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United States Army Air Corps 9 th US Army Air Corps 344 th Bomb Group,
344 th Bombardment Group Insigna Shield: Azure, a bend nebule or, between four spears, points to base, two and two of the last, inflamed proper. Motto: WE WIN OR DIE (Approved 9 Jan. 1943). Constituted as 344 th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 31 Aug. 1942. Activated on 8 Sept. 1942. Equipped with B-26's and served as a replacement training unit. Moved to England, Jan. -Feb. 1944. Began operations with Ninth AF in March attack airfields, missile sites, marshalling yards, submarine shelters, coastal defenses, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Holland. Beginning in May, helped prepare for the Normandy invasion by striking vital bridges in France. On D-Day 1944 attacked coastal batteries at Cherbourg; during the remainder of June, supported the drive that resulted in the seizure of the Cotentin Peninsula. Bombed defended positions to assist British forces in the area of Caen. Received a DUC for three-day action against the enemy, 24 -26 July 1944, when the group struck troop concentrations, supply dumps, a bridge, and a railroad viaduct to assist advancing ground forces at St. Lo. Knocked out bridges to hinder the enemy's withdrawal through the Falaise gap, and bombed vessels and strong points at Brest, Aug. - Sept. 1944. Attacked bridges, rail lines, fortified areas, supply dumps, and ordance depots in Germany, Oct. -Nov. 1944. Supported Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec. 1944 -Jan. 1945, and continued to strike such targets as supply points, communications centers, bridges, marshalling yards, roads, and oil storage tanks until April 1945. Made training flights and participated in air demonstrations after the war. Moved to Germany in Sept. 1945 and, as part of United States Air Forces in Europe, served with the army of occupation. Began training in A-26 but continued to use B-26 aircraft. Redesignated 344 th Bombardment Group (Light) in Dec. 1945. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US on 15 Feb. 1946. Inactivated on 31 March 1946. Redesignated 126 th Bombardment Group (Light). Allotted to ANG (Ill) on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 29 June 1947. Redesignated 126 th Composite Group in Nov. 1950, and 126 th Bombardment Group (Light) in Feb. 1951. Ordered to active service on 1 April 1951 and assigned to Tactical Air Command. Moved to France, Nov. -Dec. 1951 and assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Used B-26's for training and maneuvers. Relieved from active duty and transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the control of ANG (Ill), on 1 Jan. 1953. Redesignated 126 th Fighter-Bomber Group.
Squadrons 108 th: 1951 -1953 115 th: 1951 168 th: 1951 -1953 180 th: 1951 -1953 494 th: 1942 -1946 497 th: 1942 -1945 Stations Mac. Dill Field, Fla. , 8 Sept. 1942 Drane Field, Fla. , 28 Dec. 1942 Hunter Field, Ga, 19 Dec. 1943 -26 Jan. 1944 Stansted, England, 9 Feb. 1944 Station 169 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, 30 Sept. 1944 Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium, 5 April 1945 Schleissheim, Germany, c. 15 Sept. 1945 -15 Feb. 1946 Bolling Field, DC, 15 Feb. -31 March 1946 O'Hare Intl. Part, Ill, 1 April 1951 Langley AFB Va, 25 July-19 Nov. 1951 Bordeaux AB, France, 7 Dec. 1951 Laon AB, France, c. 25 May 1952 -1 Jan. 1953 Commanders Lt. Col. Jacob J. Brogger, 10 Oct. 1942 Col. Guy L. Mc. Neil, 2 Nov. 1942 Col. John A. Hilger, 7 Nov. 1942 Lt. Col. Vernon L. Stintzi, 20 July 1943 Maj. Robert W. Witty, c. 6 Aug. 1943 Col. Reginald F. C. Vance, 19 Sept. 1943 Col. Robert W. Witty, 7 Nov. 1944 Lt. Col. Lucius D. Clay Jr. , 18 Aug. 1945 -15 Feb. 1946 Col. Russell B. Daniels, 1 April 1951 Lt. Col. Carl R. Norton, 25 June 1951 Lt. Col. Max H. Mortensen, 21 July 1952 Col. Glen W. Clark, 5 Aug. 1952 Lt. Col. Max H. Mortensen, 18 Nov. 1952 -c. 1 Jan. 1953 Campaigns American Theater Air Offensive, Europe Normandy Northern France Rhineland Ardennes-Alsace Central Europe Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation: France, 24 -26 July 1944
344 th Bomb Group Squadron Insignia Aircraft Code 494 th K 9 495 th Y 5 496 th 497 th None N 3 7 I General view of assembly line in Martin bomber plant.
