489th Bombardment Group

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The 489th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit within the Eighth Air Force, noteworthy for containing the only man to be awarded the Medal of Honor while flying an Eighth Air Force B-24 from Britain (a number of other Medals of Honor were awards for actions such as the Ploesti raid, which were flown outside the Eighth Air Forces normal area of operations).

The 489th entered combat on 30 May 1944, in the period immediately before the D-Day landings. The Medal of Honor would be won only six days later. During an attack on German coastal defences near Wimereaux on 5 June the aircraft containing the deputy group commander, Lt. Colonel Leon R. Vance Jr, was badly damaged and the pilot was killed. Vance was seriously wounded, but still took over the piloting duties, led the group to the target, and then returned it to the English coast, where the rest of the crew was able to bail out. Vance believed that a wounded crewman had been unable to bail out. The aircraft was too badly damaged to land, and so Vance ditched his aircraft in the sea, even though the B-24 was known to ditch very badly. He was thrown clear of the aircraft, and was later rescued and awarded the Medal of Honor.

As well as taking part in the strategic bombing campaign over Germany, the 489th took part in the operations to support the D-Day lands and the massive aerial attack that preceded the breakthrough at St. Lo. The unit was also used to carry food to liberated France and to the rapidly advancing Allied troops during August and September 1944 and to carry supplies to the Allied troops in Holland during Operation Market Garden.

In November-December 1944 the 489th Bombardment Group was withdrawn to the United States, where it began to prepare to deploy to the Pacific. In March 1945 it was redesignated as a Very Heavy bombardment unit, and converted to the B-29 Superfortress, but the war ended before it could be deployed with the new aircraft. The unit was inactivated on 17 October 1945.


 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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September 1943-December 1944: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
March 1945-October 1945: Boeing B-29 Superfortress


14 September 1943 Constituted as 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
1 October 1943 Activated
April-May 1944 Moves to England to join Eighth Air FOrce
30 May 1944 First combat mission
July 1944 First strategic bombing mission over Germany
November-December 1944 Returns to the United States to prepare for redeployment in the Pacific
March 1945 Redesignated 489th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Colonel Ezekiel W. Napier: 20 October 1943
Lt. Colonel Robert E. Kollimer: 5 February 1945
Colonel Paul C Ashworth: 11 April 1945

Main Bases

Wendover Field, Utah: 1 October 1943-3 April 1944
Halesworth, England: 1 May-November 1944
Bradley Field, Conn: 12 December 1944
Lincoln Field, Nebraska: 15 December 1944
Great Bend, Kansas: c. 28 February 1945
Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona: 3 April 1945
Fairmont, Nebraska: c.13 July 1945
Ft. Lawton, Washington: 23 August 1945
March Field, California: 2 September-17 October 1945

Component Units

844th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
845th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
846th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
847th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945

Assigned To

Eighth Air Force: 1944
1944: 95th Bombardment Wing; Eighth Air Force
1944: 20th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1945; 47th Bombardment Wing (after return to US)

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 February 2008), 489th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/489th_Bombardment_Group.html

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