78th Flying Training Wing (U.S. Army Air Forces)
The 78th Flying Training Wing was a wing of the United States Army Air Forces. It was last assigned to the Central Flying Training Command, and was disbanded on 30 June 1945 at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas. The wing was a World War II unit for the classification and preflight testing of aviation cadets. It was one of three such centers, the others being at Maxwell Field, Alabama and Santa Ana Army Air Base, California. There is no lineage between the current United States Air Force 78th Air Base Wing, established on 24 September 1948 at Hamilton Air Force Base, California, and this organization.
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Army Air Forces Bombardier School
A Bombardier School was a United States Army Air Forces facility that used bombing ranges for training aircrew. After ground simulator training with the Norden bombsight, the 12- to 18-week course recorded each student's scores for approximately 160 practice bomb drops of "Bomb Dummy Units" (BDU), both in daytime and at night. The elimination rate was 12%, and graduates transferred to a Second or Third Air Force training unit to join a crew being trained for overseas duty. The bombardier trainer used was the Beech AT-11 Kansan. With the Bradley Plan increase in Eighth Air Force aircrews needed for the Combined Bomber Offensive, the 17 Army Air Forces Bombardier Schools graduated 47,236.
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United States Army Air Forces in the Central Pacific Area
During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces fought the Empire of Japan in the Central Pacific Area. As defined by the War Department, this consisted of most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, excluding the Philippines, Australia, the Netherlands East Indies, the Territory of New Guinea (including the Bismarck Archipelago) the Solomon Islands and areas to the south and east of the Solomons. The initial USAAF combat organization in the region was Seventh Air Force, which was originally formed in Hawaii as the Army Air defense command for the islands. After the Pearl Harbor Attack on 7 December 1941, Seventh Air Force retained the mission of its predecessor of the defense of the Hawaiian Islands and until the closing months of the war it maintained its headquarters at Hickam Field. The command however, deployed most of its combat units to the Central Pacific. As the war progressed, some Seventh Air Force units moved into the South West Pacific theatre and coordinated their activities with Fifth and Thirteenth Air Force units in New Guinea, Netherlands East Indies and Philippines during 1944 and 1945. In 1944, Twentieth Air Force was reassigned from the China Burma India Theater to bases in the Marianas chain of islands, consisting primarily of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. The Marianas airfields were considered as being ideal bases from which to launch B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan. The islands were about 1500 miles from Tokyo, a range which the B-29s could just about manage. Most important of all, they could be put on a direct supply line from western United States ports by ship. In September 1945, just after the Surrender of Japan, a few advance elements of Eighth Air Force arrived on Tinian and Guam. Eighth Air Force was transferred from England to be a second strategic air force in the Pacific War, with a mission to carry out B-29 attacks on the Japanese Home Islands during the planned Invasion of Japan beginning in November 1945. These advance units were reassigned to other stations in December 1945. Seventh Air Force operations focused on supporting Army and Naval forces in the tactical campaigns against Japanese forces in the Central Pacific, while Twentieth Air Force performed strategic bombing missions directly against the Japanese home islands.