Service of B-26 Marauder with USAAF On February 22, 1941, the first four Martin B-26 s were accepted by the USAAF. First to use the B-26 was the 22 nd Bombardment Group (Medium) based at Langley Field, Virginia. The new B-26 s replaced the Douglas B-18 s that were formerly operated by this unit. The fact that the B-26 weighed two and one half times as much as the B-18 and had a landing speed that was 50 percent higher caused lots of problems for the 22 nd BG. A series of failures of the front wheel strut resulted in a delay in bringing the B-26 to full operational status. Although the forward landing gear strut was strengthened in an attempt to correct this problem, the true cause was ultimately traced to an improper weight distribution. The manufacturer had been forced to deliver the first few B-26 s to the Army without guns, and had trimmed these planes for delivery flights by carefully loading service tools and spare parts as ballast. When the Army took the planes over, they removed the ballast without replacement and the resultant forward movement of the center of gravity had multiplied the loads on the nosewheel, causing the accidents. The installation of the guns corrected the problem.
Pacific Theatre: Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the 22 nd Bombardment Group was transferred to California to fly coastal patrols in case the Japanese fleet attempted to raid the American mainland. In February of 1942, the 22 nd BG was ordered to Australia. The 22 nd Bombardment Group's Marauders were disassembled and loaded aboard ships and left San Francisco on February 6, 1942 bound for Hawaii. The B-26 s were unloaded and reassembled at Hickam Field and then flew sea patrol duty until they were fitted with bomb bay ferry tanks and flown to Brisbane where they were based at Amberley Field under the command of Lt. Gen. George H. Brett. By March 22, the first flight of B-26 s had arrived in Australia. Subsequently, the 22 nd BG moved northward to bases at Townsville. The B-26 first entered combat on April 5, 1942, when the 22 nd Group took off from Townsville, refuelled at Port Moresby, and then attacked Japanese facilities at Rabaul. Each B-26 had a 250 -gallon bomb bay and carried a 2000 - pound bombload. On these missions, the B-26 s took off from the mainland loaded with bombs, landed at Port Moresby to be refueled, then taking off again for targets in New Guinea. Targets were attacked with small formations of from two to six aircraft. The aircraft generally carried four 500 -pound or twenty 100 pound bombs, which they dropped from medium altitudes of 10, 000 to 15, 000 feet. Generally, no fighter escort was available and the Marauders were on their own if they encountered enemy fighters. There were two groups equipped with B-26 s in this theatre, the 22 nd and 38 th, with two squadrons of the 38 th Bombardment Group (69 th and 70 th) equipped with B-26 s. In this series of attacks on Japanese-held facilities in the East Indies, the B-26 s gained a reputation for speed and ruggedness against strong opposition from Japanese Zero fighters. Attacks on Rabaul ended on May 24, after 80 sorties had flown. A series of unescorted raids were made on Japanese installations in the Lae area. These raids were vigorously opposed by Zero fighters. In the 84 sorties flown against Lae between April 24 and July 4, 1942, three Marauders were lost. Elements of the 22 nd Group which had been left behind in the US were used to activate the 21 st Bombardment Group at Jackson Army Air Base in Mississippi. The 21 st would eventually be moved to Mac. Dill Field, Florida to serve as a B-26 OTU. The Marauder could carry an 18 -inch 2000 -pound torpedo slung on an external rack underneath the fuselage. On the ground, the torpedo only cleared the ground by about four inches when taxiing. In June, the B-26 A made its debut as a torpedo bomber, being used against Japanese warships during the Battle of Midway. Four Marauders were equipped with external torpedo racks underneath the keel and took off on June 4, 1942 in an attempt to attack Japanese carriers. The torpedo runs began at 800 feet altitude, the B-26 s then dropping down to only ten feet above the water under heavy attack from Japanese fighters. Two of the Marauders were lost in this action, and the other two were heavily damaged. No hits were made on the Japanese carriers. The B-26 was much too large an aircraft for this type of attack.
