33rd Fighter Group

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The 33rd Fighter Group was one of the more widely traveled American Fighter Groups of the Second World War, taking part in Operation Torch, the Tunisian campaign, the attack on Pantelleria, the invasions of Sicily and Italy and the Anzio campaign before being transferred to the Far East, fighting in China and Burma.

The group was constituted on 20 November 1940 and activated in January 1941. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor it became part of the defence forces allocated to the east coast. During 1942 it became one of the units allocated to Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, taking part in the initial landings on 8 November 1942. The group remained in North Africa until June 1943, taking part in the Tunisian campaign. During this period it used its P-40s for ground attack and close support missions.

The 33rd Fighter Group took part in the Allied attack on the much-vaunted Italian fortress island of Pantelleria, moving to the island after the garrison surrendered. It then took part in the invasion of Sicily, the Allied landings at Salerno and the fighting over Anzio.

In February 1944 the group was moved to India. Its P-40s were replaced with a mix of P-38 Lightnings and P-47 Thunderbolts before it moved to China to became part of the Fourteenth Air Force in April 1944. There it performed as a more traditional fighter-interceptor unit, operating against Japanese attacks, before returning to India in September 1944.

From then until the end of the war it formed part of the 10th Air Force. This time it returned to its original ground attack role, supporting the campaign of Burma. The unit returned to the United States in November 1945 and was inactivated in the following month.


Curtis Warhawk Aces of MTO, Carl Molesworth (Aircraft of the Aces 43). The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was the main Allied frontline fighter for nearly a year in North Africa. As the war in desert reached its climax at El Alamein and with Operation Torch, American pilots arrived to join the RAF and commonwealth pilots with their Kittyhawks. [see more]
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P-39: 1941
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: 1941-1944
Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: 1944-1945


20 November 1940 Constituted as 33rd Pursuit Group
15 January 1940 Activated on 15 January 1941
May 1942 Redesignated 33rd Fighter Group
8 November 1942 Took part in Operation Torch
November 1942-February 1944 Twelfth Air Force, Mediterranean
February-April 1944 Tenth Air Force, India, training
April 1944-September 1944 Fourteen Air Force, China
September 1944-November 1944 Tenth Air Force, India

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Major Minthorne W. Reed: January 1941
Colonel Elwood R Quesada: 7 October 1941
Colonle William W Momyer: 29 June 1942
Colonel Loring F Stetson Jr: 17 October 1943
Lt. Colonel Oliver G. Cellini: 7 June 1944
Colonel David D. Terry Jr: 9 September 1944
Colonel Frank L Dunn: 2 March 1945

Main Bases

Mitchel Field, New York: 15 January 1941
Philadelphia, Pa.: 13 December 1941-October 1942
Port Lyautey, French Morocco: 10 November 1942
Casablanca, French Morocco: 13 November 1942
Telergma, Algeria: 24 December 1942
Thelepte, Tunisia: 7 January 1943
Youks-les-Bains, Algeria: 8 February 1943
Telergma, Algeria: 20 February 1943
Berteaux, Algeria: 2 March 1943
Ebba Ksour, Tunisia: 12 April 1943
Menzel Temime: Tunisia: 20 May 1943
Sousse, Tunisia: 9 June 1943
Pantelleria: 19 June 1943
Licata, Sicily: 18 July 1943
Paestum, Italy: 13 September 1943
Santa Maria, Italy: 18 November 1943
Cercola, Italy: January-February 1944
Karachi: February 1944
Shwangliu, China: 18 April 1944
Pungchacheng, China: 9 May 1944
Nagaghuli, India: 3 September 1944
Sahmaw, Burma: 25 December 1944
Piardoba, India: 5 May-15 November 1945

Component Units

58th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945
59th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945
60th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945

Assigned To

1940-1941: 7th Fighter Wing (later 47th Bombardment Wing)
August 1942-October 1942: Philadelphia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
November 1942-February 1944: Twelfth Air Force
1942: 7th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force (7th becomes 47th below)
1942-43: 47th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
February-April 1944: Tenth Air Force
April-September 1944: 312th Fighter Wing; Fourteenth Air Force
September 1944-: Tenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (date), name, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/33rd_Fighter_Group.html

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