History Podcasts

1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War)

1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War)

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War)

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


The 1st Bombardment Wing formed part of the US Eighth Air Force's strategic bomber force and took part in the daylight bombing campaign over Germany and occupied Europe from 1942 until the end of the Second World War.

The wing traced its lineage back to the 1st Pursuit Wing of the First World War, a short-lived unit that was formed in July 1918, fought from then until the end of the war and was disbanded in December 1918 and the 1st Wing, a US-based wing that operated from 1919 until 1914. The wing was re designated as the 1st Bombardment Wing in 1929 but it wasn't actually activated until 1931. It went through a series of name changes over the next decade (1st Pursuit Wing 1933, 1st Wing 1935, 1st Bombardment Wing 1940). It was the main Air Force unit in the western United States during the 1930s. Amongst its commanders in this period were Carl Spaatz and Henry H Arnold, key American leaders during the Second World War.

After the American entry into the Second World War the Air Force began to prepare to create a strategic bomber force based in Britain, the Eighth Air Force. The 1st Bombardment Wing moved to England in July-August 1942 and became one of five Bombardment Wings in the Eighth Air Force (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 12th). As the first to enter action the 1st was responsible for the early development of American bombing techniques. It also took part in the first Eighth Air Force daylight raid against a target in Germany, the attack on Wilhelmshaven of 27 January 1943. Losses could be very heavy - on 17 April 115 B-17s from the wing attacked the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen. Sixteen aircraft were shot down and forty six damaged - over half of the original aircraft. In May 1943 the 4th Bombardment Wing entered the fight, allowing the Eighth Air Force to operate against more widely spread targets and lifting some pressure from the 1st BW.

On 17 August 1943 the 1st Bombardment Wing attacked the ball-bearing plan at Schweinfurt, in one of the most notorious raids of the Second World War. This was meant to have taken place at the same time as the 4th Bombardment Wing attacked an aircraft factory at Regensburg, but the 1st BW was delayed by bad weather, allowing the German fighter force to attack each wing in turn. The 1st Bombardment Wing lost 36 B-17s during the attack.

The structure of the Eighth Air Force changed in 1943. The Bombardment Wings were becoming too large and unwieldy. The Air Force decided to form new Divisions, each of which would contain a number of smaller wings. At this point the 1st Bombardment Wing contained eleven Bombardment Groups. It was split into three wings - the 1st, 40th and 41st Bombardment Wings. The smaller 1st Bombardment Wing contained three groups - the 91st, 381st and 482nd. The 482nd was later replaced by the 398th. The 1st Air Division officially came into existence in September 1943 and took over the 1st Bombardment Wing's base at Brampton Grange while the smaller Wing moved to Bassingbourn.

During this change the wing remained part of VIII Bomber Command. As the US Air Force in Britain continued to increase in size its structure was changed again. In February 1944 the existing Eighth Air Force became US Strategic Air Forces in Europe. VIII Bomber Command became the new Eighth Air Force. The new US Strategic Air Forces in Europe loosely controlled the Eighth Air Force and the Fifteenth Air Force, which was carrying out its own strategic bombing campaign from Italy.

During all of these changes the 1st Bombardment Wing continued to take part in the strategic bombing campaign over occupied Europe and Germany. Its groups also took part in the build-up to D-Day, supported the Allied troops at Arnhem and during the crossing of the Rhine and attacked German communications during the Battle of the Bulge. The Wing was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its role in the attack on German aircraft factories on 11 January 1944.


Mainly Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, plus some Consolidated B-24 Liberator


1929Redesignated 1st Bombardment Wing
1 April 1931Activated
1933Redesignated 1st Pursuit Wing
1935Redesignated 1st Wing
1940Redesignated 1st Bombardment Wing
July-August 1942To Britain
August 1943Redesignated 1st Combat Bombardment Wing (Heavy)
June 1945Redesignated 1st Bombardment Wing (Heavy)
August 1945To United States
7 November 1945Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Brig Gen Jacob E Fickel: c. 31 Mar 1939
Brig Gen Frank D Lackland, 1 Feb 1940
Maj Woodrow W Dunlop: July 1942
Col Claude E Duncan: c. 19Aug 1942
Brig Gen Newton Longfellow:21 Aug 1942
Brig Gen Laurence S Kuter:1 Dec 1942
Brig Gen Haywood S HansellJr: 2 Jan 1943
Brig Gen Frank A ArmstrongJr: 15 Jun 1943
Brig Gen RobertB Williams: 1 Aug 1943
Brig Gen WilliamM Gross: 17 Sep 1943-c. Oct 1945

