The 474th Fighter Group (USAAF) served with the Ninth Air Force in Europe, taking part in the Allied invasion of Europe and the advance across north-western Europe into Germany.
The group was constituted as the 474th Fighter Group on 26 May 1943 and activated on 1 August. It trained with the P-38 Lightning, and kept that aircraft for its entire existence.
The group moved to Britain in February-March 1944 and joined the Ninth Air Force. Its combat debut came on 25 April 1944, and was a patrol along the French coast.
In the build-up to Operation Overlord, the group took part in the attacks on transport targets in France, hitting bridges and railway.
On the night of 5-6 June 1944 the group provided fighter cover over the invasion fleet. On D-Day it served as a fighter-bomber unit, supporting the troops fighting on the beaches.
In the aftermath of D-Day the group flew armed reconnaissance missions, searching for and attacking German targets. German records state that on 6 July it and the 367th Fighter Group attacked a German strong point and inflicted so much damage that it was unable to offer effective resistance when attacked. It helped support the breakout from St. Lo on 25 July, attacking roads and troop concentrations.
The group moved to France in August 1944. It attacked a wide range of targets, including airfields, hangers, railways, bridges, roads, barges, fuel dumps, ammo depots, guns and troop concentrations. It was also used to escort bombers attacking strategic targets.
The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on a concentration of German material that was trapped against the River Seine on 23 August 1944, attacking through a heavy concentration of flak protecting two remaining bridges. The attacks badly disrupted the attempt to escape across the river.
On 25 August the group, once again alongside the 367th, carried out a series of attacks on German airfields in the St. Quentin-Laon area, acting on a suggestion from the 'Y' service, a radio interception service that had identified when these aircraft were in use. The two groups claimed 41 victories for the cost of 18 aircraft during this attack.
In September 1944 the group operated in support of Operation Market Garden, including attacking German flak positions around Eindhoven before the 1st Airborne Division drops. The same month saw the Luftwaffe reappear in strength, and on 11-12 September the group was one of three involved in aerial battles in which they claimed 25 victories for the loss of six aircraft.
In December 1944-January 1945 the group took part in the battle of the Bulge. This included bomber escort missions and ground attack missions, including attacks on enemy transports around Malmedy, St. Vith and Schleiden.
In March 1945 it flew fighter patrols along the route being taken by the massive airborne fleet taking part in the crossing of the Rhine.
The group remained in action until VE Day. It remained in Europe until November-December 1945 when it returned to the US, where it was inactivated on 8 December 1945.
August 1943-December 1945: Lockheed P-38 Lightning
|26 May 1943||Constituted as 474th Fighter Group|
|1 August 1943||Activated|
|Feb-March 1944||To Britain and Ninth Air Force|
|25 April 1944||Combat Debut|
|Nov-December 1945||To United States|
|8 December 1945||Inactivated|
Col Clinton C Wasem: 1
Lt Col Earl C Hedlund: c. 17Feb 1945
Lt Col David L Lewis: Apr 1945-unkn.
Glendale, Calif: 1 Aug 1943
Van Nuys Metropolitan Aprt, Calif: 11 Oct 1943
Oxnard Flight Strip, Calif: 5 Jan-4 Feb 1944
Moreton, England: 12 Mar 1944
Neuilly, France: 6 Aug 1944
St Marceau, France: 29 Aug 1944
Peronne, France: 6 Sep 1944
Florennes, Belgium: 1 Oct 1944
Strassfeld, Germany: 22 Mar 1945
Langensalza, Germany: 22 Apr 1945
Schweinfurt, Germany: 16 Jun 1945
Stuttgart, Germany: 25 Oct-21 Nov 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: 6-8 Dec 1945.
1943-44: Los Angeles Fighter Wing; IV Fighter Command; Fourth Air Force
17 March-15 April 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; IX Fighter Command; Ninth Air Force