34th Bombardment Group

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 34th Bombardment Group was created during the pre-Pearl Harbor buildup of the USAAF, and was based on the east coast, where it spent the remaining months of peace flying the B-17 Flying Fortress.

After the American entry into the war the 34th spent a month flying patrols off the US east coast, before moving west to Oregon at the end of January 1942, where it became part of the west coast defence force. This period of active service ended in May 1942, when the 34th moved inland to Arizona, where it would spend the rest of 1942 and all of 1943 serving as a replacement training unit.

At the end of 1943 the 34th converted to the B-24 Liberator in preparation for a move to the Eighth Air Force in England. The move took place in April 1944, and operations began only one month later, in May.

During the summer of 1944 the 34th used its B-24s to support the Allied invasion of Europe, attacking German gun emplacements and supply lines. The unit took part in the heavy attack on German forces at St. Lo on 24-25 July. It also took part in the campaign against the V-weapon sites.

In the autumn of 1944 Eisenhower surrendered control of the heavy bombers back to the Eighth Air Force and the strategic bombing campaign was resumed. At this point the 34th BG converted to the B-17 Flying Fortress, flying that aircraft for the rest of the war. From October 1944 until February 1945 the group concentrated on attacking industrial targets in Germany, with a short break to help support the Allied armies during the battle of the Bulge.

As the number of worthwhile strategic targets began to dwindle, the 34th BG returned to tactical duties, attacking German communications and supported Allied attacks.

Books

 Consolidated B-24 Liberator (Crowood Aviation), Martin W. Bowman. A well balanced book that begins with a look at the development history of the B-24, before spending nine out of its ten chapters looking at the combat career of the aircraft in the USAAF, the US Navy and the RAF.
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 B-24 Liberator Units of the Eighth Air Force, Robert F. Dorr. Although the Eighth Air Force is famous for operating the B-17, even at the end of the Second World War the B-24 still equipped one third of all Eighth Army Bombardment Groups. Here Dorr looks at the role the Liberator played with the Eighth Army, from its tiny beginnings in 1942 to the final massive air armadas of 1944 and 1945. Dorr also looks at the sizable detachments sent to North Africa during 1943, and the famous Ploesti mission.  
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Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Frederick A. Johnsen. A well researched and illustrated history of the B-17, with a very strong section on its combat record, an interesting chapter on the efforts made to improve the aircraft (including a number of suggestions that didn't enter production) and a good selection of colour pictures of the aircraft. [see more]
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Aircraft

20 November-late 1943: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Late 1943-Summer 1944: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Summer 1944-August 1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Timeline

20 November 1940 Constituted as 34th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
15 January 1941 Activated
December 1941 Begins patrol missions off US east coast
Mid 1942-late 1943 Replacement training unit
April 1944 Moved to England with Eighth Air Force
May 1944 Entered combat with B-24 Liberators
October 1944 Began operations with B-17 Flying Fortress
28 August 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Major John W. Monahan: 15 January 1941
Lt. Colonel Harold D. Smith: 1 March 1941
Major Ford J. Lauer: 9 January 1942
Colonel Ralph E. Koon: 12 February 1942
Major Irvine A. Rendel: 21 July 1942
Major John A. Rouse: 24 February 1943
Lt. Colonel John E Carmack: 15 September 1943
Colonel Ernest F. Wackwitz, Jr.: c.5 January 1944
Colonel William E. Creer: September 1944
Lt. Colonel Eugene B. Lebailly: 29 May 1945-August 1945

Main Bases

Langley Field, Virginia: 15 January 1941
Westover Field, Mass: 29 May 1941
Pendleton Field, Oregon: 27 January 1942
Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona: 13 May 1942
Geiger Field, Washington: 4 July 1942
Ephrata, Washington: 1 December 1942
Blythe, California: 15 December 1942-April 1944
Mendlesham, England: 26 April 1944-25 July 1945
Sioux Falls: August 1945

Component Units

4th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1945
7th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1945
18th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1945
391st Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1945

Assigned To

Eighth Air Force: April 1944 onwards
1944-1945: 93rd Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1945: 20th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1945: 45th Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 February 2008), 34th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/34th_Bombardment_Group.html

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