Main Bases

Tucson, Ariz: 27 May 1941-July 1942
Brampton Grange, England: c. 19Aug 1942
Bassingbourn, England: September1943
Alconbury, England: c. 26 June-c. 26Aug 1945
McChord Field, Wash: c. 6September Nov 1945

Component Units

1st Bombardment Wing, 1942-1945

Assigned To

1942-1943: VIII Bomber Command, Eighth Air Force
1943-1944: 1st Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1944-1945: 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force; US Strategic Air Forces Europe


1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War) - History

History of the 99th Bombardment Group

Organization and Training: On September 25, 1942, the 99th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Gowan Field near Boise, Idaho. Colonel Faye R. Upthegrove was designated as the Group Commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Leroy A. Rainey was designated as the Deputy Group Commander. The 99th consisted of the 346th, 347th, 348th, and 416th Bomb squadrons. Due to congestion at Gowan Field, the 99th immediately relocated to Walla Walla, Washington. During October the 99th received twelve flight leaders with crews, and four B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. During the first phase of training, the 99th received six more B-17s. The winter weather in Washington was not favorable for flying, so the 99th relocated to Sioux City, Iowa for the second phase of training. By the middle of November, the 99th had acquired about seventy five percent of its ground and support personnel. The third phase of training took place at Salina, Kansas in mid January of 1943. After completion of training, the 99th departed the United States at Morrison Field, Florida in February. The 99th B-17s flew the southern route via Boriniquen, Puerto Rico Georgetown, British Guiana Belem, Brazil Bathhurst, Gambia to their destination at Marrakech, Morocco. The ground and support personnel and equipment made the journey by ship.

North Africa: The 99th was attached to the 5th Bombardment Wing of 12th Air Force, stationed in North Africa. Also in the 5th Wing were the 97th and 301st Bomb Groups. The 2nd Bomb Group would arrive from the United States in April of 1943, to be assigned to the 5th Wing. The 99th was stationed at Navarin, located near Constantine. The 99th flew its first combat mission on March 31, 1943. The 99th came to be referred to as the Diamondbacks, due to a diamond insignia painted on the vertical stabilizer of their B-17s. As Allied ground forces forced the German Afrikakorps to retreat into Tunisia, the 12th Air Force flew missions to cut off German supplies coming from Italy and Sicily. For the rest of 1943, the 99th flew missions primarily across the Mediterranean Sea to bomb targets in Sicily and Italy. In June, news of a possible Arab uprising had the men of the 99th nervous and wearing side arms at all times. Although a major uprising never occurred, there were acts of sabotage includng a smal night time German paratrooper drop over Oudna Field, Tunisia taht resulted in the capture of three Germans. Summer dust storms made life miserable. On July 5th the group bombed an airfield at Gerbini, Sicily. An estimated one hundred enemy fighters made repetitive and fierce attacks, trying to turn the 99th back. The group however penetrated enemy defenses, and destroyed the airfield. For this mission, the 99th received its first Distinguished Unit Citation. On July 9th, the group flew missions in support of the Allied invasion of Sicily. The first Allied air attack on Rome took place on July 14th. Great care was taken by the 99th to avoid dropping any bombs on the Vatican City.

Move to Italy: On November 2, 1943, the four B-17 groups of the 5th Wing and two B-24 groups of the 9th Air Force were combined with two fighter groups to form the new 15th Air Force. On its first day of existence, the 15th flew a 1,600 mile round trip to bomb the Messerschmitt aircraft factory at Weiner Neustadt, Austria. Also in November, Colonel Upthegrove left the 99th, having completed his combat tour. With the Allied advancement up the boot of Italy, it was decided to relocate the 5th Wing there in order to bring more Axis targets within reach of the bombers. Each group was assigned a base on the Foggia plains, the 99th being stationed at Tortorella. The planes arrived at Tortorella in December of 1943. Living conditions at Tortorella were very harsh. The summers were hot and dusty, the winters cold and wet. Buildings were few, and airplane maintenance crews worked out in the open. The men lived in tents using homemade gasoline stoves for heat. The men constantly had to struggle through mud and water, snow and ice, or choking dust, depending on the season.

A New Commander: After Upthegrove's departure, the 99th went through temporary commanders until Colonel Ford J. Lauer assumed permanent command of the group on February 15, 1944. Lauer came to the 99th from 15th Air Force Headquarters. Throughout 1944, the 99th bombed targets in German occupied Italy, Germany, Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, France, Rumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. Two more B-17 groups, the 463rd and 483rd, would be added to the 5th Wing in March of 1944. On April 23rd the group, led by Colonel Lauer, bombed an aircraft factory at Weiner Neustadt, Austria. The 99th was the lead group on this mission. The flak was intense, and aggressive fighter opposition was encountered but no planes were lost. Despite the heavy opposition, the 99th made a highly successful bomb run. Thirty-one of the groups airplanes returned to base, riddled with flak and bullet holes. For this mission, the 99th received its second Distinguished Unit Citation.

