55th Fighter Group (USAAF)

55th Fighter Group (USAAF)


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55th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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

History

The 55th Fighter Group (USAAF) entered combat as a long range bomber escort group, and carried out that role until the end of the war in Europe. Later in the war the group carried out an increasing number of ground attack missions as well.

The group was formed in the US in January 1941 and trained with the P-43 Lancer. It converted to the P-38 while still in the US and moved to England in August-September 1943 to join the Eighth Air Force.

The group became operational in October 1943 and was the first P-38 fighter to join the Eighth Air Force since its original groups had moved to North Africa for Operation Torch. The group's main ask was to provide bomber escorts for the Eighth Air Force's ever-expanding daylight bombing campaign. As the war progressed the group increasingly attacked ground targets during escort missions, but the escort mission was still its main task.

On 13 December 1943 the group took part in the longest fighter escort mission of the European War to date, a 490 mile trip to Kiel and back operating alongside the P-51 Mustangs of the 354th Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force).

The group provided fighter escorts during 'Big Week', the attack on the Luftwaffe of February 1944.

On D-Day the group provided part of the fighter cover for the Channel, and also attacked bridges near Tours.

In July 1944 it escorted bombers supporting the American breakout at St. Lo.

In September 1944 the group provided fighter cover over Arnhem during Operation Market Garden.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for eight missions flown between 3 and 13 September 1944. During these missions the group provided fighter escorts for the bomber force and also attacked German airfields and aircraft on the ground.

During the Battle of the Bulge the group escorted bombers attacking German transport links.

The group was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for a sweep over Germany on 19 February 1945, attacking transport links.

During the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 the group attacked transport targets and fuel depots near Wesel.

The groups' last combat mission came on 21 April 1945. It moved to Germany in July, and began to convert to the P-80 jet. The group was inactivated on 20 August 1946.

Books

Aircraft

1941-42: Republic P-43 Lancer (training only)
1942-July 1944: Lockheed P-38 Lightning
July 1944 onwards: North American P-51 Mustang
Postwar: North American P-51 Mustang and P-80

Timeline

20 November 1940Constituted as 55th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
15 January 1941Activated
May 1942Redesignated 55th Fighter Group
August-September 1943To England and Eighth Air Force
15 October 1943Combat Debut
21 April 1945Last combat sortie
July 1945To Germany
20 August 1946Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Capt Kenneth S Wade:15 Jan 1941
Maj James W McCauley: 1May 1941
Lt Col Karl K Bowen: 1 May1942
Maj Jack S Jenkins: 1 Aug 1942
Maj Ernest W Keating: 13 Nov 1942
LtCol Frank B James: 15 May 1943
ColJack S Jenkins: 6 Feb 1944
Col George TCrowell: 10 Apr 1944
Lt Col Elwyn CRighetti: 22 Feb 1945
Col Ben Rimerman:22 Apr 1945
Lt Col Jack W Hayes Jr: 21May 1945
Lt Col Horace A Hanes: JulI946-unkn

Main Bases

Hamilton Field, Calif: 15Jan 1941
Portland, Ore: 21 May 1941
Paine Field, Wash: 10 Feb 1942
McChordField, Wash: 22 Jul 1942-23 Aug 1943
Nuthampstead, England: 14 Sep 1943
Wormingford, England: 16 Apr 1944
Kaufbeuren, Germany: 22 Jul 1945
Giebelstadt,Germany: 29 Apr-20 Aug 1946

Component Units

37th Fighter Squadron: 1941-43
38th Fighter Squadron: 1941-46
54th Fighter Squadron: 1941-42
338th Fighter Squadron: 1942-46
343rd Fighter Squadron: 1943-46

Assigned To

1941: 11th Pursuit Wing (US West Coast)
1941: II Interceptor Command (later V Fighter Command); Second Air Force (US North West)

1943: Seattle Fighter Wing; IV Fighter Command; Fourth 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


55th Operations Group

Boeing RC-135U Combat Sent 64-14849 intelligence aircraft located at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information to the President, Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense leaders and theater commanders.

Boeing E-4B Nightwatch, 73-1676, of the 1st ACCS, the command plane of the United States Air Force

The 55th Operations Group (55 OG) is a component of the 55th Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command. The group is stationed at Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska.

During World War II the group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England. It claimed 316.5 air and 216.5 ground aircraft destroyed. It flew its last mission on 21 April 1945.


55th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History

Constantine &lsquoConnie&rsquo Chioles was born on June 1, 1915, in Aurora, Illinois. He was the son of Samuel Konstantine and Emily Chioles. Samuel migrated to the United States in the early 1900's along with his brother John Konstantine Chioles. Their origins were from Levidi in Arkadia, few kilometers outside Tripolis. The Greek spelling of their surname was originally Tsioles. &Alphat least eight members of Chioles family migrated to the US, settling initially in Aurora, Illinois. Among them were the two brothers, who managed to establish a candy store (which they operated for some time until they moved to Chicago). Connie was born and grew up in Aurora. Before WWII, he worked at the railways. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corp on May 14, 1942. Before being sent overseas for duty, he served as an instructor in the advanced training of air cadets. During the final months of 1944, Lt. Chioles was finally sent to Europe and between October 2, 1944, and July 6, 1945, he was assigned to the 338th FS, 55th FG of the famous 8th AF in England. He flew numerous escort missions over Europe, flying the venerable P-51D Mustang and he claimed a damaged Me-262 during April 10, 1945. That day 55 Me-262 flew against a massive force consisting of 1315 bombers and 905 fighters belonging to the 8th AF. This day is known by the Americans as 'The Great Jet massacre'. JG7 and I.KG (J) 54 reported 21 lost jets versus 27 kills claimed by Luftwaffe. One day later he was engaged in a landing accident which was caused to combat fatigue, according to the accident report, following 5 hours and 30 minutes escort mission.

"I was flying Acorn White #3 on this combat mission. Returning from the mission we were instructed to land on runway 090 because of a slight landing accident on runway 150. The flight came in for normal peel up with me flying in #3 position, in an echelon to the left. The peal up and the pattern was normal with the Flight Leader landing on the left side of the runway and his #2 landing on the right side. As I leveled out for my landing on the left side I hit strong prop wash which throw the plane in a steep left bank. I opened the throttle to go around and used right rudder and full right aileron to pick up the left wing. I was unable to prevent the left wing tip from striking the runway. This contact causes the plane to hit on the prop and landing gear. The landing gear collapsed and the plane skidded to a stop on its belly. I cut the switched as soon as I could after stopping."

