Activated on January 15, 1941, the 12thBombardment Group (Light) trained with B-18, B-23 and PT-17 aircraft. It patrolled the West Coast after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was redesignated the 12thBombardment Group (Medium) in December 1941. Using B-25s, it began training early in 1942 for duty overseas. It moved to the Middle East July-August 1942, and assigned to the Ninth Air Force there. The group attacked storage areas, motor transports, troop concentrations, airdromes, bridges, shipping, marshaling yards, and other targets in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Pantelleria, Lampedusa, Crete, Sicily, and Italy, August 1942- January 1944. It supported the Allied drive from Egypt to Tunisia, October 1942 to April 1942. Early in 1943, two squadrons operated with Twelfth Air Force, assisting Allied forces moving eastward across North Africa, while the other squadrons continued operations with the Ninth Air Force, bombing enemy defenses along the Mareth Line.
The 12threceived a Distinguished Unit Citation for action against the enemy in North Africa and Sicily from October 1942 to August 1943. While attached to Twelfth Air Force, in June- August 1943, the group operated from bases in Tunisia and Sicily against targets in Italy until January 1944. It flew some missions to Albania and Yugoslavia.