Operation Argument: Operation ARGUMENT was a planned series of coordinated precision attacks by 8th and 15th Air Forces, supported by RAF night attacks. These attacks were designed to target the German aircraft industry. ARGUMENT began on February 20, 1944, and came to be known as "Big Week" by the bomber crews. The German war machine got no rest during ARGUMENT, however the cost was high in Allied bombers lost.

Operation Frantic: During the last half of May, rumors were going around that "Something Big" was in the works. The rumors became fact at 2:00 AM on the morning of June 2nd. Colonel Lauer revealed that the 99th was going to bomb a railroad yard at Debrecen, Hungary, and fly on to land at Poltava, Russia in the Ukraine. At the briefing, Lauer told the men that "One hundred thirty-million Americans will look upon you today and you are their representatives in a land where you will be the first American combat men." The bombing that day was excellent, and no flak or enemy fighters were encountered. The 99th became the first task force of the USAAF to land on Russian soil. The first three days in Russia were non-operational. The men of the 99th spent their time sightseeing and making friends with the Russians. The Russian civilians cheered and saluted the "Americanyetts." On June 6th, the 99th flew a mission from Poltava, to bomb the German airfield at Galati, Rummania. After landing back at Poltava, the men of the 99th learned that the Allies had invaded Europe on the beaches of France. On June 11th, the 99th took off to bomb a German airfield at Focsani, Rummania. They continued on to land back at Tortorella. The first shuttle mission to Russia was deemed to be a success.

Operation Dragoon: The invasion of Southern France occurred on August 15th. The 99th flew missions on the 13th and 14th, destroying German gun emplacements and lines of communication near Toulon, France. The mission of the 15th, was in direct support of Allied invasion forces. The invasion of Southern France got little media attention because it had been overshadowed by the Normandy invasion on June 6th.

Colonel Lauer Departs: Colonel Lauer flew his last combat mission, leading the 99th on December 26th. The target was Blechhammer, Germany. The German flak and fighters were both fierce. The Germans gave Colonel Lauer a gift to remember by peppering his airplane. Lauer departed for the United States on January 1, 1945.

Colonel Schwanbeck: Colonel Ray V. Schwanbeck assumed command of the 99th, and led it through to the end of the European war. During April, twenty-three missions were flown, primarily in support of Allied ground forces. The 99th flew its 395th, and last, combat mission on April 26, 1945. Heavy clouds prevented the target from being sighted so no bombs were dropped. The group flew a total of 10,855 combat sorties.

What was accomplished: In eighteen months of operation, the 15th Air Force destroyed half of all petroleum production in Europe, a good part of German fighter production, and had crippled the enemy's transportation system. The 15th dropped a total of 303,842 tons of bombs on enemy targets in twelve countries. In all, 148,955 heavy bomber sorties were flown. The 15th, an outfit that the 8th Air Force referred to as "minor leaguers," had done a major league job. This in spite of the fact that the 15th had many fewer groups than the 8th. It is unfortunate that the 15th Air Force has received virtually no historical recognition. Almost all books, movies, etc., have focused on the 8th Air Force. Many people who study B-17s are surprised to learn that there even was a 15th Air Force operating from Italy as the 8th operated from England. The Axis countries had no doubts about the existence of the "Thunder From the South."


At the beginning of the war the USAAF was a small service in comparison to the air forces of the combatants fighting since 1939. Its initial deployments to the European and African theaters in 1942 involved relatively small numbers of fighter and bomber aircraft and no system of Group identification was used. Some aircraft were identified by numbers painted on their fuselage.

The USAAF quickly adopted the system used by the Royal Air Force to identify squadrons, using fuselage codes of two letters (later letter-numeral when squadrons became too numerous) to denote a squadron and a third single letter to identify the aircraft within the squadron. However by 1944 the USAAF in Europe had grown to nearly 60 groups of heavy bombers (240 squadrons) and thirty groups of fighters (90 squadrons), and this system became impractical in combat after the summer of 1943, when the first tail system appeared.

To facilitate control among thousands of bombers, the USAAF devised a system of aircraft tail markings to identify groups and wings. Both the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces used a system of large, readily-identifiable geometric symbols combined with alphanumerics to designate groups when all USAAF bombers were painted olive drab in color, but as unpainted ("natural metal finish") aircraft became policy after April 1944, the system in use became difficult to read because of glare and lack of contrast. The system then evolved gradually to one using large bands of color in conjunction with symbols, the symbols identifying the wing and the color the group.