After numerous frontal attacks by enemy fighters, it was decided to fit Marauders with additional guns in the nose. A 0. 50 -inch gun replaced the former 0. 30 -inch weapon and a pair of flexible 0. 30 inch guns were installed on each side of the nose bubble. However, these extra guns caused the bombardier to bump his head for lack of space and were eventually removed. After the Battle of Midway, it was concluded that additional forward-firing armament was needed. In the field, several B-26 s were fitted with an additional 0. 50 -inch machine gun mounted on each side of the fuselage just aft of the nosewheel well to be fired by the pilot. At first, no streamlined pod was fitted over the gun. This extra armament was eventually introduced on the B-26 B production line. As the Allies pushed northward in the South Pacific, temporary airfields had to be cut of the jungle and these runways were generally fairly short. The North American B-25 Mitchell had a shorter takeoff run than the B-26, and it began to take over the medium bomber duties in that theatre. Although it was admitted that the B-26 could take greater punishment, was defensively superior, and could fly faster with a heavier bomb load, the B-25 had better short-field characteristics, good sortie rate, and minimal maintenance requirements. In addition, the B-25 was considerably easier to manufacture and had suffered from fewer developmental problems. At this time, there were more B-25 s available for South Pacific duty because it had been decided to send them to the Mediterranean but not to the European theatre. Consequently, it was decided to adopt the B-25 as the standard medium bomber for the entire Pacific theatre, and to use the B-26 exclusively in the Mediterranean and European theatres. Three of the 22 nd Bombardment Group's squadrons switched over to to the B-25 between January and October of 1943, leaving only the 19 th Squadron with the Marauder. Eventually, all medium bomber groups in the South Pacific were equipped with the B-25. Some of the B-26 crewmembers stayed with the B-25 s when the changeovers took place, some were sent back stateside to aid in the instruction of new B-26 crews, and some went to North Africa for another tour with B-26 s. A dwindling number of B-26 s would remain in the Pacific for a few more months. The last mission flown by B-26 s in the South Pacific was on January 9, 1944. The following Marauder groups served in the Pacific theatre with the 5 th Air Force: 22 nd Bombardment Group (Medium). 2 nd, 19 th, 33 rd, and 408 th BS. Used B-26 s until Oct 1943 when B-25 s were added. Re-equipped with B-24 s in Feb 1944 and redesignated 22 nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 38 th Bombardment Group (Medium). 69 th, 70 th, 71 st, 405 th, 822 nd, and 823 rd BS. Activated Jan 15, 1941 with B-18, B-25, and B-26 aircraft. Assigned to 5 th AF and equipped with B-25 s. Alaska Theatre: The 28 th Composite Group in the Alaskan Air Command of the 11 th Air Force was formed in 1941 with one heavy bombardment squadron, two medium bombardment squadrons, and one fighter squadron. The 11 th Bombardment Squadron left for Elmendorf Field with 14 B-26 s during January of 1942. They carried out numerous raids against Japanese forces involved in the Aleutian campaign. However, in early 1943, the Marauders were withdrawn from the Alaskan theatre, being replaced by B-25 s.
