318th Fighter Group

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History

The 318th Fighter Group spent two and a half years based on Hawaii, before moving to the front in June 1944 to take part in the invasion of the Marianas and the air attack on Japan.

The group was constituted as the 318th Pursuit Group on 2 February 1942, redesignated as the 318th Fighter Group in May 1942 and activated in Hawaii on 15 October 1942 as part of the Seventh Air Force.

The group was equipped with a mix of P-39 Airacobras, P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts, and was used for training and to fly patrols from Hawaii from then until the summer of 1944.

The group finally moved to the front line in June 1944 when it moved to the Marianas. It was used to support the invasions of Saipan, Tinian and Guam, as well as attacking Japanese airfields and flying patrols over US bases. The group moved onto Saipan early in the campaign, from where it supported the fighting on all three islands. During the fighting on Guam and Tinian the 318th introduced the 'fire bomb', initially using a mix of diesel and gasoline in drop tanks, later replaced by napalm. These proved to be very effective on both islands.

In November 1944 the group gained a number of P-38 Lightnings, which were used to escort bombers attacking Japanese bases in the Volcano and Truk Islands. Amongst these missions was a large scale attack on Truk carried out after an unexpected Japanese attack on a convoy north-west of Truk on 20 November 1944. This was the first time that a US raid on Truk had a fighter escort, and the group's P-38s helped drive off an attack by eight Zeros that had somehow reached the island.

In April 1945 the group moved to the Ryukyu Islands, where it was equipped with the P-47 Thunderbolt. The group carried out a mix of operations from its new base, including bombing raids on airfields, bridges and factories in Japan, providing air defences for the Ryukyus and escorting bombers raiding China. The group also still ran into Japanese fighters - in mid June the group clashed with 244 Japanese aircraft over Kyushu, claiming 48 victories at the cost of three aircraft lost!

The group was allocated to the Eighth Air Force in August 1945, as part of a wider plan to move that air force from Europe to the Pacific Theatre after the defeat of Germany. In the end the Eighth never saw combat against Japan, and the 318th moved back to the United States in December 1945-January 1946, before being inactivated on 12 January 1946.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1942-1944: Bell P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
1944: P-39, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Lockheed P-38 Lightning
1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

2 February 1942 Constituted as 318th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
May 1942 Redesignated as 318th Fighter Group
15 October 1942 Activated in Hawaii with Seventh Air Force
June 1944 To Marianas
April 1945 To Ryukyu Islands
August 1945 To Eighth Air Force
December 1945-January 1946 To United States
12 January 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col. Lorry N Tindal: 20 Oct 1942
Lt Col Charles B Stewart: 3 Mar 1943
Col Lewis M Sanders: 21 Aug 1943
Lt Col:Harry C McAfee: 31 Jul 1945
Maj Glen H Kramer: 5 October 1945
Maj Burton M Woodward: 22 Oct 1945-unkn

Main Bases

Hickam Field, TH: 15 Oct 1942
Bellows Field, TH: 9 Feb 1943
Saipan: Jun 1944
Ie Shima: c. 30 Apr 1945
Okinawa: Nov-Dec 1945
Ft Lewis, Wash: 11-12 Jan 1946.

Component Units

19th: 1943-1946
44th: 1942-1943
72nd: 1942-1944
73rd: 1942-1946
333rd: 1943-1946

Assigned To

1942-1945: VII Fighter Command; Seventh Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 July 2018), 318th Fighter Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/318th_Fighter_Group.html

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