb. 28, 1918, as the 78th Aero Squadron at Waco Field, Texas, but was moved to Taliaferro Field, Texas, that same day. The squadron trained aircrews in the JN-4, JN-6 and S-4 aircraft for other flying squadrons. The unit was redesignated Squadron A on July 23, 1918, and was demobilized on Nov. 13, 1918.

On April 1, 1931, another 78th Squadron was assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group and attached to the 6th Composite Group. It was then activated at France Field in the Panama Canal Zone without any aircraft. The 78th moved within the Canal Zone to Albrook Field on Oct. 15, 1932, and began operating P-12 aircraft. The squadron was then assigned to the 3rd Attack Wing, but remained attached to the 6th Composite Group. However, the 78th was reassigned to the 16th Pursuit Group that December and remained in the Canal Zone. The War Department, realizing the existence of another 78th squadron, reconstituted and consolidated the squadrons on April 25, 1933. The squadron, unequipped with aircraft for nearly a year, was inactivated Sept. 1, 1937.

The squadron was redesignated the 78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) and reactivated Feb. 1, 1940, at Wheeler Field, Territory of Hawaii. The 78th, now assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group, began flying operations with P-26 and P-36 aircraft, obtaining its people from the 18th. The squadron also participated in the Hawaiian Department maneuvers in June 1940. The 78th temporarily moved to Bellows Field for gunnery training in October 1941, returning to Wheeler Field a month prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The 78ths newly acquired P-40s were destroyed or damaged on the ground in the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. By the next morning the squadron's maintainers had made four P-40s available for patrol duties. The squadron moved to Kaneohe Naval Air Station two days later as part of the defense-dispersal and to provide a smoother landing field while preparing for the arrival of 12 newly-received P-39s.

After the declaration of war, the squadron's principal mission was to train pilots for other combat units in the Pacific Theater. A ground echelon sailed from Honolulu on Jan. 12, 1943, to prepare for the arrival of the aircraft and pilots on Midway Island. The 78th's pilots then flew non-stop 1,100 nautical miles from Barking Sands, Kauai, to Midway, replacing the 73rd Squadron that was on patrol duty. The squadron continued to provide aerial defense for Midway until April 1943, when it returned to the Territory of Hawaii and was reassigned to the 15th Fighter Group.

Over the next 18 months the 78th moved to five bases throughout the Territory of Hawaii, finally arriving at Bellows Field on June 8, 1944. During that time the squadron converted to P-47s and began training for extreme long-range escort missions. That program continued through 1944 and was marked by the 78th's conversion to the P-51 Mustang at the end of the year.

During 1944, members of the 78th awaited transfer to a combat theater. A move in September 1944, was cancelled, however, new orders sent the squadron into combat with the 15th Fighter Group in January 1945. The first section of the squadron's ground echelon arrived at Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, during the invasion landings on the island. After the island was secured March 2, the first echelon disembarked and set up camp. The second ground echelon arrived three days later and were followed by the aircraft on March 8. The remaining squadron members arrived five days later. Almost immediately the squadron began flying combat patrol missions in support of the Marines on Iwo Jima. By the end of the month the squadron had begun flying missions against enemy airfields and other installations on islands in the Bonin Group.

On April 7, 1945, the 78th, along with other components of the 15th Fighter Group, flew their first escort missions to Japan, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for escorting the B-29s that bombed the Masashino Plant aircraft factory at Nakajima near Tokyo. During the remaining months of the war the squadron flew fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and escorted B-29s on long-range strikes.

The squadron remained on Iwo Jima until Nov. 25, 1945, at which time it returned, without people or equipment, to Bellows Field. The squadron absorbed the people and equipment of the 468th Fighter Squadron. The 78th moved to Wheeler Field Feb. 6, 1946, and inactivated nine months later on Oct. 15, 1946.

After an eight-year lapse, the squadron was redesignated the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and activated Nov. 1, 1952, at Royal Air Force Station Shepherds Grove, England. The squadron absorbed the members of the 116th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, an Air National Guard unit which reverted to state control, and began flying F-86 aircraft. In April 1954, the squadron, flying F-84s, was redesignated a fighter-bomber squadron. The 78th operated from Royal Air Force Station Sculthorpe, England, from May 1956 until May 1957, when it returned to Shepherds Grove. The squadron was redesignated as a tactical fighter squadron in July 1958, and began flying F-101 aircraft from Royal Air Force Station Woodbridge, England.

The Squadron operated F-4s from 1965 until Jan. 1, 1979, when the 78th began preparing to operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog." The first A-10 arrived in June, with the squadron becoming operational ready that November. The 78th operated A-10s not only from Woodbridge, but also from forward operating locations in West Germany. The squadron was inactivated May 15, 1992. The squadron was transferred back to the United States and reactivated here Jan. 3, 1994.