Mediterranean Theatre: The first Marauder group to cross the Atlantic was the 319 th, which had moved to Shipdham in England in September of 1942. It moved to Algeria in November. It was soon joined by the 17 th Group, which had converted to Marauders from Mitchells in September of 1942. Beginning in November of 1942, the USAAF sent three Marauder-equipped groups (the 17 th, the 319 th, and the 320 th Bombardment Groups) to North Africa, where they were assigned to the 12 th Air Force. The 319 th Bomb Group was first to become operational, flying its first mission on December 30, 1942, a flight over Tunis. The 320 th Bombardment Group entered combat in April of 1943 with the 12 th Air Force. In late December, General Doolittle had ordered the B-26 units under his command to operate at medium altitudes (around 10, 000 feet) on all but sea sweeps against enemy shipping. The 319 th was equipped with D-8 bombsights, so the few missions it did fly at medium altitudes before being equipped with Norden bombsights were not very successful. The aircraft of the 17 th Group left for Africa equipped with the Norden, and later on the 320 th would also come over with one out every four of its planes being equipped with a Norden. The D-8 was good enough for low-altitude work, but at medium and high altitudes the Norden was required. Generally, only the leader of each flight carried the Norden, with the remainder dropping their bombs when the leader dropped USAAF Marauders were particularly effective during the latter stages of the Tunisian campaign, when their heavy armament, high speed, and long range enabled them to intercept Me 323 and Ju 52/3 m transports far out over the Mediterranean, shooting them down in droves and cutting off attempts to evacuate the defeated German forces. As German fighter opposition declined, the Marauder crews in the Mediterranean began removing the four package guns. Sometimes the entire installation was removed, while other removed only the guns, leaving the pod housings intact. In May of 1943, after the North African campaign was over, a comparison was made between B-25 and B-26 operational statistics. Even though there had been more B-26 s in theatre than B-25 s, the figures were as follows: B-25 B-26 Total Sorties Flown 2689 1587 Losses 65 80 Percentage loss per sortie 2. 4 5. 00 Percentage aborts 3. 0 12. 0 The B-26 did not look good in comparison to the B-25, and for a third time, serious thought was given to discontinuance of the Marauder. However, improved Marauder performance during the Italian campaign and in the ETO saved the plane. As part of the Ninth Air Force, these Marauderequipped groups followed the Allied forces from North Africa through Sicily to Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, and into the south of France, and eventually into Germany as the war came to an end. The following B-26 Groups were active in the Mediterranean theatre with the 12 th Air Force: 17 th Bombardment Group. 34 th, 37 th, 95 th, 432 nd BS. Converted from B-25 s to B-26 s summer 1942. Assigned initially to 12 th AF, then to 15 th AF Nov 1943 and again to 12 th AF Jan 1944. 319 th Bombardment Group (Medium). 437 th, 438 th, 439 th, and 440 th BS. Operated with Twelfth AF until Jan 1945, except for a brief assignment to Fifteenth, Nov 1943 -Jan 1944. Converted to B 25 Nov 1944. 320 th Bombardment Group (Medium) Jun 19, 1942 to December 4, 1945. 441, 442, 443, and 444 th BS. Assigned to 12 th Air Force
European Theatre: It was to be in the European theatre where the Marauder was to achieve its greatest success. In the United Kingdom, the Marauder formed the basis of the medium bomber forces of the Eighth Air Force. The first B-26 s arrived in the United Kingdom in February of 1943. They were to be used in low-level missions against German military targets on the Continent. These B-26 Bs were not equipped with the Norden bombsight, but carried instead a modified N-6 gunsight mounted in the cockpit for the copilot to use in releasing the bombs. The first operational raid took place on On May 14, 1943. Flying through heavy flak at altitudes of 100 to 300 feet, Marauders from the 322 nd Bombardment Group dropped a group 500 -pound delayed-fuse bombs on the Velsen generating station at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands. All planes returned safely to base. However, the delayed fuse bombs which allowed Dutch workmen to escape also gave the Germans enough time to defuse or remove them. It is probable that the 322 nd only escaped the attention of Luftwaffe fighters because of a battle taking place elsewhere with 8 th Air Force heavy bombers. On May 17, 1943, eleven Marauders returned at low level to attack German installations at Ijmuiden and Haarlem in the Netherlands. This