82nd Fighter Group (Second World War)

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The 82nd Fighter Group (USAAF) served in the Mediterranean theatre, first as a mainly ground attack unit with the Twelfth Air Force, and later as a bomber escort group in the Fifteenth Air Force.

The group was activated in the United States in February 1942 and trained with the P-38 Lightning. It moved to Northern Ireland in September-October 1942, partly for further training and partly as a reserve unit for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The group moved to North Africa late in December 1942, and took part in the unexpectedly difficult campaign in Tunisia.

From December 1942 until November 1943 the group served with the Twelfth Air Force. Although it did provide some bomber escorts, it was also used for dive bombing and strafing attacks on ground targets and to use the Axis aircraft being used to fly supplies to North Africa.

One of the main problems in North Africa was a shortage of aircraft. On 28 January 1943 the 14th Fighter Group ceased operations and passed its aircraft to the 82nd.

The group escorted a B-25 and B-26 raid on Gabes on 8 February 1943. The Luftwaffe intercepted the attack and shot down four bombers. The US fighters claimed eight victories for the loss of a single P-38.

In May-June 1943 the group took part in the air bombardment of Pantelleria. In July-August 1943 it supported the Allied invasion of Sicily.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on Axis aircraft around Foggia on 25 August 1943. A second DUC was won on 2 September 1943 when the group defended a bomber formation attacking rail marshalling yards near Naples.

The group was still part of the Twelfth Air Force at the start of the invasion of Mainland Italy (3 September 1943), and moved to the Italian mainland at the start of October 1943.

On 16 October 1943 the group dive-bombed merchant ships in the Levkas Channel, on the west coast of Greece.

In November 1943 the group was one of the first to join the Fifteenth Air Force, and the only group to have already moved to the Italian mainland. From then until the end of the war the group's main role was to provide long range fighter escorts for the Fifteenth Air Force's heavy bombers. However it was also sometimes used as a fighter-bomber unit, supported the Allied troops fighting in Italy or attacking strategic targets further afield.

The group took part in an unusual raid on 30 January 1944, designed to lift pressure on the Anzio bridgehead. It was part of a large force that made a conventional attack on the Luftwaffe airfields around Udine in Austria, but the most important part of the attack was carried out by the 315th Fighter Group, which arrived fifteen minutes ahead of the main attack and caught the Germans as they were preparing to take off. The group claimed 36 enemy aircraft destroyed and another eight probables, and the total claims for the day reached 140!

The group was awarded a third DUC for a strategic mission on 10 June 1944 - a dive-bomb attack on one of the oil refineries at Ploesti carried out in the face of German fighter opposition. After attacking the refinery the group carried out a series of attacks on targets of opportunity on its way back to base.

On 13 August 1944 the group attacked Montelimar airfield, hitting a force of Ju-88s based there, then attacked a three-gun coast watcher station, all part of the preparations for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the South of France.

The group flew its last combat operations in May 1945 and was inactivated in Italy on 9 September 1945.




1942-45: Lockheed P-38 Lightning


13 January 1942 Constituted as 82nd Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
9 February 1942 Activated
May 1942 Redesignated 82nd Fighter Group
Sept-Oct 1942 To Northern Ireland
December 1942 To North Africa and Twelfth Air Force
October 1943 To Italy
November 1943 To Fifteenth Air Force
9 September 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

1st Lt Charles T Duke: Feb 1942
Col Robert Israel Jr: May 1942
Lt Col William E Covington Jr: 17 Jun 1942
Col John W Weltman: 4 May 1943
Lt Col Ernest C Young: 2 Aug 1943
Lt Col George M MacNicol: 26 Aug 1943
Col William P Litton: Jan 1944
Lt Col Ben A Mason Jr: 4 Aug 1944
Col Clarence T Edwinson: 28 Aug 1944
Col Richard A Legg: 22 Nov 1944
Col Joseph S Holtoner: 4 Jun 1945
Lt Col Robert M Wray: 16 Jul 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Harding Field, La: 9 Feb 1942
Muroc, Calif: 30 Apr 1942
Los Angeles, Calif: May 1942
Glendale, Calif: c. 16 Aug-16 Sep 1942
Northern Ireland: Oct 1942
Telergma, Algeria: Jan 1943
Berteaux, Algeria: 28 Mar 1943
Souk-el- Arba, Algeria: 13 Jun 1943
Grombalia, Tunisia: 3 Aug 1943
San Pancrazio, Italy: c. 3 Oct 1943
Lecce, Italy: 10 Oct 1943
Vincenzo Airfield, Italy: 11 Jan 1944
Lesina, Italy: c. 30 Aug-9 Sep 1945

Component Units

95th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45
96th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45
97th Fighter Squadron: 1942-45

Assigned To

January-November 1943: 47th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
November 1943-1944: 47th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force
1944: 5th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force
1944: 306th Fighter Wing; Fifteenth Air Force
Summer 1945: 305th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 July 2014), 82nd Fighter Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/82nd_Fighter_Group.html

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