404th Fighter Group

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The 404th Fighter Group (USAAF) served with the Ninth Air Force and took part in the D-Day invasion, the advance across France, the battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine and the invasion of Germany.

The group was formed in the United States as the 404th Bombardment Group (Dive) in January-February 1943. It was redesignated as the 404th Fighter-Bomber Group in August 1943, and the 404th Fighter Group in May 1944.

The group moved to Britain in March-April 1944. The 404th was one of three fighter groups to become operational on 1 May 1944, towards the end of the pre D-Day building up of the Ninth Air Force.

The group provided top cover on D-Day and D+1, protecting the beachhead against possible Luftwaffe attack. For the rest of the war the group spent most of its time operating in close support of the ground troops.

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt with rocket launchers
Republic P-47D
with rocket launchers

On 16 June the group helped break up a German counterattack on the XIX Corps front, hitting the incoming Germans at 9.05pm.

The group supported the Allied breakout at St Lo in late July 1944, having already moved into the beachhead. The group was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for its efforts around St Lo on 29-30 July 1944.

On 15 August the group hit the town of Ranes twice in the same day, hitting part of the 1st SS Panzer Division and supporting an attack by the US 3rd Armoured Division.

The group was awarded a Belgian citation for its role in the liberation of Belgium.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for three armed reconnaissance missions flown on 10 September 1944 when it hit factories, transport links and railway rolling stock.

In December 1944-January 1945 the group took part in the Battle of the Bulge.

On 1 January 1945 the group's base was attacked during Operation Bodenplatte, the last major Luftwaffe operation of the war. Fewer than a dozen fighters were destroyed, all on the ground, but the attacking groups sufferded 40% losses.

In early in 1945 the group helped defend the bridgehead over the Rhine at Remagen. It then took part in the full scale crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

In the aftermath of the German surrender the group helped disarm the Luftwaffe and took part in the destruction of the German aircraft industry. The group returned to the United States in August and was inactivated on 9 November 1945.




1943-1944: P-39, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
1944-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt


25 January 1943 Constituted as 404th Bombardment Group (Dive)
4 February 1943 Activated
August 1943 Redesignated as 404th Fighter-Bomber Group
March-April 1944 To Britain and Ninth Air Force
May 1944 Redesignated as 404th Fighter Group
July 1944 To Continent
August 1945 To United States
9 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Lucius G Drafts: 4 Feb 1943
Lt Col James Van G Wilson: 6 May 1943
Col Carroll W McColpin: 27 Jan 1944
Lt Col Leo C Moon: 25 Nov 1944
Lt Col John R Murphy: 23 Apr 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Key Field, Miss: 4 Feb 1943
Congaree AAFld, SC: 5 Jul 1943
Burns AAFld, Ore: 4 Sep 1943
Myrtle Beach AAFld, SC: 13 Nov 1943-12 Mar 1944
Winkton, England: 4 Apr 1944
Chapelle, France: 6 Jul 1944
Bretigny, France: 29 Aug 1944
Juvincourt, France: 13 Sep 1944
St-Trond, Belgium: 1 Oct 1944
Keltz, Germany: 30 Mar 1945
Fritzlar, Germany: 12 Apr 1945
Stuttgart, Germany: 23 Jun-2 Aug 1945
Drew Field, Fla: 11 Sep-9 Nov 1945.

Component Units

455th: 1943-1944
506th: 1943-1945
507th: 1943-1945
508th: 1943-1945
623rd: 1943

Assigned To

-24 November 1944-: XXIX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
-8 May 1945-: IX Tactical Air Force; Ninth Air Force
1945: 64th Fighter Wing

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 October 2016), 404th Fighter Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/404th_Fighter_Group.html

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