381st Bombardment Group (Second World War)

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History

The 381st Bombardment Group was a B-17 group in the Eighth Air Force and took part in the daylight strategic bombing campaign over Europe.

The 381st became operational in June 1943, during a period that saw the total number of American combat aircraft in the European theatre rise from 1,260 in May up to 4,242 at the end of the year. Its combat debut came on 22 June when it took part in a diversionary attack on a Ford and General Motors factory in Antwerp.

The squadron took part in the daylight strategic bombing campaign over Europe. Amongst its many targets were the locks at St. Nazaire, aircraft factories at Villacoublay, Le Mans, Brussels, Kassel and Leipzig, the ball bearing factory at Schweinfurt and the Big Week attack on the German aircraft industry of 20-25 February 1944. The group lost eleven aircraft during the attack on Schweinfurt on 17 August 1943, the worst losses in any group during that costly raid.

On 6 March 1944 the group took part in the first large American raid on Berlin, suffering heavy losses in the attack.

The group attacked bridges and airfields in June 1944 to support the D-Day landings. It also took part in the heavy bomber attack on the German lines that preceded the US breakout from St Lo in July 1944, supported the attack on Arnhem in September, German airfields and communications during the battle of the Bulge and supported the crossing of the Rhine.

The group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, both for operations over Germany. The first was awarded for an attack on the shipyards at Bremen on 8 October 1943 when the group attacked through heavy flak. The second was for an attack on German aircraft factories on 11 January 1944.

The group returned to the United States in June-July 1945 and was inactivated in August.

Books

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review]
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Aircraft

1942-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Timeline

28 October 1942 Constituted as 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
3 November 1942 Activated
May-June 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
June-July 1945 To United States
28 August 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Joseph J Nazzaro: Jan 1943
Col Harry P Leber Jr, c. 9 Jan 1944
Lt Col Conway S Hall, 6 Feb 1945

Main Bases

Gowen Field, Idaho: 3 Nov 1942
Ephrata, Wash: c. 1 Dec 1942
Pyote AAB, Tex: c. 3 Jan 1943
Pueblo AAB, Colo: c. 5 Apr-c. 9 May 1943
Ridgewell, Essex, England: Jun 1943-Jun 1945
Sioux Falls Field, Neb: 24 Jul 1947-27 Jun 1949.

Component Units

532nd Bombardment Squadron: 3 Nov 1942-28 Aug 1945.
533rd Bombardment Squadron: 3 Nov 1942-28 Aug 1945.
534th Bombardment Squadron: 3 Nov 1942-28 Aug 1945.
535th Bombardment Squadron: 3 Nov 1942-28 Aug 1945.

Assigned To

1943: 1st Bombardment Wing; Eighth Air Force
1943-45: 1st Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 October 2012), 381st Bombardment Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/381st_Bombardment_Group.html

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