The 36th Fighter Group (USAAF) spent the first part of the Second World War as part of the defence force in the Caribbean before joining the Ninth Air Force in the spring of 1944.
The group was activated in February 1940 and equipped with the Curtiss P-36 Hawk. In January 1941 the group moved to Puerto Rico, where it operated the Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. After the American entry into the Second World War the group became part of the defensive forces that covered the Caribbean and the Panama Canal. It was also used on anti-submarine patrols in the early period of German success off the American coast. The group remained in the Caribbean until May-June 1943 when it returned to the US to prepare for a move to Europe.
The group trained for the move with the P-47 Thunderbolt. It crossed the Atlantic in March-April 1944, and became operational with the Ninth Air Force on 8 May 1944. The group was a fighter-bomber unit, and was used for attacks on German ground forces, transport links, industrial targets and airfields.
The group entered combat just under one month before D-Day. Its early missions were part of the preparation for the invasion. On D-Day it provided fighter patrols over the invasion beaches as well as direct support for the troops.
The group moved to France in July-August 1944. It supported the American troops as they broke the German lines at St. Lo and then during the rapid advance cross France.
On 1 September the group carried out an attack on a German column heading north towards Poitiers, while it was attempting to escape from the south of France. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this mission.
In October the group moved to Belgium to support the Ninth Army. The group took part in the Battle of the Bulge. It was one of the few groups within XXIX Tactical Air Command able to operate on 25 December, and flew armed reconnaissance missions in the St-Vith and Stavelot areas. During the battle it was used for armed reconnaissance (finding and attacking its own targets).
On 7 March 1945 US troops captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen intact. Ironically the 36th Fighter Group had been scheduled to attack the bridge that morning, but the operation had been canceled because of poor weather. The group then helped defend the Remagen bridgehead.
The group was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for attacking Luftwaffe airfields in southern Germany on 12 April 1945.
The group remained in Europe after the end of the fighting, but was officially transferred to the US although without men or equipment in February 1946. The squadrons were inactivated in March 1946, but the group was soon reactivated in the Panama Canal Zone.
|X/YP-37||Curtiss P-36 Hawk||Curtiss P-40
|22 December 1939||Constituted as 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)|
|1 February 1940||Activated|
|January 1941||To Peurto Rico|
|36 May 1942||Redesignated 36th Fighter Group|
|May-June 1943||To United States|
|March-April 1944||To England and Ninth Air Force|
|July-August 1944||To France|
|October 1944||To Belgium|
|February 1946||To United States|
Lt. Col Ned Schramm:
c.1 Feb 1940
Maj Charles A Harrington: c. 15 Jul 1941
Lt Col Glenn 0 Barcus: c. 1 Nov 1941
Maj Richard P Klocko: c. 20 Feb 1942
Maj James B League Jr: c. 18 Jul 1942
Maj William L Curry: c. 1 Sep 1942
Maj [Earl H( ?)] Dunham: c. 1 Oct 1942
Lt Col William L Curry: c. 14 Jan 1943
Lt Col Van H Slayden: 12 Jan 1945
Lt Col Paul P Douglas Jr: Apr 1945
Lt Col John L Wright: 30 Jun 1945
Langley Field, Va: 1 Feb
1940-2 Jan 1941
Losey Field, PR: Jan 1941-May 1943
Morrison Field, Fla: May 1943
Mitchel Field, NY: c. 3 Jun 1943
Charleston, SC: 23 June 1943
Alamogordo AA Fld, NM: Sep 1943
Scribner AA Fld, Neb: Nov 1943-Mar 1944
Kingsnorth, England: Apr 1944
Brucheville, France: Jul 1944
Le Mans, France: c. 23 Aug 1944
Athis, France: Sep 1944
Juvincourt, France: c. 1 Oct 1944
Le Culot, Belgium: c. 23 Oct 1944
Aachen, Germany: 28 Mar 1945
Niedermennig, Germany: c. 8 Apr 1945
Kassel/Rothwesten, Germany: c. 21 Apr 1945-15 Feb 1946
22nd Fighter Squadron : 1940-1946
23rd Fighter Squadron: 1940-1946
32nd Fighter Squadron: 1940-1943
1941: 13th Composite Wing (later Bombardment Wing);
1943-1944: 72nd Fighter Wing (Training Wing)
1944-1945: Ninth Air Force
-24 November 1944-: XXIX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
-8 May 1945-: IX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
1945: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force
1945-46: 64th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force