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55th Fighter Group

Group

The 55th Fighter Group were the first P-38 Lightning Group to go fully operational from England. The pilots flew long-range escort missions for bombers flying over occupied Europe and racked up 'kills' of their own by destroying enemy aircraft in aerial combat or by strafing them on the ground. After converting to the P-51 Mustang in July 1944, the Group went on to win two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first was awarded for the destruction of 106 enemy aircraft over eight missions between 3-13 September 1944 and the second was awarded for ground strafing achievements on targets in Germany on 19 February 1945.

US Air Force Combat Units of World War II Description

Constituted as 55th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Trained with P-43’s. Redesignated 55th Fighter Group in May 1942. Converted to P-38’s and prepared for combat. Moved to England, Aug- Sep 1943. Assigned to Eighth AF. Began operations with P-38’s on 15 Oct 1943; converted to P-51’s in Jul 1944. Engaged primarily in escorting bombers that attacked such targets as industries and marshalling yards in Germany, and airfields and V-weapon sites in France. Provided cover for B-17’s and B-24’s that bombed aircraft plants during Big Week in Feb 1944, gun emplacements during the St Lo breakthrough in Jul 194, and transportation facilities during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1-4-Jan 1945. Also patrolled the air over the Channel and bombed bridges in the Tours area during the invasion of the Continent in Jun 194; patrolled the Arnhem sector to support the airborne invasion of Holland in Sep 194; strafed trucks, locomotives, and oil depots near Wesel when the Allies crossed the Rhine in Mar 1945. Received a DUC for eight missions to Germany between 3 and 13 Sep 1944 when the group not only destroyed enemy fighters in the air to protect the bombers it was escorting, but also descended to low levels, in spite of intense antiaircraft fire, to strafe airdromes and to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground. Received second DUC for operations on 19 Feb 1945 when the organization flew a sweep over Germany to hit railway tracks, locomotives, oil cars, goods wagons, troop cars, buildings, and military vehicles. Flew last combat mission on 21 Apr 1945. Moved to Germany in Jul 1945 as part of the occupation forces. Assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Trained with P-51 and P-80 aircraft. Inactivated in Germany on 20 Aug 1946.

Commanding officers
  • Benjamin Rimerman

    Military | Colonel | Fighter pilot, Commanding Officer | 353rd Fighter Group
    Killed in a flying accident post-war with Capt. William J. MaGuire in a modified P-51 on August 11, 1945. SS/ DFC/ AM w/ 3 Oak Leaf Cluster

  • Elwyn Righetti

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 55th Fighter Group
    Righetti held the rank of Major when he joined the 55th Fighter Group but it would only be a matter of days before he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He also spent just a couple of days with the 38th Fighter Squadron, before going to the 338th...

  • Frank James

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter Pilot / Director of Operations | 55th Fighter Group

  • George Crowell

    Military | Colonel | Fighter pilot | 55th Fighter Group
    Assigned to HQ Sqn, 55FG, 8AF USAAF. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: DFC, AM (4OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Jack Jenkins

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 55th Fighter Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) crashed near Coulommiers on 10 Apr 44 in P-38 'Texas Ranger' #42-67825. MACR 3620. ...

  • Jack Hayes

    Military | Brigadier General | Fighter Pilot | 55th Fighter Group
    Colonel Hayes was from California and joined the US Army prior to WWII at age 15 yes he lied and got away with it first in the infantry and then to the Cavalry yep at time in 1940 it still existed spurs saddles and all. Jack joined referencing his...

Structure

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Missions

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-158 PRACTICE FIGHTER SWEEP

    15 October 1943
    55FG despatches and unknown number of P-38s on a practice sweep with a formation of B-24s. No other details are provided in the source data. There are no losses or claims.

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-157 FIGHTER SWEEPS

    15 October 1943
    This mission is composed of two fighter elements. The first element is a formation of 36 P-38s despatched from 55FG to fly fighter sweeps over the Dutch Islands. This is the first mission for 55 FG and the first to use the P-38 "Lightning" from England...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-159 FIGHTER SWEEPS

    16 October 1943
    This mission is composed of two elements. The first element is a force of 39 P-38s despatched to fly fighter sweeps over the Dutch islands. There are no losses or claims. ...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-161 FIGHTER SWEEPS

    17 October 1943
    This mission consisted of two fighter elements. This first element was a force of 35 P38s despatched from 55FG to fly fighter sweeps over Northern Feance. There are no losses or claims. ...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-162 BOMBER ESCORT

    18 October 1943
    This mission was composed of two fighter elements. The first element was a force of 33 P-38s from 55FG despatched to accompany bomber formations headed for Duren, Germany. Weather conditions prevented rendevous with the bomber stream and both the...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-163 BOMBER ESCORT.

    20 October 1943
    This mission was composed of two fighter elements. The first element was a force of 39 P-38s from 55FG despatched to escort B-17 formations attacking at Duren, Germany. There wer no losses or claims. ...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-165 BOMBER ESCORT

    22 October 1943
    This mission was composed of two fighter elements. The first element was a force of 45 P-38s from 55FG despatched to provide escort to B-26s of 9th Air Force. 1 aircraft was damaged. There are no losses or claims. ...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-166

    24 October 1943
    This missionis composed of two fighter elements. The first element is a force of 48 P-38s from 55FG despatched to provide escort for a formation of B-26 bombers from 9th Air Force. There are no losses or claims. ...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-168 BOMBER ESCORT

    3 November 1943
    This mission is composed of two fighter elements. The first element is a force of 45 P-38s from 55FG despatched to provide escort, to and from the target, of B-17 bomber formations attacking at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. There are NO losses and the...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-170 BOMBER ESCORT

    5 November 1943
    THis mission is composed of two fighter elements. The forst element is a force of 47 P-38s from 55FG despatched to provide escort to the B-17 formations attacking at Gelsenkirchen. While not as nimble as the German fighters, the four .50cal nose...

