307th Bombardment Group

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History

The 307th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit that took part in early raids on Wake Island before moving to the South West Pacific, where it spent the rest of the war operating over Japanese held island chains and the Philippines.

The group was activated in April 1942 and was equipped with the B-17. It was initially used to fly patrols off the US West Coast, before converting to the B-24 and moving to Hawaii in October-November 1942. It was to serve as the replacement for the 90th Bombardment Group, which had been ordered to move to Australia.

On the night of 23 December 1942 twenty-six B-24Ds from the group attacked Wake Island from Hawaii, staging through Midway, in the first of a short series of raids that gave the Seventh Air Force valuable early experience. On this first raid the aircraft carried 135 500lb bombs and 21 incendiary bombs. The Japanese were caught out and all twenty-six aircraft returned intact. Six aircraft returned to Wake on 25 January, and eighteen took part in a raid on 15 May. This time one B-24 was lost, the first aircraft lost in combat by the Seventh Air Force.

In February 1943 the group moved to Guadalcanal, where it joined the Thirteenth Air Force and replaced the exhausted 11th Bombardment Group. The group spent the rest of 1943 on Guadalcanal (although it did move between bases on the island later in the year), attacking Japanese bases in the Solomon and Bismarck Islands, Yak, Truk and the Palau Islands.

Rabaul was an important target late in 1943 and early in 1944, when the 307th and 5th Bombardment Groups provided most of the bombers used to attack that key Japanese base. It was a sign of the generally excellent cooperation between different services and Allied nations that these raids were normally escorted by fighters from the US Marines, US Navy and RNZAF.

The group's time on Guadalcanal began with two costly strikes on the Russell Islands, in advance of an Allied invasion on 21 February. Fifteen aircraft had taken part in two raids on 13 and 14 February, and five had been lost. These had been unescorted daylight raids, and made it clear that the Japanese were perfectly capable of mauling the heavy bombers. The group moved to night operations where resistance was expected, such as on an attack on airfields on Bougainville on 20-21 March. The rate of operations steadily rose, until by October the group was operating on every other day.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an unescorted daylight attack on the Japanese airfields on Truk on 29 March 1944. Two aircraft were lost and fifteen damaged during this raid. Truk was a regular target, and was attacked again on the nights of 23, 25 and 27 April and in May and June.

In April 1944 the group moved to the Admiralty Islands, from where it could hit the Carolines and Hollandia. The group was also used to attack Japanese airfields at Truk and Satawan to help prevent the aircraft there from interfering with US carrier strikes.

Noemfoor became a target in June 1944, again in prep ration for an invasion. The Palaus were targets in August and September. The Moluccas were attacked in September to prepare for an invasion of Morotai.

The group took part in the Allied return to the Philippines, attacking targets across Leyte, Luzon, Negros, Ceram and Halmahera. It was also used to attack Japanese shipping.

The group was also used against targets in the Dutch East Indies and Borneo and was awarded a second DUC for a raid on the oil refineries at Balikpapan on Borneo on 3 October 1944. The group led the attack and hit its target, but lost seven of the twenty B-24s that reached the target. The group returned to the same target again in October, but with new tactics and far fewer losses.

The group played a limited part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf (23-26 October 1944), attacking Admiral Kurita's battleships as they retreated at the end of the battle. Twenty-seven of the group's B-24s attacked the Yamato and the Kongo, and although they scored no direct hits some near misses did minor damage (Kurita's chief of staff was wounded). Three B-24s were lost during this attack.

Late in the war the Group supported the Australian invasion of Borneo and attacked targets in French Indochina, including taking part in a major assault on the Saigon area in April 1945.

After the end of the war the group was used to fly patrols along the Asian coast and to fly freed POWs from Okinawa to Manila. It returned to the US late in 1945 and was inactivated in January 1946.

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
1942-1946: Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Timeline

28 January 1942 Constituted as 307th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
15 April 1942 Activated
Oct-Nov 1942 To Hawaii and Seventh Air Force
February 1943 To Guadalcanal and Thirteenth Air Force
Dec 45-Jan 46 To United States
18 January 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Capt Bill Jarvis: 1 May 1942
Col William A Matheny: 22 May 1942
Col Oliver S Picher: 19 Aug 1943
Col Glen R Birchard: 27 Oct 1943
Col Robert F Burnham: 28 Mar 1944
Col Clifford H Rees: Nov 1944-unknown.

Main Bases

Geiger Field, Washington: 15 April 1942
Ephrata, Washington: 28 May 1942
Sioux City AAB, Iowa: 30 Sep-20 Oct 1942
Hickham Field, TH: 1 Nov 1942
Guadalcanal: Feb 1943
New Georgia: 28 Jan 1944
Los Negros (Admiralty Islands): c. 29 Apr 1944
Wakde: 24 Aug 1944
Morotai: c. 18 Oct 1944
Clark Field, Luzon: Sep-Dec 1945
Camp Stoneman, Calif: 16-18 Jan 1946
MacDill Field, Fla: 4 Aug 1946-16 Jun 1952

Component Units

370th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46; 1946-52
371st Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46; 1945-52
372nd Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1945-52
424th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45

Assigned To

1942-1943: VII Bomber Command; Seventh Air Force
1943-1945: XIII Bomber Command; Thirteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 March 2013), 307th Bombardment Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/307th_Bombardment_Group.html

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