time the Luftwaffe was ready, and the raid was a disaster, with all but one aircraft (which had aborted due to an electrical failure) being shot down by flak and fighters. The disastrous raid at Ijmuiden proved that the B-26 was totally unsuited for low-level operations over Europe, where enemy flak was heavy and accurate and enemy fighters were numerous and particularly effective. After the Ijmuiden raid, low-level operations by Marauders over Europe were discontinued, and for a fourth time thought was given to withdrawing the type from combat. In the meantime, the B-26 equipped units stood down to retrain for attacks against strategic targets from medium altitudes (10, 000 -14, 000 feet) with heavy fighter escort. In July of 1943, some consideration was given to adapting the B-26 as a escort fighter for the Flying Fortress heavy bombers of the 8 th Air Force which were at that time experiencing heavy losses to German fighters. This suggestion was immediately dropped, since the Marauder had an entirely different performance envelope from the Fortress and in addition had proven that it was itself unable to survive without fighter escort in hostile European skies. The B-26 did not return to action over Europe until July 17, 1943. This time, the B-26 was more successful in its new role of medium-altitude bombing, and proposals to withdraw the Marauder from combat over Europe were quietly shelved. Marauders developed tight formation flying tactics to ensure a close pattern of bombs on the target and to protect themselves against fighter attacks. Because of the tremendous concentration of defensive firepower that the B-26 offered, the Luftwaffe was reluctant to press home attacks on Marauder formations. However, in the European theatre fighter escort was absolutely essential to defend against determined German fighter attacks. The German 88 -mm antiaircraft guns were most accurate at the altitudes at which the Marauder normally operated, and it was determined that a straight and level flight for as little as 30 seconds gave the German radar gun detectors sufficient time to track the formation and place shots right in its midst. Consequently, evasive actions every 15 or 20 seconds was absolutely necessary to minimize flak losses. However, once committed to the bomb run, there was no evasive action possible and runs of 25 seconds or longer were considered quite dangerous. Medium-altitude pinpoint bombing became routine with the Marauders of the 9 th Air Force. Prior to D-Day, typical targets were bridges, airfields, railroad marshaling yards, gun positions, ammunition and oil storage dumps, and V-1 flying bomb sites. In November of 1943, all Eighth Air Force B-26 groups were transferred to the re-formed Ninth Air Force. By May of 1944, the 9 th Air Force had eight B-26 groups.
The groups which prepared the way for the invasion of Normandy were the 322 nd, 3234 d, 344 th, 386 th, 387 th, 391 st, 394 th, and 397 th Bombardment Groups. The 335 th and 336 th Bombardment Groups were replacement training units based back in the States until they were disbanded in May of 1944. A few Marauders were converted for Pathfinder missions for bad weather actions. These planes were equipped to work with the OBOE system, which consisted of a series of ground transmission stations which broadcasted narrow radio beams which directed the aircraft to their targets during those times when the weather was so bad that the ground could not be seen. It was arranged that beams from two separate stations would intersect immediately over the target. The receiver aboard the aircraft transmitted a tone to the pilot in the form of a Morse code E if he was to the left of course and a T when he was to the right. A steady hum was heard when he was on course. A separate panel on the pilot's instrument panel (which was duplicated at the bombardier's position) directed when the bombs should be dropped. The system had a CEP of only 300 feet. OBOEequipped B-26 s could be distinguished by by the presence of an antenna which consisted of a plexiglas tube sticking out of the belly just forward of the waist windows. The OBOE system was mostly of British design and was of course highly classified. When Pathfinder Marauders were parked on their airfields, there was always an armed guard posted, and there was a destruct mechanism installed to prevent the system from falling into enemy hands. The system was still in its infancy during the war, and the slightest malfunction in any portion of the equipment would usually cause the entire mission to be scrubbed. Soon after V-E Day, some B-26 groups were demobilized, but others moved to Germany to serve with the occupation forces. The following Bombardment Groups flew the B-26 Marauder with the 9 th AF in the European theatre: 322 nd Bombardment Group (Medium): May 14, 1943 to April 24, 1945. 