XX Bomber Command, USAAF, 1943-1945

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The Boeing B-29 Superfortress first went into combat with XX Bomber Command from bases in India and China. During the early years of the American involvement in the Second World War the Army Air Corps believed that the best way to defeat Japan would be a massive bombing campaign. The only Allied territory within bombing range of the Japanese Home Islands was in China. The only problem was that the Japanese invasion of Burma had blocked the land route from India to China, and so all supplies had to be flown to China over the Himalayas (on the air route known as the Hump).

Although two Bombardment Wings were allocated to XX Bomber Command, only the 58th Bombardment Wing entered service in the China. India and Burma Theatre. The wing arrived in India in March 1944 and was based at Kharagpur. A forward staging base had been created at Kwanghan, China. The 58th Bombardment Wing carried out 72 missions from these two bases. The first mission was flown from Kharagpur on 5 June 1944, against railway yards at Bangkok. The wing also flew the first B-29 mission against Japan, on 15 June 1944 when they used the Kwanghan staging base to reach the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata, Japan. The wing also flew the longest B-29 mission of the war, a 3,900 mile round trip to attack oil refinaries at Palembang, Sumatra.

By the summer of 1944 the American advance across the central Pacific had brought Japan within the range of B-29s based on the Marianas. XX Bomber Command's second Bombardment Wing, the 73rd, was posted directly to the Marianas Islands, beginning operations in the autumn of 1944 with XXI Bomber Command.

The attempt to conduct a bombing campaign from China finally came to an end when the 58th Bombardment Wing closed down its operations on 29 March 1945. It was then transfered to the Marianas Islands. XX Bomber Command was inactivated on 16 July 1945, when it was merged with XXI Bomber Command as Headquarters Squadron, Twentieth Air Force bringing all the 20th Air Force B-29s based on the Marianas Islands under one command.

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Brigadier General Kenneth B. Wolfe: 27 November 1943
Brigadier General LaVern G. Saunders: 6 July 1944
Major General Curtis E. LeMay: 29 August 1944
Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey: 20 January 1945
Brigadier General Joseph Smith: 25 April 1945

Main Bases

Smoky Hill, Kansas: 20 November 1943-12 February 1944
Kharagpur, India: 28 March 1944-17 June 1945
Sakugawa, Okinawa: 7-16 July 1945

Component Units

XX Bomber Command, 1943-1945 (20th Air Force)
58th Bombardment Wing, 1943-1945 (B-29 Superfortress)
40th Bombardment Group, 1943-1945
444th Bombardment Group, 1943-1945
462nd Bombardment Group, 1943-1945
468th Bombardment Group, 1943-1945
472nd Bombardment Group, 1943-1945
73rd Bombardment Wing, 1943-1944 (B-29 Superfortress)
497th Bombardment Group: 1943-1945
498th Bombardment Group: 1943-1945
499th Bombardment Group: 1943-1945
500th Bombardment Group: 1943-1945
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 December 2007), XX Bomber Command, USAAF, 1943-1945, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/20_Bomber_Command_1943.html

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