48th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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The 48th Fighter Group served as a replacement training unit, before joining the Ninth Air Force in Britain in the spring of 1944 and taking part in the campaign to liberate Europe.

The 48th was constituted as the 48th Bombardment Group (Light) on 20 November 1940 and activated on 15 January 1941. In 1942 it became the 48th Bombardment Group (Dive) and in August 1943 the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group, name changes that reflect the changing nature of infantry support during this period. The group was based in the US during this period, and was mainly used as a replacement training unit. It also took part in a number of manoeuvres and briefly served as on coastal patrol duties.

In 1944 the group was chosen for service with the Ninth Air Force in Britain. Its mix of attack aircraft was replaced by the P-47 Thunderbolt, which it operated to the end of the war. The group moved to Britain in March 1944, and after a brief period of training made its combat debut on 20 April 1944 when it took part in a fighter sweep over the coast of France.

In May 1944 the group was renamed as the 48th Fighter Group. Before D-Day it was used on a mix of dive bombing and fighter escort missions, preparing for the invasion of Normandy. On D-Day the group was used to attack bridges and German artillery positions. It was then used to attack a mix of targets, including railways, trains, motor vehicles,bridges, fuel dumps and artillery positions. The group moved to France in June-July 1944.

The group took part in the break out at St. Lo in July 1944, and the advance across France in August-September.

The group was also once used on a medical mission, carrying blood plasma in its belly tanks and dropping them to front line troops trapped near Mortain in August 1944. During the same mission it also attacked three German gun positions.

In September it supported Operation Market Garden. The group moved to Belgium in late September 1944, and was cited by the Belgium Government for its support of the Allied armies, once for the period to September and once for the winter.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacking buildings, entrenchments and troops during an advance north of Julich on 6 December 1944. In December 1944-January 1945 it took part in the Battle of the Bulge, gaining a third Belgian citation for this period. On 23 December the group took part in an attack on the Bonn-Hangelar and Wahn airfields, helping destroy nine aircraft, seventeen buildings and two hangers (alongside the 373rd Fighter Group).

On 1 January 1945 the group's base was attacked during Operation Bodenplatte, the last major Luftwaffe operation of the war. Fewer than a dozen fighters were destroyed, all on the ground, but the attacking groups sufferded 40% losses.

The group supported the invasion of Germany, performing a mix of ground attack, patrol, fighter escort, weather reconnaissance and even leaflet dropping.

After the end of the war the group moved back to bases in France, before returning to the US in August-September 1945, where it was soon inactivated.




1941: Douglas A-20 Havoc, Douglas B-18
1942-1944: Douglas A-20 Havoc, Douglas A-24 Banshee (SBD Dauntless ), Vultee A-31 Vengeance, Vultee A-35 Vengeance, North American A-36 Mustang , Bell P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
1944-: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt


20 November 1940 Constituted as 48th Bombardment Group (Light)
15 January 1941 Activated
September 1942 Redesignated 48th Bombardment Group (Dive)
August 1943 Redesignated 48th Fighter-Bomber Group
March 1944 To Britain and Ninth Air Force
20 April 1944 Combat Debut
May 1944 Redesignated 48th Fighter Group
June-July 1944 To France
August-Sept 1945 To US
7 November 1945 Inactivataed

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt. Col Bernard S Thompson: 1941
Col Norman R Burnett: unkn
Lt Col Preston P Pender: c. 1943
Lt Col Charles C Kegelman: c. Apr 1943
Col Dixon M Allison: c. 8 Nov 1943
Col George L Wertenbaker Jr: 23 Apr 1944
Col James K Johnson: c. Oct 1944
Lt Col Harold L McNeely: 8 Jun 1945
Lt Col Paul P Douglas Jr: 28 Jun 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Savannah, Ga: 15 Jan 1941
Will Rogers Field, Okla: 22 May 1941
Savannah, Ga: 7 Feb 1942
Key Field, Miss: 28 Jun 1942
William Northern Field, Tenn: 20 Aug 1943
Waterboro AAFld, SC, 27 Jan-13 Mar 1944
Ibsley, England: 29 Mar 1944
Deux Jumeaux, France: 18 Jun 1944
Villacoublay, France: 29 Aug 1944
Cambrai/Niergnies, France: 15 Sep 1944
St Trond, Belgium: 30 Sep 1944
Kelz, Germany: 26 Mar 1945
Kassel, Germany: 17 Apr 1945
Illesheim, Germany: 29 Apr 1945
Laon, France: 5 Jul-Aug 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, NC: 9 Sep-7 Nov 1945

Component Units

492nd (previously 55th): 1941-1945
493rd (previously 56th): 1941-1945
494th (previously 57th): 1941-1945
495th (previously 58th): 1941-1944

Assigned To

1941: 15th Bombardment Wing (US) (as 48th Bombardment Wing)
1-15 April 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; IX Fighter Command; Ninth Air Force
-24 November 1944-: XXIX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
28 April-May 1945: XIX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 May 2018), 48th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/48th_Fighter_Group.html

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