The Twentieth Air Force, eventually operating 20 groups and 1,000 bombers, also adopted a tail identification system in 1945. The five numbered air forces fighting in the Pacific War also used tail markings, but unsystematically within the various air forces, as squadron identifiers.

As the plane fails, the crew bails

Open bomb bay doors of a B-36 bomber, photographed in 1951.

Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Captain Harold Barry and his crew acted quickly. Their first order was to ditch the atomic bomb following military protocol to keep nuclear weapons or their components out of enemy hands. But when Barry’s copilot hit the “salvo” button to release the bomb, nothing happened. He then hit it a second time, releasing the bomb bay doors and dropping the Mark IV over the Pacific, where, according to crew reports, its conventional explosives were detonated and the bomb destroyed.

Then Barry set the failing plane’s autopilot to steer it on a course toward the open ocean while he and his crew parachuted into the darkness over Princess Royal Island on the coast of British Columbia. The abandoned B-36 cruised for another 200 miles, veering from its set course and crashing into the snowy flank of Mount Kologet, deep in the inland Canadian wilderness.

10 golden rules of fitness for First World War soldiers

The outbreak of war in 1914 prompted the recruitment and training of British soldiers on an unprecedented scale. They all needed to be prepared for one of the deadliest, most gruelling conflicts in human history &ndash here's how they trained

This competition is now closed

Published: August 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm

In his new book, Fighting Fit 1914, Adam Culling, curator of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps Museum, explores the equipment and training manuals used to prepare recruits for war, to offer an insight into how the physical instructor kept the British soldier ‘fighting fit’.

Here, writing for History Extra, Culling shares 10 golden rules of fitness for the First World War soldier.

1. Listen to your instructor

The commands given by army gymnastic staff instructors should be followed at all times, not simply because they are senior non-commissioned officers, or because their physique is a clear sign of their prowess at demonstrating physical training. Their experience and valuable knowledge will help guide you, motivate you, and instil a sense of self-belief that you have been trained, not just to be fit, but to be fighting fit!

2. Keep it interesting

Physical training needn’t be boring. It is true that the training tables produced by the army gymnastic staff will become progressively more demanding, so recruits and trained soldiers alike will be pushed to achieve their optimum physical potential. However, time can be set aside during the physical training sessions for games such as Indian club relay-races, wrestling for pegs, and bomb ball, which are not only fun and add a competitive element to training, but also provide practical application of the exercises from the training tables.

3. Don’t run before you can walk

Physical training tables have been developed using scientific principles and in-depth knowledge of human physiology. With this in mind, make sure you do not skip a table and hope to make it up another day. They have been designed to be progressive, and the completion of one table will ensure you are ready to continue with the next, steadily improving your physical development.

4. Be realistic

The amount of time available for physical and recreational training will vary depending on where you are located – those soldiers in the trenches will clearly not have the same access as those in the rear to space and equipment to carry out certain activities. Training tables have been developed to allow these soldiers to perform exercises throughout the day as the opportunity arises. No need to worry though, your instructor will not announce to the Germans when you are exercising! Commands relating to your exercises will be performed by a show of fingers.

5. Training for sport is training for war

Sports and games are the natural way to train for war. Football, cricket, boxing, etc mimic battle, and develop the qualities needed for war. But participation in sport and games should be voluntary, as the voluntary spirit is the spirit of ‘one more effort’.

6. Stick it!

What compels a man in war? The ‘fighting spirit’ of course – but what does this mean? Is it dashing over the top? No, it is ‘sticking it’ – sticking it to the hardships of war, sticking it when you are injured, sticking it when you are sick, sticking it when you’re tired or have heard bad news or are on the back foot.

And how is this fighting spirit indoctrinated? Through a soldier’s participation in games. If you are hit by a punch in a boxing bout, do you bow down and walk away? No, you clench your teeth, hide your feelings from your opponent and fight back. That is the fighting spirit that is sticking it!

7. Make it count

Physical training and bayonet training, both under the control of army gymnastic staff instructors, are carried out for the benefit of you, the soldier, but more importantly for the soldiers either side of you.

It is essential that a soldier takes advantage of the opportunities to carry out such training, and when doing so, makes every exercise and every attack performed on a bayonet training dummy count.

As the bayonet training manual says, “each dummy must be regarded as an actual armed opponent”, and each armed opponent will become an actual dummy when he meets the British soldier.

8. Improvise

As with nearly every aspect of military life, there are times that the soldier will have to improvise to carry out their physical and bayonet training. The exercises compiled in the training tables provide enough scope for an instructor to supplement or improvise the necessary equipment required to carry out the exercise.

