339th Fighter Group
|339th Fighter Group|
P-51 Mustangs of the 339th Fighter Group
|Branch||United States Army Air Forces|
Air Offensive, Europe|
Battle of the Bulge
Invasion of Germany
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
|503rd Fighter Squadron (D7)|
|504th Fighter Squadron (5Q)|
|505th Fighter Squadron (6N)|
A-24 Banshee 1942–1943|
A-25 Shrike 1942–1943
P-39 Airacobra 1943–1944
P-51 Mustang 1944–1945
The group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England assigned to RAF Fowlmere. It had the highest claims of air and ground enemy aircraft victories in one year, and was the only group to claim over a hundred ground strafing victories on two occasions – 105 on 4 April 1945 and 118 on 16 April 1945. It was inactivated on 18 October 1945.
Formation and training
The group was constituted as the 339th Bombardment Group (Dive) on 3 August at Hunter Field, Georgia as a Third Air Force Operational Training Unit and was equipped with A-24 Banshee and A-25 Shrike dive bombers.
The group moved to Drew Field, Florida, in February 1943 then to Walterboro Army Airfield, South Carolina, in July 1943 and finally to Rice Army Airfield, California, in September 1943. The latter was part of Desert Training Center in Mojave Desert. They converted to Bell P-39 Airacobra aircraft in 1943.
The group was reassigned to the 66th Fighter Wing of VIII Fighter Command and stationed at RAF Fowlmere in England in April 1944 and was redesignated 339th Fighter Group in May 1944. They were equipped with P-51 Mustang aircraft and the first combat operation was on 30 April 1944.
The unit engaged primarily in B-17/B-24 escort duties during its first five weeks of operations, and afterwards flew many escort missions to cover the operations of medium and heavy bombers that struck strategic objectives, interdicted the enemy's communications, or supported operations on the ground.
The group strafed airfields and other targets of opportunity while on escort missions. The 339th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations on 10 and 11 September 1944. On the first of those days, when it escorted bombers to a target in Germany and then attacked an aerodrome near Erding, the group destroyed or damaged many enemy planes despite the intense fire it encountered from anti-aircraft guns and small arms. The following day the bomber formation being escorted to Munich was attacked by enemy fighters, but members of the 339th group destroyed a number of the interceptors and drove off the others and at the same time, other members of the 339th were attacking an airfield near Karlsruhe, where they encountered heavy fire but were able to destroy or damage many of the aircraft parked on the field.
The 339th provided fighter cover over the English Channel and the coast of Normandy during the invasion of France in June 1944. They strafed and dive-bombed vehicles, locomotives, marshalling yards, anti-aircraft batteries, and troops while Allied forces fought to break out of the beachhead in France.
The 339th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and was inactivated on 18 October 1945. The unit was redesignated 107th Fighter Group and allotted to the New York National Guard on 24 May 1946.
- G. P. Harry (1991). 339th Fighter Group. Turner Pub. ISBN 978-1-56311-067-2.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Arthur Wyllie (6 April 2009). Army Air Force Victories. Lulu.com. pp. 206–. ISBN 978-0-615-15549-4.
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