357th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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The 357th Fighter Group (USAAF) served with the Eighth Air Force, flying a mix of bomber escort and ground attack missions as well as supporting the D-Day landings, the break out from Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine.

The group was constituted and activated on 1 December 1942 and trained with the P-39. The group moved to Britain in November 1943, where it converted to the P-51. It was assigned to the Eighth Air Force and made its combat debut on 11 February 1944 with a fighter sweep over Rouen. In the same month the group took part in the Big Week attack on the German Air Force (20-25 February 1944).

By the end of March 1944 the 357th was one of three P-51 groups operational within the Eighth Air Force.

The group's main role was to escort long range bombers during their raids over occupied Europe and Germany. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for raids on Berlin on 6 March and 29 June on Leipzig.

The group also flew counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps and ground attack missions, including some in the dive bomber role.

The group supported the D-Day invasion and the breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944.

In December 1944-January 1945 the group helped support the troops fighting during the Battle of the Bulge.

The group was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for escorting a raid on Derben on 14 January 1945.

The group supported the airborne crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. Its last combat mission came on 25 April and it moved to Germany in July to join the United States Army Air Forces in Europe. It was inactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946.


‘Big Week’ 1944 – Operation Argument and the breaking of the Jadgwaffe, Douglas C. Dildy. Looks at the USAAF’s concentrated attack on the German aircraft industry, a week of massive bombing raids that forced the Luftwaffe into an equally massive defensive effort that cost them around 150 aircrew at a time when they could hardly afford those losses, as well as cutting German fighter production by around 2,000 aircraft, and proving that the long range escort fighter was the key to a successful daylight bombing campaign (Read Full Review)
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1942-1943: Bell P-39 Airacobra for training
1943-1946: North American P-51 Mustang


1 December 1942 Constituted as 357th Fighter Group
1 December 1942 Activated
November 1943 To Britain and Eighth Air Force
11 February 1944 Combat debut
25 April 1945 Last combat mission
July 1945 To Germany
20 August 1946 Inactivated in Germany

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt . Col Loring F Stetson Jr: 1 Dec 1942
Lt Col Edwin S Chickering: 7 Jul 1943
Col Henry R Spicer: 17 Feb 1944
Col Donald W Graham: 7 Mar 1944
Lt Col John D Landers: 11 Oct 1944
Col Irwin H Dregne: 2 Dec 1944
Lt Col Andrew J Evans Jr: 21 Jul 1945
Lt Col Wayne E Rhynard: c. 20 Nov 1945
Col Barton M Russell: Apr 1946-unkn.

Main Bases

Hamilton Field, Calif: 1 Dec 1942
Tonopah AAFld, Nev: 4 Mar 1943
Santa Rosa AAFld, Calif: 3 Jun 1943
Oroville AAFld, Calif: 18 Aug 1943
Casper AAFld, Wyo: 7 Oct-9 Nov 1943
Raydon, England: 30 Nov 1943
Leiston, England: 31 Jan 1944-8 Jul 1945
Neubiberg, Germany: 21 Jul 1945-20 Aug 1946.

Component Units

362nd: 1942-1946
363rd: 1942-1946
364th: 1942-1946

Assigned To

1943: 72nd Fighter Wing (training organisation)
1943-1944: San Francisco Fighter Wing; IV Fighter Command; Fourth Air Force
1944-September 1944: 66th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-Late 1945: 66th Fighter Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 March 2016), 357th Fighter Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/357th_Fighter_Group.html

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