When the apparatus cannot be improvised, many of the exercises may be completed regardless. When bayonet fencing rifles are in short supply, use sticks. When no assault course exists, simply fill hessian sacks with straw and soil, and suspend the sack from a rope hanging from a tree. By being resourceful, your training continues.

9. Too sick to train?

At times you may become injured or sick and unable to train. While this may be frustrating, it is important that you adhere to the medical staff’s advice and only conduct exercises that are suited to your current situation. Remedial training tables have been developed to allow those suffering from constipation and slight stomach troubles, for example. The exercises are not severe and can be beneficial, but if there is any question of ulcers or diarrhoea they should not be performed.


This point cannot be stressed more emphatically. The gymnastic staff instructors and assistant instructors are experts in physical conditioning. Their training is scientific in nature, and their knowledge of human physiology and anatomy is second only to medical professionals.

Fighting Fit 1914 (Amberley Publishing) is now on sale. To find out more click here.

If you enjoyed this article why not subscribe to the print edition of BBC History Magazine? Alternatively, subscribe to the magazine digitally – on iPad and iPhone, Kindle and Kindle Fire, Google Play and Zinio.

1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War) - History

This site was last updated on: 6/11/2021

34 confirmed victories - Navy Ace of Aces

16 1/4 confirmed victories - TRIPLE ACE

Photos courtesy of Mr. Wagner 1st Lt. Richard Wagner
9th AAF
410th Bomb Group
645th Squadron

A-20, A-26 pilot. 52 missions in the European theatre.

Air Medal with 9 oak leaf clusters
WW2 Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
Europe, African, Middle East Campaign Medal
Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing accuracy

3 confirmed victories, .5 probable

3 confirmed victories, 2 probable

2 confirmed victories, .5 probable

Photos courtesy of Lt. McCoskey 1st Lt. Jack E. McCoskey
359th Fighter Group

1.5 Confirmed Kills, 2 Damaged

10.5 Confirmed Kills, 2 Damaged - DOUBLE ACE

Photos courtesy of S/Sgt Keller S/Sgt Jack D. Keller
447th Bomb Group (H), 711th Bomb Squadron
Tail Gunner of B-17 "Ol'Scrapiron" A/C #231582

Photos courtesy of Major Kirry's son, John Major Robert H. Kirry
99th Troop Carrier Squadron, 441st Troop Carrier Group

Photos courtesy of S/Sgt Walt Osika S/Sgt Walter H Osika
8th Air Force, 457th Bomber Group, 749th Squadron
B-17 Tail Gunner

Photos courtesy of Col. Durwood B Williams Col. Durwood B Williams
333rd Fighter Squadron, 318thFighter Group, 7th Fighter Command, 7th Air Force.

P-47 Pilot, 46 missions, 326 combat hours

Photos courtesy of Warrant Officer Norman Williamson Warrant Officer, 1st Class, Norman Williamson
R.A.F. Bomber Command

Photos courtesy of Cliffort Orth Lewis H. Lane
Flight Instructor, Georgia, Florida & North Carolina

Photos courtesy of Phil How Sgt. David Alfred William May
RAF Navigator

Photos courtesy of Terry Webb Cpt. Allan W. "Pete" Webb
B-25 Bomber Pilot - 12th Air Force, 57th Bomb Wing, 321st Bomb Group, 445th Bomb Squadron

Photos courtesy of Ashley Rae Naumann Lt. Col. Donald Burch
Pilot - 7th Fighter Squadron, Chinese American Composite Wing

Photos courtesy of Fred J Borgmann S/Sgt Fred A. Borgmann
101st AB 327th GIR Co. B.

Photos courtesy of Kathy Morgan S/Sgt Lawrence William Stephens
5th Air Force, 160th Liaison Squadron

Air Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic Pacific Ribbon with 4 stars
WW II Victory Medal
Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 star
Marksman: Carbine

Photos courtesy of Derek Hughey Daniel "Tommy" Tomlinson
1920s Naval Aviator, 1930s TWA pioneer pilot

Photos courtesy of Dave Handley Captain Ward Carr Gilbert
US Naval Aviator

Photos courtesy of Ron Graziano Captain Charles A. Ryan
American Airlines and Air Transport Command Pilot

Photos courtesy of Laurie Lohne 1st Lt. William B. Bonnifield
344th Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 15th Army Air Forces, B-24 Bomber Pilot-in-Command, 1943-1946

Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal
35 Sorties
265 Combat Hours

World War I marked America's first aerial combat operations. The United States Air Service, the United States Naval Aviation and United States Marine Aviation fought in France, England, Italy, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere during World War I. American World War I aviators included Eddie Rickenbacker, Raoul Lufbery, Quentin Roosevelt, Frank Luke, Eugene Bullard, David Ingalls, Carl Spaatz, Everett Cook, Billy Mitchell and many others.

