The 359th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a fighter unit in the Eighth Air Force that flew a mix of bomber escort and ground attack missions between its combat debut in December 1943 and the end of the war in Europe.
The group was activated in the US on 15 January 1943 but didn't gain any personnel until March. It moved to Britain in October 1943 to join the Eighth Air Force. Some of its pilots were attached to other units to gain experience, but the group became operational in December 1943.
Between December 1943 and March 1944 the group spent most of its time escorting bombers on short range missions to attack Luftwaffe airfields in France.
In April 1944 the group converted to the P-51 Mustang.
In May 1944 the group began to range further afield, escorting raids into Germany and Poland. It was used to support the D-Day landings, providing a fighter escort for the bomber groups attacking the German fortifications as well as carrying out its own ground attacks on German transport links around the battle zone.
Between July 1944 and February 1945 the group operated mainly as a bomber escort group for bombers engaged in the strategic bombing campaign. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for mission on 11 September 1944 when it fought off a large-scale German fighter attack.
The group was also used for some tactical missions, supporting the advance across France in July-August 1944, Operation Market-Garden in September 1944, the battle of the Bulge in December 1944-January 1945 and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.
In February-April 1945 the group mainly escorted medium bombers attacking transport and communication targets to aid the advance into Germany.
The group returned to the United States in November and was inactivated on 10 November 1945.
1942-April 1944: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
April 1944 onwards: North American P-51 Mustang
|20 December 1942||Constituted as 359th Fighter Group|
|15 January 1943||Activated|
|October 1943||To England and Eighth Air Force|
|December 1943||Entered Combat|
|May 1945||Last Combat|
|November 1945||To United States|
|10 November 1945||Inactivated|
Col Avelin P Tacon Jr:
Col John P Randolph: 12 Nov 1944
Lt Col Donald A Baccus: 8 Apr 1945
Lt Col Daniel D McKee: c. 16 Sep 1945- unkn.
Westover Field, Mass: 15 Jan
Grenier Field, NH: 7 Apr 1943
Republic Field, NY: 11 Jul 1943
Westover Field, Mass: 23 Aug-2 Oct 1943
East Wretham, England: Oct 1943-Nov 1945
Camp Kilmer, N J: 9-10 Nov 1945
368th Fighter Squadron: 1943-45
369th Fighter Squadron: 1943-45
370th Fighter Squadron: 1943-45
January-July 1943: Boston Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
July 1943: New York Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
July-October 1943: Boston Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
October 1943-September 1944: 67th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-1945: 67th Fighter Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force