449, 450, 451, 452 nd BS. Assigned to 8 th Air Force, but reassigned to 9 th Air Force in Oct 1943. 323 rd Bombardment Group (Medium) : July 16, 1943 to April 25, 1945. Reassigned to 9 th AF Oct 1943. 344 th Bombardment Group (Medium): March 6, 1944 to April 25, 1945. 494 th, 495 th, 496 th, and 497 th BS. Served with 9 th Air Force. 386 th Bombardment Group (Medium): June 20, 1943 to May 3, 1945. 552, 553, 554 and 555 th BS. Reassigned to 9 th AF Oct 1943. 387 th Bombardment Group (Medium) : June 30, 1943 to April 19, 1945. 556, 557, 558 th and 559 th BS. Reassigned to 9 th AF Oct 1943 391 st Bombardment Group (Medium): February 15, 1944 to May 3, 1945. 572, 573, 574, and 575 th BS. Assigned to 9 th AF. 394 th Bombardment Group: March 23, 1944 to April 20, 1945. 584, 585, 586 and 587 th BS. Assigned to 9 th AF 397 th Bombardment Group: April 20, 1944 to April 20, 1945. 596, 597, 598, and 599 th BS. Assigned to 9 th AF
After the war in Europe was over, most of the Marauder-equipped units were quickly disbanded and their planes were scrapped. In the late fall of 1945, all of some 500 Marauders operating in the ETO were ferried to a disposal site near Landsberg, Germany where they were all scrapped. In the fall of 1945, a gigantic aircraft disposal operation began at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas and handled the disposal of nearly 1000 surplus USAAF Marauders In the beginning, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation handled the disposal task, but this was later taken over by the General Services Administration. The surplus aircraft were first offered for sale and many were bought by France, China, and South American countries for military or airline use. The remainder were scrapped. A few Marauders were sold on the commercial market and were converted as executive transports. Because of the massive scrapping effort immediately after the war, very few Marauders survive today. I am aware of only three Marauders that are still in existence today. Flak Bait, a B-26 serial number 41 -31773 of the 449 th Squadron of the 322 nd Bombardment Group was the first Allied bomber in the ETO to fly 200 combat sorties. Its nose section is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The rest of the plane is presumably somewhere in storage within the Paul Garber restoration facility at Suitland, Maryland. B-26 G-10 serial number 43 -34581 was given to the French Air Force during World War 2. After the war, it went into storage at Mont de Marsan. In 1951, it was turned over to Air France as a groundbased aircraft for use in training mechanics. In 1965, 43 -34581 was donated to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, where it is currently displayed painted as a 387 th Bombardment Group B -26 B-50 serial number 42 -95857. On January 3, 1942, three B-26 Marauders of the 77 th BS were forced to crash-land in British Columbia while in transit to Alaska. The crewmen were all rescued, but the aircraft were forced to remain. In 1971, an expedition was mounted to recover these planes, headed by David C. Tallichet, president of the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, a subsidiary of Specialty Restaurants Corporation. which was based in Chino, California. The three Marauders were dismantled and flown out by helicopter. Once back in Chino, the best airframe of the three (40 -1459) was restored to flying condition, using parts scavenged from the other two. It took to the air for the first time in July of 1992. In 1996, the plane was sold to Kermit Weeks of Kissimmee, Florida, and it now carries the civilian registration N 4297 J. B-26 C-20 -MO serial number 41 -35071 had been delivered to the USAAF on May 24, 1943. Following the end of the war, it was purchased from the Walnut Ridge disposal operation by a commercial operator. It went through a succession of operators, including the Tennessee Gas Corporation which converted it as an executive transport. In 1967, the Confederate Air Force bought the plane and attempted to restore it to flying condition, no mean feat since no structural B 26 parts were then available anywhere in the world and all B-26 engineering and production data had been destroyed in a fire at Martin's Baltimore plant. Restoration began in 1976, but progress was slow since most needed components had to be made by hand. The first flight did not take place until 1984. The aircraft was named Carolyn in honor of a generous contributor, and carried the civilian registration number N 5546 N. It was a popular participant in Confederate Air Force shows. Tragically, Carolyn crashed near Midland, Texas on September 28, 1995, killing all five people onboard.
