492d Bombardment Group
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|492d Bombardment Group|
Emblem of the 801st(P)/492d Bombardment Group
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Bombardment, Special Operations|
The 492d Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Army Air Forces unit. It was last assigned to the Second Air Force, stationed at Kirtland Field, New Mexico. It was inactivated on 17 October 1945.
During World War II the unit entered combat in May 1944, and sustained the heaviest losses of any other B-24 Liberator group for a three-month period. The group was withdrawn from combat with its personnel and equipment being reassigned to other units. The 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional) was redesignated as the 492d Bombardment Group, and the group performed special operations missions throughout the remainder of the war in Europe.
Established in October 1943 at Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico under II Bomber Command as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb group. The 492d was one of seven Heavy Bombardment Groups – 488th through 494th - activated in the autumn of 1943. These were to be the last Army Air Forces heavy bomb groups established. Reassigned to Alamogordo Army Airfield with a full complement of 72 crews and 72 brand new B-24's and trained there until the end of March 1944.
Was deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England. Only a small part ground unit (124 men) from US left Alamogordo on 11 April 1944 and sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 20 April 1944. Main body of ground echelon from four 2 Bombardment Division groups were already in the UK. These groups had been ordered to raise additional squadron ground unit. The aircraft left Alamogordo on 1 April 1944, to commence overseas movement by the South Atlantic Transport Route, beginning at Morrison Field, Florida, Trinidad, Brazil, Dakar and Marrakesh, French Morocco then to the United Kingdom. When the group arrived, they were the first VIII BC group with a no camouflage paint, natural-metal-finish (NMF) on all their aircraft.
The 492d entered combat on 11 May 1944, and throughout the month operated primarily against industrial targets in central Germany. Attacked airfields and V-weapon launching sites in France during the first week in June. Bombed coastal defenses in Normandy on 6 June 1944 and attacked bridges, railroads, and other interdiction targets in France until the middle of the month. Resumed bombardment of strategic targets in Germany and, except for support of the infantry during the Saint-Lô breakthrough on 25 July 1944, continued such operations until August 1944 when after only 89 days of combat, the 492nd had lost 52 aircraft to enemy action, with 588 men killed or missing. In the words of one veteran, "the whole group was wiped out".
Rather than try to rebuild the shattered group, the group was stood down and the surviving members were reassigned to other units in theater. Subsequently, the organization was transferred without personnel or equipment, to RAF Harrington on 5 August 1944 and assumed personnel, equipment, and the Carpetbagger special operations mission of the 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional) that was discontinued. With black-painted aircraft configured with engine flame dampeners and optimized for night operations, the group operated chiefly over southern France with B-24's and C-47's, transporting agents, supplies, and propaganda leaflets to patriots. Ceased these missions on 16 September 1944 to haul gasoline to advancing mechanized forces in France and Belgium.
Intermittently attacked airfields, oil refineries, seaports, and other targets in France, the Low Countries, and Germany until February 1945. Meanwhile, in October 1944, began training for night bombardment operations; concentrated on night bombing of marshaling yards and goods depots in Germany, February—March 1945.
Ceased these missions on 18 March 1945 to engage in Carpetbagger operations over Germany and German-occupied territory, using B-24, A-26, and British Mosquito aircraft to drop leaflets, demolition equipment, and agents. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for these operations, performed at night despite adverse weather and vigorous opposition from enemy ground forces, 20 March- 25 April 1945. Also cited by the French government for similar operations over France in 1944. Flew its last Carpetbagger mission in April 1945 and then ferried personnel and equipment to and from the Continent until July.
Returned to the US, July—August 1945 and was reassigned to Kirtland Field, New Mexico and was redesignated a B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bomb group. Was programmed for B-29 operations in the Central Pacific, however became unnecessary when Pacific War ended. Inactivated on 17 October 1945.
- Constituted as: 492d Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943
- Activated on 1 October 1943
- Withdrawn from combat with personnel and equipment reassigned to other units, 5 August 1944
- Assumed personnel and equipment of 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional), 5 August 1944
- Redesignated as: 492d Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) on 17 August 1945
- Disbanded on 17 October 1945
- II Bomber Command, 1 October 1943-1 January 1944
- 14th Combat Bombardment Wing, 1 January 1944-July 1945
- Second Air Force, 14 August-17 October 1945
- 856th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1943-17 October 1945
- Consolidated with 36th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)*, 1 August 1944
- 857th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1943-17 October 1945
- Consolidated with 850th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)*, 1 August 1944
- 858th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1943-19 June 1944; 5 August 1944-17 October 1945
- Consolidated with 406th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)*, 1 August 1944
- 859th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1943-14 August 1945
- Consolidated with 788th Bombardment Squadron (Provisional)*, 1 August 1944
- Detached on 17 December 1944 and sent to Mediterranean Theater of Operations, where the squadron operated with the 15th Special Group (Provisional) (Redesignated: 2641st Special Group (Provisional)) until 20 May 1945
Note*: Squadron taken off operational combat status; personnel and equipment of squadron were reassigned to other units. Absorbed personnel and equipment of provisional squadron in a name-only redesignation.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- The Carpetbaggers, Air Force Special Operations in World War II