On April 16 he was promoted to Captain. After the end of the war, he remained for a short time in England and from July 6 to July 20 he was sent for service to the 83rd FS, 78th FG operating from Duxford. After July 20 he prepared to move back to the United States. He was relieved from active duty on December 16, 1945, and remained a Reserve pilot until his discharge on September 28, 1957. For his contribution to the final Allied victory, the Greek American pilot awarded with the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, as well as with the Distinguished Flying Cross:

&lsquoFor extraordinary achievements while serving as a pilot of a fighter type aircraft on combat missions against the enemy. Despite the intense anti-aircraft fire, Captain Chioles, by his piloting skill, tactical judgment, and marked aggressiveness, materially contributed to the success of the bomber escort and ground strafing missions to Nordlingen, Germany, 20 February 1945, and to Aschaffenburg, Germany 3 February 1945. The superior airmanship and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Chioles on these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Army Air Forces.'


338tH Fighter Squadron Pilot List

Last Name First Name and Initials Rank
Alba Michael Capt.
Anderson Lanoy D. Maj.
Anderson Newell 'Andy' 1/Lt.
Armstrong Malcolm G. 1/Lt.
Atckison Richard G. 1/Lt.
Baranick Arthur 'Art' 1/Lt.
Barnes William H. 1/Lt.
Barrett Richard I. 1/Lt.
Bauer John E. 2/Lt.
Beall Charles E. 1/Lt.
Berry Lawrence J. 2/Lt.
Biedul Chester A. 1/Lt.
Black Robert E. 2/Lt.
Blanchard Merle E. Capt.
Blount Delbert F. 1/Lt.
Bodiford Hugh Capt.
Bollwerk Val W. Maj.
Bone Howard J. 2/Lt.
Bradford Frank D. II Capt.
Brady James E. F/O
Brooks Philip Maj.
Brown Robert W 1/Lt.
Busching Richard W. Maj.
Burns William H. Capt.
Buskirk Clair E. Capt.
Carson Durwood D. 2/Lt.
Chambless Bill 2/Lt.
Chioles Constantin S. Capt.
Conners Arthur F. 2/Lt.
Cooper Roy E. 1/Lt.
Cottrell Kenneth D. 1/Lt.
Cramer Darrell S. Maj.
Dargan Archie S. Jr. 1/Lt.
Darling Richard E. 1/Lt.
Deloach Robert Capt.
Dempsey Peter Capt
Deatherage Glenn K. 2/Lt.
Ditlevson Dean W. 2/Lt.
Doolan John H. 2/Lt.
Duquette Eugene H. 1/Lt.
Earnest Wallace H. 2/Lt.
Eastman Phillips Jr. 1/Lt.
Eder Charles J. 2/Lt.
Egre Burdette V. 2/Lt.
Eiselt Frank W. 2/Lt.
Elson Norman 1/Lt.
Eskridge John R. 1/Lt.
Ethridge Jack R. 1/Lt.
Florentine William C. Jr. 2/Lt.
Foster Jack R. 2/Lt.
Freeman Ray W. 1/Lt.
Frescari Aldo F/O
Fruh Robert K. 1/Lt.
Funk George E. Jr. 1/Lt.
Garlock Karl H. Capt.
Garnett Joseph K. 1/Lt.
Gebhardt William P. 1/Lt.
George Ernest W. 1/Lt.
Gerald Stoddard B. 2/Lt.
Gerry James L. 1/Lt.
Gevorkian Sam D. Maj.
Gilmore Donald D. 1/Lt.
Glaser Kenneth M. 1/Lt.
Goetzman Lynn R. 1/Lt.
Goodman Orville E. Capt.
Gregg Eugene S. Jr. Capt.
Griffith Kenneth W. 1/Lt.
Hailey David R. Jr. 1/Lt.
Hansard Samuel E. 1/Lt.
Harbeck Robert K. 1/Lt.
Harbert William E. 1/Lt.
Haworth Russell C. 1/Lt.
Henry Carroll D. Capt.
Herbst Richard C. 1/Lt.
Holland Joseph M. 1/Lt.
Ingram William J. 1/Lt.
Jensen Robert N. 2/Lt.
John Leedom K. 1/Lt.
Jones Charles O. Maj.
Jonoski Theodore S. 'Ted' 1/Lt.
Keough Richard J. 1/Lt.
Kershaw Samuel E. 'Sam' 2/Lt.
Kester John E. 1/Lt.
Kiernan Thomas Jr. Capt.
Knudson Thomas K. 1/Lt.
Konantz Harold J. 2/Lt.
Konantz Walter J. 1/Lt.
Korinek George 1/Lt.
LaBella Victor 1/Lt.
Lanham Wayne J. 1/Lt.
Larsen Harry E. Capt.
Lashbrook Kenneth A. 1/Lt.
Leonard William J. 1/Lt.
Lyon Tunis J. 2/Lt.
Mandeville Harrison C. Jr. 'Harry' 1/Lt.
Marsiglia Joseph P. Capt.
McCutcheon James R. 2/Lt.
McDonald Jerry R. Capt.
McDowell Bert Jr. Capt.
McFarland Arthur H. 2/Lt.
McGill William F. Capt.
McGinn John L. LtCol.
McKee John E. 1/Lt.
McMillen William E. 2/Lt.
Meade Donald J. 1/Lt.
Mercurio Elmer L. 1/Lt.
Metcalf Harold B. 2/Lt.
Miller Roy D. Capt.
Oates Ettry J. Capt.
Odegard John L. Capt.
Parker Thomas A. Capt.
Patterson Chet A. Maj.
Peterson George W. 2/Lt.
Pierce Thomas E. F/O
Presari Aldo F/O
Pruitt John R. 1/Lt.
Ramm Albert J. Capt.
Reeves Paul R. 1/Lt.
Richardson Stanley P. Jr. Capt.
Righetti Elwyn G. LtCol.
Ryan Eugene E. Maj.
Saken Lawrence A. F/O
Schank Thomas D. 1/Lt.
Schneider Kenneth C. 1/Lt.
Schranz William 2/Lt.
Schonenberg Herman J. 1/Lt.
Shank William W. 2/Lt.
Sharp Francis R. 1/Lt.
Sheppard Lawrence B. F/O
Sims Hal B. Capt.
Skoglund Bruce C. F/O
Snow Ted R. F/O
Stephens Gene C. 2/Lt.
Stephens John E. 2/Lt.
Suiter Fleming W. 2/Lt.
Sullivan Jeremiah J. III 1/Lt.
Tally Vernon B. 1/Lt.
Thacker Robert K. 1/Lt.
Thomas John W. 2/Lt.
Tibbetts Wesley M. Capt.
Tinto Anthony J. Capt.
Turner Lloyd P. 1/Lt.
Turner William G. 1/Lt.
Van Horn Robert L. 2/Lt.
Wakeland John M. 1/Lt.
Walser Ray F. 1/Lt.
Walter Horace K. 2/Lt.
Watkins William R. 2/Lt.
West Frederick W. 2/Lt.
Wheeler Edwin C. 2/Lt.
White John C. 1/Lt.
White Thomas A. Maj.
Wiens Maynard J. Capt.
Wikholm Bradford R. 2/Lt.
Wiley James H. Jr. 1/Lt.
Wirth Fred C. Jr. 1/Lt.
Wright Albert E. Jr. Capt.

