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56th Fighter Group

Group

Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any other. Francis Gabreski and Robert Johnson, the Eighth Air Force's top aces were both with the 56th. Col. Hubert A. Zemke and Col. David C. Schilling, two of the Group's Cos, were also famous aces, rivalling the 4th Fighter Group's Don Blakeslee and Don Gentile.

Commanding officers
  • David Schilling

    Military | Colonel | Pilot; Commanding Officer; Assistant Director Intelligence | 56th Fighter Group
    Schilling flew P-47 Thunderbolts and was one of the leading aces of the war. He was Commanding Officer of the 56th Fighter Group between August 1944 and January 1945, taking over from Colonel Hubert A Zemke. ...

  • Hubert Zemke

    Military | Colonel | Fighter Group Commander; Pilot | 479th Fighter Group
    17 air victories with 56th FG flying P-47s, 2 1/2 with 479th FG flying P-51s. Lost 30 October 1944 when P-51 broke up in storm. Prisoner of War (POW) Stalag Luft I, Was appointed as head of American Prisoner of War (POW)s while in camp. . Retired from...

Structure

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Missions

  • VIII Fighter Command P-47 RODEO

    8 April 1943
    23 P-47s fly a Rodeo (offensive fighter sweep over enemy territory) between Dunkirk, France and Sangatte, France. 4FG (7); 56FG (4); and 78FG (12). There are no losses or claims. While the 4FG has been flying operations since 2-Oct-43, this is the...

  • VIII Fighter Command Field Order 01 - RAMROD 50.

    13 April 1943
    A combined force of 36 P-47s are depatched on a diversion for RAF Ramrod 50. A "Ramrod" is a short range (medium) bomber mission against ground targets. 4FG (20); 56FG (4); 78FG (12). Even though 78FG had participated in a Rodeo on 8-Apr-43, this...

  • VIII Fighter Command Field Order 01 - RAMROD 50.

    13 April 1943
    A combined force of 36 P-47s are depatched on a diversion for RAF Ramrod 50. A "Ramrod" is a short range (medium) bomber mission against ground targets. 4FG (20); 56FG (4); 78FG (12). Even though 78FG had participated in a Rodeo on 8-Apr-43, this...

  • VIII Fighter Command Field Order 03 - RODEO 204

    15 April 1943
    A combined fighter force of 59 P-47s despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG participate in RAF Rodeo 204, a sweep of the Furnes/St.Omer area of France. Number contributed by each Fighter Group was not recorded in the source data. 4FG has 3 aircraft MIA,...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO-04

    17 April 1943
    Two fighter operations are conducted on this date: a combined force of 81 P-47s is despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG to perform sweeps in the Blankenburge/Bruges/Flushing area in support of RAF Rodeo 205. There are no losses or claims; 59 P-47s are...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO - 06 SWEEPS

    21 April 1943
    A combined force of 82 P-47s from 4FG, 56FG & 78FG fly high altitude sweeps over the Westhoofd/Noordwijk/The Hague area. No losses or claims. These operations are not drawing up the Luftwaffe.

  • VIII Fighter Command FO - 07 RODEO 211

    29 April 1943
    A combined force of 112 P-47s are despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG to arry out high altitude sweeps of the Pas-de-Calaise/Hague area in support of RAF Rodeo 211. This is the first time that fighters from 56FG have encountered enemy fighters. 56FG has...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO - 08 FIGHTER SWEEP

    3 May 1943
    A combined force of 118 P-47s are despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG to make a fighter sweep of the Walcheren Island/Knokke/Ostend/Nieuport area. No enemy aircraft are sighted and there are no losses of claims. The Luftwaffe is simply not taking the bait.

  • VIII Fighter Command FO - 10 FIGHTER SWEEP

    4 May 1943
    A combined force of 117 P-47s is despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG to perform a sweep along the Belgium coast in support of the bomber mission. 1 P-47 is lost due to engine failure. The pilot is seen to bale out over the sea, but his parachute fails...

