35th Fighter Group (Second World War)

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The 35th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a fighter unit that was caught up in the fall of the Philippines, then reformed in Australia and took part in the Allied advance across the South Pacific, eventually returning to the Philippines.

The group was formed in the United States in February 1940 and trained with a mix of P-35s, P-36s, P-39s and P-40s. Towards the end of 1941 the decision was made to move the group to the Philippines, and two squadrons (the 21st and 34th) arrived in November. They were attached to the 24th Group for the moment, but expected to rejoin their group when it arrived (this would have consisted of the Group HQ and the 70th Squadron). These squadrons took part in the desperate defence of the Philippines, and were lost in that battle.

The rest of the group was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and early in 1942 the 70th Squadron would be rushed to Fiji. The 20th Squadron would be caught up in the fall of the Dutch East Indies early in 1942. The survivors of this disastrous campaign would need some time to rest before they could return to the fight. In the meantime the group was given three new squadrons which were still based in the United States.

The group began to reform in Australia in May 1942 and by July it had eight-three P-400 Airacobras, with two squadrons based at the forward base of Port Moresby where they replaced the exhausted 8th Fighter Group. The Airacobra struggled to cope with the superior Japanese fighters, which had a higher ceiling, better acceleration, and inevitably at this stage of the war much better manoeuvrability. Nevertheless the presence of American fighters did force the Japanese bombers to stay higher, reducing their effectiveness.

In late July the Japanese landed on the north coast of New Guinea, on the opposite side of the Owen Stanley mountains to Port Moresby. The 35th was used as a ground attack unit, hitting the Japanese in the Kokoda area on 8 August. The aircraft's sturdy construction meant it was more effective in this role than as a standard fighter.

The group did contain the first Lightning Ace of the Pacific War, Lt. Hoyt Eason who claimed his third, fourth and fifth on 31 December 1942.

The group took part in the long battle to secure control of Papua New Guinea, then supported the slow allied fight-back and advance back towards the Philippines. It provided fighter escorts for the first large scale attack on Wewak on 27 August 1943. In October 1943 it moved to Nadzab to provide fighter cover for the troops fighting around the Huon Gulf. Late in 1943 it converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt, and in 1944 it used its new aircraft in long range attacks on Japanese bases in the southern Philippines, on Halmahera and on Borneo.

The group moved to Morotai in the Dutch East Indies in September 1944, soon after the island had been captured and a new airfield built. Indeed the ground echelon arrived so soon that the airfield wasn't ready, and the group's aircraft didn't start to arrive until 17 October. The urgency was triggered by the fighting on Letye.

In January 1945 the group started to support US ground forces on Luzon. It also flew a number of fighter sweeps over Formosa and the Chinese coast. It converted to the P-51 Mustang in March, at least in part because the large P-47 needed long airstrips, and that often delayed its deployment to new areas.

In June 1945 the group moved to Okinawa (the move was done very quickly because General Whitehead, commander of the Fifth Air Force, wanted to get space on the island before Nimitz could fill it with Navy aircraft) and attacked targets in Kyushu and Korea. After the war it moved to Japan and became part of the Far East Air Forces. The group converted to the F-80 in 1950 and saw combat during the Korean War.




  40 41 42 43 44 45
Boeing P-26: 1940,            
Seversky P-35: 1940-42,            
Curtiss P-36 Hawk: 1940-42,            
Lockheed P-38 Lightning: 1942-43,            
Bell P-39 Airacobra: 1941-42; 1942-43,            
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: 1940-42,            
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: 1943-45,            
North American P-51 Mustang: 1945 onwards,            
Bell P-400 Airacobra: 1942-44,            

1941-42: P-35, P-36, P-40

1942-43: P-39 and P-38
Late 1943-March 1945: P-47
March 1945 onwards: P-51


22 December 1939 Constituted as 35th Pursuit Group
1 February 1940 Activated
November 1941 Two squadrons to Philippines
December 1941 Third squadron starts move but cancelled
January 1942 Third squadron & HQ to Australia
January 1942 All three squadrons replaced
Spring 1942 Redesignated 35th Fighter Group
October 1945 To Japan

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj O R Strickland: 1940
Col George P Tourtellot: 194o-unkn

Col Richard A Legg: 12 Mar 1942
Lt Col Malcolm A Moore: 26 Jul 1943
Lt Col Edwin A Doss: 23 Oct 1943
Lt Col Furlo S Wagner: 12 Feb 1944
Col Edwin A Doss: 4 May 1944
Col Harney Estes Jr: 27 Jul 1945

Main Bases

Moffett Field, Calif: 1 Feb 1940
Hamilton Field, Calif: 10 Sep 1940- 5 Dec 1941 and 9 Dec 1941-12 Jan 1942
Brisbane, Australia: 1 Feb 1942
New Delhi, India: Mar 1942
Sydney, Australia: 4 May 1942
Port Moresby, New Guinea: 22 Jul 1942
Tsili Tsili, New Guinea: 15 Aug 1943
Nadzab, New Guinea: 5 Oct 1943
Gusap, New Guinea: 7 Feb 1944
Owi, Schouten Islands: 22 Jul 1944
Morotai: 27 Sep 1944
Mangaldan, Luzon: c. 20 Jan 1945
Lingayen, Luzon: c. 10 Apr 1945
Clark Field, Luzon: 19 Apr 1945
Okinawa: 28 Jun 1945
Irumagawa, Japan: Oct 1945-16 Mar 1950

Component Units

18th Pursuit Squadron: 1940 (P-36)
20th Pursuit Squadron: 1940 (P-36, P-26)

21st Pursuit Squadron: 1940-42 (P-36, P-40)
34th Pursuit Squadron: 1940-42 (P-36, P-35)
70th Fighter Squadron: 1941-42 (P-36)

39th Fighter Squadron: 1942 onwards (P-38 1942-43; P-47 1943-45; P-51 1945-50)
40th Fighter Squadron: 1942 onwards (P-39 1941-44; P-47 1944-45; P-51 1945-50)
41st Fighter Squadron: 1942 onwards (P-39 1941-42, 42-43; P-400 1942-44; P-38 1943; P-47 1944-45; P-51 1945-)

Assigned To

1940-1941: 10th Fighter Wing
1940-1941: 1st Bombardment Wing
1942-1945: V Fighter Command; Fifth Air Force
1945-1946: V Bomber Command; Fifth Air Force
1946-48: 314th Composite Wing

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 June 2014), 35th Fighter Group (Second World War) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/35th_Fighter_Group.html

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