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55th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History


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55th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History

55th Fighter Group History at Nuthampstead
by Frank Birtciel

(On arriving at Nuthampstead, Frank was a brand new 2nd Lt. having just graduated from flying school and bomb and gunnery school. Frank had about 40 flying hours in the P-38 and just turned 20 years old. He flew a tour in the P-38 and another tour in the P-51 completing 121 missions, finishing April 17, 1945.)

'The 55th Fighter Group arrived at Gurock, Scotland aboard the good ship Orion September 15, 1943 and travelled by train to Nuthampstead arriving there at 10:30 the next morning. The Group was Commanded by Col. Frank B. James and his Executive Officer was LtCol. Jack S. Jenkins.

The base was built in and around Nuthampstead taking up former farm land and we were the first to be based there. The construction had been recently completed and with the rains, mud was in abundance so we promptly named it Mudhampstead. The airfield was designed in the typical bomber base design with three runways and a perimeter track all the way around with aircraft parking stubs along the perimeter track. Office and housing buildings were of the Nissen design, half circular corrugated steel heated by small pot bellied stoves. The Control Tower was typical two story construction. The base sat at 460 feet elevation and was close enough to London to observe some of the bombing raids on that city as well as the antiaircraft shells exploding.

The Group mission was to provide long range escort for the bombers of the 8th Air Force using the P-38 with two 165 gallon auxiliary fuel tanks. Our first aircraft a P-38H model arrived September 21, 1943 to the delight of our pilots. It would be some time before we had our full complement of aircraft.

October 14, 1943 was the second raid to Regensburg and Schweinfurt with the loss of 60 heavy bombers of the 8th AF leaving no doubt that escort was essential to cut losses. The following day, October 15, 1943, the 55th Fighter Group became operational even though all of our aircraft had not arrived. The 20th Fighter Group also assigned the P-38 and located at King's Cliffe had a few aircraft and joined us for several raids into France and the Low Countries.

The winter of 1943 / 1944 was some of the worst weather in over 50 years and the P-38 developed problems with turbo superchargers, engine oiling, and cockpit heating that had not occurred in the Pacific or the Mediterranean where they were flown at much lower altitudes. These problem caused numerous aborted flights and left our pilots freezing and out numbered in combat. With these problems the Group destroyed some 50enemy aircraft, probably destroyed 17, and damaged 31 others. We had 30 pilots killed in action, 17 prisoners of war, 2 killed in accidents, 2 ditched in the channel and were recovered, and 3 who were shot down but evaded capture.

The P-38 escorted deeper and deeper into Germany as the war progressed and added strafing, dive bombing, and medium altitude level bombing in April 1944 on transportation. airfield, and communication targets. The 55th pioneered the use of the "Droop Snoot". A P-38 with the guns removed and a bombing nose with a Norden Bomb Sight and provision for a bombardier. Loaded with bombs and flying formation on the Snoot we all dropped our bombs at the same time and then strafed.

March 3, 1944 the P-38s failed to get the recall message and flew on to Berlin and became the first allied fighter over that city.

April 16 and 17, 1944 the 55th Fighter Group was moved to Wormingford.'

55th Fighter Group Statistical History

The 55th Fighter Group started life as the 55th Pursuit Group but was renamed as the 55th Fighter Group in May 1942, as the USAAF began to update the names of its units.

By August 1943 ,the personnel had finished with their stateside training and began the preparations for the transAtlantic deployment to England. Three operational squadrons made the move to England: the 38th, 338th, and the 343rd.

On 4 September, the group embarked on the HMS Orion. This ship could normally carry 1,500 persons across the ocean. For this trip, 300 officers and 3,200 enlisted men made the voyage. The Group arrived in England and were posted to Nuthampstead.

The 55th was assigned to the Eighth Air Force's 66th Fighter Wing and received its P-38 fighters on 21 September 1943. Although it was the second P-38 group to arrive in England (the 20th Fighter Group arrived first), the 55th was the first to go operational when, on 15 October, the 55th flew a fighter sweep over Holland.

Shortly after midnight on 19th February 1944, Station 131 was attacked by bombers of the Luftwaffe. The air base was a target of opportunity. One 25 kg. bomb, (550 pounds), exploded on a corner of the field, leaving a large crater. Several small incendiary bombs were dropped too, all without casualties or damage.

In early 1944, the Allies had established long-range fighter escort capability. The 55th Group provided protection for the heavy bombers during the famous maximum effort, known as "Big Week" 20-25 February 1944.

Soon thereafter, on 3 March 1944 the Eighth Air Force planners scheduled a large-scale daylight raid on Berlin. Unfortunately, the weather was very poor and most of the planes were recalled. The 55th Fighter Group did not receive a recall order and arrived over Berlin to rendezvous with the bombers which did not materialize. Lieutenant Colonel Jack S. Jerkins was leading the 55th that day and the Group made history by becoming the first American fighter unit to penetrate the Berlin skies during the war.