  • VIII Fighter Command FO - 12 FIGHTER SWEEP

    7 May 1943
    A combined force of 140 P-47s is despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG to make a sweep over the Flushing/Ostend/Knokke area. No losses or claims.

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Stations

Station Location Date
Based Kings Cliffe 12 January 1943 – 4 April 1943
Based Horsham St Faith 5 April 1943 – 7 July 1943
Based Halesworth 8 July 1943 – 18 April 1944
Based Boxted 18 April 1944 – 9 September 1945
Based Little Walden 9 September 1945 – 10 October 1945

Connections

People

  • John Aagaard

    Military | Enlisted Man | 56th Fighter Group
    John Aagaard served in the 1126th Quartermaster Company, which was attached to the 56th Fighter Group in England.

  • Everett Abar

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group

  • John Abbotts

    Military | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group

  • Ernest Abdalah

    Military | Ground Officer | 33rd Service Group

  • Wilfred Abel

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    On 2-Sep-43 while piloting P-47C 41-6537 [UN:Q] 56FG/63FS 1LT Wilfred A. Van Able's flight was attacked by German aircraft near Armentierres, France and he was shot down. He was able to successfully parachute to the grouns and was captured as a Prioner...

  • Sidney Abell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 62FS, 56FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 5th ERS.

  • Ralph Aberth

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 62FS, 56FG, 8AF USAAF. Ended Tour of Duty (ETD).

  • Benjamin Abraham

    Military | Enlisted Man | 56th Fighter Group

  • Andrew Abram

    Military | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group

  • Samuel Abravaya

    Military | Enlisted Man | 56th Fighter Group

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Aircraft

  • 41-6199

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-2-RE 41-6199 was assigned to the 56FG/63FS at Halesworth, UK. On 27-Sep-43 the aircraft, piloted by 1LT Harry P. Dugas, was despatched to provide withdrawl support for B-17 formations retunring from attacking Emden, Germany. The aircraft was...

  • 41-6232

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-RE 41-6232 was assigned to the 56FG/61FS at Halesworth, UK. On 3 Sep-43 the aircraft, piloted by 1LT Hiram O. Bevins, was struck by ground fire while the pilot was reportedly "flying on the deck" returning from a bomber escort mission. 1LT Bevins...

  • 41-6235 Half Pint

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Robert S. Johnson's aircraft from c. March 1943 to 26 June 1943. Assigned to 36 F/G & lost 13 Aug 44

  • 41-6268

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    On 8-Oct-43 P-47C 41-6268, 56FG/63FS piloted by, 2LT Dover C. Fleming Jr., was shot down over Holland while escorting B-17s attacking at Bremen, Germany. The aircraft crashed into the Ijsselmer near Amsterdam, Holland. 1KIA MACR 939.

  • 41-6537

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47C-5-RE was assigned to the 56FG/63FS at Halesworth, UK. On 2 Sep-43 the aircraft was piloted by 1LT Wilfred A. Van Able and despatched to escort bombers. The flight was attacked by German fighters near Armentierres, France and 1LT Van Able was shot...

  • 42-22456

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-22527

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-22748

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-22762 Tinkle

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    To 366 FG 9th AF

  • 42-25522

    P-47 Thunderbolt

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Citations

The Group received two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for destroying 98 enemy aircraft between 20 February and 9 March 1944 and the second for strikes against anti-aircraft positions while supporting the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 06:58:22 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
19 March 2015 11:18:36 rossingtonj Changes to nicknames, citations, description, aircraft types, commanding officers associations, mission associations and stations
Sources

Nickname and aircraft types added. DUC's relocated to citations section.
Sources:
http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/56thfg.php
Information from unit history highlights.

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:28:48 rossingtonj Changes to type and mission associations
Sources

Type added.

Date Contributor Update
04 February 2015 16:06:52 Lucy May Changes to mission associations
Sources

Changed key image.

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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