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15th Air Force

Command

The Fifteenth Air Force was one of two Strategic Air forces in Europe, along with the Eighth Air Force.

It was established on 1 November 1943 in Tunis, Tunisia, and commenced combat operations the following day. The Air Force was formed as part of reorganisation of the Twelfth and Ninth Air Forces, and activated with a strength of 90 B-24 Liberators and 210 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inherited from its predecessors. From December 1943 13 new groups arriving from the US were added to the Fifteenth Air Force, most equipped with B-24 Liberators.

Like the Eighth Air Force in Britain, it was hoped that the Fifteenth would be able to attack Occupied Europe from Italy and the Mediterranean, and keep up the offensive when bad weather in Britain grounded the Eighth Air Force. When the Allies progressed into Italy the Fifteenth were able to reach targets in South France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans which were out of the range of the Eighth Air Force.

During the Second World War the Fifteen heavy bomber groups of the 15th Air Force lost 2,110 Bombers on operations. Its seven Fighter Groups claimed 1,836 enemy aircraft destroyed.

The Fifteenth was inactivated in Italy on 15 September 1945.

Commanding officers
  • James Doolittle

    Military | Lieutenant General | Commanding General
    Became Commanding General of 12th AF September 1942; Commanding General of Northwest African Strategic Air Force March 1943; assumed command of 15th AF November 1943; Commanding General of 8th Air Force 6 January 1944 to 9 May 1945. Medal Of Honor for...

Structure

Part of
Encompassing
  • 5th Combat Bomb Wing

    5th Combat Bomb Wing

    Wing
    The 5th Air Division (5th AD) originated on 19 October 1940 at McChord Field, Washington. Its initial mission was air defense of the northwest United States with three bombardment groups (12th, 17th and 39th) flying early B-17 Flying Fortresses (B-17C...

  • 14th Fighter Group

    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. ...

  • 1st Fighter Group

    1st Fighter Group

    Group
    The 1st Fighter Group were initially deployed to Britain in the summer of 1942 as part of Operation Bolero. After shuttling through a number of different bases in the UK, the Group was reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force in September 1942 and supported...

  • 2nd Bomb Group

    2nd Bomb Group

    Group
    Served on antisubmarine duty for several months after the U.S. entered World War II. In October 1942 was re-designated as 2d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and earmarked for combat. The group was transferred on paper to Geiger Field, Washington, where it...

  • 301st Bomb Group

    301st Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 3-February-1942 at Geiger Field, Washington and equipped with B-17s. On 27-May-1942 the ground unit moved to Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, and the aircraft went to Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base), California for...

  • 376th Bomb Group

    376th Bomb Group

    Group
    Constituted as 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 Oct 1942 and activated in Palestine on 31 Oct. Began combat immediately, using B-24 aircraft. Operated with Ninth AF from bases in the Middle East, Nov 1942-Sep 1943, and with Twelfth AF from Tunisia...

  • 449th Bomb Group

    449th Bomb Group

    Group
    The group was constituted as 449th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943 and activated on 1 May at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona.[2] its original components were the 716th,[3] 717th,[4] 718th,[5] and 719th Bombardment Squadrons.[6] ...

  • 450th Bomb Group
  • 455th Bomb Group

    455th Bomb Group

    Group
    The group was activated July 1943 with four essentially stand-alone bomb squadrons: 740th, 741st, 742nd, and 743rd. After a somewhat nomadic training regimen with dilapidated equipment, the pieces of the group came together at Langley, VA in October...

  • 456th Bomb Group

    456th Bomb Group

    Group
    Constituted as 456th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 May 1943. Activated on 1 Jun 1943. Trained with B-24's for duty overseas. Moved to Italy, Dec 1943-Jan 1944. Began combat with Fifteenth AF in Feb 1944, operating chiefly against strategic targets...

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Previously was
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Connections

People

  • Nilo Abel

    Military | Master Sergeant | Crew chief | 2nd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 429BS, 2BG, 15AF USAAF. Crew chief of B-17 42-38078 'Sweat Pea'. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Norman Adler

    Military | Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 301st Bomb Group
    Assigned 32BS, 301BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Lechfeld 12-Sep-44 flak, crashed Karwendelhaus; Prisoner of War (POW) MACR 8622. Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • John Aitken

    Military | Major | Fighter Pilot | 339th Fighter Group
    First tour of operations in the Mediterranean flying Spitfires in the 2FS, 52FG, 15AF USAAF as a Lieutenant. Credited with two victories and one shared in 1943. For second tour, assigned to 503FS, 339FG, 8AF USAAF. Credited with three aerial victories....

  • Tommie Alfano

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Asst Engineer | 483rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 815BS, 483BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Memmingen in B-17G 44-6177 'Dry Run' 18-Jul-44 hit by enemy aircraft, crashed Ravensburg; Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 7099 Awards: SS, AM (2OLC), GC, PH, POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Spotswood Allen

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 301st Bomb Group
    Assigned 32BS, 301BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Lechfeld 12-Sep-44 flak, crashed Karwendelhaus; Prisoner of War (POW) MACR 8622. Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Donald Alyea

    Military | Sergeant | Ball turret gunner | 463rd Bomb Group
    Assigned 773BS, 463BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Missing in Action Blechhammer 10-Dec-44 Hit by flak crashed Adriatic Sea Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 10689 Awards: AM, PH.

