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14th Fighter Group

Group

The 14th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a P-38 Lightning Group that fought in Tunisia and the Italian campaign, as well as providing bomber escorts for attacks across southern Europe.

The group was formed in the United States in January 1941 and trained with the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Republic P-43 Lancer before converting to the P-38 Lightning. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the group used its P-38s to fly patrols along the US West Coast, where there was a real fear of a Japanese attack.

In late July 1942 the ground echelon set sail for Britain. The air echelon, with its P-38s, moved to the north-eastern United States, then to Presque Isle. The first twenty-eight P-38s, escorted by six B-17s, flew from Presque to Goose Bay on the Canadian Coast on 22 July, end the from there to Greenland, Iceland and finally Prestwick in Scotland. The group then moved to the south-east, where it moved onto existing RAF fighter bases in order to operate alongside their more experienced allies.

The 14th Fighter Group didn't see combat with German fighters during its short period in Britain (it did carry out some escort missions but they were unopposed). It was soon allocated to the new Twelfth Air Force, which was to support Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The group was able to fly into Algeria directly from Britain within 11 days of the invasion. Initially the group was based in the west of Algeria, but within a few days it moved east to take part in the battles in Tunisia. Before the move the group escorted a force of B-17s in an attack on Tunis on 19 November, but German attacks soon forced the American heavy bombers to move to less vulnerable bases further west.

The first squadron moved to Youks on 21 November and was immediately thrown into combat against a German column advancing towards Gafsa. Six aircraft were lost in landing accidents after they returned to their new base after dark. The group was mainly concerned with the fighting in central Tunisia, although also reached the Tunisian east coast (destroying a number of Axis transport aircraft at Gabes on 24 November) and was sometimes dragging into the fighting further north. The move east did cause some problems, as the group had not been expected to need much transport and had many of its vehicles when space had to be saved in the invasion fleets.

By the start of 1943 the USAAF began to run short of P-38s in North Africa. The 14th was kept up to strength by taking aircraft from the 1st Fighter Group, and then from the 82nd Fighter Group. Even so the group was being worn down, and by mid January had to be withdrawn from Youks to rest and recover. They were still operational, and on 20 January took part in the first successful air attack on the Axis convoys bringing supplies over from Sicily. Twelve P-38s from the group escorted six B-25s that sank the 5,000 ton tanker Saturno. This phase lasted until 28 January when the group handed its remaining P-38s over to the 82nd Fighter Group and prepared for a move to the rear.

The group was rested and recovered by the end of April, in time to take part in the final battle for Tunisia.

Between 8 May and 11 June the group took part in the massive aerial bombardment of Pantelleria, an attack that broke the morale of the defenders and led to the surrender of the island.

During the invasion of Sicily the long range P-38s were used on attacks against targets on the Italian mainland. They also attacked the Axis evacuation route in mid-August 1943, badly damaging their transport routes.

From November 1943 the group's main task was to escort the Italian based strategic bombers as they raided targets across much of southern Europe. At the same time it continued to carry out attacks on German transport links, attacking targets across much of the same area.

During the battle for Anzio the Luftwaffe made a major effort, assembling a much larger bomber force than at any time since the battle of Sicily. The Allies responded with a series of major attacks on Luftwaffe airfields. The 14th Fighter Group took part in one unusual raid on 30 January 1944. The target was the series of airfields around Udine in Austria. Five bomber groups and three fighter groups (including the 14th) attacked in the normal way to attract German attention. At the same time the 325th Fighter Group followed the main raid, then got ahead of it and hit the German fighter bases just as their aircraft were taking off. The result was a devastating defeat for the Luftwaffe forces in Austria.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for defeating a series of German fighter attacks during a raid on a ball-bearing factory in Austria on 2 April 1944

The group took part in Operation Dragoon - the invasion of the South of France - carrying out a heavy attack on German airfields on 17 August 1944 (D+2).

The group was inactivated in Italy on 9 September 1945.

Structure

Part of
Encompassing
  • 49th Fighter Squadron
  • 48th Fighter  Squadron
  • 37th Fighter Squadron

    37th Fighter Squadron

    Squadron
    The 37th conducted air defense in the northwestern U.S. between 7 and 24 December 1941 then went on to fly combat missions in the European Theater of Operations and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations from 6 May 1943 to 4 May 1945. ...

