386th Bombardment Group

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The 386th Bombardment Group (USAAF) was a medium bomber group that served with the Eighth and then Ninth Air Forces from England, taking part in the anti V-weapon campaign and supporting the D-Day landings and the campaign in Western Europe.

B-26 Marauder of the 386th Bombardment Group
B-26 Marauder of the
386th Bombardment Group

The group was activated on 1 December 1942 and equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder. It took that aircraft to England in June 1943, where it joined the Eighth Air Force. Its first combat operation came in July, while it was still part of the Eighth Air Force, but on 16 October 1943 it was one of four Medium Bombardment groups and two Troop Carrier groups that were moved to the Ninth Air Force. This new force took over the Eighth's early tactical roles, leaving that organisation free to focus on the strategic bombing campaign.

In early operations the group concentrated its efforts against German airfields, but also attacked rail marshalling yards and gun positions. In the winter of 1943-44 it took part in the campaign against the V-weapon sites along the French coast. The group took part in 'Big Week' (20-25 February 1944), focusing on airfields in Holland and Belgium.

In the build-up to the D-Day invasions the group returned to the mix of airfields, gun positions and marshalling yards. In late May it was used to attack the bridges across the Seine as the Allies attempted to isolate the Normandy battlefield.

Martin B-26B-15-MA Marauder
Martin B-26B-15-MA Marauder

On D-Day the group attacked German coastal batteries. After D-Day it was used to attack gun positions, strong points, bridges, supply and fuel dumps. It took part in the attack on Caen, and on 25 July 1944 took part in the attack on the German positions at St Lo as part of the American breakout. In August 1944 it took part in the battle of the Falaise Gap, and in September it was used against the German garrison of Brest.

In October 1944 the Group moved to France. It was used to attack strong points around Metz, took part in the fighting on Holland and operated against targets in Germany, mainly hitting communications targets. During the Battle of the Bulge it focused on bridges behind the battlefield in an attempt to isolate the German troops at the front.

Soon after the battle ended the group converted to the Douglas A-26 Invader. It used its new aircraft against transport and communications targets and storage dumps. Combat ended in May 1945.

In June 1945 the group became the 386th Bombardment Group (Light). It returned to the US in the summer of 1946 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.


‘Big Week’ 1944 – Operation Argument and the breaking of the Jadgwaffe, Douglas C. Dildy. Looks at the USAAF’s concentrated attack on the German aircraft industry, a week of massive bombing raids that forced the Luftwaffe into an equally massive defensive effort that cost them around 150 aircrew at a time when they could hardly afford those losses, as well as cutting German fighter production by around 2,000 aircraft, and proving that the long range escort fighter was the key to a successful daylight bombing campaign (Read Full Review)
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December 1942-Late 1944: Martin B-26 Marauder
Early 1945-November 1946: Douglas A-26 Invader


25 November 1942 Constituted as 386th Bombardment Group (Medium)
1 December 1942 Activated
June 1943 Arrived in UK, part of Eighth Air Force
July 1943 First Combat Mission
May 1945 Last combat missions
June 1945 Redesignated 386th Bombardment Group (Light)
July-August 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Lester J Maitland: c. 1 Dec 1942
Col Richard C Sanders: 18 Nov 1943
Col Joe W Kelly: 22 Jan 1944
Col Thomas G Corbin: c. 25 Aug 1944-1945
Capt Amos B Leighton: 8 Apr 1956

Main Bases

MacDill Field, Fla: 1 Dec 1942
Lake Charles AAB, La: 9 Feb-8 May 1943
Snetterton Heath, England: 3 Jun 1943
Boxted, England: 10 Jun 1943
Great Dunmow, England: 3 Sep 1943
Beaumont-sur-Oise, France: 2 Oct 1944
St- Trond, Belgium: 9 Apr-Jul 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, NC: 7 Aug 1945
Westover Field, Mass: 30 Sept-7 Nov 1945
Bunker Hill AFB, Ind: 8 Apr 1956-

Component Units

552nd: 1942-1945 ; 1956-
553rd: 1942-1945; 1956-
554th: 1942- 1945; 1956-
555th: 1942-1945

Assigned To

1942-43: 3rd Bombardment Wing; VIII Air Support Command; Eighth Air Force
1944-45: 99th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force
1945: 98th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 January 2014), 386th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/386th_Bombardment_Group.html

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