85th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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The 85th Fighter Group was a training group that served with the Second and Third Air Forces in the United States in 1942-44.

The group was formed as the 85th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13 January 1942 and activated on 10 February 1942. It was originally equipped with the V-72 Vengeance and allocated to the Third Air Force, in the US South East.

In July 1942 the group was redesignated as the 85th Bombardment Group (Dive)

In August 1942 the group converted to the A-24 Banshee, the USAAF version of the SBD Dauntless.

In November 1942 the group moved to Blythe Army Airforce Base in south-eastern California, to take part in manoeuvres held in California over the winter of 1942-43. The group soon moved to nearby Rice AAB. During this period the group was part of the 2nd Air Force, despite being based in 4th Air Force territory. Early in 1943 the group converted to the A-36 Mustang.

In April 1943 the group moved to Harding Field, Louisiana, taking it back to the 3rd Air Force. It took part in manoeuvres in Kentucky in the same month. After this it began to operation as a replacement training unit.

In August 1943 the group was redesignated as the 85th Fighter-Bomber Group.

Early in 1944 the group converted to the P-40 Warhawk. In March 1944 a few P-47 Thunderbolts joined the group, but it was disbanded on 1 May 1944 as part of a wider reorganisation of training units which saw the previous training groups and squadrons disbanded and replaced by new Army Air Forces Base Units.




Early 1942: Vultee V-72 Vengeance
August 1942-early 1943: Douglas A-24 Banshee (SBD Dauntless )
Early 1943-early 1944: North American A-36 Mustang
Early 1944-March 1944: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
March 1944-May 1944: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and a few Republic P-47 Thunderbolts


13 January 1942 Constituted as 85th Bombardment Group (Light)
10 February 1942 Activated with Third Air Force
July 1942 Redesignated 85th Bombardment Group (Dive)
November 1942 To Second Air Force
April 1943 To Third Air Force
August 1943 Redesignated 85th Fighter-Bomber Group
1 May 1944 Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

2nd . Lt Benson M Sherman: 18 Feb 1942
Capt Orren L Briggs: 23 Feb 1942
Capt Joseph Ralph Deming: 31 Mar 1942
Lt Col Arnold L Schroeder: 13 Jun 1942
Lt Col William R Clingerman, Jr: 10 Oct 1943
Col James E Ellison: 13 Nov 1943
Col Joseph S Holtoner: 26 Jan 1944
Lt Col Thomas A Holdiman: 4 Mar 1944
Lt Col Robert C Bagby: 20 Mar 1944
Col Joseph S Holtoner: 1 Apr-1 May 1944

Main Bases

Savannah AB, Ga: 10 Feb 1942
Bowman Field, Ky: c. 16 Feb 1942
Hunter Field, Ga: 9 Jun 1942
Waycross, Ga: 15 Aug 1942
Gillespie Field, Tenn: 3 Oct 1942
Blythe AAB, Calif: 2 Nov 1942
Rice, Calif: c. 11 Dec 1942
Harding Field, La: c. 9 Apr 1943
Waycross AAFld, Ga: c. 27 Aug 1943-1 May 1944.

Component Units

499th: 1942-1944
500th: 1942-1944
501st: 1942-1944
502nd: 1942-1944

Assigned To

February 1942-November 1942: Third Air Force
November 1942-April 1943: Second Air Force
April 1943-May 1944: Third Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 July 2018), 85th Fighter Group (USAAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/85th_Fighter_Group.html

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