By the time World War I ended, the forty-five United States Air Service fighter, bomber and observation squadrons had participated in seven campaigns, claimed 781 planes and 73 balloons downed. They produced 71 aces of whom five had more than 10 victories each. They dropped 140 tons of bombs in 150 bombing runs. And in exchange, they lost 289 airplanes, 48 balloons and 237 of their own men either killed or missing in action.

United States Naval Avation and United States Marine Aviation also started combat operations during World War I. See US Naval Aviation, United States Navy ace David Ingalls and US Marine Aviation for more information.

1st Observation Group - 1st aero squadron, 12th aero squadron, 50th aero squadron
1st Pursuit Group - 27th aero squadron, 94th aero squadron, 95th aero squadron, 147th aero squadron, 185th aero squadron
1st Bombardment Group - 96th aero squadron, 11th aero squadron, 20th aero squadron, 166th aero squadron
2nd Pursuit Group - 13th aero squadron, 22nd aero squadron, 49th aero squadron, 139th aero squadron
3rd Pursuit Group - 28th aero squadron, 93rd aero squadron, 103rd aero squadron, 213th aero squadron
4th Pursuit Group - 17th aero squadron, 25th aero squadron, 148th aero squadron, 141st aero squadron
5th Pursuit Group - 41st Aero Squadron, 138th Aero Squadron, 638th Aero Squadron
3rd Air Park - 255th Aero Squadron

51. America in the Second World War

The fear of an Axis victory drove production levels to new heights during World War II. To help motivate American workers the U.S. Government commissioned posters such as this.

For the second time in the 20th century, the United States became involved in a devastating world conflict.

The mobilization effort of the government in World War II eclipsed even that of World War I. With major operations in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, American industries literally fueled two wars simultaneously. The social and economic consequences were profound. The Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North was accelerated. New opportunities opened for women. Americans finally enjoyed a standard of living higher than the pre-Depression years.

But the war effort also had a darker side. Civil liberties were compromised, particularly for the 110,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly uprooted from their West Coast homes to be sent to remote relocation camps.

An atomic blast produces a distinctive "mushroom cloud." Developed by a top-secret U.S. government program dubbed the "Manhattan Project," the atomic bomb proved to be the weapon that ended World War II.

In both Europe and Asia, the Axis powers had established a firm foothold prior to American entry into the conflict. Slowly, but surely the Allies closed the ring on Nazi Germany after turning points at El Alamein and Stalingrad . Once Italy quit the Axis and the Allies landed successfully at Normandy , it was only a matter of time before the Nazi machine was smashed. Similar failures marked the early war in the Pacific, as the Japanese captured the Philippines. But once Japanese offensive capabilities were damaged at Midway, the United States "island hopped" its way to the Japanese mainland.

Shortly after America's entry into World War II, the patriotic song "Remember Pearl Harbor" hit the airwaves, urging America to "go on to victory."

New technologies emerged during the war as well. Radar helped the British locate incoming German planes, and sonar made submarine detection much more feasible. German V-1 and V-2 rockets ushered in a new age of long-range warfare. But no weapon compared in destructive capacity to the atomic bomb, developed after a massive, secret research project spearheaded by the United States government.

World War II was fought over differences left unresolved after World War I. Over 400,000 Americans perished in the four years of involvement, an American death rate second only to the Civil War. Twelve million victims perished from Nazi atrocities in the Holocaust . The deaths of twenty million Russians created a defensive Soviet mindset that spilled into the postwar era. After all the blood and sacrifice, the Axis powers were defeated, but the Grand Alliance that emerged victorious did not last long. Soon the world was involved in a 45-year struggle that claimed millions of additional lives &mdash the Cold War.

1st Bombardment Wing (Second World War) - History

"The Ragged Irregulars"

September 1942

VIII BC, 1 BW, 101 PCBW February 1943 (8th Bomber Combat, 1st Bomb Wing)

VIII BC, 1 BD, 1 CBW 13 September 1943. (8th Bomb Combat, 1st Bomb Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing, Heavy).

1 BD, 1 CBW 8 January 1944. (1st Bomb Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing)

1 AD, 1 CBW 1 January 1945. ( 1st Air Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing)

322nd, 323rd, 324th, and 401st Bombardment Squadrons (H)

B-17F (from blocks 10-BO) B-17G

Bassingbourn 14 October 42 to 23 June 45.