Sources: Famous Bombers of the Second World War, William Green, Doubleday, 1959. The Martin Marauder B-26, Victor C. Tannehill, Boomerang Publishers, 1997. The Martin B-26 Marauder, J. K. Havener, TAB Aero, 1988. Me & My Gal--The Stormy Combat Romance Between a WW II Bomber Pilot and His Martin B-26, Charles O'Mahony, Wings, December 1994. The Martin B-26 B and C Marauder, Ray Wagner, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday, 1965. Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20 th Century, Michael J. H. Taylor, Mallard Press. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982. 1 ST LT. THEODORE V. HARWOOD'S B-26 MARAUDER. By PFC Ray Harwood. 1990. 50 Pages. Based on interviws with T. V. Harwood and subsequent research FROM MAXWELL TO MARAUDER. The story of the training and making of a Marauder pilot and his experiences from Maxwell Field, Alabama combat in the 456 th Bombardment Squadron, 323 Bomb Group. From 1943 to 1945. Theodore V. Harwoods letters home. Forward by Ray Harwood.
Stansted, Essex, England AAF Station No. 169 1943 Early in 1942, an historic decision was made by the British war-time government and American military officials to build a United States Army Air Force base on a plateau close to the village of Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex, north-east of London. The first American unit, the 817 th Aviation Engineering Battalion, arrived at Renfrew Farm on 8 th August 1942. They were met by Mr. Grossman, the manager of the farm owned by a Jewish community in London’s East End. The battalion’s role was to begin the conversion of the typical English green fields into a huge military airfield. They would have been unaware, at that time, that over fifty years later their early efforts would culminate in the establishment of the third airport for London, with one of the world’s most state-of-the-art terminal buildings. The 817 th Battalion left Stansted in November 1942 and their work was continued by the 825 th Aviation Battalion who had arrived at the Essex site in October. The 825 th completed the airfield roads, as well as the control tower, fire station and motor transport section, before leaving in December 1943. Work on the runways and taxiways began in May 1943 with the arrival of the 850 th Aviation Engineering Battalion who remained at Stansted until April 1944. By October 1943 Stansted had become the largest 9 th USAAF base in East Anglia covering 3, 000 acres, designated AAF Station No 169, and equipped with a main runway 6, 000 ft x 150 ft and two subsidiary runways, each 4, 200 Ft x 150 ft. In February 1944, the 344 th Bombardment Group, squadrons 494, 495, 496, and 497 moved in and flew their first operational mission on 6 th March 1944. In September 1944, the Group moved to France. Stansted also became an important maintenance base for aircraft of the 8 th and 9 th Air Forces operating from bases throughout East Anglia.
Stansted, Essex, England USAAF Station No. 169 A Stansted B-26 on a pre-invasion sortie. Ninth Air Force Motor Transport base at Stansted ground crews Bob Hope with the United States Special Services Show, 1944. Construction equipment passing through Stansted Mountfitche village.
Stansted, Essex, England AAF Station No. 169 1943
Stansted, Essex, England USAAF Station No. 169 Officers “bicycle race” . “Sad Sack” takes off heavily laden .
