468th Bombardment Group

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History

The 468th Bombardment Group was one of the first B-29 groups to enter combat, at first from bases in India before moving to Tinian for the last months of the war.

When the B-29 was first designed the expectation was that it would operate from bases in India, using staging posts in China to extend its range and allow the long range bombers to reach Japan. The 468th was one of the first B-29 groups and formed part of the 58th Bombardment Wing, the first larger B-29 formation to enter combat. The group was activated on 1 August 1943 and after training with the B-29 moved to India via Africa in March-June 1944.

On its arrival in Bengal the 468th was based at Kharagpur, alongside XX Bomber Command HQ. The first task for the new aircraft was to fly supplies across the 'hump' into China. The biggest problem was getting enough fuel across the mountains to allow the wing to operate a usable number of aircraft, and this delayed its first mission to 5 June 1944, when the group took part in attack on railway shops at Bangkok.

The group took part in the first American attack on the Japanese home islands since the Doolittle raid, an attack on the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata on 15 June 1944. Two of the group's aircraft crashed during the mission, with the loss of all on board (this included Robert Schenkel, a Newsweek correspondent who was accompanying the mission).

In October the group took part in a number of attacks on Formosa, carried out to support the landing on Leyte and in particular to stop the Japanese from ferrying aircraft to the Philippines through Formosa. Other targets included Bangkok, Singapore and Japanese installations in Indochina, the Dutch East Indies, China and on the Japanese home islands. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a return attack on Yawata in August 1944.

Early in 1945 a major Japanese offensive forced XX Bomber Command to abandon its bases in China. This reduced its possible range of operations to Burma, Thailand and Malaya. By now the rapid American advance across the Pacific meant that more suitable island bases were available and between February and May 1945 the group moved to Tinian. From there it was able to concentrate its efforts against Japan, taking part in the main types of operations mounted against the Home Islands - mine laying in the vital sea lanes, high altitude precision raids and the devastating low level incendiary raids. The group was awarded two more Distinguished Unit Citations for its efforts in this period, the first for raids on Tokyo and Yokohama in May 1945 and the second for a daylight attack on an aircraft factory at Takarazuka in July 1945.

After the end of the war the group was used to drop supplies to Allied POWs and to fly 'show-of-force' missions across Japan to discourage any diehards. The group returned to the US in November 1945, and was assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, but ten days later was inactivated.

Books

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Aircraft

November 1943-: Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Timeline

19 May 1943 Constituted as 468th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
1 August 1943 Activated
November 1943 Redesignated 468th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)
To CBI theatre via Africa March-June 1944
June 1944 To Twentieth Air Force
5 June 1944 Combat Debut
Feb-May 1944 To Tinian
November 1945 To US
21 March 1946 To Strategic Air Command
31 March 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Howard E Engler: 8 Sep 1943
Col Ted S Faulkner: 3 Aug 1944
Col James V Edmundson: 5 Nov 1944-31 Mar 1946.

Main Bases

Smoky Hill AAFld, Kan: 1 Aug 1943-12 Mar 1944
Kharagpur, India: 13 Apr 1944-24 Feb 1945
West Field, Tinian: 6 Apr-15 Nov 1945
Ft Worth AAFld, Tex: 1 Dec 1945
Roswell AAFld, NM: 12 Jan-31 Mar 1946.

Component Units

512th Bombardment Squadron: 1945-1946
792d Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
793d Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
794th (later 6th) Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
795th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946

Assigned To

1943-June 1944: 58th Bombardment Wing; XX Bomber Command; Second Air Force
June 1944-early 1945: 58th Bombardment Wing; XX Bomber Command; Twentieth Air Force (India)
April 1945 onwards: 58th Bombardment Wing; XXI Bomber Command; Twentieth Air Force (Tinian)

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 April 2014), 468th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/468th_Bombardment_Group.html

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