491st Bombardment Group

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The 491st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group of the Eighth Air Force that entered combat early in June 1944, just before the D-Day landings.

Most of the group's operations were part of the strategic bombing campaign against Germany. Targets included Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel and Cologne, as well as the German General Staff HQ at Zossen. The group won a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on a oil refinery on 26 November 1944 in which it lost almost half of its aircraft but still attacked its target.

The 491st also took part in a number of tactical operations. In July 1944 it supported the breakout at St. Lo. Over the next few months it made a series of attacks on V-weapons sites and German communications in France. On 18 September 1944 it dropped supplies to the airborne troops involved in Operation Market Garden. It was used to attack German supply lines and fortifications during the Battle of the Bulge, supported the Allied crossing of the Rhine in March 1945, and spent much of April supporting the Allied advance across Germany.


 B-24 Liberator Units of the Eighth Air Force, Robert F. Dorr. Although the Eighth Air Force is famous for operating the B-17, even at the end of the Second World War the B-24 still equipped one third of all Eighth Army Bombardment Groups. Here Dorr looks at the role the Liberator played with the Eighth Army, from its tiny beginnings in 1942 to the final massive air armadas of 1944 and 1945. Dorr also looks at the sizable detachments sent to North Africa during 1943, and the famous Ploesti mission.  
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 Consolidated B-24 Liberator (Crowood Aviation), Martin W. Bowman. A well balanced book that begins with a look at the development history of the B-24, before spending nine out of its ten chapters looking at the combat career of the aircraft in the USAAF, the US Navy and the RAF.
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September 1943-April 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator


14 September 1943 Constituted at 491st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
1 October 1943 Activated
1 January 1944 Ground echelon transferred to England
May 1944 Air echelon reached England
June 1944 Enters combat
April 1945 Final combat missions
July 1945 Returned to the United States
8 September 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Colonel Dwight O Morteith: 10 October 1943
Major Jack G. Merrell: 20 December 1943
Colonel Wilson H Banks: 5 January 1944
Major Alex E. Burleigh: 19 January 1944
Lt. Colonel Jack G. Merrell: 29 January 1945
Lt. Colonel Carl T. Goldenburg: 12 February 1945
Colonel F. H. Miller: 26 June 1944
Colonel Allen W Reed: c.20 October 1944-1945

Main Bases

Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona: 1 October 1943
El Paso, Texas: 11 November 1943
North Pickenham, England: February 1944
Metfield, England: March 1944
North Pickenham: 15 August 1944-June 1945
McChord Field, Washington: 17 July-8 September 1945

Component Units

852nd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
853rd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
854th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
855th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945

Assigned To

Eighth Air Force: 1944-1945
February 1944-1945: 14th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1944: 95th Bombardment Wing; Eighth Air Force (briefly)
1945: 96th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 February 2008), 491st Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/491st_Bombardment_Group.html

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