The 494th Bombardment Group, or "Kelly's Cobras", was the last B-24 Liberator bombardment group to be dispatched from the United States during the Second World War. It was made up of three new bombardment squadrons (864th, 865th and 866th) and one more experienced unit, the 867th Bombardment Squadron. This squadron had started flying anti-submarine warfare patrols in February 1942 as the 92nd Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium), and had continued to carry out that role for nineteen months and through three name changes, before finally joining the 494th at the start of 1944.
The 494th was allocated to the Seventh Air Force, fighting in the Pacific. Towards the end of 1944 the group moved to Angaur, officially arriving on 30 September 1944, although the last members of the group did not reach the island until December. The group entered combat with a series of attacks on Japanese held islands in the Palau group, and the first of a long series of attacks on the Philippines.
The Philippines became the group's main target during its first six months in the Pacific. The group carried out a large number of attacks on targets on Luzon, as well as taking part in the bombardment of Corregidor, and carrying out a series of raids over Mindanao.
At the end of April a detachment of B-24s from the 494th moved to Guam, where they spent two weeks supporting the 11th Bombardment Group in its attack on Marcus Island and Truk.
On 24 June 1945 the group moved to Okinawa. Its aircraft began to arrive on 1 July, and on 5 July forty eight aircraft from the 494th became the first Liberator bombers to attack the Japanese home islands from Okinawa. Their targets were Japanese airfields, starting with Omura Airfield and facilities around the Omura-Nagasaki area. During the last two months of the war the group attacked targets on the home islands and in Japanese occupied China. The group was in the air when the first of the Atom bombs exploded. After the end of the war the 494th was used to transport personnel and supplies into Tokyo and to liberate Allied prisoners of war being held in Japan.
For more details see the 494th Bomb Group (H) Association website
1943-1944: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
|14 September 1943||Constituted at 494th Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|1 December 1943||Activated|
|June 1944||Moved to Hawaii for training|
|September 1944||Assigned to Seventh Air Force and moved to Palau|
|3 November 1944||Entered combat|
|June 1945||Moved to Okinawa, became first B-24 Group to attack Japanese home islands.|
|December 1945||Returned to United States|
|4 January 1946||Inactivated|
Colonel Laurence B. Kelly: 24 February 1944 onwards
Wendover Field, Utah: 1 December 1943
Mountain Home Army, Idaho: 15 April-1 June 1944
Barking Sands, Hawaii: 15 June 1944
Angaur: 30 September 1944
Yontan, Okinawa: 24 June-8 December 1945
Fort Lawson, Washington: 2-4 January 1945
864th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
865th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
866th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
867th Bombardment Squadron: 1944-1946
1944-1945: VII Bomber Command; Seventh Air Force