The 86th Fighter Group was mainly used as a close support unit, and took part in the invasions of Sicily, mainland Italy and the south of France, before ending the war operating over Germany.
The group was constituted as the 86th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13 January 1942 and activated on 10 February 1942.
The group was redesignated as the 86th Bombardment Group (Dive) in September 1942.
In March-May 1943 the group moved to North Africa, towards the end of the Tunisian campaign. However it remained in training in North Africa until July, and didn't enter combat with the Twelfth Air Force until then.
The group operated a mix of A-36 Mustangs, P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts during its time in combat, and was mainly used as a close support unit, although it also flew a few longer range interdiction missions and patrols.
The group entered combat just before the invasion of Sicily, and took part in the final stages of the pre-invasion bombardment before supporting the invasion itself in July 1943.
The group was redesignated as the 86th Fighter-Bomber Group in August 1943
In September 1943 the group supported the landings at Salerno. The group was able to move to Paestum on the mainland by 21 September, greeting increased its effectiveness. It then supported the attack on the Volturno Line and the advance towards the Gustav Line.
In January-June 1944 the group supported the repeated attacks on the Gustav Line and the advance on Rome, as well as the fighting at Anzio. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on heavily defended German forces on 25 May 1944 during the final advance on Rome.
The group was redesignated as the 86th Fighter Group in May 1944.
In August 1944 the group supported Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France, from bases on Corsica that allowed it to hit targets in Italy and France. By the end of August the Allies had advanced so far north that they were out of range for the 86th, and the group's attention returned to Italy.
From September 1944 until February 1945 the group's main task was to attack German communications in northern Italy, supported the attacks on the Gothic Line.
In February 1945 the group moved to Tantonville, in the north-east of France, after the winter attack on the Gothic Line was abandoned. This was originally seen as the start of a move of the entire Twelfth Air Force from Italy to France, this larger move never took place. In April the group moved again, this time to Braunshardt in south-west Germany.
In April-May 1945 the group operated over Germany, attacking the German transport system during the last campaign of the war. The group received a second DUC for an attack on airfields and convoys in northern Germany on 20 April 1945.
The group remained in Germany after the war, forming part of the United States Air Forces in Europe. It was transferred back to the US without its personnel or equipment in February 1946 and inactivated on 31 March 1946.
1943-1945: North American A-36 Mustang, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
|13 January 1942||Constituted as 86th Bombardment Group (Light)|
|10 February 1942||Activated|
|September 1942||Redesignated 86th Bombardment Group (Dive)|
|March-May 1943||To North Africa and Twelfth Air Force|
|July 1943||Combat Debut|
|August 1943||Redesignated 86th Fighter-Bomber Group|
|May 1944||Redesignated 86th Fighter Group|
|February 1946||To United States|
|31 March 1946||Inactivated|
Unkn: Feb 1942-Feb
Maj Clinton U True: 10 Feb 1943
Lt Col Robert C Paul: 7 Aug 1943
Col Harold E Hofahl: 4 Dec 1943
Col Earl E Bates Jr: 2 Aug 1944
Lt Col George T Lee: 14 Feb 1945
Maj John H Buckner: 23 Sep 1945-c. 14 Feb 1946.
Will Rogers Field, Okla: 10
Hunter Field, Ga: c. 20 Jun 1942
Key Field, Miss: c. 7 Aug 1942-19 Mar 1943
La Senia, Algeria: c. 12 May 1943
French Morocco: 3 Jun 1943
Tafaraoui, Algeria: 11 Jun 1943
Korba, Tunisia: 30 Jun 1943
Gela, Sicily: 20 Jul 1943
Barcelona, Sicily: 27 Aug 1943
Sele Airfield, Italy: 22 Sep 1943
Serretella Airfield, Italy: 12 Oct 1943
Pomigliano, Italy: 19 Nov 1943
Marcianise, Italy: 30 Apr 1944
Ciampino, Italy: c. 12 Jun 1944
Orbetello, Italy: c. 19 Jun 1944
Corsica: c. 12 Jul 1944
Grosseto, Italy: c. 17 Sep 1944
Pisa, Italy: 23 Oct 1944
Tantonville, France: c 20 Feb 1945
Braunschardt, Germany: c. 18 Apr 1945
Schweinfurt, Germany: 26Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946
Bolling Field, DC: 15 Feb-31 Mar 1946.
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944: 87th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944: 87th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1945-46: 64th Fighter Wing