Sub-sub-fonds - 479th Fighter Group (Wattisham)

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479th Fighter Group (Wattisham)


  • [20th century] (Creation)

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1 photograph

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Administrative history

Part of the United States Army Air Force 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force.
Part of the 65th Fighter Wing. Comprised the 434th FS: 1943-1945; 1952. 435th FS: 1943-1945; 1952 and the 436th FS: 1943-1945; 1952.
Outline history:
The 479th Fighter Group, known as 'Riddle's Raiders', was activated at Glendale, California, 15 October 1943, where it trained with P38s until 6 February 1944. The Group was stationed and trained at various bases in the United States, including Lomita Flight Strip, California, February-March, 1944; Santa Maria, California, 7 March 1944 and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, 20 April 1944. Group personnel sailed to the United Kingdom on the USS 'Argentina', arriving in Clyde, 14 May 1944.
The Group flew its first mission on 26 May 1944 and it was the last fighter group to join the Eighth Air Force (hereafter the 8th Air Force). The Group flew its last mission on 25 April 1945 and a member of the group, Lt Hilton Thompson, is credited as claiming the 8th Airforce's last enemy aircraft in combat. Some 479th Fighter Group personnel transferred back to the United States after VE Day and aircraft transferred to depots in September 1945. It was the last fighter group to return to the United States, arriving in New York on 29 November 1945. The Group was deactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 1 December 1945. Redesignated the 479th Fighter-Bomber Group and activated on 1 December 1952. Redesignated the 479th Fighter-Day Group in February 1954.
Key Missions:
The Group's main role, from May 1944 to April 1945, was to escort bombers during operations against targets in Europe. The Group then supported the Normandy invasion, in June 1944, during which it patrolled the beachhead. It also flew area patrols during the breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944 and supported Allied troops during the invasion of Holland (Netherlands), September 1944. In late 1944, the Group, which had flown P-38Js, converted to flying P-51s (Mustangs). It participated in the Battle of the Bulge, December-January 1945, escorting bombers to and from targets in the battle area and by strafing transport networks. The Group also supported Allied troops crossing the Rhine in March 1945.
Fighter Squadrons:
434th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945.
435th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945.
436th Fighter Squadron: 1943-1945.
Aircraft flown:
P-38J, May-27 September 1944.
P-51D Mustang, 13 September 1944-September 1945.
Wattisham (Army Air Force Station no. 377), 15 May 1944-22 November 1945.
Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, c. 29 November-1 December 1945.
Group Commanders:
Lt Col Kyle L. Riddle, 25 December 1943-10 August 1944.
Col. Hubert Zemke, 12 August-30 October 1944.
Col Kyle L. Riddle, 1 November 1944-late 1945.
Major Awards:
Distinguished Unit Citation for strafing airfields and air combat, near Munster, Germany, 18 August 1944, 5 September 1944 and 26 September 1944. The Group also received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.

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Scope and content

This section contains a photograph of the 434th Fighter Squadron patch.

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Related units of description

For photographs of 479th Fighter Group patches, see MC 371/826. For a 479th Fighter Group patch, see MC 371/840.

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Publication note

Select Bibliograhpy:
Unit Histories: For a more detailed history of the 479th Fighter Group, see Terry A. Fairfield, 'The 479th Fighter Group in World War II : in action over Europe with the P-38 and P-51' (Schiffer Military History, 2004). A copy is available through the Norfolk Library Service.
Websites giving further information about the 65th Fighter Wing and on which this administrative history of the Group is based [accessed 4 August 2010]:
479th Fighter Group:
8th Air Force:
Eighth Air Force Historical Society: <.>.
Little Friends:

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