323rd Bomb Squadron = OR "Oboe"

324th Bomb Squadron = DF "Dimple"

401st Bomb Squadron = LL "Mutter"

Control Tower + "Swordfish"

91st BG Commanding Officer = "Record"

* The term "Ragged Irregulars" was tacked on to the men of the 91st because they had been shot up so badly, so many times that they could not put a full group into combat. They had to fill in on other units to make up a full group bombing formation. Hence, the nickname was coined by the group commander.

2. Lt. Col. William M. Reid: 1 May 43 to 23 May 43.

3. Lt. Col. Baskin R. Lawrence: 23 May 43 to 25 May 43.

4. Lt. Col. Clemens L. Wurzbach commanded from 25 June 43 to 12 December 43. Wurzbach's Warriors were experienced airmen and General Ira Eaker, 8th AF Commander, would send them time and again to Germany. Their targets were aircraft factories, ball bearing plants and other German industries. They let their Division on the first Pathfinder mission to Emden, Germany on 27 September 1943. Two missions stand out Schweinfurt on 17 August 1943 (43% losses) and Anklam, Germany on 9 October 1943 with 42% losses. Some 800 German fighters opposed them. Friendly fighter support, beyond occupied countries and port cities, was nil up to this point.

5. Col. Claude E. Putnam commanded from 12 December 43 to 16 May 44. General Doolittle, new 8th AF Commander, sent Putnam's Panthers to destroy the German Air Force. they did the job, bombing deep into Germany with long range P-51's, P47's and P-38's for protection. Aircraft factories and oil facilities were the primary targets. The mission to Oschersleben, Germany on 11 January 1944 earned the 91st, the Distinguished Unit Citation (17% losses) and the mission to Bunde on 22 February 1944 (19% losses) were both wicked. Enemy fighter opposition, determined early in the period, tapered off at the end.

6. Col. Henry W. Terry commanded from 17 May 44 to 30 May 45. Terry's Tigers attacked from D-Day onward. they gave close support to our ground force at Normandy, St. Lo breakthrough, Caen, Battle of the Bulge, and assisted with the Rhine River crossing. They bombed what was left of oil refineries and cities. Two remembered mission were Merseburg, Germany 2 November 1944 (35% losses) and Leipzig, Germany on 20 July 1944 (22% losses). Enemy fighters were fierce, but sporadic through the period.

7. Lt. Col. Donald E. Sheeler: 30 May 45 to June 45.

25 November 42, Major Paul D. Brown brought the squadron from the United States. 22 April 43, Major J. C. Bishop was appointed Squadron Commander of the 323rd Squadron.

26 November 42, Capt. Edward Gaitley was appointed Squadron Commander of the 324th Squadron. (Vice Major Harold Smelser, missing in action). 29 November 42, Major Claude E. Putnam assumed command as of today.

8 October 42, Capt. E. P. Meyers was appointed Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron (Promoted to Major). 15 October 42, Capt. Haley W. Aycock was appointed Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron. Capt. Haley W. Aycock was wounded during the mission of 9 November was replaced as Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron by Major E. E. Myers, who had been temporarily performing the duties of Group Operations Officer. 31 December 42, Capt. Clyde G. Gillespie was appointed Acting Squadron Commander, 401st Squadron, because Major E. P. Myers was killed in action.

First Mission: 7 November 42 to the submarine docks at Brest, France .

First 2 Aircraft lost: 23 November 42, U-boat pens at St. Nazaire, France

Last Mission: 25 April 45, Pilsen, Germany

Last Plane lost : 17 April 45, Skunk Face III, mission to Dresden, Germany.

Total Missions: 340

Total Credit Sorties : 9, 591

Total Bomb Tonnage: 22,142.3 tons

Total Aircraft Assigned : 400 +

Lost 1010 combat crewmen (887 killed and 123 missing in action). More then 960 crewmen became prisoners of war.

Total Aircraft Missing in Acton: 197 (Planes lost per squadron 322nd 49, 323rd 55, 324th 38 and 401st 55 )

Enemy Aircraft Claims: 420 confirmed, 127 damaged, 238 possible.

Highest loss of 8th Air Force bomb groups - 197 Aircraft Missing in Action

First group to attack a target in the Ruhr - 4 March 43 Hamm.

Led the famous Schweinfurt mission of 17 August 43.

First 8th Air Force bomb group to complete 100 Missions - 5 January 44.

Selected to test first flak suits - March 43.

B-17G "Nine-O-Nine" completed 124 missions without a mechanical abort - an 8th Air Force record.

