The 353rd Fighter Group (USAAF) served with the Eighth Air Force, providing bomber escorts, flying ground attack missions and protecting troop transports.
The group was constituted in September 1942 and activated on 1 October 1942. It moved to Britain in May-June 1943 and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. The 353rd became operational in August 1943, the first of a series of Eighth Air Force fighter groups to become operational in the second half of 1943.
The group was equipped with the P-47 Thunderbolt when it made its combat debut. It flew a mix of bomber escort and ground attack missions, and was also used to attack the Luftwaffe.
Between August 1943 and February 1944 the group was used to escort bombers attacking targets in western Europe and to attack targets in France and the Low Countries. It took part in 'Big Week', the attack on the Luftwaffe in 20-25 February 1944. Between March and May it increasingly acted as a fighter-bomber unit during the campaign that led up to the D-Day invasions.
During Operation Overlord the group was used to provide close support for the troops and air cover over the beach head. It also supported the American breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944.
The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions during Operation Market Garden, where it escorted transport aircraft and acted as a fighter-bomber unit (17-23 September 1944).
In October 1944 the group converted to the P-51 Mustang. It used its new aircraft in the same roles as the Thunderbird - bomber escort, fighter bomber missions and attacks on the Luftwaffe. It took part in the Battle of the Bulge at the end of 1944 and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.
The group returned to the United States in October 1945 and was inactivated on 18 October.
1943-October 1944: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
October 1944-1945: North American P-51 Mustang
|29 September 1942||Constituted as 353rd Fighter Group|
|1 October 1942||Activated|
|May-June 1943||To Britain and Eighth Air Force|
|October 1945||To United States|
|18 October 1945||Inactivated|
Lt Col Joseph A Morris:
c. 15 Oct 1942
Lt Col Loren G McCollom: 18 Aug 1943
Col Glenn E Duncan: 25 Nov 1943
Col Ben Rimerman: 7 Jul 1944
Col Glenn E Duncan: 22 Apr 1945
Lt Col William B Bailey: 9 Sep 1945
Lt Col Robert A Elder: 24 Sep 1945-unkn
Mitchel Field, NY: 1 Oct
Richmond AAB, Va: c. 7 Oct 1942
Baltimore, Md: c. 26 Oct 1942-c. 27 May 1943
Goxhill, England: Jun 1943
Metfield, England: 3 Aug 1943
Raydon, England: Apr 1944-0ct 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: c. 16-18 Oct 1945.
October 1942-May 1943: Philadephia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
1943-September 1944: 66th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-Late 1945: 66th Fighter Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force