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Stations

Station Location Date
Based Nuthampstead 16 September 1943 – 16 April 1944
Based Wormingford 16 April 1944 – 21 July 1945

Connections

People

  • Arnold Abalos

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Communications Supply Technician (MOS 581) | 55th Fighter Group
    Arnold Abalos was born in Mexico and emigrated to the United States with his parents at age 8 or 9. The family settled in Elko, Nevada. Arnold enlisted in November 1941 and served overseas with the 1029th Signal Company, attached to the 55th Fighter...

  • Richard Abel

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 55th Fighter Group
    Assigned 343FS, 55FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bomber escort to Munich. Last seen whilst strafing enemy aircraft in P-51D 'Jills Jalopy VII' 44-64159 near Zorneaing. Pilot 2nd Lt Richard K Abel Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 13950. ...

  • Walter Achramowicz

    Military | Major | Fighter Pilot | 353rd Fighter Group
    Assigned to 555FTS, 496FTG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 38FS, 55FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 350FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF. Ended Tour of Duty (ETD). Walter Achramowicz also went on to serve in the Korean War. He retired from the US Air Force in 1964 with the...

  • Archie Adams

    Military | Master Sergeant | 55th Fighter Group

  • Donald Adams

    Military | Major | Fighter Pilot | 31st Fighter Group
    Assigned to 343FS, 55FG, 8AF USAAF. 2 x missions. Credited with 2 destroyed and 2 damaged (ground). ...

  • Elmer Adams

    Military | Sergeant | 55th Fighter Group

  • Ermine Adams

    Military | Private First Class | 55th Fighter Group

  • Richard Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | 55th Fighter Group

  • Richard Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | 55th Fighter Group

  • James Addleman

    Military | Private First Class | 55th Fighter Group

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Aircraft

  • 42-103507

    P-51 Mustang

  • 42-104250

    P-38 Lightning

  • 42-104280

    P-38 Lightning

  • 42-104284

    P-38 Lightning

  • 42-104396

    P-38 Lightning

  • 42-66719

    P-38 Lightning
    P-38H-1-LO 42-66719 was assigned to the 55FG/38FS at Nuthampstead, UK. On 18-Oct-43 the aircraft, piloted by 2LT Hugh E. Gillette, was deaptched with 32 others on a mission to escort bombers headed for Duren, Germany. Weather conditions made it...

  • 42-66724 Miss Margaret

    P-38 Lightning
    P-38H-1-LO 42-66724 was assigned to 55FG/338 FS at Nuthampstead, UK. On 13-Nov-43 the airfcraft, piloted by 2LT Robert N. Jensen, was despatched with others of the 55FG to provide escort to B-17s attacking at Bremen, Germany. On the penetration his...

  • 42-66727

    P-38 Lightning
    P-38H-5-LO 42-66727 was assigned to the 55FG/338FS at Nuthampstead, UK. On 13-Nov-43 the aircraft, piloted by 2LT William W. Shank, was despatched along with other of the 55Fg to provide escort to B-17 formations attacking at Bremen, Germany. His...

  • 42-66732

    P-38 Lightning
    P-38H-5-LO 42-66732 was assigned to the 55FG/338FS at Nuthampstead, UK. On 13-No-43 the aircraft, piloted by 2LT William C. Florentine, Jr. was despatched along with other P-38s from the 55FG to escort B-17 bombers attacking at Bremen, Germany. The...

  • 42-67020

    P-38 Lightning
    P-38H-5-LO 42-67020 was assigned to the 55FG/38FS at Nuthampstead, UK. On 29-Nov-43 the aircraft, piloted by MAJ Milton Joel (Commanding Officer of 38FS), was despatched with other P-38s of 55FG to provide escort for bombers attacking at Bremen,...

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Citations

DUC for eight missions to Germany between 3 and 13 Sep 1944 when the group not only destroyed enemy fighters in the air to protect the bombers it was escorting

DUC for operations on 19 Feb 1945 when the organization flew a sweep over Germany to hit railway tracks, locomotives, oil cars, goods wagons, troop cars, buildings, and military vehicles

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 August 2019 10:25:41 Emily Changes to motto, insignia, us air force combat units of world war ii description and commanding officers associations
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of WWII

Date Contributor Update
26 February 2015 15:19:50 rossingtonj Changes to mission associations
Sources

Key image chosen

Date Contributor Update
26 February 2015 15:16:15 rossingtonj Changes to type, aircraft types, mission associations and stations
Sources

http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/55thfg.php?action=list_records&recs=50&so...

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:42:46 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / 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). / Units in the UK from ETOUSA Station List, as transcribed by Lt. Col. Philip Grinton (US Army, Retired) and extracted by IWM; air division data from L.D. Underwood, based on the 8th Air Force Strength Report of 6th August 1944, as published in 'The 8th Air Force Yearbook' by Lt. Col. John H Woolnough (1980)

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