324th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 324th Fighter Group fought in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, the south of France and the final advance into Germany, mainly operating as a close support unit.

The group was constituted as the 324th Fighter Group on 24 June 1942 and activated on 6 July 1942.

The group moved to the Middle East in October-December 1942 to join the Ninth Air Force. It was equipped with the P-40, and after a period of training entered the fighting in Tunisia (although the group HQ remained in Egypt). The group's squadrons worked alongside other groups, with one supporting the 57th Fighter Group and two the 79th Fighter Group. The group supported the Eighth Army during the battle of the Marath Line, on occasion running into strong German fighter forces. On 18 April the 314th Squadron from the group took part in the 'Palm Sunday Massacre', which saw a strong force of Allied fighters intercept and destroy a formation of German transport aircraft heading back from Tunisia to Italy.

The two halves of the unit came back together in June 1943. The group then spent the following month on escort and patrol missions between Tunisia and Sicily.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions between March 1943 and the invasion of Sicily.

The group spent July-October 1943 preparing to join the Twelfth Air Force, although it would be under the operational control of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force (Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham).

The group entered combat with the Twelfth Air Force on 30 October, soon after the invasion of mainland Italy. Between then and August 1944 it concentrated on the fighting in Italy, attacking transport links, gun positions and troop concentrations.

In January 1944 the group patrolled the beach and protected convoys during the landings at Anzio.

The group was awarded a second DUC for its part in the attack on Monastery Hill at Cassino from 12-14 May 1944, where it attacked German troops preparing for a counterattack and forced the surrender of a German garrison.

In July 1944 the group converted to the P-47.

In August it was used to support Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. It was used to dive bomb gun positions, radar and transport links and on patrols. After the initial invasion the group supported the troops advancing north through France, as part of an agreement on how the American units committed to the invasion would be used after the initial stages.

In January-February 1945 the group supported the attacks on the Colmar bridgehead.

In March 1945 it supported the Seventh Army attack on the Siegfried Line.

The group received the the Croix de Guerre with Palm for its support of French troops in Italy and France in 1944-45.

The group returned to the US in October-November 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1942-July 1944: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
July 1944-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

Timeline

24 June 1942 Constituted as 324th Fighter Group
6 July 1942 Activated
October-December 1942 To Middle East and Ninth Air Force
October 1943 Combat debut with Twelfth Air Force
October-November 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col William K McNown: c. Jul 1942
Col Leonard C Lydon: 25 Dec 1943
Lt Col Franklin W Horton: 23 May-Nov 1945

Main Bases

Mitchel Field, NY: 6 Jul 1942
Baltimore Mun Aprt, Md: 6 Jul-28 Oct 1942
El Amiriya, Egypt: Dec 1942
El Kabrit, Egypt: 2 Feb 1943
Kairouan, Tunisia: 2 Jun 1943
El Haouaria, Tunisia: c. 18 Jun 1943
Menzel Heurr, Tunisia: 3 Oct 1943
Cercola, Italy: 25 Oct 1943
Pignataro Maggiore, Italy: 6 May 1944
Le Banca Airfield, Italy: 6 Jun 1944
Montalto Di Castro, Italy: 14 Jun 1944
Corsica: 19 Jul 1944
Le Luc, France: 25 Aug 1944
Istres, France: 2 Sep 1944
Amberieu, France: 6 Sep 1944
Tavaux, France: Sep 1944
Luneville, France: 4 Jan 1945
Stuttgart, Germany: 8 May- 20 Oct 1945
Camp Shanks, NY: 6-7 Nov 1945.

Component Units

314th: 1942-1945
315th: 1942-1945
316th: 1942-1945

Assigned To

July-October 1942: Philadelphia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
October 1942-June 1943: Ninth Air Force
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
1945: 64th Fighter Wing

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 July 2018), 324th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/324th_Fighter_Group.html

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