2nd Bombardment Group

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The 2nd Bombardment Group was a B-17 bomber group that operated with the Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Force, taking part in the invasion of Sicily, the campaign in Italy and the strategic bombing campaign across Europe.

In the rather confused system of Army Air Force lineages the 2nd Bombardment Group inherited the history of the 1st Day Bombardment Group of 1918. This came about because a second 1st Day Bombardment Group had been formed in the United States in 1919. This group was redesignated as the 2nd Bombardment Group in 1921. In 1924 the original 1st Day Bombardment Group was reconstituted, but was then consolidated with the 2nd Bombardment Group. The merged group inherited the histories of both of the previous organisations.

Close-up of Keystone LB-7 of 2nd Bombardment Group, Arizona, 26 December 1929
Close-up of Keystone LB-7
of 2nd Bombardment Group,
Arizona, 26 December 1929

The new merged 2nd Bombardment Group was a key part of the American bomber force between the two World Wars. After the American entry into the Second World War it was used to fly antisubmarine patrols off the US coast as part of I Bomber Command.

Originally the group was one of two that were assigned to the Eighth Air force in February 1943, but before the group left the United States it was transferred to the Twelfth Air Force and its new destination was North Africa where it formed part of the wider Northwest African Air Forces.

The group began operations over Italy in April 1943 and flew a mix of strategic and tactical missions. It took part in the last stage of the campaign in Tunisia, and then the heavy bombardment of Pantelleria island, which saw 6,200 tons of bombs dropped between 8 May and 11 June. The group then moved on to attack targets on Sicily and in particular transport links that might be used to move reinforcements from mainland Italy to that island. This included a heavy raid on Messina on 25 June 1943.

On 17 August 1943 the group took part in the North African Strategic Air Force's first raid against targets in the south of France, an attack on a complex of Luftwaffe airfields north-west of Marseille. In September 1943 it supported the invasion of mainland Italy. In December 1943 it became part of the new Fifteenth Air Force, which focused on the strategic bombing campaign, and in the same month the group moved into a new base in Italy. In this role it attacked targets in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania and Greece. On 2 January 1944 the group attacked the Villa Perosa ball-bearing works, part of the 'Pointblank' campaign.

The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in an attack on an aircraft factory at Steyr on 24 February 1944, and a second one for an attack on the aircraft factory at Regensburg on the very next day!

On 28 March 1944 the group took part in the Fifteenth Air Force's first 1,000 ton raid, an attack on an industrial target in northern Italy.

The group continued to fly tactical missions, supporting the Allied advance up Italy, the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 and the slower campaign in the north of Italy in the last year of the war.

After the end of the fighting in Italy the squadron formed part of the occupation forces before being inactivated on 28 February 1946.


To Come


Wide range of aircraft early in war

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress during period 1943-46


10 September 1918 Organised as 1st Day Bombardment Group
November 1918 Demobilized in France
1924 Reconstituted and merged with existing 2nd Bombardment Group
1939 Redesignated 2nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)
May 1943 To North Africa and Twelfth Air Force
December 1943 To Fifteenth Air Force
28 February 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Robert C Olds: c. 1937-unkn
Lt Col Harold L George: Feb 1940-unkn
Lt Col Darr H Alkire: 6 Jan 1942
Col Dale O Smith: c. Sep 1942
Col Ford J Lauer: 29 Oct 1942
Lt Col Joseph A Thomas: 20 Apr 1943
Col Herbert E Rice: 5 Sep 1943
Col John D Ryan: 8 Jul 1944
Col Paul T Cullen: 25 Sep 1944
Col Robert K Martin: 23 May 1945-20 Feb 1946.

Main Bases

Langley Field, Va: 1 Jul 1922
Ephrata, Wash: 29 Oct 1942
Great Falls AAB, Mont: 27 Nov 1942-13 Mar 1943
Navarin, Algeria: Apr 1943
Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria: 27 Apr 1943
Ain M’lila, Algeria: 17 Jun 1943
Massicault, Tunisia: 31 Jul 1943
Bizerte, Tunisia: 2 Dec 1943
Amendola, Italy: c. 9 Dec 1943
Foggia, Italy, 19 Nov 1945- 28 Feb 1946.

Component Units (1939 onwards, aircraft from 1943)

20th Bombardment Squadron: 1918; 1919-1946
49th Bombardment Squadron: 1918; 1919-1946
96th Bombardment Squadron: 1918; 1919-1946
429th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946

Assigned To

1922-1941: 2nd Bombardment Wing
c.1941: 2nd Bombardment Wing; I Bomber Command
1943: 5th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943-1945: 5th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force
1945-1946: 40th Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (date), 2nd Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/2nd_Bombardment_Group.html

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