417th Bombardment Group
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|417th Bombardment Group|
|Active||23 March 1943 – 15 November 1945|
|Branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Engagements||New Guinea; Leyte; Luzon; Southern Philippines.|
|Decorations||DUC: Philippine Islands, 30 December 1944 – 2 January 1945. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation|
The 417th Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with V Bomber Command, being stationed at Itami Airfield, Japan, where it was inactivated on 5 November 1945.
During World War II, the group operated primarily in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a light bombardment unit during the New Guinea and Philippines Campaigns. It was awarded both the United States Distinguished Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its combat service.
- Constituted as 417th Bombardment Group (Light) on 23 March 1943
- Activated on 28 March 1943
- Inactivated on 15 November 1945
- Attached to: 309th Bombardment Wing, 25 August-6 December 1944
- Attached to: 310th Bombardment Wing, 9 January-1 November 1945
- 672d Bombardment Squadron: 23 March 1943 – 15 November 1945
- 673d Bombardment Squadron: 23 March 1943 – 15 November 1945
- 674th Bombardment Squadron: 23 March 1943 – 15 November 1945
- 675th Bombardment Squadron: 23 March 1943 – 15 November 1945
- A-20 Havoc, 1943–1945
- Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, 28 March 1943
- DeRidder Army Airbase, Louisiana, 4 August – 10 December 1943
- Oro Bay (Cape Sudest) Airfield, New Guinea, 28 January 1944
- Dobodura Airfield, New Guinea, 7 February 1944
- Saidor Airfield, New Guinea, 8 April 1944
- Kornasoren Airfield Noemfoor, Schouten Islands, New Guinea c. g September 1944
- Tacloban Airfield, Leyte, Philippines, 6 December 1944
- McGuire Field, Mindoro, Philippines, 22 December 1944
- Motobu Airfield, Okinawa, 17 August 1945
- Itami Air Base, Japan, c. 1–15 November 1945.
After activation with the Third Air Force the 417th trained on Douglas A-20 Havocs in Louisiana and Oklahoma. It moved to New Guinea between December 1943 and January 1944, and was assigned there to the Fifth Air Force. It began combat in March 1944, operating in support of ground forces on New Guinea and striking airfields, bridges personnel concentrations, installations, and shipping in that area.
Most sorties were flown at low level, since Japanese flak was not very intense. During these low level bombing operations, it was found that there was little need for a bomb aimer. Consequently, the bomb aimer was often replaced by additional forward-firing machine guns mounted in a faired-over nose. The A-20's heavy firepower, maneuverability, speed and bombload made it an ideal weapon for pinpoint strikes against aircraft, hangars, and supply dumps. In formation, their heavy forward firepower could overwhelm shipboard anti-aircraft defenses and at low level the A-20s could skip their bombs into the sides of transports and destroyers with deadly effect. Some A-20s had their heavy forward-firing armament supplemented by clusters of three Bazooka-type rocket tubes underneath each wing. These tubes each held an M8, T-30 4.5-inch (110 mm) spin-stabilized rocket. These rocket launcher tubes turned out to be heavy and complicated, and were generally more trouble than they were worth and were not often used.
The unit operated from Noemfoor between September and December 1944, attacking airfields and installations on Ceram, Halmahera, and western New Guinea. Moved to the Philippines in December 1944 at the end of the New Guinea campaign. Until June 1945 supported ground forces and attacked enemy airfields, transportation, and installations on Luzon, Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao. Received a DUC for attacking Japanese convoys at Lingayen, 30 December 1944 – 2 January 1945, an action that not only impaired enemy shipping and supply strength, but also helped to clear the way for the American invasion of Luzon. Flew its last missions in July, dropping propaganda leaflets to Japanese troops on Luzon. After the Philippines were secured, the group turned its attention to Japanese targets on Formosa in early 1945. Moved to Okinawa in August 1945 and to Japan in November to be inactivated there on 15 November 1945.
- Maurer 1983, p. 300.
- Grenn, Eugene L. (ed.). The Sky Lancer, 417th Bomb Group. Sydney, Australia: John Sands, 1946.
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1961 (republished 1983). ISBN 0-912799-02-1.
- Rogers, Brian, United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications, 2006. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.