The 482nd Bombardment Group provided a pathfinder force for the heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force. It was unusual in that it was activated in England on 20 August 1943, not serving in the United States until the end of the war in Europe.
The group was equipped with a mix of B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators, all equipped with radar and designed to lead the main bomber formations to targets that were obscured by bad weather. Its first mission came on 27 September 1943, when it lead aircraft from the 1st and 3rd Bombardment Divisions to attack the port of Emden. It was the first group to use the H2S navigational radar set, as used by RAF Bomber Command. The success of their early tests meant that the equipment was adopted more widely by the Eighth Air Force.
Although the group was officially based at Alconbury, Huntingdonshire, for the entire duration of its time in Great Britain, from September 1943 until 1944 the unit normally operated in detachments, with the B-17s and B-24s based with the squadrons they were leading.
While operating in this way the 482nd lead attacks on targets at Gotha, Brunswick and Schweinfurt during Big Week (20-25 February 1944), the attack on the German aircraft industry. The group won a distinguished unit citation for its role in an attack on central Germany on 11 January 1944. Poor weather made the fighter escort ineffective, but the group pushed on and bombed its target while fighting a running battle with German aircraft.
In March 1944 the group was removed from the front line (its last pathfinder mission was an attack on Berlin on 22 March) and became a pathfinder school.The aim was to train one squadron in each Bombardment Group to act as a pathfinders, dramatically increasing the poor-weather capability of the Eighth Air Force.
This change did not end the combat career of the unit. It carried out a number of experimental and mapping flights over occupied Europe and Germany, often carrying out bombing missions at the same time. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the group operated as a pathfinder unit targeting German coastal defences in Normandy, and also attacked German transport targets behind the beachhead.
August 1943-June 1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator
|10 August 1943||Constituted as 482nd Bombardment Group (Pathfinder)|
|20 August 1943||Activated in England with Eighth Air Force|
|27 September 1943||First combat mission, an attack on the port at Emden|
|September 1943-March 1944||Operates as a pathfinder unit|
|March 1944-May 1944||Operates as a pathfinder school|
|November 1944||Redesignated 482nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
Colonel Baskin R. Lawrence Jr: 20 August 1943
Colonel Howard Moore: 1 December 1943
Lt. Colonel Clement W. Bird: 15 December 1944-1945
Alconbury, England: 20 August 1943-21 May 1945
Victorville, California: 5 July-1 September 1945
812nd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
813rd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
814th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
Eighth Air Force: 1943-1945
1943: 1st Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force