The 55th introduced a new form of P-38 on 10 April 1944. A specially modified Lightning, with a plexiglass nose and room for a bombardier in lieu of the fighter's normal nose armament, became known as the "droop snoot". The target for this first mission was to be the airfield 'at St. Dizier, France but, as the planes approached, it became obvious that the airfield was obscured by a ground haze, Again leading the Group on a historic mission, Colonel Jenkins opted for a secondary target at Coulomiers. After the bombs were released, Colonel Jenkins led the fighters "down on the deck" to strafe the field. On his second pass, Jenkin's P-38 was hit several times by enemy gunners forcing him to crash land and be taken prisoner.

Six days later (16 April 1944), the remainder of the Group moved to Wormingford, near Colchester, in Essex, England.


55th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History

Gunfighter is one of the world’s most famous P-51s, having appeared on the airshow circuit and providing rides for over 35 years. The aircraft is a P-51 "D" model, serial number 44-73264. Of the approximately 15,000 P-51s produced in WWII, over 8,000 were “D” models. Today, only about 150 airworthy examples of Mustangs exist world-wide in museums, flying or under restoration.

Gunfighter was built in the Inglewood, California North American plant and accepted into the USAAF in March, 1945. That month, it was shipped to England, where it was assigned to the famous 'Mighty Eighth' Air Force. In July of 1945, after the War ended in Europe, it was returned to the U.S. and assigned to Olmstead Field in Pennsylvania. In 1947 it was transferred to the Air National Guard and it thereafter served with units in Wyoming, New Mexico, Illinois and Kentucky. In 1956 it was declared surplus and sold on the civilian market.

Today, Gunfighter is operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The CAF is the largest operator of Historic Aircraft in the world with 160 aircraft and over 9,000 members. Gunfighter is restored in the colors of the 343rd Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, USAAF. The 55th Fighter Group was the first American Air Corp unit to become operational in Europe, first to fly over Berlin and was one of the units that provided top cover over the Invasion Beaches at Normandy on "D-Day", June 6th, 1944.

Gunfighter is powered by a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It is rated at 1,490 HP and has a displacement of 1650 cubic inches. Top speed is over 400 mph and ceiling is 41,000 feet. Gunfighter has been modified to include a second seat where the original radio gear and fuselage fuel tank were located. This is a perfect vantage point to enjoy the ride of a lifetime in a P-51!

Without the generous support of our members and the public at large, Gunfighter would not be able to fly. If you would like information about becoming a member or want to make a donation please contact us!

Specifications: P-51D
Engine: One 1,490hp Merlin
Weight: Empty 7,125 lbs.,


55 th Fighter Group

Location. 39° 0.979′ N, 104° 51.31′ W. Marker is in United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, in El Paso County. Marker is in the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery, on Parade Loop west of Stadium Boulevard, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: USAF Academy CO 80840, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 379 th Bomb Group (H) (here, next to this marker) World War II Glider Pilots (here, next to this marker) 306 th Bombardment Group (H) (here, next to this marker) 95 th Bomb Group H (here, next to this marker) 492nd Bomb Group (H) & 801st Bomb Group (P)

(here, next to this marker) 416th Bombardment Group (L) (here, next to this marker) 20th Fighter Group (here, next to this marker) 344 th Bomb Group (M) AAF (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in United States Air Force Academy.

More about this marker. Must have a valid ID to enter the USAF Academy grounds.

Also see . . .
1. 55th Fighter Group. Army Air Corps Library and Museum entry (Submitted on February 26, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)

2. 55th Fighter Group (USAAF). History of War entry (Submitted on February 26, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)

3. 5 September 1944: Lt William H. Allen, 343rd FS, 55th FG. This Day in Avaition entry (Submitted on February 26, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)


