51st Fighter Group






Constituted as 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Assigned to Fourth AF and equipped with P-40's. Redesignated 51st Pursuit Group (Fighter) in Mar 1941. While training for combat, served as part of the defense force for the west coast. Left the US in Jan 1942, stopped in Australia and Ceylon, and arrived in India in Mar 1942. Assigned to Tenth AF. Redesignated 51st Fighter Group in May 1942. Defended the Indian terminus of the Hump route and airfields in that area. Flew strafing, bombing, reconnaissance, and patrol missions in support of Allied ground troops during a Japanese offensive in northern Burma in 1943. Moved to China in Oct 1943 and assigned to Fourteenth AF. Used P-38's, P-40's, and (in 1945) P-51's to defend the eastern end of the route over the Hump, guard air bases in the Kunming area, harass Japanese shipping in the Red River delta, and support Chinese ground forces in their drive along the Salween River. Returned to India in the fall of 1945 and sailed for the US in Nov. Inactivated on 13 Dec 1945.

Activated on Okinawa on 15 Oct 1946. Assigned to Far East Air Forces. Equipped with P-47's and P-61's in 1946, and with F-80 and F-82 aircraft in 1948. Trained, served as part of the occupation force, and provided air defense for the Ryukyus. Redesignated 51st Fighter-Interceptor Group in Feb 1950. Moved to Japan in Sep 1950 and, operating from bases in Japan and Korea, served in combat against Communist forces until the end of the Korean War. Used F-80's until Nov 1951 and then converted to F-86 aircraft. Supported ground forces and flew patrol, escort, interdictory, and reconnaissance missions. Frequently engaged the enemy's jet (MIG) fighters and reported numerous victories in aerial combat, Capt Joseph McConnell Jr becoming the leading ace of the Korean War. Returned to Okinawa in Aug 1954.

Squadrons. 16th: 1941-1945; 1946. 25th: 1941-1945; 1946. 26th: 1941-1945; 1946. 449th: 1943-1945.

Stations. Hamilton Field, Calif, 15 Jan 1941; March Field, Calif, 20 Jun 1941-11 Jan 1942; Karachi, India, 14 Mar 1942; Dinjan, India, 10 Oct 1942; Kunming, China, 2 Oct 1943; India, Sep-Nov 1945; Ft Lewis, Wash, 12-13 Dec 1945. Yontan, Okinawa, 15 Oct 1946; Naha, Okinawa, 22 May 1947; Itazuke, Japan, 22 Sep 1950; Kimpo, Korea, 24 Oct 1950; Itazuke, Japan, 3 Jan 1951; Tsuiki, Japan, 20 Jan 1951; Suwon, Korea, 27 Jul 1951; Naha, Okinawa, 1 Aug 1954-.

Commanders. Col Homer L Sanders, 1941; Col John F Egan, 23 Mar 1943; Lt Col Samuel B Knowles Jr, 20 Sep 1943; Col Louis R Hughes Jr, 27 May 1944; Lt Col William E Blankenship, Feb-13 Dec 1945. Col Loring F Stetson Jr, 15 Oct 1946; Col Homer A Boushey, 12 Apr 1947; Lt Col James F McCarthy, 1 Aug 1947; Col Homer A Boushey, unkn; Lt Col Bruce D Biddlecome, Jun 1948; Lt Col Kenneth L Garrett, 7 Mar 1949; Lt Col Robert F Worley, 24 May 1949; Col John T Shields, 1 Jul 1949; Lt Col Irwin H Dregne, Jun 1950; Col Oliver G Cellini, 1950; Col Irwin H Dregne, 24 Apr 1951; Lt Col John M Thacker, 21 Jul 1951; Lt Col George L Jones, 13 Nov 1951; Lt Col William M Shelton, Mar 1952; Lt Col Albert S Kelly, Jun 1952; Col Robert P Baldwin, Jan 1953; Lt Col Harold C Gibson, Aug 1953; Col Malcolm E Norton, Oct 1953; Lt Col Harold G Shook, 23 Mar 1954; Lt Col William A Campbell, 9 Jul 1954; Col George V Williams, 10 Aug 1954-.

Campaigns. World War II: India-Burma; China Defensive; China Offensive. Korean War: UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; 1st UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1953.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Korea, 28 Nov 1951-30 Apr 1953. Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations: [Sep] 1950-30 Jun 1951; 1 Jul 1951-31 Mar 1953.

Insigne. Shield: Per fess nebuly abased azure and or, issuing from partition line a demipegasus argent with a machine gun in each wing bendwise sable, gun fire proper. Motto: Deftly And Swiftly. (Approved 5 Feb 1942. This insigne was modified 2 May 1956.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986




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