The 78th participated in seven deployments during 1994 flying a total of more than 4,200 sorties. The 78th was also instrumental in the 20th Fighter Wing's being awarded the Air Force Daedalian Award for 1994. The first three months of 1995 saw the 78th deployed to Southwest Asia (SWA) flying some 1,150 sorties and 3,293 flying hours over the "No-Fly Zone." This was the equivalent of nine months of flying compacted into a three-month period under very difficult desert conditions.

The 78th flew more F-16 fighter sorties (5,452) in 1996 than any other squadron in ACC. The "Bushmasters" flew 1,197 sorties in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. In addition, the 78th flight demonstration team (9th AF F-16 Demo Team) performed 30 shows for an audience of more than four million people.

Squadron decorations and campaign streamers include the Distinguished Unit Citation Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and Central Pacific, Air Offensive Japan and air Combat Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaign Streamers.


P-47 Unit Markings (1 Viewer)

I am researching the 78th Fighter Group USAAF flying P-47 Thunderbolts, initially from Goxhill and later from Duxford, during the first six months of 1943.

From a pilot's contemporary log book, I know that from 6-17 March he was flying aircraft identified by a 4-digit Serial Number. For example, 6218 equals 41-6218.
However, from 22 March - 9 April, he uses a 2-digit identifier, such as 22 or 24.
Then, from 11 April onwards, he uses a single-letter abbreviation of the conventional Squadron Code. So, for example, 41-6218 which equals MX-G would be recorded in the log book as G.

I understand the Serial Numbers and the Squadron Codes, but I am struggling with the 2-digit identifier. From the cover picture of "P-47 Thunderbolt at War" by Cory Graff, I see that 56th Fighter Group was using 2-digit identifiers. For example, the lead aircraft is "1" and the one behind is "24". I also note that the identifier of "1" is not based on the Serial Number, which is 16002 in this case.

Clearly, some squadrons appear to be using a 2-digit identifier for a short period, before adopting the more familar Squadron Codes (e.g. MX-G).

Will someone please clarify what was going on - either generally or with reference to 78th Fighter Group? Also, can anyone direct me to a source that correlates the 2-digit identifier back to the Serial Number (or Squadron Code)? Directions to more photographic examples would be good too.

Airframes

Benevolens Magister

Andrewd

Recruit

Many thank to Airframes for the great summary. I, too, would have expected the 2-digit identifier to match the last two digits of the Serial Number. But the attached photograph (based on 56th Fighter Group) is clearly not the case. The Serial Number of the lead aircraft is 16002, but the code on the fuselage is "1", rather than "2". And they are clearly not using the usual Squadron Codes (such as AB-C).

I'm still curious if someone can advise what was happening at the time, to drive this particular numbering system? Was it random? Was it seniority? Was it (as Airframes suggests) the dispersal site number? All ideas welcome.

Drgondog

Captain

I am researching the 78th Fighter Group USAAF flying P-47 Thunderbolts, initially from Goxhill and later from Duxford, during the first six months of 1943.

Recall that 78th FG came to ETO with P-38G's and flew them until they were all sent to North Africa by early February 13th - when they were then replaced with P-47C's at Goxhill - then moved to Duxford April 1-6, 1943

From a pilot's contemporary log book, I know that from 6-17 March he was flying aircraft identified by a 4-digit Serial Number. For example, 6218 equals 41-6218.
However, from 22 March - 9 April, he uses a 2-digit identifier, such as 22 or 24.

It is possible that these P-47s they were traing on had single and double digit numerical codes at Goxhill - but that would not be standard SOP once the Squadron Codes were applied (i.e MX*H - 82nd Squadron (MX), ship "H"). The serial number on this a/c was 16249. That was shorthand for P-47C-2RE 41-6249. "41" is the AAF Contract year and ALL tail serial numbers for contract year 1941 was "1".

Then, from 11 April onwards, he uses a single-letter abbreviation of the conventional Squadron Code. So, for example, 41-6218 which equals MX-G would be recorded in the log book as G.

That makes sense as they left their 'familiarization' P-47s at Goxhill and received all new P-47C's at Duxford in April, 1943.

I understand the Serial Numbers and the Squadron Codes, but I am struggling with the 2-digit identifier. From the cover picture of "P-47 Thunderbolt at War" by Cory Graff, I see that 56th Fighter Group was using 2-digit identifiers. For example, the lead aircraft is "1" and the one behind is "24". I also note that the identifier of "1" is not based on the Serial Number, which is 16002 in this case.

I suspect the 56th flew some of the same ships, although they flew to ETO with the ones assigned in US. Could have bee before the 56th was assigned ETO squadron recognition codes for their own P-47C.s.

Clearly, some squadrons appear to be using a 2-digit identifier for a short period, before adopting the more familar Squadron Codes (e.g. MX-G).

Will someone please clarify what was going on - either generally or with reference to 78th Fighter Group? Also, can anyone direct me to a source that correlates the 2-digit identifier back to the Serial Number (or Squadron Code)? Directions to more photographic examples would be good too.


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