Previously was
Not yet known
Became
Not yet known

Missions

  • VIII Fighter Command ESCORT

    25 October 1942
    35 Spitfires from 4th Fighter Group are despatched to escort RAF "Circus" 232. 14th Fighter Group despatches 24 P-38s to provide rear support for the Circus. This is the last mission for 14rh Fighter Group with the 8th AF in the ETO prior to their...

Stations

Station Location Date
Based Atcham 18 August 1942 – 6 November 1942
Based Youks-les-Bains Airfield 15 November 1942 – 9 January 1943
Based Bertreaux Airfield 9 January 1943 – 5 March 1943
Based Telerghma Airfield 5 May 1943 – 3 June 1943
Based Sainte Marie-du-Zit Airfield 25 July 1943 – 12 December 1943
Based Triolo Airfield 12 December 1943 – 9 September 1945

Connections

People

  • Richard Atckison

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 37FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Transferred to 338FS, 55FG, 8AF USAAF. ...

  • George Baird

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 14th Fighter Group

  • Edwin Baquet

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Ed Baquet was born on May 5, 1922, in Unionville, Missouri. He enlisted in the Oregon National Guard on June 12, 1939, serving until February 27, 1940. Baquet later enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve on August 28, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet...

  • Andrew Bing

    Military | Colonel | Fighter pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 48FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Credited 1 x kill. Transferred to HQ Sqn, 364FG, 8AF USAAF. Completed Tour of Duty (ETD). Awards: DFC, AM (4 OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Frederick Bitter

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 84FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 14FG, 5FW, 12AF USAAF. 50 combat missions. Credited 1 x probable[Me109], 1 x damaged[Me109]. Completed Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: AM (7 OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Wallace Bland

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 83FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 49FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) strafing/bombing mission to Sicily, Italy in P-38G 43-2389 hit by flak with port engine smoking and losing power, lost control of A/C and baled out, chute...

  • Bruce Campbell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 83FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 49FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) escort mission to Sicily in P-38G 42-12987. Mid air collision whilst weaving with formation. Baled out. Prisoner of War(POW). 18-Jun-43. MACR 308. ...

  • Robert Carlton

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    5 Sept 1942 P-38F-1-LO 41-7659 was involved in weather and ice problems. Plane buffeting was severe. Was able to land, but he suffered injuries.

  • Wayne Chavis

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 84FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 49FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) 11-May-43 enemy action in P-38. Last seen upside down with left engine on fire. Not seen to crash. 15-20 mile SW of Marsala. MACR 16283. Awards: AM, PH.

  • Lewis Chick

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter Pilot - Squadron Commander | 14th Fighter Group
    Commanded 318th FS Jan-March 1944. Member of the 355th Fighter Group Association. Awards: DFC, AM (13OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

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Aircraft

  • AR404

    Spitfire
    Supermarine Spitfire AR404 Mk Vb, Built at Westland. ...

  • 41-7644

    P-38 Lightning

  • 41-7649 Wally

    P-38 Lightning

  • 41-7651

    P-38 Lightning

  • 43-2517 Kay

    P-38 Lightning

  • 41-7654 Tangerine

    P-38 Lightning

  • 42-104107 Jewboy

    P-38 Lightning

  • 44-25786

    P-38 Lightning
    Assigned to 48th FS 14th FG 15th FG. Flown by Capt Mike Brezas 12 kill ace. Force landed due to flak damage on April 2, 1945. Remains of a/c in Yugoslavian Aviation Museum, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,

  • 41-7677

    P-38 Lightning
    Flown by 2nd Lt Robert F. Elliott on a gunnery practice training flight 27 September 1942. Made forced landing on North Wales beach in surf off Llanbedr Sep 13, 1942 due to fuel exhaustion. Walked away unhurt. Plane was disarmed and only partially...

Citations

None

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
23 November 2016 01:42:54 466thHistorian Changes to stations
Sources

http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/14th_Fighter_Group.html

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 22:29:12 466thHistorian Changes to motto
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Operations_Group

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 22:08:16 466thHistorian Changes to type, description, air forces, aircraft types, unit encompassing associations and media associations
Sources

http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/14th_Fighter_Group.html

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:42:44 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / The Mighty Eighth. A History of the Units, Men and Machines of the US 8th Air Force.' by Roger A. Freeman (1989). 'Air Force Combat Units of World War II' compiled by the Department of the US Air Force, edited by Maurice Maurer (1983).

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