55th Fighter Group (USAAF) - History

38 Fighter Squadron
(114 vict)

Nom Grade Unité Date Ennemi Avion d'arme TOP Nbr Vict
AMOSS DUDLEY M 1st Lt 38FTR 03-21-1945 - - European 3
AMOSS DUDLEY M 2nd Lt 38FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 1.5
AMOSS DUDLEY M 2nd Lt 38FTR 02-15-1945 - - European 1
ANDERSON MILLIARD O 1st Lt 38FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
ANDERSON MILLIARD O 1st Lt 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 1
AYERS JERRY H Captain 38FTR 11-29-1943 - - European 1
BEAIRD THOMAS E JR Captain 38FTR 02-05-1944 - - European 1
BREATHWIT CARL E 1st Lt 38FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
BROWN GERALD 1st Lt 38FTR 01-31-1944 - - European 1
BROWN GERALD 1st Lt 38FTR 03-18-1944 - - European 1
BROWN GERALD Captain 38FTR 04-08-1944 - - European 1
BROWN GERALD Captain 38FTR 04-15-1944 - - European 2
CALLAGHAN ROBERT E 2nd Lt 38FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
CASTLE DORMAN L 1st Lt 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
CAVANAUGH DENNIS A 2nd Lt 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 0.5
CLARK MCCAULEY Captain 38FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
CLARK MCCAULEY Captain 38FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 0.5
CLARK MCCAULEY Captain 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
CLARK MCCAULEY Captain 38FTR 12-05-1944 - - European 1
CLARK MCCAULEY Captain 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 1
CLEMMONS BILLY 1st Lt 38FTR 01-15-1945 - - European 0.5
CLEMMONS BILLY 1st Lt 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 1
CLEMMONS BILLY 2nd Lt 38FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
CLEMMONS BILLY 2nd Lt 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
COONAN JOHN F 1st Lt 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
COONAN JOHN F Captain 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
COONAN JOHN F Captain 38FTR 01-03-1945 - - European 1
COONS MERLE M 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 2
COONS MERLE M 1st Lt 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
COONS MERLE M Captain 38FTR 12-05-1944 - - European 2
COURTNEY DAVID H 1st Lt 38FTR 01-03-1945 - - European 0.5
COURTNEY DAVID H 1st Lt 38FTR 01-15-1945 - - European 0.5
COURTNEY DAVID H 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
CRAWFORD KENNETH I 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
CUMMINGS DONALD M Captain 38FTR 01-14-1945 - - European 1
CUMMINGS DONALD M Captain 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 2
CUMMINGS DONALD M Captain 38FTR 03-24-1945 - - European 0.5
CUMMINGS DONALD M Captain 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 2
CUNNICK JOHN W III 1st Lt 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 1
CUNNICK JOHN W III 2nd Lt 38FTR 03-22-1945 - - European 1
DES VOIGNES CLAIR W 1st Lt 38FTR 05-22-1944 - - European 1
DES VOIGNES CLAIR W 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-05-1943 - - European 0.5
FORSBLAD RICHARD W Captain 38FTR 07-21-1944 - - European 1
FRYER EARL R 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 3
FRYER EARL R Captain 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
GOULD CLIFFORD C 1st Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
HANCOCK JAMES H Captain 38FTR 01-05-1944 - - European 1
HANCOCK JAMES H Major 38FTR 05-22-1944 - - European 1
HOKINSON LEROY V JR 2nd Lt 38FTR 01-31-1944 - - European 2
HOLDERMAN EUGENE M 1st Lt 38FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 2
HOLDERMAN EUGENE M Captain 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
HOLLEMAN TUNIS H 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
HOLLEMAN TUNIS H 1st Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
JACKSON DONALD G 1st Lt 38FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
JEWELL DAVID F JR 1st Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
JEWELL DAVID F JR 1st Lt 38FTR 12-05-1944 - - European 1
JOEL MILTON Major 38FTR 11-03-1943 - - European 0.5
JOEL MILTON Major 38FTR 11-05-1943 - - European 1
JOEL MILTON Major 38FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
JONES ROBERT 2nd Lt 38FTR 01-03-1945 - - European 1
KAVANAUGH JOHN W 1st Lt 38FTR 12-05-1944 - - European 1
KAVANAUGH JOHN W 1st Lt 38FTR 01-03-1945 - - European 1.5
KELLEY WENDELL J Lt Colonel 38FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
KREFT WILLARD L 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-03-1943 - - European 0.5
LANDERS JOHN D Major 38FTR 06-25-1944 - - European 1
LANDERS JOHN D Major 38FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 3
LAPHAM RICHARD L 2nd Lt 38FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
LARSON NORMAN L 1st Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
LAWRENCE EDWIN B 2nd Lt 38FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 1
LEINWEBER GERALD F 1st Lt 38FTR 11-05-1943 - - European 1
MALONEY ROBERT F 1st Lt 38FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 0.5
MALONEY ROBERT F 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
MALONEY ROBERT F 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-25-1943 - - European 1
MATNEY FRANCIS M 1st Lt 38FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
MATNEY FRANCIS M 1st Lt 38FTR 12-05-1944 - - European 1
MATNEY FRANCIS M 2nd Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 2
MCGINNIS KEITH R 1st Lt 38FTR 02-19-1945 - - European 1
MCGINNIS KEITH R 1st Lt 38FTR 04-10-1945 - - European 1
MENEGAY DONALD T 1st Lt 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 0.5
MENEGAY DONALD T 2nd Lt 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 1
MOOERS HAROLD B 1st Lt 38FTR 03-24-1945 - - European 0.5
MOOERS ROGER B 1st Lt 38FTR 04-07-1945 - - European 1
MYERS JOSEPH Captain 38FTR 11-05-1943 - - European 1
MYERS JOSEPH Captain 38FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
MYERS JOSEPH Captain 38FTR 12-31-1943 - - European 1
O'NEIL JOHN F 2nd Lt 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 1
PENN DONALD E 1st Lt 38FTR 05-21-1944 - - European 1
PENN DONALD E Captain 38FTR 02-25-1945 - - European 1
REILLY WILLIAM J 2nd Lt 38FTR 06-25-1944 - - European 1
REILLY WILLIAM J 2nd Lt 38FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
RHODES HOWARD W 2nd Lt 38FTR 06-25-1944 - - European 1
SHERMAN CLIFFORD C 1st Lt 38FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
SHERMAN CLIFFORD C 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
SHERMAN CLIFFORD C 1st Lt 38FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 1.5
SHERMAN CLIFFORD C 1st Lt 38FTR 10-07-1944 - - European 1
SHIPMAN MARK K Captain 38FTR 11-05-1943 - - European 1.5
SILK JOHN W 1st Lt 38FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 1
SNELL DONALD H 1st Lt 38FTR 06-14-1944 - - European 1
SPIECKER LESTER F 1st Lt 38FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 0.5
SPIECKER LESTER F Captain 38FTR 03-24-1945 - - European 1
STAGGS WILLIAM B 1st Lt 38FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 0.5
STEINER DELORN L 1st Lt 38FTR 01-05-1944 - - European 1
STEINER DELORN L 2nd Lt 38FTR 11-25-1943 - - European 1
THORSEN ARTHUR L 1st Lt 38FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
TIBOR ROBERT P 1st Lt 38FTR 06-25-1944 - - European 1
TIPTON NOAH R 1st Lt 38FTR 05-12-1944 - - European 1
WATTS CECIL R 1st Lt 38FTR 06-14-1944 - - European 1