  • Harold Anderson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 483rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 815BS, 483BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Memmingen in B-17G 44-6177 'Dry Run' 18-Jul-44 hit by enemy aircraft, crashed Ravensburg; Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 7099 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • James Antonious

    Military | Colonel | Bombardier | 483rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 815BS, 483BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Memmingen in B-17G 44-6177 'Dry Run' 18-Jul-44 hit by enemy aircraft, crashed Ravensburg; Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 7099 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Lee Archer

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter Pilot-1055 single engine | 332nd Fighter Group
    Flight leader 302nd FS 332nd FG 15th AF ...

  • Joseph Armstrong

    Military | Sergeant | Armourer / gunner
    Assigned to 95BS, 17BG, 12AF. Failed to Return (FTR) Neckarelz Railroad Bridge, Germany shot down by Bf109, crashed near Achern. Killed in Action (KIA). 23-Dec-44 MACR 11590. Awards: PH.

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Aircraft

  • 41-24406 'All American'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 13/7/42; transferred 414BS/97BG Polebrook 6/42; Maison Blanche, Alg. 13/11/42; Tafaraoui, Alg. 22/11/42; Biskra, Alg. 25/12/42; on Tunis mission was rammed by Me109G 1/2/43 almost slicing rear fuselage and tailplane off; made it...

  • 42-102855 Weary Willie

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 10/4/44; Hunter 27/4/44; Dow Fd 10/5/44; Assigned 346BS/99BG Tortorella 19/5/44; in base taxi accident with Dick Schildmeyer 24/2/45; 97m Salvaged 26/4/45; WEARY WILLIE.

  • 42-102918 'Idiots Delight'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/4/44; Hunter 29/4/44; Grenier 14/5/44; Assigned 342BS/97BG Amendola 26/5/44; first 15AF aircraft to land in Russia on shuttle mission after bombing Debrecen marshalling yards 2/6/44; Missing in Action Munich 19/7/44 with 1Lt...

  • 42-2982

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered West Palm Beach 7/1/43; Assigned 342BS/97BG Chateau-du-Rhumel 3/43; Pont-du-Fahs 1/8/43; Depienne 15/9/43; Cerignola 20/12/43; Amendola 16/1/44; Lost Palermo, Italy to flak and fighters 16/4/43 with 1Lt William F Murray Jr, 1Lt Vernon J Reed,...

  • 42-29856 'Patches'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 27/2/43; Smoky Hill 22/3/43; Tinker 9/4/43; Nashville 13/4/43; Morrison 18/4/43; Assigned 346BS/99BG Navarin 5/5/43; Oudna 4/8/43; Tortorella 11/12/43; transferred 815BS/483BG Tortorella 31/3/44; Missing in Action Weiner Neustadt 10/5...

  • 42-29918 'Webfoot'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 9/3/43; Gore 20/3/43; Tinker 30/3/43; Homestead 7/4/43; Morrison 12/4/43; Assigned 346BS/99BG Navarin 12/5/43; Oudna 4/8/43; battle damaged Messina 16/8/43, 1KIA; transferred 342BS/97BG Depienne 14/11/43; Cerignola 20/12/43; Missing in...

  • 42-30072 'Virginia Lee'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 7/4/43; Denver 10/4/43; Gore 18/4/43; Tinker 21/4/43; Morrison 29/4/43; Assigned 342BS/97BG Chateau-du-Rhumel 10/5/43; Pont-du-Fahs 1/8/43; Depienne 15/8/43; Cerignola 20/12/43; Amendola 16/1/44; Missing in Action Ploesti 5/5/44 with...

  • 42-30169 'Lady Luck'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 22/4/43; Tinker 24/5/43; Smoky Hill 29/5/43; Chicago 1/6/43; Smoky Hill 16/6/43; Tinker 19/6/43; Kearney 26/6/43; Eglin 7/7/43; Dow Fd 12/7/43; Assigned 414BS/97BG Chateau-du-Rhumel 14/7/43; Pont-du-Fahs 1/8/43; Depienne 15/8/43;...

  • 42-30267 'Hustlin Huzzy'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/5/43; Smoky Hill 30/5/43; Tinker 8/6/43; Smoky Hill 17/6/43; Casper 28/6/43; Kearney 30/6/43; Eglin 4/7/43; Dow 9/7/43; Assigned 96BS/2BG Ain M'Lila 27/7/43; Massicault 31/7/43; 19m transferred 341BS/97BG Depienne 14/11/43;...

  • 42-30343

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 19/5/43; Gore 20/5/43; Smoky Hill 30/5/43; Dow Fd 3/6/43; Tinker 13/6/43; Smoky Hill 22/6/43; Casper 28/6/43; Kearney 30/6/43; Eglin 4/7/43; Kearney 11/7/43; Dow Fd 12/7/43; Assigned 346BS/99BG Navarin 30/7/43; Oudna 4/8/43;...

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Citations

None

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
30 October 2018 14:58:11 Emily Changes to type, description, unit encompassing associations and commanding officers associations
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of World War II

WIki

Date Contributor Update
03 October 2018 16:09:52 mbowen Changes to type, air forces and aircraft types
Sources

mwbowen1970@gmail.com

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:42:43 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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