The 3rd Air Commando Group (USAAF) was a composite unit that served in the Philippines from late in 1944, performing a mix of fighter, liaison and transport duties.
The group was originally formed for the China-Burma theatre. It was to be a self-sufficient group that could support long range penetration missions (such as the Chindits ). It was a sizeable organisation, with six combat squadrons and four support units, including two fighter squadrons, three liaison squadrons and one transport squadron.
By the summer of 1944 the need for this sort of unit in Burma was reduced, at least in part because air supply was being used for most front line units and was being organised on a larger scale. The units being raised were split between Burma and the South West Pacific, and the 3rd Air Commando Group was allocated to the Pacific. It began to arrive on Leyte on 1 December 1944 and became part of V Fighter Command. Liaison and transport operations began on 2 December, although fighter operations were delayed until 8 January 1945 by a lack of aircraft.
The group performed a variety of roles. The fighters were used on ground attack duties, to provide escorts for bombers heading for Formosa and China and to support the troops fighting in the Philippines.
The transport aircraft moved troops, dropped supplies and acted as casualty evacuation aircraft. The liaison aircraft were used as artillery spotters and for courier and mail flights.
The group also helped support the Fifth Air Force's move from the Philippines to Okinawa, and was based on the Ryukyus at the end of the war. The group moved to Japan in October 1945 and was inactivated there on 25 March 1946.
1944-1946: North American P-51 Mustang; Douglas C-47 Skytrain; Stinson L-5 Sentinel (previously O-61)
|25 April 1944||Constituted as 3rd Air Commando Group|
|1 May 1944||Activated|
|Late 1944||To Philippines and Fifth Air Force|
|October 1945||To Japan|
|25 March 1946||Inactivated|
|8 October 1948||Disbanded|
Maj Klem F Kalberer: May 1944
Col Arvid E Olson Jr: Jun 1944
Lt Col Walker M Mahurin: Sep 1945
Lt Col Charles H Terhune: 20 Oct 1945-unkn.
Drew Field, Fla: 1 May
Lakeland AAFld, Fla: 5 May 1944
Alachua AA.Fld, Fla: c. 20 Aug 1944
Drew Field, Fla: 6-24 Oct 1944
Leyte: Dec 1944
Mangaldan, Luzon: c. 26 Jan 1945
Laoag, Luzon: Apr 1945
Ie Shima: Aug 1945
Chitose, Japan: c. 27 Oct 1945-25 Mar 1946.
3rd Fighter Squadron: 1944-1946
4th Fighter Squadron: 1944-1946
157th Liaison Squadron: 1944-1946
159th Liaison Squadron: 1944-1946
160th Liaison Squadron: 1944-1946
318th Troop Carrier Squadron: 1944-1946
1944-1945: V Fighter Command; Fifth Air Force
Interview with Jim Gorman of the 318th
Many thanks to Eric Rood for these vidoes.