338 Fighter Squadron
(109 vict)

Nom Grade Unité Date Ennemi Avion d'arme TOP Nbr Vict
ALBA MICHAEL 1st Lt 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
ALBA MICHAEL 1st Lt 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
ANDERSON LANOY D Captain 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 2
ANDERSON LANOY D Captain 338FTR 08-10-1944 - - European 1
BARRETT RICHARD I 2nd Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
BEALL CHARLES E 1st Lt 338FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
BERRY LAWRENCE J 2nd Lt 338FTR 06-14-1944 - - European 1
BIEDUL CHESTER A 1st Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
BLANCHARD MERLE E 1st Lt 338FTR 05-22-1944 - - European 1
BLANCHARD MERLE E 2nd Lt 338FTR 01-31-1944 - - European 1
BLOUNT DELBERT F 1st Lt 338FTR 07-21-1944 - - European 2
BODIFORD HUGH 1st Lt 338FTR 04-10-1945 - - European 1
BODIFORD HUGH 1st Lt 338FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
BOLLWERK VAL W Captain 338FTR 02-10-1944 - - European 1
BOLLWERK VAL W Major 338FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
BRADFORD FRANK D 1st Lt 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
BURNS WILLIAM H Captain 338FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 0.5
BUSKIRK CLAIR E Flight Officer 338FTR 01-05-1944 - - European 1
COOPER ROY E 1st Lt 338FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
CRAMER DARRELL S 1st Lt 338FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
CRAMER DARRELL S 1st Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1.5
CRAMER DARRELL S 1st Lt 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1.5
CRAMER DARRELL S 1st Lt 338FTR 10-07-1944 - - European 1
CRAMER DARRELL S Captain 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
CRAMER DARRELL S Major 338FTR 01-29-1945 - - European 1
DARGAN ARCHIE S JR 1st Lt 338FTR 03-18-1945 - - European 2
DELOACH ROBERT 1st Lt 338FTR 04-19-1945 - - European 1
DEMPSEY PETER 2nd Lt 338FTR 01-05-1944 - - European 1
DUQUETTE EUGENE H 2nd Lt 338FTR 02-15-1945 - - European 0.5
EARNEST WALLACE H 2nd Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
ESKRIDGE JOHN R 1st Lt 338FTR 08-10-1944 - - European 1
FRUH ROBERT K 1st Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
FRUH ROBERT K 2nd Lt 338FTR 02-10-1944 - - European 1
FRUH ROBERT K 2nd Lt 338FTR 03-18-1944 - - European 1
FUNK GEORGE E JR 2nd Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 0.5
GARNETT JOSEPH K 1st Lt 338FTR 07-06-1944 - - European 1
GARNETT JOSEPH K 1st Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
GARNETT JOSEPH K 2nd Lt 338FTR 05-20-1944 - - European 1
GEBHARDT WILLIAM P 1st Lt 338FTR 09-19-1944 - - European 1
GERRY JAMES L 1st Lt 338FTR 09-19-1944 - - European 1
GERRY JAMES L 2nd Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
GEVORKIAN SAM D 1st Lt 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
GEVORKIAN SAM D 1st Lt 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
GLASER KENNETH M 1st Lt 338FTR 07-06-1944 - - European 1
GOODMAN ORVILLE E Captain 338FTR 07-06-1944 - - European 1
GOODMAN ORVILLE E Captain 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 0.5
GREGG EUGENE S Captain 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 0.5
HAILEY DAVID R 1st Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 2
HANSARD SAMUEL E 1st Lt 338FTR 08-10-1944 - - European 1
HAWORTH RUSSELL C 1st Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 2
HAWORTH RUSSELL C 1st Lt 338FTR 09-12-1944 - - European 0.5
HAWORTH RUSSELL CC 1st Lt 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
HAWORTH RUSSELL C 1st Lt 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
HAWORTH RUSSELL C 2nd Lt 338FTR 08-28-1944 - - European 0.5
HENRY CARROLL D 1st Lt 338FTR 01-13-1945 - - European 1
HENRY CARROLL D 1st Lt 338FTR 02-15-1945 - - European 0.5
HENRY CARROLL D 1st Lt 338FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
INGRAM WILLIAM J 1st Lt 338FTR 08-10-1944 - - European 1
INGRAM WILLIAM J 1st Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 2.5
JONES CHARLES O Major 338FTR 01-05-1944 - - European 1
KESTER JOHN E 2nd Lt 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
KIERNAN THOMAS JR 1st Lt 338FTR 01-29-1945 - - European 1
KIERNAN THOMAS JR 1st Lt 338FTR 03-18-1945 - - European 1
KIERNAN THOMAS JR 1st Lt 338FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
KONANTZ WALTER J 1st Lt 338FTR 01-13-1945 - - European 1
KONANTZ WALTER J 1st Lt 338FTR 01-29-1945 - - European 1
KONANTZ WALTER J 2nd Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
KORINEK GEORGE 2nd Lt 338FTR 03-18-1944 - - European 1
LANHAM WAYNE J 1st Lt 338FTR 08-28-1944 - - European 1
LARSEN HARRY E 1st Lt 338FTR 01-29-1944 - - European 1
LARSEN HARRY E 1st Lt 338FTR 05-20-1944 - - European 1
LASHBROOK KENNETH A 1st Lt 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
LASHBROOK KENNETH A 1st Lt 338FTR 02-20-1945 - - European 1
LASHBROOK KENNETH A 1st Lt 338FTR 04-10-1945 - - European 1
LEONARD WILLIAM J 2nd Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
MCDONALD JERRY R 1st Lt 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
MCGINN JOHN L Lt Colonel 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
MCGINN JOHN L Major 338FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
MCKEE JOHN E 2nd Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 1
MILLER ROY D 1st Lt 338FTR 01-29-1945 - - European 1
MILLER ROY D 2nd Lt 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
PARKER THOMAS A 1st Lt 338FTR 07-07-1944 - - European 2
PATTERSON CHET A Captain 338FTR 11-25-1943 - - European 1
PATTERSON CHET A Captain 338FTR 11-29-1943 - - European 1
PATTERSON CHET A Captain 338FTR 01-31-1944 - - European 2
RAMM ALBERT J 2nd Lt 338FTR 08-28-1944 - - European 0.5
RICHARDSON STANLEY P 1st Lt 338FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
RIGHETTI ELWYN G Lt Colonel 338FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
RIGHETTI ELWYN G Lt Colonel 338FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 3
RIGHETTI ELWYN G Lt Colonel 338FTR 01-13-1945 - - European 1
RYAN EUGENE E Major 338FTR 04-16-1945 - - European 1
SCHANK THOMAS D 1st Lt 338FTR 07-25-1944 - - European 2
SCHANK THOMAS D 1st Lt 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
SCHANK THOMAS D 1st Lt 338FTR 09-19-1944 - - European 1
SCHANK THOMAS D 2nd Lt 338FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
SCHONENBERG HERMAN J 1st Lt 338FTR 03-18-1945 - - European 1
SCHONENBERG HERMAN J 2nd Lt 338FTR 09-03-1944 - - European 1
TINTO ANTHONY J 1st Lt 338FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
TINTO ANTHONY J 2nd Lt 338FTR 02-24-1944 - - European 1
WAKELAND JOHN M 1st Lt 338FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 2
WAKELAND JOHN M 1st Lt 338FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1

