52nd Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 52nd Fighter Group was one of the first units to join the Eighth Air Force in Britain, before moving to North Africa for Operation Torch. It then spent the rest of the war operating in the Mediterranean theatre.

The group was constituted as the 52nd Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940 and activated on 15 January 1941. It trained with P-39s and P-40s, before moving to Britain in the summer of 1942, after being one of the first groups selected for service with the Eighth Air Force. The group was equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, and entered combat with the Eighth Air Force in August-September 1942.

The group was then chosen as one of the units to support Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. The pilots flew Spitfires from Gibraltar to Algeria on 8 November 1942 (six had to put down on the way after running out of fuel), while the rest of the group, which was following by sea, didn't arrive until the brief campaign in Algeria and French Morocco was over. The group joined the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa.

The group took part in the campaign in Tunisia, flying a mix of escort, patrol, ground attack and reconnaissance missions. A detachment from the group was posted at Bone from 27 November to 11 January 1943 to protect the vulnerable base against German attack. On 1 April 1943 the group caught a vulnerable force of Stukas and shot down fourteen for the loss of one Spitfire. Soon afterwards the surviving Stukas were withdrawn from Tunisia. On 9 April the group shot down eight Ju-88s, again only losing one Spitfire.

The group then took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.

The group supported the invasion of mainland Italy. It converted to the P-51 Mustang in April-May 1944 and in May 1944 the group moved to the Fifteenth Air Force. From then on the group was mainly used to escort the heavy bombers as they attacked Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia, targets that were in range of the strategic bombers based in Italy. The group was also used for ground attack missions in France, Italy, central Europe and the Balkans.

The group played a major part in the preparations for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France, escorting the bombers as they laid the ground for the invasion in July-August 1944.

The group received two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first was for escorting bombers that took part in an attack on aircraft factories, supply lines and communications centres in German on 9 June 1944. The second was for an attack on a German airfield in Romania on 31 August 1944 in which it destroyed a number of fighters and transport aircraft.

The group returned to the US in August 1945 (originally with the idea of moving it to the Pacific) and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

1942: Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
August 1942-April 1944: Supermarine Spitfire
April 1944-1945: North American P-51 Mustang

Timeline

20 November 1940 Constituted as 52nd Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
15 January 1941 Activated
May 1942 Redesignated as 52nd Fighter Group
July-August 1942 To Britain
November 1942 To North Africa
August 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Earl W Barnes: 16 Jan 1941
Lt Col Robert L Schoenlein: 15 May 1941
Col Dixon M Allison: 27 Feb 1942
Lt Col Graham W West: 1 Mar 1943
Lt Col James S Coward: 24 Jun 1943
Lt Col Richard A Ames: 1 Sep 1943
Col Marvin L McNickle: 6 Sep 1943
Lt Col Robert Levine: 25 Feb 1944
Col Marion Malcolm: 27 Aug 1944-1945

Main Bases

Selfridge Field, Mich: 15 Jan 1941
Norfolk, Va: 18 Dec 1941
Selfridge Field, Mich: Jan 1942
Florence, SC: 18 Feb 1942
Wilmington, NC: 27 Apr 1942
Grenier Field, NH: 14-24 Jun 1942
Northern Ireland, c. 13 Jul 1942
Goxhill, England: c. 26 Aug-Oct 1942
Tafaraoui, Algeria: 9 Nov 1942
La Senia, Algeria: 14 Nov 1942
Orleansville, Algeria: c.1 Jan 1943
Telergma, Algeria: c. 17 Jan 1943
Youks-les-Bains, Algeria: c. 9 Mar 1943
Le Sers, Tunisia: 14 Apr 1943
La Sebala, Tunisia: 21 May 1943
Boccadifalco, Sicily: 30 Jul 1943
Corsica: 1 Dec 1943
Madna Airfield, Italy: 14 May 1944
Piagiolino Airfield, Italy: 21 Apr 1945
Lesina, Italy: 8 Jul-Aug 1945
Drew Field, Fla: 25 Aug-7 Nov 1945

Component Units

2nd: 1941-1945
4th: 1941-1945
5th: 1941-1945

Assigned To

1941: 6th Pursuit Wing, US Based
1943: 62nd Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943-1944: 63rd Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944-45: 306th Fighter Wing; Fifteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 May 2018), 52nd Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/52nd_Fighter_Group.html

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