57th Fighter Group

Group
Ground personnel of the 57th Fighter Group work on the engines of a P-47 Thunderbolt, with the insignia of the 64th Fighter Squadron on its nose.

Object Number - FRE 9149 - Ground personnel of the 57th Fighter Group work on the engines of a P-47 Thunderbolt, with the insignia of the 64th Fighter Squadron on its nose.

The group was first activated as the 57th Pursuit Group in January 1941, flying P-40 Warhawks as part of the Army Air Corps Northeast Defense Sector (later assigned to the I Fighter Command) at Mitchel Field, New York. It trained in New England and provided air defense of the northeast after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was redesignated as the 57th Fighter Group (FG) in May 1942.

The 57th FG was reassigned to the U.S. Army Middle East Force in Egypt. In June 1942 the pilots and 72 new P-40Fs loaded aboard the aircraft carrier Ranger at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, sailing July 1. On July 19, off the Gold Coast, they launched in four sections of 18 aircraft and flew to Accra, thence across Equatorial Africa to Palestine, officially becoming part of IX Fighter Command. However, prior to the group officially commencing operations, individual 57th FG pilots were attached to, and flew combat sorties with, P-40 squadrons of the Royal Air Force (RAF), South African Air Force (SAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), belonging to No. 211 Group, Desert Air Force.

In October 1942, the 57th FG officially began combat operations as a formation. The group took part in the Battle of El Alamein and, as part of Ninth Air Force, supported the Commonwealth Eighth Army's drive across Egypt and Libya, escorting bombers and flying strafing and dive-bombing missions against airfields, communications, and troop concentrations until Axis defeat in Tunisia in May 1943. The unit participated in the reduction of Pantelleria (May–June 1943) and the conquest of Sicily (July–August 1943). For front-line operations in direct support of the Eighth Army from the Battle of El Alamein to the capitulation of enemy forces in Sicily, the group received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC).

In an aerial battle over the Gulf of Tunis at Cape Bon in April 1943, the group destroyed approximately 74 of the enemy's transport and fighter aircraftwhile sending an equal number down to the sea and beaches to escape by crash landing. The 57th lost just six aircraft in this melee. Forever known by the 57th as the 18 April 1943 Goose Shoot – "The Palm Sunday Massacre," it received another DUC and it added four newly created aces. This action broke the German's aerial supply line and they surrendered Tunisia thirty days later.

The 57th supported the British Eighth Army's landing at Termoli and subsequent operations in Italy, being reassigned to Twelfth Air Force in August 1943. It flew dive-bombing, strafing, patrol, and escort missions.

Early in 1944, the group converted to P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft and flew interdiction operations in Italy. The group moved to Corsica on 30 March 1944 to operate as a separate task force. It flew interdiction missions against railroads, communication targets, and motor vehicles behind enemy lines, providing a minimum of 48 fighter-bomber sorties per day. During 9 days of combat operations during early April 1944, the 57th exceeded 50 sorties per day. While the group was stationed on Corsica, director William Wyler made a 45 minute long Technicolor documentary film, Thunderbolt!. filming combat missions of the 57th. The film concentrated on Operation Strangle. The film was released for the military in 1945 and for general release in 1947.

The group earned a third DUC c. 14 April 1944 for attacks in the Florence-Arezzo area. The group participated in the French campaign against Elba in June 1944 and in the invasion of Southern France in August. It engaged in interdiction and support operations in northern Italy from September 1944 to May 1945. For its operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, the 57th earned the French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) with Palm (awarded in late 1967). It was inactivated on 13 April 1953.

The group remained in northern Italy after the end of the European War, demobilizing throughout the summer of 1945. It was reassigned to the United States in August 1945 and was inactivated at the end of August.

Commanding Officers

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group
  • Service Numbers: O-22608
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot - Group Commander

Connections

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Unit stations

Station Location Date

Based

Muqeible 20 July 1942 - 16 September 1942

Based

Landing Ground 174 16 September 1942 - 5 November 1942

Based

Belandah 3 December 1942 - 3 January 1942

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Darragh 19 January 1943 - 9 March 1943

Based

Hani 21 April 1943

Based

Hal Far 27 June 1943 - 19 July 1943

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Gioia del Colle 25 September 1943 - 30 September 1943

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Amendola 27 October 1943 - 1 March 1944

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Alto 30 March 1944 - 9 September 1944

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Grosetto 24 September 1944 - 29 April 1945

Based

Scordia 12 September 1943

Other

Assigned USAMEAF

Other

Assigned 9th Air Force

Other

Assigned 12th Air Force

Encompassing

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 66th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-707637
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 65th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-705525
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 64th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-795571
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 65th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 17036034
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant (Technician Fourth Grade)
  • Role/Job: Ground Crew Mechanic
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 64th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-2057572
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: P-40 Warhawk
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 65th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-40 Warhawk
  • Nicknames: Sweet Stuff
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 64th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-40 Warhawk
  • Nicknames: Shillelegh
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 65th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-40 Warhawk
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 64th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 57th Fighter Group 65th Fighter Squadron

Mission

  • Date: 31 August 1942
  • Official Description: B-25’s attack aircraft on a landing ground, and B-24’s raid harbor at Tobruk. P-40’s of 66th Ftr Sq, 57th Gp, escort RAF bombers during raid on Maryut. B-25’s, in conjunction with RAF Bostons, attack troop concentrations and military vehicles as...
  • Date: 1 September 1942
  • Official Description: B-24’s attack harbor at Candia, Crete, scoring several direct hits on 1 vessel and hitting 2 others. 2 Squadrons of 57th Fighter Group fly escort missions and sweeps with RAF. B-25’s, in conjunction with RAF Liberators, hit trucks and tanks in battle...
  • Date: 2 September 1942
  • Official Description: B-24’s hit docks and jetties at Tobruk harbor. B-25’s bomb aircraft and landing ground and, with RAF, attack troops and vehicles in battle area around Alam-el-Halfa ridge. P-40’s fly escort and sweep missions over battle area in conjunction with RAF...
  • Date: 3 September 1942
  • Official Description: B-24’s attack convoy at sea. B-25’s hit troop concentrations, vehicles, and airfield installations in battle area of Alam-el-Halfa and behind enemy lines. P-40’s, mostly operating with RAF, escort bombers and engage fighter in combat, claiming at...
  • Date: 4 September 1942
  • Official Description: B-24’s, in conjunction with RAF and Royal Navy, attack convoy at sea. 2 merchant ships are reported sunk and 1 left burning. B-25’s and RAF Bostons, repelling counterattacks during Alam-el-Halfa battle, hit troop concentrations and vehicles, while P...

Revisions

Date19 Dec 2016 03:59:45
Contributor466thHistorian
Date14 Dec 2016 00:52:36
Contributor466thHistorian
Date14 Dec 2016 00:03:04
Contributor466thHistorian
Date13 Dec 2016 23:59:32
Contributor466thHistorian
Date13 Dec 2016 15:10:38
Contributor466thHistorian
Date13 Dec 2016 05:32:11
Contributor466thHistorian
Date13 Dec 2016 04:58:02
Contributor466thHistorian
Date13 Dec 2016 04:46:25
Contributor466thHistorian

57th Fighter Group: Gallery (55 items)