472d Bombardment Group
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|468th Bombardment Group|
|Branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Part of||Second Air Force|
|Garrison/HQ||American Theater of World War II|
The 472d Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the Second Air Force, being stationed at Clovis Army Airfield, New Mexico. It was inactivated on 1 April 1944.
The group served as the initial Operational Training Unit (OTU) for prototype B-29 Superfortress aircraft as part of the 58th Bombardment Wing. After the wing deployed to India, it was involved in training B-29 crews in New Mexico and took part in early testing of the B-29 to carry the Atomic Bomb.
On 1 June 1943, the first Superfortress unit—the 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) had been activated at Dobbins AFB, Marietta, Georgia near Bell's Superfortress plant. On 15 September 1943, the headquarters of the 58th BW was moved to Smokey Hill AAF Kansas, with some of its groups near the Wichita factory. The 472nd Bombardment Group was constituted on 19 May 1943 at Smokey Hill AAF to be the initial group to receive the prototype YB-29 and first production B-29 Superfortresses. There were five groups in the 58th Bomb Wing, but the 472d was destined to remain at Smoky Hill Field as an operational training unit, and the others were to be deployed to India.
President Roosevelt wanted the B-29 bombing raids against Japan to start by January 1944. However, delays in the B-29 program forced General Arnold to admit to the President that the bombing campaign against Japan could not begin until May 1944 at the earliest. The crews of the B-29 needed a degree of specialist training that was not required for crews of other, less complex aircraft. It usually took 27 weeks to train a pilot, 15 to train a navigator, and 12 to train a gunner. The complexity of the B-29 was such that a lengthy process of crew integration had to take place before combat deployment could begin. By the end of December 1943, only 73 pilots had qualified for the B-29 and very few crews had been brought together as a complete team.
After the initial groups of the 58th Bomb Wing completed conversion training on the B-29, the 472d was moved to Clovis AAF, New Mexico in December 1943 to begin training follow-on B-29 crews. However the group also was involved in secret testing of the B-29 for suitability in carrying Atomic Bombs, which were being developed at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
In September 1943, the B-29 was selected as the carrier for the Atomic Bomb. At first, the team responsible for the adaptation of the B-29 to the atomic bomb would only be provided with rough dimensions of the bomb, since even the scientists were not yet sure what it would look like. The technicians fitted a new H-frame hoist, carrier assembly and release unit to the B-29. The first drop tests using dummy bombs were carried out at Muroc AAF, California on 28 February 1944. These lead to the fitting of an entirely new suspension mechanism to the B-29.
With these initial tests completed, and the B-29 crew training program well underway, the group was inactivated on 1 April 1944.
- Constituted as 472nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
- Activated on 1 September 1943
- Redesignated 472nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) on 1 December 1943.
- Disbanded on 1 April 1944
- 808th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1944
- 809th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1944
- 810th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1944
- 811th Bombardment Squadron 1943–1944
- Smoky Hill AAF, Kansas, 1 September – 7 December 1943
- Clovis AAF, New Mexico, 7 December 1943 – 1 April 1944
- Dorr, Robert (2003), B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War, Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-654-2
- Dorr, Robert (2002), B-29 Units of World War II, Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-285-7
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Rhodes, Richard (1986), The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon and Schuster ISBN 0-684-81378-5