343 Fighter Squadron
(77.5 vict)

Nom Grade Unité Date Ennemi Avion d'arme TOP Nbr Vict
ALLEN WILLIAM H 1st Lt 343FTR 09-05-1944 - - European 5
BARTLETT RICHARD D 1st Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
BAUER HAROLD M 2nd Lt 343FTR 12-31-1943 - - European 1
BEBAEFF NICK P 1st Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
BISHOP RICHARD D 1st Lt 343FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1
BORING LLOYD D 1st Lt 343FTR 02-27-1945 - - European 0.5
BROWN ROBERT D ** Captain 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
BUTTKE ROBERT L 2nd Lt 343FTR 11-03-1943 - - European 2
BUTTKE ROBERT L Captain 343FTR 02-10-1944 - - European 2
BUTTKE ROBERT L Captain 343FTR 04-22-1944 - - European 1
BUTTKE ROBERT L Captain 343FTR 02-27-1945 - - European 0.5
COLE GENE H 1st Lt 343FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
DVORAK EDWARD J 1st Lt 343FTR 09-10-1944 - - European 0.5
ELIADES JORDAN 2nd Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
ERB RUSSELL W JR 1st Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
ERBY PHILLIP A 2nd Lt 343FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
FAIR GENE R 1st Lt 343FTR 04-22-1944 - - European 1
GIBBS RICHARD G 1st Lt 343FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 2
GIBBS RICHARD G 2nd Lt 343FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 2
GILLER EDWARD B Captain 343FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
GILLER EDWARD B Captain 343FTR 02-25-1944 - - European 1
GILLER EDWARD B Major 343FTR 04-09-1945 - - European 1
HINER JAMES W 2nd Lt 343FTR 12-13-1943 - - European 1
HJELM REX P 2nd Lt 343FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 2
HOEPER PAUL E Captain 343FTR 02-10-1944 - - European 1
HOFFMAN TED E 2nd Lt 343FTR 09-05-1944 - - European 4
HOWES BERNARD H 1st Lt 343FTR 12-25-1944 - - European 2
HOWES BERNARD H 1st Lt 343FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 3
HOWES BERNARD H 1st Lt 343FTR 02-19-1945 - - European 1
JENKINS JACK S Lt Colonel 343FTR 11-03-1943 - - European 1
JENKINS JACK S Lt Colonel 343FTR 11-25-1943 - - European 1
LESLIE GUS D 2nd Lt 343FTR 09-10-1944 - - European 0.5
LEWIS WILLIAM H 1st Lt 343FTR 09-05-1944 - - European 5
LEWIS WILLIAM H 1st Lt 343FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
LEWIS WILLIAM H Captain 343FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 1
LILES BROOKS J 1st Lt 343FTR 01-14-1945 - - European 1
MALMSTEDT ROLAND M Captain 343FTR 11-26-1943 - - European 1
MAXWELL ROBERT A 1st Lt 343FTR 12-25-1944 - - European 1
MCVAY JAMES C 1st Lt 343FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
MERCIER DONALD L 1st Lt 343FTR 08-28-1944 - - European 1
MERCIER DONALD L 1st Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 0.5
MOORE PATRICK L 1st Lt 343FTR 03-30-1945 - - European 1
MOORE PATRICK L 2nd Lt 343FTR 02-03-1945 - - European 1
MORRIS GRADY 2nd Lt 343FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
PARKER DOUGLAS A Captain 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
PEREZ WILLIAM R JR 1st Lt 343FTR 09-05-1944 - - European 1
PORTER CLAIR D 1st Lt 343FTR 04-24-1944 - - European 1
PORTER CLAIR D 1st Lt 343FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
RYAN EUGENE E Captain 343FTR 11-13-1943 - - European 1
RYAN EUGENE E Captain 343FTR 04-22-1944 - - European 1
SEELY RALPH S 1st Lt 343FTR 06-11-1944 - - European 1
STRAUCH WALTER Captain 343FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
WATT JAMES R Lt Colonel 343FTR 05-23-1943 - - Alaska 1
WEBB DALLAS W Major 343FTR 11-26-1943 - - European 1
WEBB DALLAS W Major 343FTR 01-31-1944 - - European 1
WELCH ROBERT E 1st Lt 343FTR 11-02-1944 - - European 1
WELCH ROBERT E 1st Lt 343FTR 12-24-1944 - - European 1
WELCH ROBERT E 1st Lt 343FTR 12-25-1944 - - European 2
WELCH ROBERT E 2nd Lt 343FTR 09-13-1944 - - European 1
WELCH ROBERT E Captain 343FTR 04-17-1945 - - European 1
YEE LITT ROBERT H 1st Lt 343FTR 09-11-1944 - - European 1

At first, the Group's pilots trained with the Republic P-43 Lancer. This was a single-engine pursuit aircraft and the forerunner of the famous P47 Thunderbolt fighter. In May '1941, the Group moved to Portland, Oregon. As the training progressed, elements of the 55th were assigned to Paine and McChord Fields in the state of Washington. It was there that the fliers and ground support people began training with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters which would have such an impact on the air war in Europe later.

In February 1942, the Group's 54th Pursuit Squadron was transferred to the newly formed Eleventh Air Force in Alaska to defend the Aleutian Island-chain against a Japanese attack.

The 55th Pursuit Group was redesignated as the 55th Fighter Group in May 1942, as the Army began to update the names of its units. Also, during the Spring of 1942, the Group lost possession of the 37th Pursuit Squadron as it was absorbed by other units being formed in preparation for Operation Torch: the invasion of North Africa. The 338th Fighter Squadron was activated on 12 September. The Group spent the remainder of 1942 training with its P-ads. As 1943 began, the Group added yet another Squadron when the 343rd Fighter Squadron was activated in February. By August, the personnel had finished with their stateside training and began the preparations for the transatlantic deployment to England to become the foundation for the massive air armada growing there. The 55th Interceptor Control Squadron' was no longer part of the 55th Fighter Group by this time so only three operational squadrons made the move to England: the 38th, 338th, and the 343rd.

On 4 September, the group embarked on the HMS Orion. This transport could normally carry 1,500 persons across the ocean. For this trip, 300 officers and 3,200 enlisted men made the voyage. The Group was stationed at Nuthampstead, near Cambridge.

