57th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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The 57th Fighter Group supported the British Eighth Army from El Alamein to Tunisia and onto Sicily and Italy, where it took part in the long campaign in Italy and the invasion of the south of France.

The group was constituted as the 57th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940 and activated on 15 January 1941. It trained with the P-40, and after the US entry into the Second World War formed part of the defence forces for the US east coast.

In July-August 1942 the group moved to the Middle East to support the British Eighth Army, which was then pressed back deep inside Egypt. The group's 72 aircraft crossed the Atlantic on the carrier USS Ranger, leaving Quonset on 1 July. The carrier took them to within 100 miles of the African coast, and the aircraft then took off in batches of 18 at the start of the long journey along the trans-African ferry route. Some of the aircraft were in service within a month of arriving in Africa, with the group joining existing RAF units to speed its entry into combat.

The group took part in the defensive battle of Alam Halfa, flying over 150 sorties. During the victorious battle of El Alamein the group operated with No.239 Wing and No.212 Group. On 26 October the group claimed four Macchi C.202s, gaining confidence as it gained experience.

The group also took part in the Eighth Army's long advance back across Libya and into Tunisia. It was used as a bomber escort group and for ground attack and dive bombing missions against German and Italian targets. The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in an air battle over the Gulf of Tunis on 18 April 1943 when around 70 enemy transport and fighter aircraft were claimed (part of the 'Palm Sunday massacre'). As well as flying its own combat missions, the group was also given the role of supporting newly arrived groups as they entered combat. Almost all of the senior officers from the 79th Fighter Group served with the 57th for a period before the 79th began operations on 14 March.

During this period, and through the invasion of Italy the group served under the Northwest African Tactical Air Force), despite officially being part of the US Ninth Air Force.

The group took part in the massive air attack on Pantelleria (May-June 1943), the only occasion in which air attacks alone forced the surrender of a sizable enemy garrison.

The group also took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily (July-August 1943), again supporting the Eighth Army. The group was awarded another DUC for supporting the Eighth Army between El Alamein and the end of the fighting on Sicily.

In August 1943 the group joined the Twelfth Air Force. During Operation Avalanche, the Salerno landings, the group was used to protect Allied convoys off the south and east coast of Italy. It was used to support the Eighth Army's landing at Termoli during the advance up the Adriatic coast of Italy (taking part in an all-out effort to protect the vulnerable beachhead on 5-6 October), and then supported the Eighth Army once again until February 1944.

Early in 1944 the group converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt. It used its new aircraft for attacks on ground targets, in particular transport links, and was awarded a third DUC for attacks on transport links around Florence and Arezzo on 14 April 1944.

In March 1944 the group moved to Corsica, with orders to attack rail and road communcations south of the Pisa-Pontassieve line and west of a line from Arezzo to Chiusi, along with a strip along the coast from Spezia to Montalto di Castro. This was part of Operation Strangle, the attempt to isolate the German front line. On one day during this campaign the group knocked out six bridges.

In June 1944 the group supported the French invasion of Elba, off the west coast of Italy.

In August 1944 the group briefly left the Italian campaign to support Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the South of France. On 9 August it took part in an attack on the anti-aircraft guns around the airfield at Bergamo-Seriate, to prepare for an attack by 99 B-26 medium bombers, none of which were lost during the attack.

By the end of August the advancing armies in France had moved beyond the range of aircraft based on Corsica, and from September 1944 until the end of the war the group attacked targets in the north of Italy. Amongst its targets were the rail links across the Alps, and on 6 November it helped knock out the stations at Domegliara, Ala and Trento.

The group returned to the United States in August 1945, and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.




1941-1944: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
1944-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt


20 November 1940 Constituted as 57th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
15 January 1941 Activated
May 1942 Redesignated as 57th Fighter Group
July-August 1942 To Middle East and Ninth Air Force
August 1943 To Twelfth Air Force
August 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Reuben C Moffat: c. 15 Jan 1941
Maj Clayton B Hughes: unkn
Maj Minthorne W Reed: 12 Dec 1941
Lt Col Frank H Mears: 1942
Col Arthur G Salisbury: 20 Dec 1942
Col Archibald J Knight: 23 Apr 1944
Lt Col William J Yates: 23 May 1g45-unkn

Main Bases

Mitchel Field, NY: 15 Jan 1941
Windsor Locks, Conn: 19 Aug 1941
Boston, Mass: 8 Dec 1941-c.1 Jul 1942
Muqeibile, Palestine: c. 20 Jul 1942
Egypt: 16 Sep 1942
Libya: 12 Nov 1942
Tunisia: Mar 1943
Malta: Jun 1943
Sicily: July 1943
Southern Italy: Sep 1943
Gioia Airfield, Italy: c. 25 Sep 1943
Foggia, Italy: Oct 1943
Amendola, Italy: c. 27 Oct 1943
Cercola, Italy: Mar 1944
Corsica: Mar 1944
Ombrone Airfield, Italy: Sep 1944
Grosseto, Ita!y: Sep 1944
Villafranca di Verona: Italy, 29 Apr 1945
Grosseto, Italy: 7 May 1945
Bagnoli, Italy: 15 Jul-5 Aug 1945
Drew Field, Fla: 21 Aug-7 Nov 1945

Component Units

64th: 1941-1945
65th: 1941-1945
66th: 1941-1945

Assigned To

1 November 1943-1 January 1944: detached from 57th Bombardment Wing; XII Tactical Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944: 87th Fighter Wing; XII Tactical Air Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944: 87th Fighter Wing; XII Fighter Command; Twelfth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 June 2018), 57th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/57th_Fighter_Group.html

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