601st Bombardment Squadron

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601st Bombardment Squadron
Living Legends.jpg
398th Bombardment Group B-17s on a bombing run to Neumunster, Germany
Active 1943–1945
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Bombardment
Insignia
601st Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 25 October 1943)[1] 601st Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png
World War II group tail marking[2] Triangle W
World War II squadron fuselage code[2] N8

The 601st Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was assigned to the 398th Bombardment Group, and served in Combat in the European Theater of Operations, flying its last mission in late April 1945. The squadron moved to Drew Field, Florida, where it was inactivated on 1 September 1945.

In 1985, the squadron was consolidated with the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron, stationed at Sembach Air Base, Germany. The consolidated squadron was last assigned to the 601st Tactical Control Wing.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The 601st Bombardment Squadron was activated at Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington in early 1943 as one of the four original squadrons of the 398th Bombardment Group.[1][3] The squadron trained under II Bomber Command with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses.[1] The squadron's training was interrupted in July 1943, when it became a Replacement Training Unit.[3] Replacement training units were oversized units which trained aircrews prior to their deployment to combat theaters.[4] In November, replacement training ended and the squadron resumed its preparation for overseas deployment.[3]

The 601st deployed to England in April 1944[1] aboard the troopship USS Wakefield.[5] Its parent group was the last B-17 group to be assigned to VIII Bomber Command.[6] The squadron flew its first combat mission the following month. Until V-E Day the squadron participated in the air offensive against Nazi Germany, bombing such targets as factories in Berlin, marshalling yards in Saarbrücken, shipping facilities in Kiel, oil refineries in Merseburg and aircraft factories in Münster.[3]

In June 1944, prior to Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion, the squadron temporarily suspended its strategic bombing to attack coastal defenses and enemy troop concentrations on the Cherbourg peninsula.[3] Eighth Air Force took advantage of the diversion from strategic bombing to allow newly arrived units like the 601st to fly attacks against nearby targets to gain combat experience. The first target assigned was a V-1 flying bomb launch site near Sottevast, but the unit's inexperience and overcast conditions in the target area caused it to return to its home station without bombing.[6]

The squadron also struck gun positions near Eindhoven to support Operation Market Garden, the airborne attacks in the Netherlands, in September and attacked power stations, railroads and bridges during the Battle of the Bulge from December until January 1945. It attacked airfields in March 1945 during Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine River.[3]

The squadron flew its last combat mission on 25 April 1945 when it attacked the airfield at Plzeň, Czechoslovakia. After the German surrender it transported liberated prisoners of war from Germany to France.[3] It left Europe in May and returned to the United States aboard the passenger liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, arriving at the New York Port of Embarkation on 29 June.[5] Squadron members were given thirty days leave, and a cadre assembled at Drew Field, Florida, where the squadron was inactivated in August 1945.[1][5]

Cold War[edit]

On 19 September 1985 the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron, a unit that had been activated at Ramstein Air Base, Germany in 1974 as a forward air control unit, and the 601st Bombardment Squadron were consolidated.[7] The consolidated squadron was inactivated in 1988.[8]

Lineage[edit]

601st Bombardment Squadron

  • Constituted as the 601st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 15 February 1943
Activated on 1 March 1943
  • Redesignated 601st Bombardment Squadron Heavy in 1944
Inactivated on 1 September 1945
  • Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron as the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron[7]

601st Tactical Air Support Squadron

  • Constituted as the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron on 31 January 1974
Activated on 8 July 1974
  • Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 601st Bombardment Squadron[7]
  • Inactivated in 1988[8]

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 January 1980 – 30 June 1981 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron[10]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 May 1981 – 30 April 1983 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron[10]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
World War II - American Campaign Streamer (Plain).png American Theater 1 March 1943 – 4 April 1944 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Offensive, Europe 22 April 1944 – 5 June 1944 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Central Europe 22 April 1944 – 21 May 1945 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Combat, EAME Theater 22 April 1944 – 11 May 1945 601st Bombardment Squadron[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 680
  2. ^ a b Watkins, pp. 84–85
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Maurer, Combat Units p. 284
  4. ^ Craven & Cate, , Introduction, p. xxxvi
  5. ^ a b c Freeman, p. 256
  6. ^ a b Freeman, p. 140
  7. ^ a b c Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 662q, 19 September 85, Subject: Reconstitution, Redesignation, and Consolidation of Selected Air Force Tactical Squadrons
  8. ^ a b c d "Abstract (Unclassified), Vol. 1 History 601 Tactical Control Wing Jan-Jun 1988 (Secret)". Air Force History Index. Retrieved February 5, 2016. 
  9. ^ Station number from Anderson
  10. ^ a b "Air Force Recognition Programs". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

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

External links[edit]