The 55th was assigned to the Eighth Air Force's 66th Fighter Wing and received its P-38 fighters on 21 September 1943. Although it was the second P-38 group to arrive in England (the 20th Fighter Group arrived first), the 55th was the first to go operational when, on 15 October, the 55th flew an orientational fighter sweep over Holland.

The primary mission of the 55th Fighter Group was to escort the bombers of the Eighth Air Force on their daylight air attacks against Hitler's "Festung Europa"

The targets included industries and railroad marshalling yards throughout Europe and V-weapons sites in France. As 1944 began, the Allies had established long-range fighter escort capability. The 55th Group provided protection for the heavy bombers during the famous maximum effort, known as "Big Week" 20-25 February 1944.

Soon thereafter, on 3 March 1944 the Eighth Air Force planners scheduled a large-scale daylight raid on Berlin. Unfortunately, the weather was very poor and most of the planes were recalled. The 55th Fighter Group did not receive a recall order and arrived over Berlin to rendezvous with the bombers which did not. materialize. Lieutenant Colonel Jack S. Jerkins was leading the 55th that day and the Group made history by becoming the first American fighter unit to penetrate the Berlin skies during the war.

The 55th introduced a new form of P-38 on 10 April 1944. A specially modified Lightning, with a Plexiglas nose and room for a bombardier in lieu of the fighter's normal nose armament, became known as the "droop snoot". The target for this first mission was to be the airfield 'at St. Dizier, France but, as the planes approached, it became obvious that the airfield was obscured by a ground haze, Again leading the Group on a historic mission, Colonel Jenkins opted for a secondary target at Coulomiers. After the bombs were released, Colonel Jenkins led the fighters "down on the deck" to strafe the field. On his second pass, Jenkin's P-38 was hit several times by enemy gunners forcing him to crash land and be taken prisoner.

Six days later, the remainder of the Group moved to Wormingford, near Colchester, in Essex, England. On 5-11 June, the 55th Fighter Group patrolled over the English Channel and bombed bridges in the Tours area during the D-Day Invasion which began on 6 June. The patrols over shipping lanes between England and France were flown from dawn to dusk and led to the first night patrols for the Group. Pilots flew three missions daily, a total of 10.5 hours per day. Three P-38s were forced to land on the emergency strip at the Normandy beachhead on 11 June. On 21 July 1944, the 55th flew its last mission in the P-38 Lightning and began transition into the newer P-51 Mustang fighter. The Group then supported bombers striking gun emplacements during the breakout from Normandy to St. Lo, beginning 25 July. On 6 July, the 343rd Squadron took part in a shuttle mission which began in England and stopped in Russia after escorting bombers which attacked Gdynia, Poland. The flight was 1,492 miles and constituted the squadron's longest escort mission o£ the war. From 16 August until about 10 September, two 343rd pilots flew P-51s to escort a B-17 bomber carrying high British and American government officials to Naples, Italy and other Mediterranean points.

During eight missions from 3-13 September 1944, the 55th Fighter Group compiled "one of the most outstanding records of enemy aircraft destroyed and damaged" in the history of war combat over Europe. In addition to protecting bomber formations over enemy territory, the group destroyed 106 and damaged 51 enemy airplanes in the air and on the ground. For that activity, the Group was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.

From 17-23 September, the Group provided fighter patrols and area. support in, the Arnhem sector for troop carrier aircraft dropping troops and supplies during the airborne invasion of Holland. In November, a "Clobber College" was established by the 55th Group and supported b y the squadrons to provide combat training to many.-new pilots fresh out of U, S. flying schools.

During the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes, the Group seized every opportunity to fully support ground forces on the fighting front. Improving weather late in the month enabled the P-51s to concentrate on vital targets. Fighter sweeps and dive bombing near the front lines on 18, 23 and 26 December netted destruction or damage of enemy planes and a multitude of ground targets. Escort support for bombers continued. In January 1945, the Group concentrated on road and railroad networks, motor transport and communication targets as Germans were pushed back. in the "bulge" area. February was a highly successful month for the squadrons of the 55th. In air and ground attacks, bombing and strafing, the group destroyed and damaged a large number of trains locomotives, rail cars, road targets, vehicles, buildings and aircraft. The Group was awarded its second Distinguished Unit Citation for its activities on 19 February 1945. On 3 march, two planes were lost on an escort mission when one pilot attempted to assist another, The 343rd reports: "Lt Liles hit by flak while strafing an airdrome near Prague, Czechoslovakia, bellying-in about four miles south of the field. Lt Howes landed and attempted to pick him up but was unable to take off, cracked up destroying his aircraft. Both pilots were seen running away from the plane". In March, the Group strafed trucks, locomotives and oil depots near Wesel when the Allies were crossing the Rhine. The 55th flew its last combat mission of the war on 21 April 1945. On 21 July, the unit moved to Kaufbeuren, Germany, and was, reassigned from the Eighth Air Force to the Ninth Air Force. On 15-16 September, the 38th Fighter Squadron made a goodwill flight to Copenhagen, Denmark.

During July 1946, the Group was one of the units to receive the first U.S. operational jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. However, the Group continued to fly P-51s and according to. one source, A-26s. On 29 April, the unit moved to Giebelstadt, Germany, and on 20 August 1946, the unit was inactivated, the resources being transferred to another unit.

The 55th Fighter Group completed its combat tour of duty with a distinguished record in seven campaigns. The Group flew over 600 combat missions, claiming more that 400 enemy aircraft destroyed and over 100 damaged. The 55th had 16 aces credited with 90 victories. The two highest scorers were COL (then Capt) William H Lewis and BG (then Capt) Darrell S Cramer, each credited with victories. COL (then Capt) Donald M Cummings made 6.5 "kills" - two of which were the first jets to see combat - the ME-262.

Nuthampstead, England (Sept '43 - April '44)
Wormingford, England (April '44 - end WWII)

American Theatre
Air Offensive, Europe
Normandy
Northern France
Rhineland
Ardennes-Alsace
Central Europe

Distinguished Unit Citation: ETO, 3 - 13th Sept '44
Distinguished Unit Citation: Germany, 19 Feb '45


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