IX Engineer Command Build. . . Defend. . . Maintain ETO Airfields Construction Information Code No. Name Development Eng Av. Bn Initial Constr. Date Initial Operation al Date 169 Stansted A-59 Cormeilles En. Vexin 816 th 6 -Sep-44 15 -Sep-44 A-78 Florennes/ Juzaine 820 th 9 -Sep-44 R-75 Schleissheim 825 th Date of Release by USAAF Runways 9 th AAF Unit(s) 344 th BG 8 -Aug-45 1 344 th BG 11 -Sep-44 2 344 th BG 2 -May-45 1 344 th BG Runways Length Width Surface Grid Azmuth Runway Layout Code No. Name 169 Stansted A-59 Cormeilles-en Vexin 1 5413 165 Concrete 1220 A-78 Flornnes/ Juzaine 2 4343 5509 164 Concrete & PSP 1640 840 R-75 Schleissheim 1 5500 162 Concrete & PSP 710 Cormeilles, France Actually Cormilles-En-Vexin, this airfield was the home of German day fighters (specifically the Bf 109 G-10’s of I/GJ 2) in 1944. This field is located south of Le Havre and east of Caen, and just north-west of Paris. On the 3 rd of June 1944 this unit’s strength was 23 aircraft, of which 15 were serviceable. FW-190’s were present later in the war. Florennes, Belgium On the 3 rd of June, 1944 this airfield was home to the night-fighters of I/NJG 4. At that time this squadron was outfitted with 19 Ju 88’s and Bf 110’s. Fw 190 Rottes operated out of this airfield on an attachment basis from time to time as well.
AAF Airfield 169 -1944 – Stansted/Mount Fitchet
Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944 SHAFE Headquarters statement from Commanding General Dwight D Eisenhower to the troops. .
344 th Bomb Group 496 th Bombardment Squadron Squadron Markings: N 3 42 -95873 Maxwell House/Good to the last drop N 3 -B Capt. Jewel Maxwell Lead Plane of Box 2 on June 6, 1944 DDay mission
344 th Bomb Group D-Day Lead Crew Cherbourg Peninsula on the beaches at Beau Guillot, La Madeleine, and at Martin de Varreville. Flight Crew of Lead Aircraft D-Day, 6 June 1944 Back Row left to right: Capt. James P. Parish, Lead Bombardier; Major Jens A. Norgaard, Pilot and Formation Leader; 2 nd Lt. Loris D. Gniffke, Navigator Front Row left to right: Lt Col. Robert W. Witty, Co-Pilot and Deputy Group Commander; 1 st Lt. Louis Offenberg, Lead Navigator; S/Sgt. Kenneth Hobbs, Engineer/Gunner; S/Sgt. Jules S. Theobald, Tail Gunner; T/Sgt. John R. Leach, Radio Operator/Gunner.
344 th Bomb Group, 496 th Bomb Squadron aircraft Serial Number 42 -107662 - N 3 – F Serial Number 42 -95099 - N 3 - B Serial Number 42 -107583 - N 3 -C
Belgian civilians take a guided tour of a 344 th Bomb Group B-26 -F-1 in April 1945 Serial # 42 -96298 Shirley Ann, a weather-beaten veteran from the 344 th Bomb Group, seen over the snow-covered French landscape during the winter of 1944 -45.
B-26’s from the 344 th Bomb Group over the marshalling yards at Namur, southeast of Brussels. The unpainted aircraft have their white tail triangles outlined in Black, while the B-26 -B-50 in the foreground, Serial 42 -95972, illustrates the pattern of Olive Drab and medium Green paint scheme applied to some late Marauders. Rum Buggy from the 495 th Squadron of the 344 th Bomb Group over France.
Lethal Lady 494 th BS Flak Hak Gravel Gertie 494 th Squadron
Shop Worn Angel 495 th Squadron Y 5 J 42 -95917 MACR #12344 494 th BS Flak Hak Sweet Baby 497 th Squadron
LIL LI Mar-Lene 496 th Squadron 344 th BG Valkyrie Smilin' Joy 344 th BG
100 Proof Terra Haute Tornado 344 th BG Kathy Jean II
B-26’s in Formation