Activated 15 April 42 at Harding Field, LA. Nucleus commander 1/Lt. Edward R. Eckert. Expansion began with first phase training at McDill Field, FL 16 May 42 to 22/25 June 42. Second and third phase training Walla Walla Air Force Base, WA, under 2AF between 26 June 42 and 24 August 42. Ground echelon by train Fort Dix, NJ, and boarded Queen Mary 2/5 September 42. Arrived Gourock 11 September 42. Air echelon left Walla Walla 24 August 42 for Gowen Field, ID, where first new B-17s assigned. Air echelon then moved Dow Field, ME, but not until early October 42 were enough new B-17s available to complete Group's complement. First squadron flew North Atlantic route late September 42.

Normandy: June 6, 1944 to July 24, 1944

Northern France: July 25, 1944 to September 14, 1944

Ardennes: December16, 1944 to January 25, 1945

Central Europe: March 22, 1945 to May 11, 1945

Rhineland: September 15, 1944 to March 21, 1945

POW Medal: Authorized in 1982 by President Reagan

WORLD WAR II 8th AIR FORCE - Our mission was to defeat the Luftwaffe and destroy Germanys capacity and will to fight. Along with our Valiant Allies from Britain and around the world, we defeated the axis powers. Our numbers exceeded those of any other Air Force in history, including over 350,000 devoted men and women. Our might was centered in 43 heavy bomber groups, 4 medium bomber groups, 20 fighter groups and 50 support groups. Our performance was awesome. We flew 330,523 bomber sorties, dropped 686,406 tons of bombs and destroyed 15,731 enemy aircraft. We had 261 fighter aces. Our Eighth Air Force men and women, in the air and on the ground, served with distinction having 26,000 killed, 7,000 wounded, 28,000 prisoners of war, and 1,500 internees. They were awarded 17 Congressional Medals of Honor, 226 Distinguished Service Crosses, 864 Silver Stars, 45,977 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 442,300 Air Medals, 2,984 Bronze Stars, 12 Distinguished Service Medals, 209 Legion of Merit Medals, 480 Soldiers Medals. Eighth Air Force Units were awarded 27 Presidential Unit Citations, and 19 Meritorious Service Plaques. We remember those years with sadness because of sacrifices made and comrades lost. We remember with Nostalgia the Exuberance of Youth and the inspiration of fighting for the right,but most of all, we remember with pride, that although the way was often difficult, and our losses heavy, we accomplished our mission with Valor and Endurance. We were never turned back by Enemy Fire.

Thanks to Steve Perri for sending this information

Here are the pay scales from the 1944 Official Guide to the Army Air Forces.

Private=====================$50 monthly base pay

Private First monthly base pay

Corporal====================$68 monthly base pay

Sergeant====================$78 monthly base pay

Staff Sergeant================$96 monthly base pay

Technical Sergeant============$114 monthly base pay

Master Sergeant=First Sergeant==$138 monthly base pay

Chief Warrant Oficer==========$2100 year

1st Lieutenant================$2000 year

Rent allowances for officers with dependents ran up the scale
from 60=60=75=60=75=90=105=120=120=120=120=120=120=

Flight pay 50% of base pay==Longevity 5% of base pay for each 3 years of
service up to 30 years==Foreign Service Officers 10% of base pay=Enlisted men
20% of base pay

Thanks to Jack Gaffney 401st. for sending us this information.


The statistics below provided by Ace Johnson shows # of missions, Aircraft lost and Losses per Mission for eleven of the 26 B-17 groups in the Eighth Air Force. I don't know why these particular groups were singled out but the information is very interesting. Of the groups shown, we flew the most missions (340), we lost the most B-17 to enemy action with (197). In losses per mission we tied for second with .58 losses per mission. The attachment also lists 6 Groups in the 15th Air Force. Their aircraft losses per mission for the average of the six groups was .29 per mission while the average of the 11 Eight Air Force groups was .50 per mission.


Airships were also used during World War One for both reconnaissance and bombing. Germany, France, and Italy all used airships. Germans named their airships Zeppelins, after their creator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.

German airship Schütte Lanz SL2 bombing Warsaw in 1914. Credit: Hans Rudolf Schulze / Commons.

Airships were able to fly higher than fixed-wing aircraft, and they held greater payloads. However, the bombing capabilities were somewhat limited, as they often had to fly at night and at high altitudes to avoid being hit by artillery. This made it difficult for them to see their targets.

Airships were much more effective as a tool of intimidation.

Airships were also useful in naval battles due to their ability to spot submarines, which were almost invisible to ships but relatively easy to spot from the air.

Over the course of the war, the role played by aircraft grew exponentially. By the end of the conflict, they formed an integral part of the armed forces, frequently operating in coordination with the infantry, artillery and the other great technological advance of the war, the tanks.