51st Fighter Group

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The 51st Fighter Group spent most of the Second World War defending the two ends of the "Hump", the air supply route between India and China. The unit had been activated in January 1941, nearly a year before American entered the war. It was one of the first groups dispatched from the United States after Pearl Harbor, traveling west to India via Australia and Ceylon.

In 1942 the Tenth Air Force was responsible for both India and China. The first 51st FG unit to actually see service was the 16th Fighter Squadron, which was detached to serve with the 23rd FG.

The rest of the group moved forward to Dinjan, in Assam, in September 1942, beginning operations in October. Dinjan was well within range of Japanese aircraft, and so the 51st spent part of its time defending the "Hump" and part defending its own bases. It also took part in the fighting during the Japanese offensive in northern Burma in 1943.

In October 1943 the 51st FG was transferred to the Fourteenth Air Force, and to China. Its duties now involved defending the Chinese end of the "Hump" as well as supporting the Chinese army. It also carried out attacks on Japanese shipping. The unit returned to India in September 1945, and then to the United States in November.


P-40 Warhawk Aces of the CBI, Carl Molesworth. This volume in the Aircraft of the Aces series looks at the P-40 Warhawk in its most consistently successful theatre of the war – China, Burma and India. [see more]
cover cover cover


Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: 1941
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: 1942-1944
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and North American P-51 Mustang: 1945


20 November 1940 Constituted as 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
15 January 1941 Activated
January 1941-January 1942 Training with 4th Air Force
March 1941 Redesignated 51st Pursuit Group (Fighter)
January-March 1942 In transit to India
March 1942-October 1943 With 10th Air Force, based in India
May 1942 Redesignated 51st Fighter Group
October 1943-Autumn 1945 With 14th Air Force, based in China
November 1945 Sailed for United States
13 December 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Colonel Homer L "Tex" Sanders: 1941
Colonel John F Egan: 23 March 1943
Lt. Colonel Samuel B. Knowles Jr: 20 September 1943
Colonel Louis R. Hughes Jr: 27 May 1944
Lt. Colonel William E Blankenship: February-December 1945

Main Bases

Hamilton Field, California: 15 January 1941
March Field, California: 20 June 1941-11 January 1942
Karachi, India: 14 March 1942
Dinjan, India: 10 October 1942
Kunming, China: 2 October 1943
India: September-November 1945

Component Units

16th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945 (P-40 1941-44; P-51 1944-45)
25th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945 (P-40 1941-45; P-38 1944; P-51 1944-45)
26th Fighter Squadron: 1941-1945 (P-40 1941-44; P-51 1944-45)
449th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945 (P-38 1943-45)

Assigned To

Fourth Air Force: 9th Fighter Wing?; January 1941-March 1942
Tenth Air Force: March 1942-October 1943
69th Composite Wing; Fourteen Air Force: October 1943-Autumn 1945

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 December 2007), 51st Fighter Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/51st_Fighter_Group.html

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