92nd Bombardment Group (Second World War)

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History

The 92nd Bombardment Group was a B-17 Flying Fortress group that formed part of the US Eighth Air Force and took part in the strategic bombing campaign as well as supporting the D-Day invasions, Operation Market Garden, the crossing of the Rhine and taking part in the Battle of the Bulge.

The 92nd Bombardment Group was formed in the United States on 28 January 1942, with the same four squadrons that it contained until the end of the war. The group trained with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, and operated that aircraft for the rest of the war. The group was based in Florida for most of its training period, and flew some anti-submarine patrols off the US east coast.

Boeing B-17F Alabama Exterminator II
Boeing B-17F
Alabama Exterminator II

In July-August 1942 the group moved to England, arriving at Bovington, just to the north-west of London. This made it one of the first three Bombardment Groups to reach England (along with the 97th Bombardment Group and 301st Bombardment Group). The 92nd joined the 1st Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force and took part in a number of early combat missions in September and October. Its combat debut came on 6 September 1942 when it joined the 97th and 301st Bombardment Groups in an attack on the Avions Potez factory at Meaulte and the St Omer-Longueness airfield.

The group was then withdrawn from combat and used to train replacement crews from November 1942 until May 1943, helping to cope with a dangerous shortage of trained personnel (many being diverted to North Africa to join the units fighting there). During this period the group moved north to Alconbury in Lincolnshire and was designated the 11th Combat Crew Replacement and Training Centre (CCRC).

Combat operations resumed in May 1943, and the group remained in action for the rest of the war. Soon after returning to action the 327th BS was used to test out the YB-40, a version of the B-17 armed with extra machine guns and designed to act as a bomber secort. The YB-40 wasn't a great success and was soon removed from combat.

The group spent most of its time taking part in the strategic bombing campaign over Europe. Between May 1943 and February 1944 (when the heavy bombers began to take part in the pre-invasion bombardment of France) the group attacked the shipyards at Kiel, took part in the infamous attacks on the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt (losing two aircraft during the raid of 17 August 1943), attacked mines in Norway and the submarine base at Wilhelmshaven.

On 24 July 1943 the Group's commanding officer, Col. William M Reid, was awarded the Silver Star for successfully finding a small gap in the clouds that helped make the Eighth Air Force's first attack on targets in Norway a success, killing a number of Germans and Norwegian quislings who were attending a dedication ceremony at the main target.

On 26 July 1943 Flight Officer John C. Morgan won the Medal of Honor. He was flying as co-pilot during a bombing raid when his pilot was wounded by fire from a German fighter. The pilot suffered a brain injury and for the next two hours Morgan had to try and fly the aircraft and hold off the injured pilot.

The Group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its role in an attack on German aircraft factories on 11 January 1944. It also took part in the 'Big Week (20-25 February 1944) attacks on the German aircraft industry.

On 6 March 1944 the group took part in the first large American raid on Berlin, suffering heavy losses in the attack.

From April 1944 the Group took part in operations designed to support the D-Day landings, attacking airfields and communications targets in France. The group also took part in the attacks on the V-Weapons. The group attacked German troops during the breakout at St. Lo and attacked German gun positions and bridges during Operation Market Garden.

On 27 September 1944 the group flew its 200th mission, an attack on marshalling yards at Cologne.

From October 1944 the group returned to the strategic bombing campaign, taking part in the attacks on the German oil industry and transport links. It also took part in the Battle of the Bulge, attacking bridges and railway marshalling yards in an attempt to isolate the German troops taking part in the battle. The group also supported the crossing of the Rhine.

The group took part in the last major Eighth Air Force mission of the war, an attack on the Skoda works at Pilsen on 25 April 1945. This was the 92nd's 310th mission. The group lost 154 aircraft in combat during its 310 missions.

After the end of the fighting the group was used to transport American troops on the first stage of their journey home to the United States. In May the 327th Bombardment Squadron moved to French Morocco, and in June the rest of the group moved to Istres. The group was then used to fly soldiers from Marseilles to Casablanca, from where they continued on towards the US. The Group itself was inactivated in France in February 1946 but was re-activated in the United States in August of the same year.

Books

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review]
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Aircraft

1942-1946: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
1943: Boeing YB-40 Flying Fortress escort fighter (327th BS)

Timeline

28 January 1942 Constituted as 92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)
1 March 1942 Activated
July-August 1942 Moved to England
June 1945

To France

28 February 1946 Inactivated in France

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col James S Sutton: c. 27 Mar 1942
Lt Col Baskin R Lawrence Jr: c. 2 May 1943
Col William M Reid: c. 23 May 1943
Col James W Wilson: 27 Sep 1944
Lt Col Albert L Cox: Aug 1945
Lt Col James A Smyrl: c. 12 Oct 1945
Major Victor A Cherbak Jr, c. 18 Oct 1945

Main Bases

Barksdale Field, La, 1 Mar 1942;
MacDill Field, Fla, c. 26 Mar 1942;
Sarasota, Fla, May-Jul 1942;
Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, England: Aug 1942
Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, England: Jan 1943
Podington, Bedfordshire, England: Sep 1943
Istres, France: Jun 1945-28 Feb 1946

Component Units

325th Bombardment Squadron: 1 March 1942-28 February 1946
326th Bombardment Squadron: 1 March 1942-28 February 1946
327th Bombardment Squadron: 1 March 1942-28 February 1946
407th Bombardment Squadron: 1 March 1942-28 February 1946

Assigned To

1942: 1st Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
Winter 1942-43: Replacement Training; Eighth Air Force
1943: 1st Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-1944: 40th Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1944-1946: 40th Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force; US Strategic Air Forces Europe

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 September 2012), 92nd Bombardment Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/92nd_Bombardment_Group.html

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