345th Bombardment Wing

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345th Bombardment Group (M)
345thbombwing.jpg
Active 1942–1945, 1957–1959
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Bombardment
Role Bombing and strafing of airfields, installations, and shipping; ground forces support; and reconnaissance missions.
Part of Fifth Air Force (World War II)
Tactical Air Command (USAF)
Nickname Air Apaches

The 345th Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the Tactical Air Command 836th Air Division, being stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. It was inactivated on 25 June 1959.

The unit's World War II predecessor unit,[citation needed] the 345th Bombardment Group, operated primarily in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber unit assigned to Fifth Air Force. It was awarded both the United States Distinguished Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its combat service in New Guinea; the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte; Luzon; the Southern Philippines and China.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Activated on 11 November 1942, at Columbia Army Air Base, South Carolina, by Third Air Force order #275. Four squadrons designated 498, 499, 500, 501 were assigned to it. The 345th started with 40 officers and 350 enlisted men, commanded by then Col. Jarred V. Crabb. Full strength, the 345th would contain 250 officers and 1250 enlisted men. At Columbia and other training bases, the group trained for overseas duty with B-25 Mitchell medium bombers.

Moved to New Guinea, via Australia, April–June 1943, and assigned to Fifth Air Force. Entered combat on 30 June 1943. Operations until July 1944 included bombing and strafing Japanese airfields and installations in New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago; attacking shipping in the McCluer Gulf, Ceram Sea, and Bismarck Sea; supporting ground forces in the Admiralties; dropping supplies to ground troops; and flying courier and reconnaissance missions in the area. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of attacks against flak positions, shore installations, and barracks at Rabaul, New Britain, on 2 November 1943. Operated from Biak, July–November 1944, striking airfields and shipping in the southern Philippines and the Celebes. In November 1944 moved to the Philippines where targets included Japanese airfields and communications on Luzon, industries and communications on Formosa, and shipping along the China coast. After moving to Ie Shima in July 1945, flew some missions over Kyushu and the Sea of Japan. Selected to escort the Japanese surrender party from Japan to Ie Shima. Returned to the US in December 1945. Inactivated on 29 December 1945.

Tactical Air Command[edit]

345th Bombardment Wing B-57B Canberras 1957

The 4400th Combat Crew Training Group was activated by Tactical Air Command on 22 June 1954 at Langley AFB, Virginia. The provisional unit's mission was to receive the new Martin B-57B Canberra tactical bomber and conduct proficiency training and maintenance crew checkouts on the new aircraft. The provisional unit was re-designated as the 345th Bombardment Group (Tactical) on 19 July and the four World War II squadrons were reactivated. Five RB-57A reconnaissance aircraft were received then they were sent to Shaw AFB and reassigned to the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing or sent back to Martin. The 345th was the first USAF unit to become fully operational with the B-57B.

Trained to maintain combat proficiency in locating, attacking, and destroying targets from all altitudes and under all conditions of weather and light. The service of the B-57 in tactical bomb groups was brief as the decision was made to phase out the B-57 in favor of supersonic tactical fighter-bombers. Group was activated to Wing status on 8 October 1957.

The 345th BW was about to inactivate at Langley AFB when one of its squadrons had to be hastily deployed in July 1958 to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to make a show of force in response to a crisis in Lebanon. They stayed there three months. After the Lebanon crisis was defused, the B-57Bs were returned to Langley AFB.

The inactivation of the 345th BW was further delayed by a crisis in the Taiwan Straits. In August 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. In late August, the 345th BG sent a detachment of B-57Bs to Okinawa to stay on alert just in case mainland forces tried to invade Taiwan. Fortunately, the crisis soon cooled and hostilities were averted, and the 345th BG returned to the USA to begin inactivation. This was completed in June 1959, and the unit was inactivated on 25 June.

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as: 345th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 3 September 1942
Activated on: 8 September 1942
Inactivated on 29 December 1945
  • Established as 345th Bombardment Wing, Tactical, on 23 March 1953
4400th Combat Crew Training Group, established and activated 22 June 1954
Re-designated as 345th Bombardment Group (Tactical), and activated on 19 July 1954
Wing activated on 8 October 1957
Lineage and history of 345th Bombardment Group bestowed on wing upon activation, group inactivated 8 October 1957
Inactivated on 25 June 1959.

Assignments[edit]

Attached to: 309th Bombardment Wing, 8 February-25 September 1945

Components[edit]

  • 424th Bombardment Squadron, 22 June-19 July 1954
  • 498th Bombardment Squadron: (Falcons) 8 September 1942 – 29 December 1945; 19 July 1954-25 June 1959 (detached 16 July-21 October 1958)
  • 499th Bombardment Squadron: (Bats Outa Hell) 8 September 1942 – 29 December 1945; 19 July 1954-25 June 1959 (detached 6 September-9 December 1958).
  • 500th Bombardment Squadron: (Rough Raiders) 8 September 1942 – 29 December 1945; 19 July 1954-25 June 1959 (not operational, 15–25 June 1959).
  • 501st Bombardment Squadron: (Black Panthers) 8 September 1942 – 29 December 1945; 19 July 1954-25 June 1959 (not operational, 1–25 June 1959).
  • 4400th Bombardment Squadron, 22 June-19 July 1954

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Campaigns[edit]

  • New Guinea
  • Northern Solomons
  • Bismarck Archipelago
  • Southern Philippines
  • Luzon
  • Western Pacific
  • China
  • Ryukyus
  • Air Offensive against Japan

Current Status[edit]

The 345th Bomb Group has an active reunion association holding annual reunions around the country. Additional information about the reunion association can be found at their website The 345th Bomb Group Association

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Warpath: A Story of the 345th Bombardment Group (M) in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0-7643-0218-3.
  • "Warpath Across the Pacific" Lawrence Hickey.

External links[edit]