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480th Antisubmarine Group
Active 1943–1944
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Antisubmarine Warfare

The 480th Antisubmarine Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, based at Clovis AAF, New Mexico. It was inactivated on 29 January 1944

Contents

History

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Lineage

  • Constituted as 480th Antisubmarine Group on 19 Jun 1943
Activated on 21 Jun 1943
Disbanded on 29 Jan 1944

Assignments

Squadrons

Stations

Operational History

The group was formed in Morocco in June 1943 from squadrons previously assigned to RAF St Eval, England who deployed to Port Lyautey as the 2037th Antisubmarine Wing (Provisional) the previous March after training with RAF Coastal Command in aerial antisubmarine warfare techniques.

The group's mission was to shore up scanty Allied antisubmarine defenses in the Atlantic approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar. German U-boats had very recently sunk four ships in an Allied convoy about a hundred miles off the coast of Portugal. Over the long term, the Allies wanted to increase air antisubmarine patrols and convoy coverage to protect their preparations for the impending Tunisian offensive and the subsequent invasion of Sicily.

Using modified B-24 Liberator bombers equipped with RADAR, external fuel tanks and other antisubmarine equipment, the 1st and 2d Antisubmarine Squadrons joined two United States Navy PBY Catalina squadrons patrolling from Morocco. The two squadrons were assigned to the Northwest African Coastal Air Force for administration and placed under the operational control of the United States Navy Fleet Air Wing 15, which answered to the commander of the Moroccan Sea Frontier.

The AAF squadrons flew their first mission on 19 March despite shortages of spare parts, equipment, and maintenance personnel. Ordinarily, three B-24s flew daily on operational missions, covering an area as far south as 30°N, as far north as Cape Finisterre, Spain, and as far west as a thousand nautical miles from Port Lyautey. Much of the time, the Liberators flew convoy coverage for ships sailing from or approaching the Straits of Gibraltar. Its antisubmarine activity reached a peak in July 1943 when enemy U-boats concentrated off the coast of Portugal to intercept convoys bound for the Mediterranean. The group destroyed and damaged several submarines during the month which aided in protecting supply lines to forces involved in the campaign for Sicily.

The group also covered convoys and engaged numerous Luftwaffe aircraft in combat. In September 1943 part of the group deployed to Protville Tunisia located betweenTunis, on the east coast and Bizerte, on the north coast about thirty-five miles northwest of Tunis. For the first fourteen days, the 1st Squadron operated under the Northwest African Coastal Air Force. On 4 September, the B-24s began searching for enemy submarines and shipping between Sicily and Naples. the squadron covered this area twenty-four hours a day until the landing of the United States Fifth Army at Salerno, Italy, on 9 September, when it extended antisubmarine patrols to cover the sea west of Sardinia and Corsica. One B-24 destroyed three German flying boats northwest of Sardinia. In addition to the antisubmarine patrols, the 1st Squadron flew escort for several Allied convoys and covered the escape of Italian naval vessels from Genoa and Spezia to Malta following Italy's surrender.

After returning to Port Lyautey on 18 September, the 1st Squadron operated in the Moroccan Sea Frontier until it moved to Langley Field Virginia in November 1943. That return to the United States marked the final stage in the Air Force's withdrawal from its antisubmarine mission. The 480th was disbanded on 29 January 1944.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions that contributed to the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

References

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

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.

External links


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