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371st Fighter Group

The 371st Fighter Group was constituted on May 25, 1943 and activated on July 15, 1943. It moved to the European theater during February - March 1944 and served in combat with the Ninth Air Force from April 1944 to May 1945. The group began operations, using P-47s, by making a fighter sweep over France. It flew fighter sweep, dive-bombing, and escort missions prior to the invasion of the Continent, and attacked railroads, trains, vehicles, gun emplacements, and buildings in France during the invasion of June 6, 1944.

P-47 Thunderbolts of the 371st Fighter Group takeoff, France.

The group patrolled beachhead areas and continued its assaults against the enemy during the remainder of the Normandy campaign. It participated in the aerial barrage that prepared the way for the Allied breakthrough at Saint-Lo on July 25, and supported the subsequent drive across northern France. It operated in the area of northeastern France and southwestern Germany during the fall and winter of 1944-1945, attacking such targets as storage dumps, trains, rail lines, marshalling yards, buildings, factories, bridges, roads, vehicles, and strong points.

Republic P-47s and a North American P-51 of the 2nd Base Air Depot on the line at an airfield in Lacashire, England. March 10, 1944. The P-47 in the foreground was assigned to the 371st Fighter Group ten days later.
French women and children, who wandered on the airfield, are watching with interest the Republic P-47s taking off on a bombing mission; they are standing in front of a P-47.

The group conducted operations that supported Allied ground action in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945. It launched a series of attacks against vehicles, factories, buildings, railroad cars, tanks, and gun emplacements during the period March 15-21, 1945, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this six-day action that contributed to the defeat of the enemy in southern Germany. The group continued operations until May 1945 and returned to the United States, October – November 1945. The group was inactivated on November 10, 1945.

Crew chiefs sitting by the fire built on the cold windy terrain as the 406th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group taxi up for a takeoff on a bombing mission in the background, France.

Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.