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United States Army Air Forces use
USAAF Station Units assigned to RAF Chelveston were: 442d Sub-Depot 18th Weather Squadron 2d Station Complement Squadron 1059th Military Police Company 1632nd Ordnance Supply & Maintenance Company 876th Chemical Company (Air Operations) 2030th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon 5th Mobile Training Unit 309th Medical Dispensary60th Troop Carrier GroupIn early 1942, Chelveston was turned over to the American Eighth Air Force. The first USAAF unit to occupy Chelveston was the 60th Troop Carrier Group. The 60th consisted of the 10th, 11th, 12th and 26th squadrons, equipped with 53 C-47 aircraft. The 60th arrived in early July, but its stay was brief, moving to RAF Aldermaston at the end of the month. After its training in the UK, the unit moved on to the 12th Air Force for operations in the Mediterranean theater. 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy)On 9 August 1942, the 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy) took up residence on the station. The 301st was assigned to the 1st Combat Wing at Brampton Grange. Its operational squadrons were the 32d, 352d, 353d, 354th and 415th Bomb Squadrons, each equipped with Boeing B-17F Flying Fortresses. The unit was the second heavy USAAF bomber group to arrive in England. It flew its first operational mission on 5 September 1942 to the Rouen marshalling yards in northern France. During its stay at Chelveston, the unit attacked submarine pens, airfields, railroads, bridges, and other targets on the Continent, primarily in France. The 301st BG was allocated to Operation Torch, and on 26 November 1942 it departed for the Twelfth Air Force, being moved to Tafaraoui Airfield, Algeria. 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy)The next group to use Chelveston was the 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), moving in from RAF Grafton Underwood in December 1942. The 305th Bomb Group was one of the most decorated USAAF bomb groups in the European Theater. The 305th BG was assigned to the 40th Combat Wing at RAF Thurleigh. The group tail code was a "Triangle G". Its operational squadrons (and fuselage codes) were the 364th(WF), 365th (XK), 366th (KY) and 422d (JJ) Bomb Squadrons, each initially equipped with B-17Fs, then upgraded to the B-17G in 1944. During the winter of 1942/43, the 305th was commanded by Colonel Curtis LeMay and pioneered many of the techniques of daylight bombing used by the USAAF over Nazi-controlled Europe. These fundamental procedures and techniques were later adapted to the Boeing B-29 Superfortress which fought the war to its conclusion in the Pacific. The 305th BG bombed the navy yards at Wilhelmshaven on 27 January 1943 when heavy bombers of Eighth AF made their first penetration into Germany. Through mid-1943, the group attacked strategic targets as submarine pens, docks, harbours, shipyards, motor works, and marshalling yards in France, Germany, and the Low Countries. The 305th BG received the Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on April 1943 when an industrial target in Paris was bombed with precision in spite of pressing enemy fighter attacks and heavy flak. During the second half of 1943, the unit began deeper penetration into enemy territory to strike heavy industry. Significant objectives included aluminum, magnesium, and nitrate works in Norway, industries in Berlin, oil plants at Merseburg, aircraft factories at Anklam, shipping at Gdynia, and ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt. First Lieutenant William R Lawley Jr and 1st Lt Edward S Michael, pilots in the 364th Bomb Squadron, each received the Medal of Honor for similar performances on 20 February and 11 April 1944, respectively. In each case a B-17 was severely damaged by fighters after it had bombed a target in Germany, crew members were wounded, and the pilot himself was critically injured; recovering in time to pull his aircraft out of a steep dive, and realising that the wounded men would be unable to bail out, each pilot flew his plane back to England and made a successful crash landing. A second Distinguished Unit Citation was awarded to the 305th for withstanding severe opposition to bomb aircraft factories in central Germany on 11 January 1944. The unit participated in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 February 1944. In addition to bombardment of strategic targets, the 305th BG often flew tactical interdictory missions and supported infantry units. Prior to the Normandy invasion in June 1944, it helped to neutralize enemy installations such as V-weapon sites, airfields, and repair shops. On D-Day, 6 June, the unit bombed enemy strongholds near the battle area. During the Battle of Normandy the 305th attacked enemy positions in advance of ground forces at Saint-L in July 1944 and struck antiaircraft batteries to cover the airborne invasion of the Netherlands in September. The 422nd Bomb Squadron became a specialist unit in the summer of 1943, taking part in experimental night bombing missions with the B-17 and carrying out leaflet dropping sorties in the darkness. In 1944, the squadron extended its activities to pathfinder techniques using the H2X airborne radar. The 305th took part in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 January 1945, by bombing military installations in the battle zone, and supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945. After V-E Day, the 305th moved to St Trond Airfield, in Belgium in July 1945 and Chelveston was returned to the RAF in October 1945. The 305th Bomb Group became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe, performing occupation duty at Lechfeld Air Base, Germany, December 1945 - 25 December 1946. The group was inactivated in Germany on 25 December 1946.