81st Fighter Group

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History

The 81st Fighter Group was one of the units allocated to support Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. Its group echelon landed on 8 November 1942, but the aircraft and pilots didn't begin to arrive until the end of the year, and the group didn't enter service until January 1943.

The group began by supporting the ground troops in Tunisia. Between April and July 1943 it used its P-39s to patrol off the African coast. During this period it provided protection for the invasions of Pantelleria and of Sicily. In January 1944 it took part in the early stages of the Anzio campaign, before being moved to India.

The group arrived in India by March 1944, where it swapped its P-39s for P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts. After a period training with its new aircraft, the group moved to China, joining the Fourteenth Air Force. There it performed a variety of roles, amongst then ground attack in support of the Chinese army and providing fighter escort for the bomber groups operating from China.

Aircraft

Bell P-39 Airacobra: 1942-1944
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: 1944-1945

Timeline

13 January 1942 Constituted as 81st Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
9 February 1942 Activated
May 1942 Redesignated 81st Fighter Group
October 1942-February 1943 Moved to North Africa
January 1943-February 1944 Active with Twelfth Air Force, North Africa and Italy
February-May 1944 Training in India
May 1944-December 1945 Fourteenth Air Force, China

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Captain Harry E Hammond: 5 May 1942
Captain John D Sureau: 10 May 1942
Lt. Colonel Paul M Jacobs: 22 May 1942
Lt. Colonel Kenneth S Wade: July 1942
Colonel Philip B Klein: May 1943
Lt. Colonel Michael J Gordon: 2 July 1943
Major Frederick S Hanson: 15 July 1943
Colonel Philip B Klein: 26 August 1943
Lt. Colonel Fred G Hook, Jr: 27 September 1944
Colonel Oliver G Cellini: 24 October 1944

Main Bases

Morris Field, North Carolina: 9 February 1942
Dale Mabry Field, Florida: May 1942
Muroc, California: 28 June-2 October 1942
Mediouna, French Morocco: 5 January 1943
Thelepte, Tunisia: 22 January 1943
Le Kouif, Algeria: 17 February 1943
Youks-les-Bains, Algeria: 22 February 1943
Le Kouif, Algeria: 24 February 1943
Thelepte, Tunisia: March 1943
Algeria: 3 April 1493
Monastir, Tunisia: 25 May 1943
Sidi Ahmed, Tunisia: 10 August 1943
Castelvetrano, Sicily: 12 October 1943
Montocorvino, Italy: February 1944
Karachi, March 1944
Kwangham, China: 12 May 1944
Fungwansham, China: February 1945
Huhsien, China: August-December 1945

Component Units

91st Fighter Squadron: 1942-1945
92nd Fighter Squadron: 1942-1945
93rd Fighter Squadron: 1942-1945

Assigned To

1942: 7th Fighter Wing (later 47th Bombardment Wing); XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
January 1943-February 1944: 62nd Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
May 1944-December 1945: 312th Fighter Wing; Fourteenth Air Force:
1946-1947: 7th Fighter Wing; Seventh Air Force (Hawaii)

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 December 2007), 81st Fighter Squadron, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/81st_Fighter_Group.html

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