The 462nd Bombardment Group was a very heavy bombardment group group that took part in the early B-29 campaign operating from bases in India and China before moving to Tinian to join the direct assault on Japan.
The group was activated on 1 July 1943 and joined the 58th Bombardment Wing as it developed in its bases in Kansas. This was a flat area well suited to the new bomber and was also close to the Boeing factory where they were being built. The 58th Bombardment Wing was destined for India, and made the move in March-June 1944, traveling via Africa. This was a major effort and did cost aircraft - of the first 150 aircraft dispatched five were lost and four seriously damaged - but it did mean that the B-29 groups were present at their Indian bases by the summer of 1944. The 462nd was in place by April, and began to use its aircraft to fly supplies across the 'hump' into China.
Their first mission wasn't long in coming. After all of the effort that had gone into the B-29 programme there was real pressure to start using the new bomber. The Japanese had also launched a major offensive in eastern China and XX Bomber Command was under pressure to help lift the pressure.
The wing's first mission was an attack on railroad shops on Bangkok, carried out on 5 June 1944. The aim was test out the new organisation and the new aircraft on a less difficult target than the Japanese Home Islands. This first raid was fairly chaotic, with aircraft over the target for over an hour and a half but fortunately there was very little opposition. Results were limited but only five aircraft were lost, none to the Japanese.
The first attack on Japan came ten days later. This was the first attack on the Japanese Home Islands since the Doolittle Raid of 1942, and required a maximum effort from everyone involved just to get enough supplies ready. The Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata was chosen as the target. The aircraft began to take off from their Chinese staging posts at 16.30 on 15 June, so that they would be in hostile airspace at night. The first bombs were dropped just before 23.38pm (China time) and 47 of the 68 aircraft that the wing had managed to get into the air reached the target area and dropped bombs. The Japanese were unprepared for an attack on the Home Islands - very few fighters appeared and the heavy flak was inaccurate. Sadly so was the Allied bombing and later photo reconnaissance showed that only one hit had been scored. The raid may not have been a great operational success, but it was a great publicity boost for XX Bomber Command.
The 462nd Bombardment Group spent eight months operating from India. During that period it attacked transport, naval and industrial targets across Japan, Thailand, Burma, China, Formosa and Indonesia.
In August the group took part in a mission to drop mines into the Moesi River on Sumatra, operating through a staging post on Ceylon. Many aircraft involved in this raid suffered from poor visibility, but eight aircraft from the 462nd flew under the 1,000ft cloud ceiling and dropped two mines each into the river.
The group won a Distinguished Unit Citation during this period for a return attack on the iron and steel works at Yawata in August 1944.
As the Americans advanced across the Pacific better bases became available and the difficult operations from India and China were abandoned. In April 1945 the 462nd moved to Tinian, from where it focuses most of its efforts on the Japanese Home Islands. It flew a mix of mining, strategic bombing and incendiary raids between then and the end of the war.
The group won two more Distinguished Unit Citations during this period, the first for an attack on the industrial areas of Tokyo and Yokohama in May 1945 and the second for a daylight attack on an aircraft factory at Takarazuka factory on 24 July 1945.
The group returned to the United States late in 1945 and joined Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, but was inactivated ten days later.
1943-March 1946: Boeing B-29 Superfortress
|19 May 1943||Constituted as 462nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|1 July 1943||Activated|
|Nov 1943||Redesignated 462nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)|
|Mar-June 1944||To CBI theatre via Africa|
|June 1944||To Twentieth Air Force|
|5 June 1944||Combat debut|
|Spring 1945||To Tinian|
|Nov 1945||To US|
|21 March 1946||To Strategic Air Command|
|31 March 1946||Inactivated|
Unkn: 1I Jul-5 Aug 1943
Col Alan D Clark: 5 Aug 1943
Col Richard H Carmichael: 26 Aug 1943
Col Alfred F Kalberer: 20 Aug 1944-unkn.
Smoky Hill AAFld, Kan: 1
Walker AAFld, Kan: 28 Jul 1943-12 Mar 1944
Piardoba, India: 7 Apr 1944-26 Feb 1945
West Field, Tinian: 4 Apr-5 Nov 1945
MacDill Field, Fla: Nov 1945-31 Mar 1946.
345th Bombardment Squadron: 1945-1946
768th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
769th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
770th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
771st Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1944-
July 1943-June 1944: 58th Bombardment Wing; XX Bombardm Command; Second Air Force (training in US)
June 1944-February 1945: 58th Bombardment Wing; XX Bomber Command; Twentieth Air Force (India)
1945: 58th Bombardment Wing; XXI Bomber Command; Twentieth Air Force (Tinian)