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361st Fighter Group
361fg.JPG
361st Fighter Group Insignia
Active 1943–1945
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Forces
Role Fighter
Part of Eighth Air Force
Garrison/HQ European Theatre of World War II

The 361st Fighter Group was a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. It served primarily in the European Theatre of World War II.

During World War II the group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England. Primarily assigned to RAF Little Walden in 1943. It claimed 226 air and 105 ground aircraft destroyed. It flew its last mission on 20 April 1945.

During the Cold War the unit was redesignated as the 127th Fighter Group, and allocated to the Michigan Air National Guard. Today, the 127th Wing is a vital part of our national defense, being part of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command's First Air Force.

Contents

History

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Lineage

  • Constituted as 361st Fighter Group on 28 Jan 1943
Activated on 10 Feb 1943
Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945
Redesignated 127th Fighter Group and allocated to ANG (Mich) on 24 May 1946

Assignments

Attached to: Philadelphia Fighter Wing, 28 Aug-20 Sep 1943
Attached to: 2d Bombardment Division, 15 Sep 1944
Further attached to: XIX Tactical Air Command, 24 Dec 1944-1 Feb 1945
Attached to: 2d Air Division, 10 Apr-3 Nov 1945
  • Army Service Forces, 3 Nov-10 Nov 1945

Operational Units

  • 374th Fighter Squadron (B7) 10 Feb 1943-24 Oct 1945
  • 375th Fighter Squadron (E2) 10 Feb 1943-24 Oct 1945
  • 376th Fighter Squadron (E9) 10 Feb 1943-24 Oct 1945

Aircraft Flown

Stations assigned

Operational history

World War II

Constituted as 361st Fighter Group on January 28, 1943. Activated on February 10, 1943. Joined Eighth AF at RAF Bottisham, England in November 1943. The group was under the command of the 65th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the group were identified by yellow around their cowlings and tails.

Republic P-47D-11-RE Thunderbolt Serial 42-75452 of the 374th Fighter Squadron.
North American P-51D-5-NA Mustang Serial 44-13410 of the 375th Fighter Squadron. This aircraft was lost on August 12, 1944. MACR 7784
North American P-51D-5-NA Mustang Serial 44-13763 of the 376th Fighter Squadron.

The 361st FG entered combat with P-47 aircraft on January 21, 1944 and converted to P-51's in May 1944. The unit served primarily as an escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of B-17/B-24 bomber formations that the USAAF sent against targets on the Continent.

The group also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive-bombing missions. Attacked such targets as airdromes, marshalling yards, missile sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways. During its operations, the unit participated in the assault against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during the Big Week, February 20–25, 1944, and the attack on transportation facilities prior to the Normandy invasion and support of the invasion forces thereafter, including the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July.

The weight of the heavy P-47 fighters soon began to tell on the wet surface making take-offs tricky. A team of American engineers were called in during January 1944 and, in three days, they constructed a 1,470-yard-long runway with pierced-steel planking. This feat was considered a record for laying this type of prefabricated surfacing. The runway, which was aligned NE-SW, became the main at Bottisham the other also being constructed of PSP.

In September 1944 the 361st FG moved to RAF Little Walden. At Little Walden, the 361st served primarily as a B-17/B-24 escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of bomber formations that the USAAF sent against targets on the Continent. The group also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive-bombing missions. Attacked such targets as airfields, marshalling yards, missile sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways.

The group supported the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944 and deployed to Chievres Airdrome, (ALG A-84), Belgium between February and April 1945 flying tactical ground support missions during the airborne assault across the Rhine.

The unit returned to Little Walden and flew its last combat mission on April 20, 1945.

On November 10 the 361st Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey and was deactivated.

Cold War

During the Cold War the unit was redesignated as the 127th Fighter Group, and allocated to the Michigan Air National Guard on May 24, 1946.

The group was ordered into active service on February 1, 1951 as a result of the Korean War and assigned to Air Training Command. In March 1951 it was redesignated as the 127th Pilot Training Group, being assigned F-51 Mustangs, F-80 Shooting Stars and F-84 Thunderjets while serving as a training organization.

The 127th was relieved from active duty in November 1952 and redesignated the 127th Fighter Group.

References

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

Notes

Bibliography

  • Cora, Paul B. Yellowjackets! The 361st Fighter Group in World War II P-51 Mustangs over Germany. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-7643-1466-1.
  • Freeman, Roger A. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1978. ISBN 0-90091-309-6.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co., 1991 ISBN 0-304-35708-1.
  • Gotts, Steve. Little Friends: A Pictorial History of the 361st Fighter Group in WW II. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1993.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.

External links


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